U.S. Sent Palestinians $1 Billion During Biden Administration
November 6, 2023
The administration of President Joe Biden has sent more than $1 billion in aid to Palestinians, and proposes sending another $260 million in its FY2024 budget request yet to be approved by Congress, OpenTheBooks.com auditors found.
The U.S. government gave $318.4 million in 2021, $363.9 million in 2022, and $371 million in 2023, a reversal from former President Donald Trump’s August 2018 freeze.
While humanitarian funding is the finest tradition of American generosity, much of its use is now widely understood to have encouraged the culture of Jew hate promoted by Hamas, Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Palestinian Authority.
In 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged it’s possible the Palestinians could use U.S. aid to restock Hamas’ arsenal of hate.
“We’re going to be working in partnership with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority to kind of channel aid there in a manner that does its best to go to the people of Gaza,” he said during a press briefing in May 2021. “I’m also sure that the government of Egypt will have some role in that. As we’ve seen in life, as we all know in life, there are no guarantees, but we’re going to do everything that we can to ensure that this assistance reaches the people who need it the most.”
Recently, after Hamas’ unexpected and bloody attack on Israel, Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid being sent to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, as the Department of Treasury announced sanctions on the cryptocurrency exchange that aided Hamas, The Washington Post reported.
Biden also said an “unprecedented” aid package was being readied for Israel - $14.3 billion out of a $105 billion package that Congress must vote on to fund Israel, Ukraine, the southern border and more.
In January 2018, the U.S. released $65 million to the UN for Palestinians.
Then-President Trump, sitting next to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he was hopeful for peace in the Middle East and noted that Palestinian support from the U.S. should end.
“That money is on the table,” he said before cutting the aid to zero later that year. “That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace. Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going have to want peace, too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with them any longer.”
Illinois Investigating State Employees For $4.5 Million In PPP Fraud
November 7, 2023
The Illinois Office of Executive Inspector General has referred 177 state employees to law enforcement agencies, alleging at least $4.5 million in fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to a recent report.
The PPP from the Small Business Administration was one of the most fraudulent programs in the history of federal programs, with an estimated $200 billion in fraudulent loans.
The Illinois IG launched an investigation into state employees to determine if any had defrauded the federal government’s PPP. It initiated 438 investigations into employees receiving over $20,000 in PPP loans, and out of the 204 investigations it completed, 177 of them have been referred to law enforcement, or about 87% of concluded investigations.
These referrals were predicated on, “reasonable cause to believe that a State employee violated the State of Illinois Code of Personal Conduct and/or agency policy by obtaining PPP loans based on falsified information.” Illinois law requires the IG to refer losses of over $5,000 in public funds from misconduct to the Illinois Attorney General.
The IG estimates that the total value of these fraudulent loans stands at $4.5 million, but says that its investigation is still ongoing, with 234 investigations still pending.
Employees of Illinois’ Department of Human Services are alleged to have perpetrated the most fraud, with 132 of the 177 referrals working at that agency. The next highest agency, the Department of Children and Family Services, had 25 referrals.
U.S. Will Send $17 Million To Sri Lanka For Social Cohesion
November 8, 2023
The U.S. Agency for International Development is providing $17 million in fundingfor projects that enhance social cohesion in Sri Lanka.
USAID will distribute the funding over 5 years, and will fund one or more projects. Multiple types of organizations from the U.S., international community, and Sri Lanka can apply, including for-profit institutions (though they can’t make a profit on this project).
According to the notice, these vaguely defined projects should accomplish three goals: Strengthened structures facilitating social cohesion, reconciliation, and respect for human rights, reduced socio-economic disparities and exclusion of vulnerable communities, and enhanced community resilience.
Like many programs the Biden Administration funds, western-centric Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals are required to receive funding for the project. The grant stipulates a “gender and social inclusion analysis” must be conducted as part of the project, and notes an underlying goal is, “building a more inclusive and just society.”
While these goals sound nice, money can’t buy social cohesion. The lack of examples or suggestions regarding what these projects might look like proves that point. If U.S. international development experts had found a way to accomplish these goals, they would have outlined how to do it.
The award amount is also extremely high for what these projects are expected to yield. The $17 million for this grant could go toward helping the 14.3 percent of Sri Lankans living below the poverty line find food, housing, and medical care instead of funding abstract goals with no clear solutions or measures of success.
Even if improving social cohesion in Sri Lanka is in the strategic interests of the U.S., throwing $17 million at ill-defined projects with abstract goals isn’t going to fix the problem.
Throwback Thursday: Army Dissects Every Step Of Buying Worcestershire Sauce
November 9, 2023
In 1981, The U.S. Army spent $6,000 — more than $20,000 in 2023 dollars — to prepare a 17-page document that tells the federal government how to buy a bottle of Worcestershire sauce.
For its silly and reckless disregard for the use of tax dollars, Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave the U.S. Army a Golden Fleece award.
Proxmire gave awards for wasteful and nonsensical spending, eventually handing out 168 Golden Fleece Awards between 1975 and 1988.
Beyond the 17 pages directing one to buy a 15-ounce bottle that retails for about $1.50 in 1981, one must refer to another 2,270 pages of government and commercial regulations and references, the senator said.
The document should have been titled, “Everything you wanted to know about Worcestershire sauce but would never bother to ask.”
“Chemical analysis in the specifications are spelled out for every last molecule in the Worcestershire sauce — from the pH for the tamarind to the salt content of the anchovy paste,” Proxmire said.
Shockingly, directions are written on how to ensure the cap of the bottle is screwed on tight enough.
“The federal specifications are also written in a jargonese that would make a bureaucrat’s mouth water,” he added.
“I can see having complex federal specifications if the military is buying a weapons systems. But Worcestershire sauce? That 17-page specification and the 2,270-page backup is nothing more than a recipe for stuffed paperwork soufflé that left the taxpayer with an indigestible $6,000 check.”
$42 Billion Internet Investment Goes to Wealthy Areas
November 10, 2023
When the Biden Administration recently announced a record $42 billion investment in broadband internet, it was pitched as an investment in rural and underserved communities. A new study, however, found many of these funds went to wealthy, urban areas because of a questionable allocation methodology, according to Fox News.
The Broadband Equity Access and Development program was marketed as a way to “ensure that everyone in America has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet,” with an emphasis on underserved areas with spotty or expensive internet coverage.
A new report from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), however, found that not all of these funds went toward these goals. To decide how much each state would receive in these funds, the White House identified areas that lacked broadband internet in each state, with more areas lacking internet meaning more funding for the state.
Washington, D.C. was assessed as having 184 areas lacking internet, but 58 of them, almost one-third of the locations, were located in the Smithsonian National Zoo, raising questions about D.C.’s funding. In Delaware, a location designated as lacking internet was the Biden Environmental Training Center, a conference and retreat facility near President Biden’s home.
Funding in these dense, urban areas flies in the face of the original intent of the program, which was to bring internet coverage to rural and underserved areas. D.C. and Delaware were allotted over $547,000 and $52,000, respectively, for each location without broadband access, while the national median allocation for areas without connectivity averages $5,600 per location.
In other cases, wealthy areas received funding. Tuckernuck Island in Massachusetts will receive federal funding for broadband, despite mansions in the area selling for over a million dollars. Additionally, the area already receives ample internet coverage, just not of the kind this program aims to promote.
Making taxpayers in Kentucky and South Dakota pay for internet investments in D.C. and Delaware is unethical and counterproductive, but that’s exactly what this program seems to have accomplished.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.