$50K to Teach Climate Change to Indian Journalists
May 9, 2022
The U.S. State Department will send up to $50,000 to nonprofits and universities in India to teach Indian journalists about climate change, according to a recent grant notice.
This program aims to increase Indian journalists’ knowledge about climate change, increase their confidence on reporting on climate change issues, and increase the quality of climate change reporting in India. The program will be considered successful if attendees can write long form articles about climate by the end of the program, the grant notice states.
These goals will be accomplished by funding nonprofits and universities in India to host workshops in the languages of Teluga and Odia for local journalists. The State Department expects around 50 journalists will attend these workshops, and expects each attendee to publish an article on climate change shortly after the workshops.
If the U.S. really wanted to improve the journalistic coverage of climate change, one might think they would start in the U.S. with global publications like The New York Times.
The U.S. doesn’t need to influence the Indian news cycle. If India needs improvement of their coverage of climate change, there are plenty of capable nonprofits and universities in India that could fund and carry out this program with domestic funding streams.
This is one of many wasteful programs the Biden Administration has pushed in the name of combatting climate change. Other examples include engaging surfers on topics of climate change and funding anti-climate change art in China.
Yale Administrator Allegedly Stole $40M With Fraudulent Purchases
May 10, 2022
Former Yale administrator Jamie Petrone recently pled guilty to wire fraud and filing false tax returns for stealing $40 million from Yale by buying computers and reselling them for personal gain.
According to MarketWatch, the fraud began in 2013. Petrone would buy computer tablets and other electronics with Yale’s money, then sell them to a company in New York that would sell them to customers. The money from the sale was funneled into an account for a wedding photography and videography company she owned, according to prosecutors.
Petrone was hired at Yale in 1999 and began working for the medical school in 2008, most recently working at director of finance for its emergency medicine department, according to MarketWatch.
Over the eight years that she ran the alleged scheme, Petrone told investigators that 90 percent of the purchases she made were fraudulent, adding up to $40 million. She used the money to buy Mercedes, Cadillacs, a Range Rover, and a Dodge Charger. She also co-owned three properties in Connecticut and another in Georgia.
Yale is the recipient of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds at the federal, state, and local level of government.
Taxpayer money into Yale included $6 billion saved in special tax treatment on their $42.3 billion endowment since 2015; $3 billion in federal contracts, grants and direct payments in a recent four-year period; special tax treatment of their nearly $3 billion in tax exempt bonds; and tens of millions of dollars in state payments annually.
Previously, a similar scam in 2013 saw a city comptroller from Dixon, IL steal over $53 million thanks to lax oversight and nonexistent accounting controls.
While responsibility for a crime always rests on the criminal, institutions that receive taxpayer dollars also have an obligation to implement basic accounting controls to prevent fraud.
Palo Alto History Museum Receives $3M in Federal Grants
May 11, 2022
Thanks to earmarks in the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill Congress passed in March, a history museum in Palo Alto, California, one of the wealthiest communities in America, received a $3 million grant. Palo Alto, home to Silicon Valley, has a median household income of $174,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Median income in the United States is $67,521, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to Citizens Against Government Waste, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) earmarked the funds to rehabilitate the Roth Building at the Palo Alto History Museum.
In a press release from Eshoo’s office, she touted the grant as a way to “expand education” in her district, even though the money will go to renovating the historic building.
Eshoo earmarked 10 projects in this omnibus bill, costing $12.5 million, with the Palo Alto History Museum being the largest recipient.
Earmarks are a way for members of Congress to funnel funds to their district with little oversight on how the money is being used. Learn more about earmarks from OpenTheBooks.com’s interactive map.
In addition to the museum, Citizens Against Government Waste found that Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) gave the Joliet Area History Museum $3 million to rehabilitate the Old Joliet Prison, New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand got $3 million for the Brooklyn Museum, and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) secured $2.2 million to open a Bahamian Museum of Arts and Culture in Florida.
Throwback Thursday: In 1979, NSF Spent $39,600 to Study Himalayan Mountaineering
May 12, 2022
In 1979, the National Science Foundation awarded $39,600 — almost $155,000 in 2022 dollars — to study the effects of Himalayan mountaineering and the rise of Buddhism in Nepal.
Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave his Golden Fleece award to the National Science Foundation for this absurd project, stating that the purpose of this project was to study, “What, if any, connection there is between Sherpa involvement as mountaineering guides … and the contemporaneous rise of more orthodox Tibetan Buddhist religious practices in Nepal.”
The researcher was to spend six months in Nepal to survey and interview residents, conduct research in Buddhist libraries and archives, and study recent religious rituals. Afterwards, the researcher would spend another six months at an American university to synthesize his findings.
While Proxmire made clear he believed the study was interesting, he questioned why it needed to be funded by the government.
He said, “The government is not required to fund every study on every subject everywhere in the world.”
Why couldn’t a private university, religious order, or research foundation fund this study?
As Sen. Proxmire said, “It has often been said that the government is foolish enough to send taxpayer’s money to the ends of the earth. Now, the NSF has done it.” Yet another example of the ever-expanding scope of government.
Teleworking Members of Congress Cost Taxpayers $70 Million Since Start of Pandemic
May 13, 2022
While President Joe Biden urged "Americans to get back to work” and said "people working from home can feel safe to begin to return to the office" Democratic members of Congress think that doesn’t apply to them, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The news outlet reveals how a large number of Congressional offices continue to sit empty in Washington D.C., ostensibly because of Covid-19. We estimate that these closed offices cost American taxpayers $139,548 each day.
The Free Beacon reports that “dozens” of House offices sat vacant on the day of their visit in March, with signs informing visitors that staff was teleworking. They also reported 12 vacant Senate offices.
Each House office is given about $944,671 per year to cover administrative expenses and pay its’ staff’s salaries. The Senate’s allocation is based on the size of the Senator’s state, but the average allocation is roughly $3.3 million.
That comes out to $2,588 per day per House office, and $9,041 per day per Senate office. That totals $31,056 per day, with a very conservative estimate of 12 House offices working from home, and $108,492 for the 12 Senate offices working virtually.
That means American taxpayers are footing a bill of at least $139,548 per day for teleworking Congressional staff members. For the last two years of teleworking, with about 500 workdays costing a total of $69.7 million.
Of course, teleworking doesn’t mean that staff are not working. However, with Congress meeting in person, work would surely be more efficient with everyone meeting in the same place.
Constituents that visit their members of Congress in D.C. can’t visit these offices. Having access to your elected officials is an important part of any democracy.
Notable office closures include Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Patty Murray, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.