What will bring down communist Cuba once and for all? Will it be the post-Castro power vaccum, the trade embargo, or the Cuban people's insatiable yearning for a good box of chocolate? The Miami Herald reports today that a new report from the Government Accountability Office has found some questionable spending by anti-Castro groups getting money from the U.S. government:
One recipient, the GAO says, used USAID funds to purchase a chain saw, Nintendo Game Boys and Sony PlayStations, a mountain bike, leather coats, cashmere sweaters, crabmeat and Godiva chocolates.
Juan Carlos Acosta, executive director of Miami-based Acción Democrática Cubana, told The Miami Herald in an interview Tuesday that except for the chain saw, he bought the items and sent them to people in Cuba.
He said he bought the chain saw to cut a branch that had fallen near the door of his office after a hurricane. He bought ''five or six'' cans of crabmeat and some boxes of chocolate to send to Cuba.
''These people are going hungry,'' he said. "They never get any chocolate there.''
Asked why he'd sent cashmere sweaters to Cuba, Acosta replied, "They [auditors] think it's not cold there." Plus, "At $30, it's a bargain because cashmere is expensive."
The elections and Rumsfeld's resignation were a major event, but not the end of the world. The war on terror goes on without interruption.... [L]et's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled congress.... The question of the day, and indeed for the rest of bush's [sic] term, is: What's the Dem plan for Iraq?... Just because Dems won, the war on terror isnt' [sic] over.
Fox's website may have gone blue, but it looks like the Kool-Aid over there is still bright red.
Callers touting Indiana Republican Rep. Mark Souder's tough stance on immigration apparently have thick enough foreign accents that the congressman himself said he couldn't understand them.
According to the United Press International, Souder complained about campaign calls made on his behalf after listening to a message left on his sister's answering machine in which the only word he understood was "Hayhurst," the last name of his Democratic challenger, Tom Hayhurst.
Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whose name is being thrown around as a 2008 Republican contender, seems to have found a nifty way to get around rules preventing public servants from receiving gifts worth $100 or more. State law allows wedding gifts, and it just happens that Huckabee and his wife, who married in 1974, are still accepting unfashionably late contributions:
"Wedding" registries in the names of Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet, have been set up at two department store chains in advance of the Huckabees' move out of the Governor's Mansion into a private home.
The term-limited governor leaves office in January, and friends of Janet Huckabee created the registries at Dillard's and Target stores to help facilitate their transition to private life, Huckabee spokeswoman Alice Stewart said Friday.
The Huckabees purchased a 7,000-square-foot home in North Little Rock this year.
"Some ladies who are friends of Janet's are giving her a housewarming party," Stewart said.
If you're looking for gift ideas, the traditional thing to give for a 32nd anniversary is conveyances.
After many false starts, Al Jazeera reports that its English-language service is ready to launch tomorrow. The new channel will feature some old journalism hands, such as as former ABC correspondent Dave Marash and BBC vet David Frost. It will also introduce a newly minted correspondent, Josh Rushing, better known as the sympathetic Marine PR flack from the 2004 documentary "Control Room." Our Dan Schulman just profiled him in our current issue. Check it out. The Pentagon has, so far, not announced any plans to bomb your local cable affiliate.
(And check out Rushing's new website: Looks like someone just got his honorary kaffiyeh from the Anderson Cooper Correspondence School for Correspondents.)