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National Govt & Politics
Uncle Sam's spending - from high tech and subscriptions, to cooks and bathrooms
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Uncle Sam's spending - from high tech and subscriptions, to cooks and bathrooms

Uncle Sam's spending - from high tech and subscriptions, to cooks and bathrooms
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Uncle Sam's spending - from high tech and subscriptions, to cooks and bathrooms

While Congress and the White House try to work out a plan to fund the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year, spending by Uncle Sam continues on a whole host of items, from highly advanced technical research at NASA and the Pentagon, to more mundane items, like subscriptions to magazines and journals, and janitorial services.

Here's a few things that the federal government spent your tax dollars on in the past few days:

1. Very smart people doing very smart people things. NASA has been very effective at sprinkling its research facilities around the country, which has spawned strong, bipartisan support for its various activities. One item being worked on at the John Glenn Research Center in Ohio is how to reduce the noise created by jet engines on airplanes. For that, you need to use something known as "Particle Image Velocimetry," which allows researchers to see how jet exhaust mixes with surrounding air. NASA Glenn needed to upgrade the PIV system there, so they spent $181,059 to do that.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

2. DARPA once more looking beyond the horizon. The work of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is almost always interesting when you look at how the Pentagon is spending research dollars. In recent days, the military has awarded contracts for "Advanced Friction Processing" ($940,310), "Generalized Network Assisted Transport" ($9.97 million), "Mission-oriented Adaptive Placement of Task and Data" ($6.8 million), and a "Direct Sampling Digital Receiver" ($487,286). DARPA also released a new request for futuristic technology development dealing with "Metamaterial-based Optical System Design." Some of the questions asked of developers are not just 1+1=2.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

3. Making sure you can eat and use the bathroom. If you like to take to the great outdoors in the summer, maybe you have gone out west to the vast reaches of federal lands, whether national parks or U.S. Forest Service areas. The Forest Service yesterday awarded a $15,450 contract to a company to provide a "Backcountry Trail Cook" in the Marble Mountain Wilderness and Trinity Alps Wilderness on the Klamath National Forest, for a total of almost five months. Of course, when you eat and drink, you might need to use the bathroom, so the Fish and Wildlife Service okayed an $11,240 contact for a portable restroom in the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Research Center.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

4. Subscriptions, subscriptions, and more subscriptions. As one might imagine, the sheer breadth of the federal government means there are a lot of workers with a lot of different interests. And they push their bosses to buy some interesting items. The Navy just agreed to pay $229,685 for a multi-site annual subscription to the library collections of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The Department of Energy authorized $23,700 for a one year subscription to Oxford Economics; the Air Force will spend $96,581 for the "Gold" level subscription to the Royal Society of Chemistry publications; the Energy Department will spend $64,821.92 for a one year SNL Energy Subscription Service for four users; the EPA will spend $10,675 to renew a subscription to CQ/Roll Call, while the FDA okayed $50,315 for a subscription to the PoliticoPro news service.

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

5. Odds and ends of military security. When you think about the U.S. military, you think about soldiers, ships, marines, planes and more. You don't usually think about all the other needs that must be dealt with to secure those facilities. So, you have $6,172 being spent for a police radar gun by the Army. And you have Fort Bragg in North Carolina shelling out almost $164,000 for "Law Enforcement Vehicle Graphics" - "This requirement is for install and supply of graphics (decals) on vehicles when they are placed into law enforcement service. The Government will provide the vehicles but will not provide the graphics."

Jamie Dupree
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Jamie Dupree

There it is - another small snapshot of your tax dollars at work, for Uncle Sam.

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News

  • A new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio is pledging $5 million in aid to the Amazon, which has been swept by wildfires. >> Read more trending news  According to The Associated Press, Earth Alliance, an environmental foundation that was created last month by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth, launched the Amazon Forest Fund.  The alliance is also seeking donations to help repair the Brazilian rainforest, called the “lungs of the planet.” Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018. The funds will be distributed to five local groups working to combat the problem: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, Instituto Kabu, Instituto Raoni and Instituto Socioambiental. Backed by military aircraft, Brazilian troops are deploying in the Amazon to fight fires that have swept the region and prompted anti-government protests as well as an international outcry. Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, whose degradation could have severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he wants to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, won office after channeling outrage over the corruption scandals of the former government. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A large crowd gathered Sunday morning at RiverScape MetroPark for a service hosted by Kanye West. >> Read more trending news  Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and their children held the Sunday Service in support of the victims and survivors of the mass shooting at the city of Dayton’s historic Oregon District. Several other celebrities, including Dave Chappelle and Michael Che, of “Saturday Night Live,” also were seen at the service, which lasted about two hours. “The best way we can honor our fallen is by getting up better than we were before,” Chappelle told the crowd. “We won’t let those people die in vain.” Two attendees said they had a great time at the service this morning. “It was really fun. I actually got to be a part of the Sunday Service choir,” Chaelyn Allen said. “We been rehearsing for, like, a few days this week, so it was really fun.” “I think it was awesome, a great cause,” Shantel Wilder said. “It feels good to be a part of it.”
  • Disney is completely reinventing Epcot. At its D23 expo in Anaheim, California, this weekend, the company announced some major changes coming to the park. >> Read more trending news  The company kicked off its announcements with Journey of Water, Inspired by 'Moana.' The attraction will let guests 'interact with magical, living water in a beautiful and inspiring setting.' The upcoming 'Guardians of the Galaxy' ride finally has a name. The company announced it will be called 'Guardians of the Galaxy': Cosmic Rewind. It will feature 'the first reverse launch into space.' In the park's Mission Space pavilion, the company announced a new restaurant called Space 220. It will open this winter and is described as 'an out-of-this-world culinary experience with celestial panorama of a space station, including daytime and nighttime views of Earth from 220 miles up.' The United Kingdom pavilion in the World Showcase will welcome the first attraction inspired by 'Mary Poppins' in Cherry Tree Lane, the company announced. We don't know a lot about this attraction other than it will be the first for the United Kingdom pavilion. The park also announced a new pavilion at World Celebration. It will be the home base for Epcot's signature festivals, providing a view of the World Showcase. The company said it will be a three-level structure and will become a new icon for Epcot. Finally, the company announced a new nighttime spectacular called 'HarmonioUS.' It is said to be the largest nighttime show created for a Disney park. Disney said it will celebrate how the music of Disney inspires people around the world. For more information, visit the Disney Parks Blog.
  • Firefighters came to the rescue of a dog that got stuck on a roof overnight Saturday in Everett, Washington.  South County Fire tweeted that the dog went out an open window onto a narrow roof and couldn't turn around to get back in. Firefighters were able to get the scared pup back inside.
  • The Cocoa Beach Police Department arrested Joseph McKinney, 40, of Texas, after he allegedly threatened to conduct a shooting at a hotel. >> Read more trending news  Investigators said McKinney was taken into custody after he got off a cruise ship at Port Canaveral on Sunday morning.  Police responded to the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Hotel on Friday after the hotel received an electronic guest review expressing McKinney’s displeasure about his recent stay, according to police. Officers said McKinney’s review contained threatening language and made reference to an “active shooter style” event at the hotel. McKinney was charged with making written threats to kill, do bodily injury or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. He was transported to the Brevard County Jail and is being held on $25,000 bail.
  • Atlanta police last week released a video showing a suspect in a shooting at a block party at the Atlanta University Center that wounded four students. No one has stepped forth to identify that man, so on Sunday, Atlanta City Council member Cleta Winslow said she is adding $3,000 more in reward money to better incentivize someone’s good citizenship. The reward will now be $5,000. “This is personal,” Winslow said after a short press conference near the AUC campus. “Parents send their children to our town. They need assurance that they are safe.” Four women — two students from Spelman College, two from Clark Atlanta University — were shot or grazed Tuesday night outside the Robert W. Woodruff Library during a party before the first day of school. Police believe the young man in the video was involved in a confrontation in which four or five shots were fired in the plaza crowded with 200 students. Police said that perhaps a second possible gunman was targeted by the suspect but that the women were not intended targets. One of the victims was shot in the chest, but all are expected to recover. Police said they are getting some tips but have not gotten enough information to make an arrest. Longtime civic activist Michael Langford said, “I want to appeal to the community at large because no crime occurs without someone knowing, hearing or seeing something. “And while the money is there, I want to appeal to your moral conscience to come forward because the only thing it takes for evil to exist in our community it for good people to sit back and do nothing.” Winslow said she had just met with student leaders to assure them of their safety. Both Atlanta and Atlanta University Center police said they have beefed up patrols in the areas that area. » RELATED: Concerns on Atlanta campuses after shooting » RELATED: Tighter campus security