Want To Visit Cuba?

by Keith D. Foote

Source- Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

Source- Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, the United States has removed its longstanding and outdated restriction on visiting Cuba. U.S. citizens can now travel legally to Cuba… if they are involved in professional research, an athletic event, a concert, a humanitarian project, or educational activities. Snorkeling off the Cuban coast would be educational.

The trade embargo still exists, the result of long standing prejudices held by Republicans in congress. Only those with an extreme prejudice against Fidel Castro, who no longer rules the country, seem to be opposed. These same people have successfully transferred their prejudices against Fidel to his brother, Raul Castro, who is the current leader of Cuba.

The U.S. reopened its embassy in Cuba after more than 54 years. In a symbolic step, showing the warming of ties between the two countries, John Kerry presided over the flag raising ceremony at the embassy in Havana. The U.S. flag raising marked the end of the Cold War diplomatic freeze between two countries. The U.S. flag was presented to active marines by the same U.S. marines who brought it down in 1961. Mr Kerry described the raising of the flag as an historic moment. He also warned that the United States would not stop pressing for political change in Cuba.

Cuban leader Raul Castro and President Obama agreed to restore ties in December of last year. While trade and travel restrictions have been relaxed, Republicans in Congress have blocked ending the trade embargo imposed on the Cuba in 1960. Not surprisingly, Mr Kerry’s visit to Cuba drew criticism from many leading Republicans, including Jeb Bush who described it as “a birthday present for Fidel Castro, a symbol of the Obama administration’s acquiescence to his ruthless legacy.”

Cuba reopened its embassy in Washington last month, but former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has blasted the United States for not lifting its trade embargo. In a letter on Thursday, Mr Castro stated the United States owed Cuba millions of dollars because of its 53 year embargo. The embargo, which Cuba calls a blockade, is hugely damaging to its economy, and relations will only be fully restored after it has lifted.

Senators and representatives from both parties have come to the island to meet with Cuban government representatives. Business people from agricultural states in the Midwest, travel companies, and technology companies from California have been flooding the island these last few months. The Discovery Channel is currently running a series titled ‘Cuban Chrome,’ which focuses on the classic American cars on Havana’s streets.

U.S. citizens can now legally travel to Cuba. Technically, U.S. citizens are still not allowed to visit for purposes of “tourism,” but if you can show your visit helped the Cuban people, or had an educational aspect to it, or your doing business of some sort, you trip is legal.

Previously, many of the “legal” activities required applying for a specific license and moving through a complicated labyrinth of government bureaucracy. Now, U.S. citizens can basically license themselves, if they believe traveling to Cuba meets the legal requirements. No one seems to be questioning visitors, or asking if they are there legally. U.S. cruise lines have proposed educational tours to Cuba.

Traveling to Cuba has also become much easier. There are now regular flights leaving from Miami, and flights are now being added leaving from Tampa, Orlando, and New York. Sadly, tickets for Cuba must still be booked through third party charter companies, because airlines still can’t sell tickets to Cuba from the U.S. Another small, unnecessary hoop to jump through that you can blame on an increasingly irrational Republican led congress.

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Trade With Cuba, November 2015

by Keith D. Foote

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An Overview

Venezuela has been the primary source of Cuba’s imports for several years. However, Venezuela is having political, commercial, and economic problems, causing production and delivery issues. Russia, China, Iran, etc. simply are not in a position to replace Venezuela as benefactors/suppliers. Cuba is a small island, with a small economy. Unless you’re in the Americas, it is expensive to reach, and supporting it for questionable political gains is not cost-effective.

Cuba’s government seems to be entering a period of cautious observation before accepting a full re-engagement of trade with the United States. If the government of Cuba permits the changes supported by the U.S., they risk massive cultural changes and less economic independence. But in terms of efficiency, trade with the U.S. is remarkably convenient. In spite of this, Cuba’s government may (intelligently) decide the tactics of stalling and dragging out trade negotiations will work to their advantage. Their economic priorities and philosophies are not the same as those commonly used in the United States. They have no reason to hurry.

At present, there are a large number of items legally exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba that remain unreported/undocumented. The methods used for these exports include direct charter flights from the United States to Cuba, and the use of third-country regularly scheduled airlines. Products include such things as welding equipment, electronic equipment, printers, power tools, cooking supplies, medical supplies, etc. The goods “exported” are taken on as baggage (checked and carry-on) by passengers hired by the exporter, or by the exporter as he/she travels to Cuba. This type of trade system requires personal contacts in Cuba. There are already established trade businesses within Cuba performing this service, and competing with these established organizations may prove difficult.

Currently, these are the problems you can expect in exporting goods to Cuba:

  • A culture where money “is not” the highest priority.
  • Currently, there is no American Chamber of Commerce.
  • A lack of foreign exchange due to commercial and economic decisions by the government of the Republic of Cuba have reduced its ability to earn foreign exchange.
  • Cuba’s trade relationship with Venezuela has lowerered their interest in purchasing products from the United States, but this is changing.
  • Brazil, Argentina, Vietnam, Mexico, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Russia, Iran, New Zealand, and France are countries who have had steady trade with Cuba, and are well-established as competition.
  • You will have to compete with, or work with, government-controlled businesses who provide very favorable payment terms. The Government acts like a bank for these, and several other businesses.
  • Oddly enough, the Cuban government demands a high degree of transparency. Something American businesses are not used to. Their demands for transparency have slowed a number of U.S. corporations efforts to “invade” Cuba. The Cuban government has even requested members of the U.S. Congress to be more visible in their lobbying efforts regarding Cuba.

Exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba fall under provisions of TSREEA (also referred to as TSRA), or the more archaic CDA.

Currently, goods are shipped from the U.S. to the Republic of Cuba by air or by water from one of 47 districts in the United States. These are a few:

The reporting district of Mobile, Alabama, has shipping ports at:
Mobile, Alabama
Pascagoula, Mississippi
Gulfport, Mississippi

The reporting district of Miami, Florida has shipping ports at:
Jacksonville, Florida
Port Manatee, Florida
Can include airline charter/airline cargo from Miami International Airport.

The New York reporting district includes ports in:
New Jersey and can include John F. Kennedy International Airport (charter flights).
The Buffalo, New York, reporting district transports products by ground and then to the Republic of Cuba.

The Los Angeles, California, moves products through Los Angeles International Airport (charter flights).

Tips while staying in Cuba

Business Hours
Most businesses and banks follow U.S. norms from the 1950s, and are open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. There are, however, individual variations on the theme, and some businesses and banks may close for an hour for lunch. Shops and department stores, especially those focused on tourists, often have slightly more extended hours, and many are open on Saturday and Sunday.

Drinking
There are no firm laws about drinking and liquor. Beer, wine, and liquor are available at most restaurants and gift shops.

Electricity
A 110 voltage is the standard in Cuba, with traditional U.S. style outlets. Some outlets, however, are rated at 220 volts, particularly in hotels catering to Europeans. These outlets are usually marked and often only accept two-prong round plugs. As a general rule, Americans should have no problems with personal appliances, though you might want to bring a three-to-two-prong adapter for outlets lacking a ground.

Embassies & Consulates
All major consulates and embassies, including the new U.S. embassy, are in Havana.640px-L'Havana_ambaixada_EUA The U.S. embassy may be known to locals as the Chancery Building and is quite close to the beach. It is on Calzada, a main travelway, between L & M Streets. The primary phone number is: (53)(7) 839-4100. Their work hours are: Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (They are closed on U.S. and Cuban Holidays.) For emergencies and after hours communications:(+53)(7)-831-4100 and dial 1 to speak with the emergency operator. The email address is: ACSHavana@state.gov

The embassy of Canada is located at Calle 30 no. 518, at the corner of Avenida 7, Miramar (tel. 7/204-2516; fax 7/204-2044; http://havana.gc.ca). The “Consulate of Canada” is located at Hotel Atlántico, Suite 1, Guardalavaca (tel. 24/430-320; fax 24/430-321; honcongvaca@canada.com); and at Calle 13, corner of Avenida 1 and Camino del Mar, Varadero (tel. 45/61-2078; fax 45/66-7395; honconvdero@canada.com).

The embassy of the United Kingdom is located at Calle 34 no. 702, between Avenida 7 and 17, Miramar (tel. 7/214-2200; fax 7/214-2268; http://ukincuba.fco.gov.uk).

Emergencies
In most emergency situations, you will dial 106 on the telephone. This is the number for the police. You can also dial 104 for an ambulance, or 105 for the fire department. You cannot assume you will find an English-speaking person at any of these emergency numbers. For legal emergencies, contact your diplomatic representation. All U.S. citizens can find assistance at the U.S. Interests Section, with no questions asked about licenses.

Behavior & Customs
Cubans are generally friendly, open, and physically expressive. They are comfortable talking to strangers and use the formal terms of address in Spanish. However, you should be aware, many Cubans starting a conversation with you in the street are hoping to find some form of economic gain out of the relationship. “Jineterismo” is a way of life for some in Cuba. They may offer to take you to a specific restaurant or hotel (for a commission) or they may simply make a direct appeal for money.

Dress is generally very informal, in part as a result of the tough economic times faced by the general population. Suits are sometimes worn in business and governmental meetings, although a simple, light, short-sleeved cotton shirt with a tie is completely acceptable.

Your greatest etiquette concern should be is about what you say. Openly criticizing the government, or the Castros, is a significant taboo. Do not do this, especially in public places where you can be heard by the general population.

Insurance
Cuba requires all visitors and non-Cuban residents have a medical insurance policy. This is an absolute. Failure to carry the correct documents could result in having to purchase mandatory insurance coverage at the airport through Asistur. An unnecessary surprise expense. Visitors from the U.S. should take out their insurance policy from Cuban insurance companies that are affiliated with Havantur-Celimar Company. (American insurance companies do not provide coverage in Cuba.) For more information, contact the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.cubaminrex.cu/english/LookCuba/Articles /Others/2010/06-04.html). That said, it seems that visitors are not always asked to present proof of insurance documentation on entry. Still, to be safe, you should take out an insurance policy before you arrive in Cuba. If you do need to purchase insurance at the airport, contact Asistur (tel. 7/866-4499; http://www.asistur.cu).

Language
Spanish is the official language of Cuba. English is spoken at most tourist hotels and at some restaurants and attractions. Outside of the tourist areas, English is not commonly spoken, and some understanding of basic Spanish will go a long way.

Indigenous and African languages have had a significant influence on the Cuban language. Such words as cigar, barbacoa, and conga, can trace their origins to African languages. African dialects are still used in songs and ceremonies, though very few speak them conversationally. Because of the leftover Soviet influence, some Cubans know how to speak Russian.

Legal Aid
If you get into legal trouble, immediately request to be put in touch with your embassy. All embassies have emergency numbers available 24 hours a day.

Mail                                                                                                                                                           A post office is called a “correo” in Spanish. You can purchase stamps at post offices, or gift shops, and the front desk in most hotels. The Cuban postal service is extremely slow and inefficient. You can expect every piece of mail to be opened and inspected. The cost of a letter to the U.S. or Canada is CUC$.75, and will take about 3 weeks for delivery. A letter to Europe costs CUC$.70. A package of up to 1 kilogram (2.2 lb.) will cost CUC$10 to CUC$20 to ship, depending upon the destination, and can only be dealt with at principal post offices.

However, it is best to send anything of any value by using an established international courier service. DHL, Calle 26 and Avenida 1, Miramar, Havana (tel. 7/204-1876; http://www.dhl.com), provides coverage for most of Cuba. Note: In spite of what you may have been told, packages sent overnight to U.S. addresses tend to take 3 to 4 days to reach their destination.

Maps
Most hotels, and car rental offices, will have very basic road maps of Cuba and Havana. Most tourist gift shops and Infotur kiosks will have more deatiled maps available. If you’re purchasing a map “before” your trip, try to get the International Travel Map of Cuba (www.itmb.com). You can also find good maps online at http://www.cubaroutes.com.

Police
Nationwide, dialing 106 will connect you with the police, though you should not expect to find an English-speaking person on the other end of the phone. In general, the police are quite helpful and trustworthy. Bribery is not a concern. In case of theft, the police are your best bet for helping to recover your valuables, but for physical emergencies or threats of serious danger, you should contact your embassy for help and advice.

Taxes
There are no specific taxes on products or services in Cuba. However, some tourist restaurants have begun adding a 10% service charge onto their bills. This fee goes directly to the state restaurant and not the waiter, so you will need to leave a tip separately. There is also a CUC$25 departure tax that must be paid in cash when leaving the country.

Tipping
Most Cuban workers earn incredibly low salaries, around CUC$10 to CUC$15 a month, so tips are very important. With the rise of tourism, many workers now expect and work for tips, including taxi drivers, waiters, guides, porters, and restaurant musicians. Taxi driver are loath to give any small change on a fare, preferring to keep it. If the meter reads CUC$4.30, you are expected to pay CUC$4.50, though you are within your rights to ask for your CUC$.20 of chnge . Taxi drivers, especially in Havana, will often overcharge tourists. Porters should be tipped between CUC$.50 and CUC$1 for each bag. If you stay in a hotel or resort, you should tip the maid about CUC$1 a day. Also tip the waiters who serve you every day in the all-inclusive resorts.

Toilets
Public restrooms are not readily available. Hotels, restaurants, or museums may let you use their restrooms. While it is unusual for a tourist would be denied use of the restrooms, you should always ask permission. Generally speaking, public restrooms in Cuba are much more sanitary than those in other developing countries, although toilet seats are sometimes missing and you should always bring toilet paper with you.

Many restrooms will have an attendant, who is sometimes responsible for dispensing toilet paper. Upon exiting, you are expected to either leave a tip, or pay a specified fee. If the restrooms are not clean and you do not take the toilet paper, do not feel obliged to tip. Otherwise, leave up to CUC$.25

Water
Water is generally safe to drink throughout the country. However, bottled water is available and sold as agua mineral sin or con gas and made by Ciego Montero. Bottled water can be expensive, so if you don’t have “very” a sensitive stomach, you can ask for agua hervida (boiled water).

Photo of Streets of Santiago de Cuba by Christopher L. 

Photo of Chancery Building by Stevenbedrick at English Wikipedia

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Pets Overdosing On Their Owner’s Marijuana Is Becoming An Issue

Cute Puppy

Cute Puppy

The Pet Poison Helpline is a 24-hour pet poison control center. Calls about pets overdosing on marijuana have quadrupled over the past three years. Most of the increase has taken place in the last 12 months.

Dr. Ahna Brutlag, senior veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline, said about pets overdosing, “Over the past year alone, we’ve had double the marijuana exposures.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has experienced a similar increase in pets overdosing. In 2014, the ASPCA’s poison control centers received approximately 539 calls about animals who had accidentally consumed cannabis. This is up from 320 in 2013.

Dr. Heidi Houchen, of Clackamas, Ore, a veterinarian at Northwest Veterinary Specialists said,

“What’s worrying to us is the severity of cases now. We still see the classic case: red eyes, wobbly, urinating on themselves, a little twitchy … but they can progress through the sedate, leaning, urine-dribbling stage to becoming completely comatose or absolutely rigid. They’ve come in and had seizures. They can come in a panic, really sensitive to noise and touch. They can pass away.”

Dr. Brutlag said,

“Part of the problem is that pets are sneaking away edible cannabis products. If a brownie is sitting on the coffee table, that dog is going to eat it whether it has marijuana or not. I think the enticement and the opportunity for a pet is greater [with edibles].”

And there is a special danger for pets with an insatiable appetite. Dr. Brutlag added,

“It’s not just going to eat one brownie. It’ll eat the whole pan. The dose of what a dog would ingest relative to a human would be much greater.”

While it is true both recreational and medical marijuana for pets are being targeted by the marijuana industry, the assumption it is perfectly safe for a pet could have some unhappy consequences. Chances are slim your pet’s overdose will kill it, but there could be complications, and your best bud isn’t going to feel well for a day or two. It’s probably worth the safety and happiness of your buddy to put the brownies in the frig or cupboard. Besides, the chocolate is definitely not good for them.

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Manipulation Tactics Vs Democracy

Photo of Debbie Wasserman Schultz by Medill DC via Flickr.com

Photo of Debbie Wasserman Schultz by Medill DC via Flickr.com

DNC Vice Chairwoman, Tulsi Gabbard, deserves some credit for standing up to members of her own committee in demanding to know why Democratic debates have been limited to six. In response, Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz disinvited her to the first Democratic debate. The issue of limiting the debates to six is threatening to become more than just a little embarrassing to the Democratic National Committee. In 2008, The DNC sponsored 25 debates.

It seems the DNC has a hidden agenda. It has displayed a remarkable amount of loyalty to Ms, Clinton, and she seems to be Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz’s choice for the 2016 Presidential nominee. The only problem with this behavior is it doesn’t support the democratic process. It would seem the DNC is using manipulation tactics to support Ms. Clinton. They are attempting to thwart the will of the people so Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz’s candidate can win.

The manipulation tactic of limiting debates minimizes candidate exposure and blocks the general public from getting more information about who the candidates are. This tactic also prevents free advertising for presidential hopeful, Mr. Sanders, minimizes the possibility of Ms. Clinton making a public gaff, and keeps conversations about real issues from taking place. Per an interview with a committee person/woman wanting to remain anonymous (anonymous quotes are always a little questionable, but the reader should have “all” facts available),

“The party’s female leaders really want to make a woman the next president. I haven’t heard anyone say we should make Hillary undergo a trial by fire. To the contrary, the women in charge seem eager, more and more, to have her skate into the general election.”

A second DNC Co-Chair, R.T. Rybak, has stated Debbie Wasserman Schultz is lying. When asked, he said there was no consultation or input from other DNC members on the number of debates. When pressured, the DNC Chief of Staff admitted Wasserman-Schultz was lying about consulting others in making the decision to limit the debates.

On the issue of delegates and superdelegates, Ms. Clinton has been gathering commitments from people who will actually vote for the Democratic nominee. Clinton was addressing the DNC in Minneapolis, when senior campaign officials announced she had already taken pledges of support from at least 440 of the party’s estimated 713 super delegates. At this stage, with the election still a year away, these commitments “are not” rock solid. If Ms. Clinton shoots herself in the foot with an ill-timed gaff, or some new trust issue arises, delegates and superdelegates can still change their minds. However, the manipulation of commitments this far in advance are not a reflection of the democratic process. It is, instead, manipulation and political gamesmanship.

Put another way, Ms. Clinton’s impressive number of commitments won’t have a “direct” impact at the convention. Ms. Clinton’s very early efforts to secure superdelegates does, however, demonstrate her position as a Washington insider, and her conviction she should be the next U.S. president, regardless of what “we, the people,” want.

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DNC Manipulation Tactic Blows Up In Their Face

Bernie Sanders’ supporters responded to the DNC’s “recent” outlandish behavior by opening their wallets. The campaign collected more than $1 million by the end of Friday, most of it coming in via the internet. This strong display of support is the result of the DNC trying to “tip the scales” in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign was blocked from accessing the DNC’s voter database, early Friday morning, after a security breach of private data belonging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign was discovered and reported, by the Sanders’ campaign. This breach was reported immediately. (It’s not the first time the DNC separation of files has simply disappeared, allowing open access to Clinton’s, Sanders, and O’Malley’s information.) Some overzealous campaign staffers did take advantage of the temporary technical glitch to access Clinton’s voter data. The data is maintained by the technology company NGP VAN and owned by the Democratic National Committee. (It was suggested on the Friday News Roundup of the Diane Rehm Show, Clinton’s camp had access to Bernie Sanders info at the same time, and we’re naive to believe Bernie’s info wasn’t accessed.)

The DNC response to Bernie’s report of the breach was to shoot the messenger. The Democratic National Committee decided to cut off Bernie Sanders’ access to his own voter files. This effectively crippled the campaign’s field operation, and Senator Sanders responded by suing the party and accusing its leaders of plotting to hand the presidential nomination to the Democratic frontrunner. There is strong supporting evidence for this accusation.

The DNC has already been accused of limiting the number debates as a way to minimize Ms. Clinton’s exposure and block the general public from getting more information about the other candidates. This tactic prevents free advertising for presidential hopeful, Mr. Sanders, and minimizes the possibility of Ms. Clinton making a public gaff. Per an interview with a committee person/woman wanting to remain anonymous (anonymous quotes are always a little questionable, but the reader should have “all” facts available),

“The party’s female leaders really want to make a woman the next president. I haven’t heard anyone say we should make Hillary undergo a trial by fire. To the contrary, the women in charge seem eager, more and more, to have her skate into the general election.”

The DNC has forgotten about concepts like democracy, and are focused on electing Hillary, regardless of what “we the people” want.

After discovering the sheer volume of backlash from Bernie supporters, the DNC abruptly decided to drop their outlandish, over-the-top behavior, and returned to the Sanders’ campaign access to their own information. They didn’t want their “standard political manipulation tactics” to be the reason Hillary loses. 

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Affluency? Mrs. Clinton Is Taking Bribes- Over $150,000 From The Oil Industry

(Note- I’ve begun using the title “Mrs.” because Hillary Clinton’s husband is now campaigning for her.)

The Center for Responsive Politics reports Hillary Clinton, has received over $150,000 from oil and gas representatives during the her run for the presidency. This does not count monies they’ve donated earlier to the Clinton Foundation. Mrs. Clinton claims she is unaware she received campaign contributions from the oil industry. (There is no way of knowing how much the oil industry has actually donated.) According to the Huffington Post, Mrs. Clinton’s “biggest” campaign bundlers are oil industry lobbyists, which include lobbyists for Chevron. The obvious question is, “How could she “not” know? Are we to believe her lobbyist friends are not telling her where the money is coming from?”

When asked by an audience member if she would follow the examples of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, in rejecting oil industry donations, Mrs. Clinton said,

“Well, I don’t know that I ever have (accepted money from the oil industry). I’m not exactly one of their favorites.” When pressed she added, “Have I? Okay, well, I’ll check on that. They certainly haven’t made that much of an impression on me if I don’t even know it.” (One wonders how much it would take to impress Mrs. Clinton.)

Mrs. Clinton’s connections with oil industry donors has raised some questions about her commitment to past environmental policies. One of her top donation organizers is Gordon Giffin, a former lobbyist for TransCanada, the company that spent years pressuring the United States to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Mr. Giffin is on the board of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, a pipeline investor who paid Mrs. Clinton $990,000 (almost a million) for speeches in the months before she announced her presidential run. Hillary Clinton refused to take a position on the pipeline for months, then announced her opposition to the deal in late September, when the pipeline was no longer economically feasible.

Mrs. Clinton has collected $47.5 million in donations, more than any other candidate.

Mrs. Clinton seems to prefer large donations from corporations and the wealthy. Large donations are typically made to her super PAC, Correct the Record, which she has turned into a giant bank account, and which currently focuses on attacks on Bernie Sanders. (Technically, Mrs. Clinton should have no communications with Correct the Record, but she has decided to ignore this law, because she can. She’s wealthy, she has contacts, and the DNC has decided to support her in this manipulation tactic. What was that term… affluency!)

Mrs. Clinton has historically provided favors to her major donors, dating back to the time she served as a senator and had the authority to influence legislation and earmark federal funding. For example, when Mrs. Clinton was New York’s junior senator, she helped a donor to the Clinton Foundation use tax-exempt bonds to build a shopping center in Syracuse, New York. She also helped out Freddie Mac with legislation, with Freddie Mac donating $50,000 to $100,000 to her husband’s charity. Mrs. Clinton also used her authority as a senator to help persuade the Chinese government to reduce tariffs on Corning Inc.’s fiber optic products. Corning, Inc’s staff and executives have contributed literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to her various campaigns.

Analysts on political money have said the pattern of Mrs. Clinton’s intervention on behalf of donors to her husband’s charity raise troubling ethical questions.

Bill Allison, of the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, said,

“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”

Mrs. Clinton has evolved into one of those people who feel they are above the law. She has the money, and the connections, needed to ignore those pesky little details called laws. Affluency!

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Bribes / Donations Flow Into The Clinton Campaign

The mission statement of the Clinton Foundation is: “To bring people together to take on the biggest challenges of the 21st century.” A nice vague statement that could be used to justify just about anything. Questions have come up about the transparency of the foundation’s fund-raising from foreign governments and corporations. There is a concern about donations to the foundation being used as bribes for Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State and as President of the United States.

Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, said in April 2014,

“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons.”

A very curious agreement between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation (arranged at the beginning of the Secretary of State Clinton’s tenure) came under scrutiny from the Wall Street Journal. During February, 2015, they found the Clinton Foundation had, once again, begun accepting donations from foreign governments. Contributions from foreign donors to U.S. political candidates are considered bribes, and against the law. These “contributions” constitute a major portion of the Clinton Foundation’s income.

The Washington Post investigated donations by foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation during the secretary’s tenure, and found six cases where such governments continued making donations at the same level they had before Clinton became secretary. In March, 2015, Reuters reported the Clinton Foundation had failed to keep its commitment to publish all of its donors, as well as its promise to let the State Department review all donations from foreign governments. In April, 2015, the New York Times reported that when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the State Department had approved a deal to sell American uranium to Russians who had donated to the Clinton Foundation.

George Stephanopoulos, who has donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation, once told Jon Stewart onThe Daily Show, “when money is given to the Clinton Foundation “everybody” knows there’s “a hope that that’s going to lead to something, and that’s what you have to be careful of.

Mrs. Clinton’s pattern of taking bribes in the form of donations has been extended to a super PAC she set up, called ‘Correct The Record.’ Mrs. Clinton has an unusually close relationship with her super PAC in that she communicates with it directly. For a FEC investigation into this relationship, click here.

The Washington Post reported Bill Clinton made nearly $105 million for giving speeches from 2001-12. His biggest speech fees were paid by foreign hosts while his wife was secretary of State. These payments include $1.4 million from a Nigerian firm (two visits to Lagos); $600,000 from the Dutch financial firm, Achmea; and a Russian investment bank with ties to Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, plus many others. (Check out the few they actually listed.)

Before Mrs. Clinton became Secretary of State, Saudi Arabia contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. After becoming Secretary of State, the Saudis asked her for military jets. Two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing, who manufactures the F-15, contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release. This finalized the deal.

The Saudi deal was one of dozens of arms sales approved by Secretary of State Clinton, putting weapons in the hands of governments who had donated money to the Clinton Foundation. Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation. While Secretary of State, she also authorized $151 billion in deals for 16 countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation.

Mrs. Clinton’s vote “for” the Iraq War makes more sense when you consider her statement,

“It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity.”

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