Daily Archives: Apr 29, 2019

By: Edwin Martinez

As the President of the Pucho Augustin Olivencia Center, Wilmer Olivencia is focused on serving as a voice and advocate for individuals and families in need of support during difficult times. Because of his background and own experiences, he is able to serve as a voice for the Latino community while creating understanding and awareness among multiple audiences. “It’s important for people to know that Pucho, Inc. serves people of all backgrounds and the impact that it can have on these individuals. I am a product of Pucho, Inc. Because of the support I received here, I was able to succeed. There are so many people with great potential, and we have the power to help them reach that potential, with the support of the community,” said Wilmer during an interview about his role at the Pucho Olivencia Community Center and in the community.

With more than 20 years of experience in the human services and community organizing field, Wilmer is able to provide a wealth of knowledge on the programs and strategies that benefit our clients and the entire community. His extensive background includes work in the fields of: Community organizing, governmental administration, not –for- profit management and employment/training services. Through Pucho, Inc., Wilmer substantially increased services to the community via the Three Kings day celebration, the Grease Pole Festival and numerous other cultural event which have succeeded in increasing community pride and preserving the  Hispanic culture of Buffalo’s Latino community.

As the former Deputy City Clerk Wilmer sought to increase openness in government and increasing access to government for Buffalo’s Hispanic Community.

Wilmer is lifelong resident of Buffalo New York. The oldest child of Wilmer & Elsy Olivencia and Grandson to the Late Agustin “Pucho “ Olivencia & Carmen Olivencia. Wilmer had the pleasure of growing up in the Eastside of Buffalo on the famous Swan St and Myrtle neighborhood. A neighborhood, that first welcomed many Hispanic families upon arriving to the city of Buffalo. He moved to the Westside at an early age and had the best of the both worlds. He attended St. Columba grammar school, McKinley Vocational High School & Erie Community College where he majored in Criminal Justice.

Wilmer currently serves as the Program Coordinator of the Anti-Graffiti-& Clean City Program for the City of Buffalo. In this recent appointment by Mayor Byron W. Brown he is responsible enhancing the quality of life and leading the fight against graffiti and blight by working collaboratively with all city departments, community groups and businesses. Under his leadership the City of Buffalo was able to remove 2235 pieces of graffiti. He also played a major role in coordinating snow removal for over 1000 Senior and disabled city residents during this most recent winter that we are still experiencing.

Wilmer is happily married to his beautiful wife Wanda and lives in the Niagara District with their 3 awesome children: Jasmine 21, Kayla 19 & Michael 18. He is enjoys camping, vacationing in the Caribbean and hosting events at Puchos Social Club.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Global military expenditure reached its highest level last year since the end of the Cold War, fueled by increased spending in the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, a leading defense think-tank said on Monday.

In its annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said overall global military spending in 2018 hit $1.82 trillion, up 2.6 percent on the previous year.

That is the highest figure since 1988, when such data first became available as the Cold War began winding down.

U.S. military spending rose 4.6 percent last year to reach $649 billion, leaving it still by far the world’s biggest spender. It accounted for 36 percent of total global military expenditure, nearly equal to the following eight biggest-spending countries combined, SIPRI said.

China, the second biggest spender, saw military expenditure rise 5.0 percent to $250 billion last year, the 24th consecutive annual increase.

“In 2018 the USA and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,” Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) program, said.

With President Donald Trump committed to strong national defense despite reducing U.S. troops numbers in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, 2018 marked the first increase in U.S. military spending since 2010, SIPRI said. His defense spending request to Congress this year is the largest ever in dollar terms before adjustment for inflation.

“The increase in U.S. spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programs under the Trump administration,” Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX program, said in a statement.

The other top spenders are, in declining order, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, Britain, Germany, Japan and South Korea. Saudi Arabia, which is leading a military coalition battling Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, was the biggest per capita spender on defense, just ahead of the United States.

NATO TARGET

Trump has criticized some of Washington’s NATO allies in Europe, especially Germany, for failing to meet the alliance’s spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.

SIPRI data showed military spending equaled 1.2 percent of GDP in Germany – Europe’s largest economy – last year, based on GDP estimates for 2018 from the International Monetary Fund.

Britain and France, the two other largest economies in Europe, spent 1.8 percent and 2.3 percent of GDP respectively on defense in 2018.

Military expenditure by all 29 NATO members amounted to just over half of global spending, SIPRI added.

Russia, which flexed its military muscles with its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and intervention in the Syrian conflict, dropped out of the list of the top five spenders in 2018 following an annual decline of 3.5 percent.

Despite a sustained drive to upgrade and modernize Russia’s armed forces, President Vladimir Putin has had to tighten purse strings following a sharp decline in global oil prices and the need to prioritize some domestic spending programs.

Russian spending recorded its first annual decline in nearly two decades in 2017, with a fall of 20 percent in real terms, SIPRI estimates released last year showed.

Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Gareth Jones

Washington – President Donald Trump falsely claimed that “Puerto Rico got $ 91 billion dollars” in disaster relief funds to mitigate the disaster caused by Hurricane María, but, how much money has really arrived to the island in federal recovery and reconstruction funds?

A revision of the data provided by the U.S. and Puerto Rican authorities to verify the most recent statements of government officials, the conclusion of an analysis by the Associated Press is that funds allocated to address the emergency, recovery and the reconstruction process is about $ 45.7 billion.

Disbursements, including funds the federal government spent on restoring the island´s power infrastructure, loans and Medicaid funds to ease the government’s fiscal crisis, reach $ 20 billion.

However, funds directly available related for Puerto Rico´s reconstruction remain at $ 1.507 billion from the US Department of Housing (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program (CDBG-DR). According to the federal government, Puerto Rico has only used $ 42,000 of the funds released under the CDBG-DR program.

Although official figures have changed little in recent months, those who listen to government authorities face a puzzle of different numbers.

Although President Trump told Republican senators in a meeting at the federal Capitol, and then tweeted, that Puerto Rico had received $ 91 billion, the White House later recognized – in a document defending its response to the emergency caused by Hurricane María and accusing the island´s government of having a history of corruption – that that number was not real.

The current official White House estimate is that the federal government has allocated $ 41 billion for Puerto Rico disaster recovery and that the other $ 50 billion could be spent in the future.

Disbursement of federal funds for Puerto Rico

1- Restoration of power infrastructure $4.96 billion*.

($3.06 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that hired U.S. companies. Plus $1.9 billionin subsidies to Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.)

2- Medicaid $3.22 billion**.

3- FEMA reimbursements to the local government

$3.01 billion.

4- FEMA reimbursements to households and individuals $2.4 billion.

5- U.S. Small Business Administration loans for Businesses in Puerto Rico $2.20 billion.

6- Funds through The Community Development Block Grant, Disaster Recovery Program (CDBG–DR) $1.5 billion***

7- Food Assistance $1.27 billion.

8- Employee Retention Benefit $423.3 million.

9- CDL loans for municipalities$294.4 million.

10- FEMA reimbursements to municipalities for expenses related to the emergency $282.2 million.

11- Reimbursements to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for debris removal $231 million.

Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares tweeted that they have only received $ 300 million. The governor also stated –creating even more confusion- that “Puerto Rico has not been able to spend a single dollar of the money already appropriated by Congress.”

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González says the data she has gathered indicate that the island received $ 50 billion.

In any case, it is false to say that disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico have far exceeded funding for other states hit by a natural disaster, as President Trump argued.

According to Associated Press, damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and other southern states cost the government more than $ 120 billion.

If Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood insurance funds, and without all federal programs at hand, are considered, Texas has received at least

$ 51 billion for recovery and reconstruction after Hurricane Harvey, which along with María have been the most powerful storms recorded in recent years..

12- FCC funds for the telecommunications network $51 million

13- WIC funds $14 million

Approximate Total: $19.8 billion.

*Funds went almost entirely to U.S. electric power companies.

**Based on PRHIA monthly estimates.

***These are the only funds disbursed for the island´s reconstruction. Of this total, just $42,000 have been used.

Sources: FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Office of the Resident Commissioner, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.

As other experts have noted before, a FEMA spokeswoman in Washington warned yesterday that disaster comparison does not provide an accurate representation of disaster funding because there are many variables and elements that are very different from place to place and from disaster to disaster.

Unfortunately, it´s not possible to see the breakdown of disaster relief appropriations and disbursements made to the island since there is no such platform in the federal government.

Although Governor Rosselló Nevares insisted that he has set the “most transparent reconstruction” after a natural disaster, the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) website provides partial information on the promised allocations and only includes disbursements made by FEMA.

After an $ 88 million contract with CGI Technologies, Cecille Blondet, executive director of Espacios Abiertos affirmed that “the COR3 website does not give a complete picture”, nor does it take the entire recovery plan as a basis. She added that to “be able to track the recovery process in Puerto Rico after María and ensure a transparent, clean and fair recovery— in addition to knowing how is Puerto Rico’s recovering after María, what investment is required, and from what sources will these funds come— the civil sector needs updated information that allows us to follow the progress of the recovery to actively participate and monitor effectively.”

Although it was requested, the Department of the Treasury did not provide information on how much money in federal disaster relief has reached the Treasury.

On Wednesday, AP reported on a White House document that, among other things, states that “Congress does not need to appropriate more funds for the recovery effort in Puerto Rico,” which suggests that the rest of the funds may come from reconstruction projects authorized by FEMA.

$152 millionin FCC funds for repairs and improvements to the telecommunications network.
$151.5millionadministratively allocated through HUD to the Puerto Rico Housing Authority.
$43.2millionto address hurricane damage in 36 universities and technical schools.
$25 millionin FEMA Flood Insurance Program.
$20.6millionin Head Start funds for healthcare programs.
$14.9millionfrom FEMA for municipalities permanent work projects.
$14millionin WIC food program.
$12.8millionin U.S. Health Department funds to community healthcare centers.
$8.9millionin U.S. Education Department funds to universities and schools.
$5.58millionfrom the U.S. Department of Commerce to non-profits for community development programs.
$3.7million from NOAA for shipwreck and debris removal.
Approximate Total: $45.726 billion
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*Funds went almost entirely to U.S. companies.

Despite President Trump’s reluctance regarding new recovery or reconstruction funds for Puerto Rico, there are bills pending in Congress proposing to allocate between $ 605 million and $ 1,067 billion for the island´s recovery.

Amid the crossfire between Rosselló and Trump, La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Anthony Maceira acknowledged that they will need to overcome the President´s objections to gain access to the billions of dollars that rebuilding the power grid would cost.

According to Governor Rosselló Nevares´ plan, only modernizing the transmission and distribution systems will require more than $ 16 billion in federal assistance.

The last version of the Puerto Rican government´s fiscal plan estimates that the island would receive $ 78 billion in federal funds for recovery and reconstruction.

Of that total, they estimate that $ 46 billion will come through FEMA assistance for public agencies, including permanent works.

They also count on $ 19,946 billion in CDBG-DR funds already allocated, $ 2,5 billion in FEMA assistance to individuals and families, and $ 9,5 billion in “federal missions” programmed by the U.S. government, which should include the funds used to restore the power grid.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Buffalo Bills fans cheer during the first half against the New York Jets on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Bills super fan Ezra Castro, aka Pancho Billa, had been invited to make the team’s third-round NFL Draft pick in person Friday night in Nashville.

Castro was on the stage via FaceTime through the phone of former Bills safety Coy Wire, who made the selection.

Castro also was involved in calling in the Bills’ first-round pick to Nashville on a three-way call with Bills GM Brandon Beane on Thursday night.

Castro learned Thursday morning he was going into hospice care in the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He is staying there to receive care and support due to the stage four cancer he has battled for 18 months, cancer that began as a mass around his spine and then invaded his liver and his lungs.

Here is video posted on the Bills’ Twitter feed of Wire and Castro making the selection of Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary.

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