Senate Keeps TV Marti Aloft

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The Senate Wednesday approved a $21.1 million appropriation for TV Marti, the balloon-born TV service beamed to Cuba by the U.S. government in hopes of winning over their hearts and minds to capitalist (and personal freedom) verities.

The service has been around since 1989, but it is routinely jammed and, according to some anecdotal studies, few if any Cubans can see it.

Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) tried to get the Senate to deflate the effort, which they called a "colossal waste of taxpayer money" (and B&C's editorial page once christened a "balloondoggle").

The Senate voted 65 to 35 to continue to fund the service, though it may replace the "Fat albert" hot air balloon that carries the transmitter with an airplane.

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