The federal government is ready to pay people $45,900 to attend an annual snowmobile competition in Michigan for the next two years.

They’re also ready to shell out $516,000 for scientists to develop an ecoATM that will give out cash in exchange for old cell phones and other electronics. And why not drop another $349,862 for a study that looks at the effects of meditation and self-reflection for math, science and engineering majors?

These are just a few of the 164 grants the National Science Foundation approved two weeks ago. Yet around the same time, the administration was warning that the sequester would cut into critical research on chronic diseases.

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