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U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman emailed an abrupt statement to reporters in June saying he was "angered and saddened" by "baseless allegations" and had never "engaged in any improper activity." (Associated Press)

Prostitution shenanigans rock State Department

- The Washington Times

State Department managers created the appearance of giving “undue influence and favoritism” by quashing or delaying official probes into accusations of prostitution solicitation, sexual assault and document leaking by American diplomats in recent years, a report by the department’s internal watchdog said Thursday.

Many of the pumpkins that are the cornerstones of festivals and events financed by tax dollars were grown with the assistance of pricey farm subsidies. (Associated Press)

Halloween windfall: Taxpayers subsidize pumpkin patches, fall festivals

- The Washington Times

Fall is in the air and local governments across America are celebrating by using tax dollars to help subsidize everything from pumpkin patches, hay rides and haunted corn mazes to an event that would make “Modern Family’s” Cameron Tucker proud: launching Halloween pumpkins thousands of feet into the air.

In 2012, Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill aimed at addressing concerns about private organization employees in the Teachers Retirement System, especially those who had not been teachers previously but used a state law to claim past employment service toward their pensions. (Associated Press)

Loophole lets teacher union bosses collect state pensions at taxpayer expense

- The Washington Times

Thanks to a loophole created by the Illinois legislature, retired teacher union leaders are getting pension credit for the years they did union work after leaving the classroom. The arrangement has put taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in retirement benefits unrelated to teaching, and further drained an already overburdened state pension fund.

The seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs is seen on the building in Washington, Friday, June 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Under investigation at VA, official sought move to Energy Dept.

- The Washington Times

The central figure in a Department of Veterans Affairs procurement scandal, whom investigators ​accused of ​strong-arm​​ing​ the agency to hire a well-connected firm then lying about it, ​was set to ​begin a new job overseeing contracts for the Department of Energy (DOE) ​starting ​next week​, according to an internal announcement​.

The J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, which serves as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's headquarters, is seen here on April 26, 2014. (Associated Press) **FILE**

Target of FBI bribery probe successfully bribes FBI agent

- The Washington Times

A Boston businessman faced a federal investigation into whether he had bribed contracting officials to steer lucrative deals his way. So he responded the only way he knew how: bribing an FBI agent to call off the case. Unfortunately for the bureau, the agent took him up on it.

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Afghanistan National Army soldiers march during their graduation ceremony at the Kabul Military Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan on June 1, 2014. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Afghan military destroys 16 U.S.-supplied planes, sells scrap metal for 6 cents per pound

Sixteen military transport planes bought by the United States government for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at a cost of nearly $500 million were recently destroyed by the Afghan military and sold for scrap parts at around six cents per pound, prompting a government inquiry to determine why millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on the ill-fated program.