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John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing on Examining U.S. Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Afghanistan anti-corruption task force shuttered amid U.S. troop drawdown

- The Washington Times

The Pentagon this month will terminate a critical task force responsible for combating corruption in Afghanistan as it tries to reach President Obama’s target force of 9,800 U.S. troops in the country — adding to concerns about oversight and accountability in a government rife with waste, fraud and abuse.

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.

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House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald demanding answers on what he called serious deficiencies in the Caribbean VA system, including the arrest of a top official and "inappropriate hiring practices." (Associated Press)

Caribbean VA health system under fire

- The Washington Times

The chairman of a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee demanded Thursday that new VA Secretary Bob McDonald explain serious deficiencies in the department's Caribbean Health Care System, including the arrest of a top official and a suicide note left by a veteran who said he wanted to end his life because of the poor treatment he was receiving.

**FILE** Jeffrey Neely, the central figure in a General Services Administration spending scandal, sits at the witness table as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigates wasteful spending and excesses by GSA during a 2010 Las Vegas conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 16, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

GSA ‘Hot tub’ man indicted on billing charges

- The Washington Times

The central figure in a General Services Administration conference scandal that forced agencies across government to rein in spending was indicted Thursday on charges he sought reimbursement for personal travel in Las Vegas and other vacation spots then lied about it.

Reel tender Mo Laussie watches fiber-optic cable as he helps install the cable onto telephone poles in 2001 in Louisville, Colo.

Golden Hammer: Chattanooga chokes on too much fiber

- The Washington Times

Chattanooga’s government-owned fiber optic cable, telephone and high-speed Internet scheme has been hailed as a revolutionary example of publicly-funded broadband. The Internet service, which officials claim can reach speeds of a gigabit-per-second, even led Chattanooga officials to attempt to rebrand the town as “Gig City.”

Federal porn peepers are rarely charged with time and attendance abuse, according to investigative memos on computer misuse from agencies across government. Prosecutors seem to pursue cases aggressively only when there is evidence of child pornography. Agencies dole out discipline administratively in some cases, and the identities of the employees are shielded from public disclosure, records show. (associated press)

Federal workers not punished for surfing porn while on the job

- The Washington Times

An employee at the U.S. Office of the Trustee — an arm of the Justice Department charged with overseeing the integrity of the bankruptcy system — spent up to five hours a day on the job looking at pornography, visiting more than 2,500 adult websites during 2011, investigators found.

Iraqis mark Police Day in Baghdad. The State Department's decision to close an investigation left unresolved accusations of whether DynCorp let a subcontractor solicit kickbacks from linguists at Baghdad's police academy as a condition of continued employment. The company was hired under a nearly $1 billion task order to provide linguists to work in three Iraqi cities. (Associated Press)

Iraq stymied probe into military contractor kickbacks

- The Washington Times

State Department investigators last year quit probing kickback charges against one of the government's largest military contractors because they didn't want to go through the "lengthy" process of getting permission from the Iraqi government to interview its citizens, records show.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry is trying to broker a power-sharing deal between Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah (left) and Ashraf Ghani (right). The U.S. is spending billions of dollars to rebuild Afghanistan, which is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Additional U.S. dollars could be wasted through poor planning and the influence of drug trafficking. (Associated Press)

U.S. on long-term track to waste billions of dollars in Afghanistan

- The Washington Times

On the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Obama used the occasion last week to remind Americans that "our combat mission in Afghanistan will come to an end" in three months. But the cost to U.S. taxpayers for reconstruction in Afghanistan will continue.