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Thursday, Apr 17th

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US auditor finds taxpayer money flowing to Taliban, Al Qaeda - but Army refuses to act

Tax money going to TalibanThe US military has been ignoring warnings that its spending in Afghanistan is funding Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), appears to have had enough.

He issued a blistering cover letter with SIGAR's quarterly report to Congress today that called into question what "appears to be a growing gap between the policy objectives of Washington and the reality of achieving them in Afghanistan."

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4 decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese

Agent OrangeIn many ways, Nguyen Thi Ly is just like any other 12-year-old girl. She has a lovely smile and is quick to laugh. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She enjoys skipping rope when she plays.

But Ly is also very different from other children. Her head is severely misshapen. Her eyes are unnaturally far apart and permanently askew. She’s been hospitalized with numerous ailments since her birth.

Her mother, 43-year-old Le Thi Thu, has similar deformities and health disorders. Neither of them has ever set foot on a battlefield, but they’re both casualties of war.

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Final report on Iraq reconstruction says fraud, waste cost U.S. $1.5 billion

Iraq fraudThe $40 million shell of an unfinished prison in Iraq’s Diyala province; $2 million in laundered cash pocketed by government officials and contractors in Hilla; an $80 invoice on a $1.41 piece of PVC piping from a defense subcontractor near Baghdad.

Those are just three examples of fraudulent and wasteful spending that plagued U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which on Tuesday issued its final report on the U.S. government’s $60 billion reconstruction program for that country.

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Libya may become first country to call conflict rape a war crime

War crimes against womenLibyan lawmakers say they expect to pass a bill that would make rape during armed conflict a war crime, the first such law to be instituted by any country.

Juma Ahmad Atigha, the deputy president of Libya's General National Congress, says the GNC will vote on measure within a few weeks, The Guardian reported Friday. A 10-year prison term accompanies a conviction for rape under current law. Anyone convicted under the war crime legislation would receive a life sentence.

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U.S. Afghanistan auditor tells of free-for-all as subcontractors demand money they’re owed

Afghan contractorsThe U.S. government’s primary auditing agency for Afghanistan has found that subcontractors on U.S.-funded projects in that country frequently aren’t paid, resulting in a litany of problems that include delayed and unfinished jobs, death threats to company workers and allegations of corruption among Afghan police and judicial officials.

Primary contractors are responsible for the failure, but because the nonpayments leave the impression that the U.S. government and coalition forces aren’t fulfilling their obligations, they undermine support for the coalition among the Afghan people and put at risk multimillion-dollar projects that are intended to promote stability, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a letter to U.S. diplomatic, defense and aid officials warning them of what it called “serious problems” of nonpayments.

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Iraqis, Afghans who helped U.S. in wars look to Congress for resettlement

Iraqis helped USCongress will consider legislation Friday that could ease the way for thousands of Iraqis and Afghans to resettle in the United States to escape the dangers that come with their work for the U.S. military, news outlets and nonprofit groups.

The current version of the government’s “special immigrant visa” program expires next fall, and refugee advocates are pushing hard not only for an extension but also for sweeping changes to a process that’s been widely criticized as too slow, too narrow in eligibility and unreasonably complicated.

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U.S. disrupts al-Qaeda’s online magazine

Inspire magazineU.S. intelligence operatives covertly sabotaged a prominent al-Qaeda online magazine last month in an apparent attempt to sow confusion among the group’s followers, according to officials.

The operation succeeded, at least temporarily, in thwarting publication of the latest issue of Inspire, the English-language magazine distributed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. When it appeared online, the text on the second page was garbled and the following 20 pages were blank. The sabotaged version was quickly removed from the online forum that hosted it, according to independent analysts who track jihadi Web sites.

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