Millions in federal employee charges found questionable

Federal employees charged millions of dollars for Internet dating, tailor-made suits, lingerie, lavish dinners and other questionable expenses to their government credit cards over a 15-month period, congressional auditors say.

A report by the Government Accountability Office, obtained yesterday by The Associated Press, examined spending controls across the federal government following reports of credit-card abuse at departments including Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.

The review of card spending at more than a dozen departments from 2005 to 2006 found that nearly 41 percent of roughly $14 billion in credit-card purchases, whether legitimate or questionable, did not follow procedure – either because they were not properly authorized or they had not been signed for by an independent third party as called for in federal rules to deter fraud.


Cleric threatens to break cease-fire

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr raised the stakes yesterday in his showdown with government, threatening to end formally a seven-month cease-fire unless authorities stop attacks on his followers in Baghdad.

Formally ending the cease-fire could trigger renewed fighting throughout southern Iraq, nine days after a deal brokered in Iran calmed the region.

But there was no letup in the clashes in the capital yesterday, as American and Iraqi soldiers stepped up the pressure against Shiite militants in their Sadr City stronghold of northeast Baghdad.

HARARE, Zimbabwe

Opponents claim Mugabe used violent tactics in power grab

Opponents of President Robert Mugabe accused his regime yesterday of unleashing thugs to attack opposition supporters and seizing white-owned farms in an attempt to retain power. They called on other African powers to intervene.

Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 28 years, has virtually conceded that he did not win March 29 elections and appeared to be campaigning for an expected runoff against Morgan Tsvangirai by intimidating foes and fanning racial tensions.


Bill Clinton for free trade with Colombia, Hillary opposed

The presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that her husband, the former president, supports a free trade agreement with Colombia that she strenuously opposes.

The acknowledgment adds new hurdles to the New York senator’s bid to woo Democratic voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere who believe free trade agreements have eliminated thousands of U.S. jobs. On Sunday, she demoted her chief campaign strategist for his role in promoting the Colombia pact.

Hillary Clinton told union activists yesterday she would do everything in her power to defeat the Colombia Free Trade Agreement now before Congress.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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