+ The most depressing bullet points in the overwhelmingly pessimistic new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction: The U.S. has provided $8.2 billion for counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan and yet the country remains the global leader in illicit opium cultivation and production, US and Afghan officials are unable to accurately account for billions of dollars in investments in health and education + ISIS is now in Afghanistan!
+ The largest car title lender in the country, TMX Finance, has been able to skirt Florida’s ban on triple-digit interest rates “by offering loans larded with costly and nearly useless insurance products,” reports Paul Kiel.
+ The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was so outraged that the final version of a new EPA rule limits the reach of the Clean Water Act, putting at risk up to 10 percent of water bodies that supply drinking water, that it requested its name be removed from all agency documents referring to the rule, reports Greenwire.
+ The director of southern Nevada’s agency that provides housing to low-income families is under fire for alleged misuse of resources and gender discrimination. John Hill, head of Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority, is accused of using the agency’s staff to work at a charity event involving his wife and of behaving in a discriminatory manner with female executives, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The Pentagon spent almost $15 million to build a warehouse at an airfield in war-torn Kandahar – after lengthy construction delays – that has never been used or occupied, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. That price was $12 million more than the original estimate and the job was completed even after the Pentagon knew that it was no longer needed due to a policy change regarding American facilities in Afghanistan.
The five-year saga is almost a textbook example of how to rip off the government on a major contract in a distant country notorious for its corruption. On September 25, 2010, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $13.5 million fixed-price contract to a Turkish construction company partnership, YDA AFCON, to build the complex including four shipping and receiving warehouses, an administration building and some support facilities.
The facility, the completion of which was described as critical for the mission of the Pentagon’s logistics arm, was to be completed within 300 days. Yet more than two and half years later, most of the electric and plumbing work was still incomplete and the contract was terminated.
The completion of the outstanding tasks was then awarded to Arkel International LLC, an American company, for $844,526. Again, the job was subject to multiple delays. When it finally opened, it no longer served any need and was turned over to the Afghan government, which has yet to use it or occupy it.