Extra Extra : March 2011

Food stamp fraud runs rampant in King County

Food stamp fraud has been a problem in the business district of Seattle for years. The problem was so bad, in fact, that a three-year investigation by federal agents could not clean up the mess. Chris Ingalls and KING 5 News have uncovered new "information that may explain why: Our analysis of government data shows that federal investigations into food stamp fraud have not kept pace with the explosive growth of the food stamp program." The investigation has lead Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, who oversees the food stamp program, to question the United States Department of Agriculture about the potential ... Read more ...

The New Mafia

The Daily investigates the increasing number of Mexican drug cartels in American suburbs. The team was led by reporter Josh Bernstein and "spent six months traveling" through Mexico to document how the "drug cartels are becoming 'The New Mafia' in America." Smugglers bring illegal immigrants into the country and hold them in "drop houses," which are located in higher end neighborhoods. "Law enforcement agencies from Texas to Northern California report being overwhelmed by the surge of violence." The print version of the investigative series is also accompanied by extensive video reporting.

Natural-gas drilling poses risks, regulation is lax

"Drilling Down," a series by The New York Times, explores the the risks of natural-gas drilling, along with efforts to regulate the industry. "The relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks." For each well the process can create over a million gallons of wastewater ladden with toxins, and EPA documents reviewed by The Times indicate that the risks are greater than previously thought. Many companies have been recycling the wastewater created by the hydrofracking process, but these efforts do not eliminate the health and environmental risks associated with this type of ... Read more ...

Identity thieves targeting tax returns

In one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft, crooks are using a stranger's Social Security number and other personal information to fool the Internal Revenue Service into diverting the person's rightful refund to the thieves' pockets, according to a Scripps Howard News Service investigation. The volume of tax- or wage-related identity theft complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission more than tripled from 2005 to 2009 according to a Scripps analysis of more than 1.4 million ID theft records in the agency’s Consumer Sentinel database.  Scripps national reporter Isaac Wolf also found another ... Read more ...

EPA underreports radiation in nation’s drinking water

A KHOU-Houston report reveals that the federal EPA allows water companies to avoid reporting certain types of radiation contamination in the public’s tap water, giving a false picture to the American public about their water safety. For example, if the radiation comes from uranium, utilities can subtract that radioactivity out of their final reports to the public. In addition, the EPA also allows companies to avoid even testing for radiation in the public water supply if it comes from Lead 210, Radon 222, and other elements.