Extra Extra : Business

IRE members work to boost transparency, cooperation in Kenya

Land Quest is an experiment in cross-border investigative journalism by two European, two Kenyan and one American journalist that seeks to redefine both the focus and the audience of development reporting.

The data reveals Kenya as the battlefield between two competing financial interests: the flow of aid money from Europe to Kenya, and multinational profits from Kenya to Europe. Aid money flows into Kenya to help strengthen institutions and private companies, from agro-industrialists to oil barons.

The project, funded by a grant from the European Journalism Centre, is designed to raise awareness about the need for developed and developing countries ...

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A campaign inquiry in Utah is the watchdogs’ worst case

Investigators say former Utah Attorney General John Swallow “exploited a web of vaguely named nonprofit organizations in several states to mask hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders,” The New York Times reports.

“Public records, affidavits and a special legislative report released last week offer a strikingly candid view inside the world of political nonprofits, where big money sluices into campaigns behind a veil of secrecy.”

Read the entire story.

Extra Extra Special Edition: Vehicle recalls, police misconduct, U.S. Border Patrol tactics

We took a break from publishing Extra Extra during the 2014 CAR Conference. Here are some of the stories that ran while we were away:

 

Fords with faulty transmissions not recalled | WTAE Pittsburgh

Following the redesign of Ford Fiesta and Focus transmissions in 2011, hundreds around the country said they're concerned about the safety of the vehicles. They have reported difficulty shifting as well as odd crunching and grinding noises as the cars change gears.

Dozens of consumers in Western Pennsylvania filed lawsuits alleging that, despite assurances from dealers, the vehicles do not function properly. The cars have not ...

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Chicago ride-sharing company admits its screening missed convictions

A Chicago ride-sharing company did not run complete criminal background checks on thousands of drivers, the Chicago Tribune reported this morning.

The Tribune learned of the lax oversight when it tried to profile a driver for the company, Uber. The driver selected for the story had a felony conviction for residential burglary.

The company later admitted its background checks had missed county-level criminal convictions.

Read the full story here.

Los Angeles payroll company leaves its clients in the lurch

About 150 small business scattered across Southern California used a private payroll company to handle basic tasks including paychecks and W2 forms.

Then the late-tax letters arrived. Their money disappeared. So did the owner of the payroll company, The Los Angeles Times reports.

“Payroll services companies are not subject to rigorous regulation by state or federal bodies that oversee banks and other financial institutions. Nor do most states, including California, require them to be bonded. If the tax money they collect disappears, it is the business owners who are on the hook for the amounts owed, plus interest and penalties ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Heroin reaches the suburbs, feds slash gas explosion fines, casinos use hardball tactics to collect debts

Heroin reaching into the suburbs | The (Rochester, N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle

Heroin, long a scourge of inner cities, has infiltrated suburbia and rural towns and is claiming the lives of an increasingly younger, middle-class and white male clientele at an alarming rate.

But new statistics compiled for the Democrat and Chronicle by the office, which investigates suspected drug-related deaths across the region, show that more often than not the victims resided outside the city of Rochester.

 

Cancer-causing chemical PCE contaminates Colorado soil, water and homes | The Denver Post

Spills releasing PCE, the cancer-causing chemical used in dry cleaning and ...

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Volunteers, not officials, keep an eye on oil spills in La.

Facilities in Louisiana are responsible for leaking an estimated 330,000 barrels of oil each year. That's about 20 percent of the total amount spilled in the nation. So who’s responsible for spotting the pollution? The Lens, a nonprofit news organization covering New Orleans, investigated. Often, they found, the task falls to volunteers. 

“No state or federal agency has cops regularly walking this beat. Instead, state and federal governments, which collect billions in royalties from the permit holders each year, rely on companies to turn themselves in for violating environmental law or the terms of their permits.”

Relatives of China’s top leaders held secretive offshore companies

The International Consortium of International Journalists found that “Close relatives of China’s top leaders have held secretive offshore companies in tax havens that helped shroud the Communist elite’s wealth, a leaked cache of documents reveals.”

ICIJ has been working since 2012 to analyze about 2.5 million leaked offshore records. The latest installment digs into documents from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Here’s more from the ICIJ story:

“The data illustrates the outsized dependency of the world’s second largest economy on tiny islands thousands of miles away.  As the country has moved from an insular communist ...

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Some Insiders Hold Investments That Overlap Responsibilities

Many Washington insiders "hold investments that overlap with their responsibilities, according to a Wall Street Journal review of public records. It showed that about one in five lobbyists whose holdings could be identified had invested in their clients or companies in the industries they are concerned with."

"The Journal review found no suggestion of insider trading—investing on significant nonpublic information entrusted in confidence—by the lobbyists, who operate in a political milieu where information that might be held tight in a corporate environment can be served up freely by members of Congress."

Extra Extra Monday: Hospice firms drain billions, JPMorgan hired China's elite, restaurants stay open despite violations

San Diego Has Fallen Behind on Combating Police Racial Profiling | Voice of San Diego
The San Diego Police Department has often failed to follow its own rules regarding the collection of racial data at traffic stops, saying the community isn't concerned about racial profiling. A local black officers group, the NAACP and a city councilman disagree.

Hospice firms draining billions from Medicare | The Washington Post
But over the past decade, the number of “hospice survivors” in the United States has risen dramatically, in part because hospice companies earn more by recruiting patients who aren’t actually dying, a Washington ...

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