Extra Extra : Business

South Africa shortchanged on diamond trade

"A 100Reporters investigation of the diamond trade in South Africa has found that companies here pay a royalty rate far lower than that of other African states. Companies can also reduce or cancel out export taxes if they offer locally-mined diamonds to the state for purchase—even if the South African government never buys the gems, often due to formidably high prices."

Extra Extra Monday: High-poverty schools, the troubled VA healthcare system, medical examiner accuracy

Fatally flawed: Truth gets buried under broken rules | The Charlotte Observer

In a five-part series launched Saturday, the Charlotte Observer reveals that N.C. medical examiners routinely fail to follow crucial investigative steps, raising questions about the accuracy of thousands of death rulings.

The living face the consequences. Widows can be cheated out of insurance money. Families may never learn why their loved ones died. Killers can go free.

After a medical examiner concluded David Worley died in a Harnett County car wreck last July, a funeral home discovered what the examiner missed: four stab wounds in his back. His ...

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Carlyle-owned refiner helps weaken ethanol policy

Competing corn and oil lobbies aren’t the only groups involved in a battle over a policy that could reduce the amount of ethanol refiners have to blend into gasoline. Reuters found that owners of two Philadelphia-area refineries, the Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, also played a major role.

Continuing to increase the amount of ethanol required in gasoline could cost thousands of jobs, the refiners and their allies argued. This interactive graphic, created by Reuters, compiles records of lobbyists' meetings with policymakers.

Lobbyists for the oil refiners spent $81 million in 2013. That's more than triple what ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Medicare billing, police chauffeurs, judicial ethics, patronage jobs

Dangerous Minds/Insane System | The Virginian-Pilot

But what happened in Apartment 433 was more than just another murder.

It was a window into today's mental health care: a system as dysfunctional as the clients it serves. So gutted it has little power to put away even the most dangerous for any real length of time – and almost nowhere to keep them, even if it could.

Last year's tragedy in Sen. Creigh Deeds’ family inspired at least 60 mental health bills in the General Assembly.

Nothing emerged that will keep anyone any safer from someone like Bruce Williams.

 

Police ...

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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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