Extra Extra : Consumer protection

Poorly rated nursing homes got HUD-guaranteed mortgages anyway

Hundreds of the country’s worst nursing homes have received mortgages backed by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

HUD requires nursing homes applying for construction and rehabilitation loans to provide quality reports. Still, an analysis of loan and ratings data found that the number and volume of one-star facilities receiving HUD insurance climbed every year from 2009 to 2012.

FDA approves cancer drugs without proof they're extending lives

Nearly three out of four cancer drugs introduced in the last decade were approved by the FDA without proof that they help patients survive longer.

Teaming with MedPage Today, which provides physicians a clinical perspective on breaking medical news, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzed 54 cancer drugs put on the market in the last decade. They found that instead of using the gold standard – patients surviving longer – the FDA based approval on surrogate measures such as a tumor shrinking.

To read the full story, click here.

Danger lurks underground from aging gas pipes

About every other day over the past decade, a gas leak in the United States has destroyed property, hurt someone or killed someone, a USA TODAY Network investigation finds. The most destructive blasts have killed at least 135 people, injured 600 and caused $2 billion in damages since 2004.

A crack found in a cast-iron service main caused an apartment building explosion in Birmingham, Alabama last year. Alabama Gas Corp. built and operated that pipeline, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, one of the Gannett-affiliated publications involved in the project.

The Advertiser recently went to court over Alagasco documents it obtained ...

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Records explain why US Airways flight buzzed city mall

A US Airways pilot in 2012 flew a plane so low to the ground that it buzzed a mall, according to a report by The Daily Times in Salisbury, Maryland

Edmund C. Draper, the pilot-in-command, purposefully lowered the plane to fly about 500 feet over his home, which is located near a busy shopping mall.

The Federal Aviation Administration in 2013 revoked Draper’s airline transport pilot certificate, but the paper found that he was issued a new one in 2014. He also holds a flight instructor certificate. 

Disciplined doctors find work in the drug industry, running clinical trials

By matching U.S. Food and Drug Administration data on clinical researchers against records of state medical board disciplinary actions in the four most populous states, this report in Matter found dozens of reprimanded doctors who subsequently were hired by pharma to test experimental drugs in clinical trials. Some had made mistakes that left patients dead or maimed. Others were themselves addicted to narcotics.

Reports reveal safety violations at many bioterror labs

Recent glaring safety lapses involving anthrax, smallpox and a dangerous strain of bird flu are the latest violations at a half-dozen laboratories run by federal health agencies, 11 labs run by universities and eight more operated by state, local or private entities, according to government reports stamped "restricted" obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

The reports by the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited inadequate security procedures, lax inventory records for germs that could be used as bioterror agents and training concerns. Auditors warned in reports issued ...

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Racing company pocketed money pledged to military-related charities

When Spartan Race, an international obstacle course-racing company, launched a “Special Ops”-themed race in Tampa, it promised donations to local non-profits as a method of marketing. But months later, WTSP-TV found the race, which cost between $70 and $100 to enter, donated less than 40 cents per person to non-profits in dire need.

The station found that "the primary beneficiary, the SOCOM Care Coalition, received a check for just $2,486. That's less than 47 cents for every one of the 5,312 runners who finished the race; less than 33 cents for every one of the 7 ...

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No one held accountable for deadly blast in Washington

Four years after one of the state’s worst industrial accidents, no one has been held publicly accountable for the deaths of seven workers at the Tesoro refinery on the outskirts of Anacortes, Washington.

According to Puget Sound Public Radio:

Refinery owner Tesoro agreed to pay millions to families of the dead, but the company continues to fight government accusations that it willfully put its workers in harm’s way. The families have also sued Lloyd’s Register Energy Americas, a company that advised Tesoro on how to inspect the refinery’s maze of high-temperature, high-pressure machinery.

With legal proceedings ...

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Denver parking revenue, tickets on the rise, analysis finds

Denver is raking in significantly more money from parking tickets than it did just five years ago — largely because of added meters, overnight downtown parking hours, technology that speeds up ticketing and hiked street-sweeping fines.

A Denver Post analysis of parking-citation data found that collections from tickets and penalties reached $30.5 million last year.

Read the full story from The Denver Post here.

Audit shows Miss. rural water association plagued by financial problems

An audit of the North Lee County Water Association in Mississippi turned up widespread financial management problems, including violations of several state and federal laws, the Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS) reports.

The audit, which is likely “the most rigorous examination ever” of the nonprofit cooperative's financial records, comes on the heels of a $1.2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administration.

While copies of the audit are required to be available for public inspection, the water association did not comply with state law.

The association has been plagued with problems, according to the ...

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