Extra Extra : Environment

Extra Extra Monday: LAPD turns violent crimes into minor offenses, Florida police bend rules on sex stings

Want to analyze crime stats in your community?

Learn how to get started on our podcast episode, "Cracking the Crime Stats." Steve Thompson of the Dallas Morning News and Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times explain how to spot red flags in the data.

LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes as minor offenses | Los Angeles Times

The LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies, a Times investigation found.

The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in ...

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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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Many displaced by superstorm Sandy still wait for housing help

Seventeen months after Congress authorized up to $16 billion to fix homes wrecked by superstorm Sandy, tens of thousands of people still are living in damaged houses or paying rent on top of a mortgage as they wait for rebuilding help, reports The Wall Street Journal. About 15,000 New York City residents are seeking aid, but city officials say only 352 have so far received a check or city-provided home construction.

Thousands tested with unvalidated and unregulated Lyme disease tests

As Lyme disease becomes an increasingly challenging public health threat across the Northeast, a growing number of tests for the vexing ailment may be misdiagnosing patients when telling them that they have – or don't have – the tick-borne illness.

At least seven labs in the U.S. have been denied permission to offer Lyme tests over the past decade in New York, according to state records obtained by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.  The state is the only one that performs a rigorous review of tests to ensure they identify what they claim to before they can be ...

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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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Portable classrooms loosely monitored, regulated

Earthfix and InvestigateWest worked together and looked at portable, or mobile classrooms in Oregon and Washington.

"Several efforts are underway to create more efficient portables that offer healthier learning environments, including two prominent efforts in the Northwest," according to the report.

The team of journalists also made a database of various schools in the area where viewers can look up information.

To read part one of the three-part series, click here.

Southern Oregon Pesticide Case Highlights Gaps In State Oversight

In October, residental properties in Oregon were sprayed with pesticides meant for a nearby forrest. Residents say the pesticides caused health problems for themselves, their families and their pets. Oregon Public Broadcasting looked into what oversights allowed this to happen. They found lack of government funding to test soil and improper record keeping to be major factors on why the government's investigation took six months and why residents are still searching for answers. 

Extra Extra Monday | Mass. deals with ‘zombie’ boards, new details about GM recall, Minn. screens out child abuse reports

Minnesota counties 'screen out' most child abuse reports | Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota’s counties received nearly 68,000 reports of child abuse or neglect last year but closed most of those cases without investigation or assessment.

A review of state and federal data by the Star Tribune shows that the number of child abuse reports being screened out without any protective action rose last year to the third-highest rate in the country.

In all, the state screened out more than 48,000 such abuse reports last year ­— and authorities often made their decisions after only gathering information from a phone ...

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Federal loopholes, local challenges complicate response plans for rural oil disasters

The federal government does not require U.S. railroads to have comprehensive plans for a worst-case oil disasters, according to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting.

That means no one knows if the railways that carried 4.2 million barrels of crude oil through the state last year are prepared for a catastrophe.

A handful of factors – including a declining number of volunteer firefighter/first-responders and a lack of information – complicate planning efforts in rural states like Maine.

Read the story here.


Reporting on hazardous materials?

Get data from NICAR's recently updated hazardous materials database.

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