Extra Extra : Government (federal/state/local)

Data breach mystery leads from Arizona counterterrorism site to China

Lizhong Fang, a Chinese national and computer programmer, had access to a variety of sensitive information during his short time at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center in Phoenix. His work on facial recognition software allowed him to view the Arizona driver’s license database as well as law enforcement records.

Fang disappeared in 2007, and those responsible for hiring him say the privacy of up to 5 million people has been compromised. Officials never disclosed the possible privacy breach.

Read the story by The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

Politicians' food tab takes $14.5M bite from donations

House members and candidates have spent at least $14.5 million of their donors' campaign contributions on food since Jan. 1, 2011, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The expenses range from thousands of dollars to underwrite big fundraising lunches in their home districts to meal tabs at country clubs, glitzy New York hotels and Washington steakhouses. Politicians and their aides also spent donors' money at far less glamorous destinations, such as Dunkin' Donuts and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

Till death do us part: A look at deadly domestic violence in South Carolina

More than 300 women were shot, stabbed, strangled, beaten, bludgeoned or burned to death over the past decade by men in South Carolina, dying at a rate of one every 12 days while the state does little to stem the carnage from domestic abuse.

It's a staggering toll that for more than 15 years has placed South Carolina among the top 10 states nationally in the rate of women killed by men. The state topped the list on three occasions, including this past year, when it posted a murder rate for women that was more than double the national ...

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Local police involved in 400 killings per year

Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI.

On average, there were 96 such incidents among at least 400 police killings each year that were reported to the FBI by local police. The numbers appear to show that the shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., last Saturday was not an isolated event in American policing.

Read the USA TODAY story here.

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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In rush to find lethal injection drug, prison officials turned to a hospital

When the Louisiana Department of Corrections didn’t have the drugs it needed to execute inmate Christopher Sepulvado this January it turned to an unusual source: a hospital.

According to The Lens, the state bought 20 vials of hydromorphone from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital a week before Sepulvado’s execution. The hospital typically uses the drug to ease the suffering of patients. The private, nonprofit hospital didn’t know the drug was going to be used for an execution.

Read the story here.

 

Want to learn more about covering execution secrecy?

Journalists from four states recently joined IRE to discuss ...

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For a million fugitives, freedom starts at county line

Across the United States, local police are routinely allowing well over a million fugitives to escape justice simply by moving to another county in the same state, often just a few miles from where they allegedly committed their crimes, a USA TODAY investigation shows. The fugitives include thousands wanted for domestic violence, sexual abuse, manslaughter, repeat drunken driving and even rape.

 

Learn more about this series

Go behind the story and learn how USA TODAY reporter Brad Heath pieced together a confidential FBI database to count fugitives who go free.

7 children lived in filth despite child welfare visits

The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare did not consider a home so filthy it had to be condemned an imminent threat to the seven children living inside, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found.

The deplorable conditions prompted the district attorney’s office to charge a 26-year-old woman already on probation for child abuse with multiple counts of child neglect.

The family was already well-known by child protective services, according to court documents. Still, caseworkers did not raise any red flags about the conditions of their home, which included floors covered in excrement and walls crawling with bugs.

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. 

Pro-troop charity misleads donors while lining political consultants’ pockets

Move America Forward calls itself the nation's "largest grassroots pro-troop organization," and has recruited a bevy of Republican luminaries, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, to support its efforts.

Yet a ProPublica examination of its fundraising appeals, tax records and other documents shows that Move America Forward has repeatedly misled donors and inflated its charitable accomplishments, while funneling millions of dollars in revenue to the men behind the group and their political consulting firms.

Read the story here.