Extra Extra : Transportation

Extra Extra Monday: ATF stings, voter fraud and the new subprime bubble

Investigation: ATF drug stings targeted minorities | USA TODAY

The nation's top gun-enforcement agency overwhelmingly targeted racial and ethnic minorities as it expanded its use of controversial drug sting operations, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has more than quadrupled its use of those stings during the past decade, quietly making them a central part of its attempts to combat gun crime. The operations are designed to produce long prison sentences for suspects enticed by the promise of pocketing as much as $100,000 for robbing a drug stash house that does not ...

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Red light cameras tag thousands for undeserved tickets

Thousands of Chicago drivers have been tagged with $100 red light fines they did not deserve, targeted by robotic cameras during a series of sudden spikes in tickets that city officials say they cannot explain, a Chicago Tribune investigation has found.

The Tribune's analysis of more than 4 million tickets issued since 2007 and a deeper probe of individual cases revealed clear evidence that the deviations in Chicago's network of 380 cameras were caused by faulty equipment, human tinkering or both.

Commissioner uses Tennessee state troopers as chauffeurs

Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons is using state troopers as chauffeurs, according to a hidden-camera investigation by WTVF-Nashville.

State officials stand by the decision, saying that the commissioner’s time is valuable and that the drivers provide more time for him to answer emails.

Emails show that troopers drove Gibbons at least 31 times in a two-and-a-half year period.

Unfit for flight: Lies and coverups mask roots of small-plane carnage

A USA TODAY investigation shows repeated instances in which small aircraft crashes, deaths and injuries were caused by defective parts and dangerous designs, casting doubt on the government's official rulings and revealing the inner workings of an industry hit so hard by legal claims that it sought and won liability protection from Congress.

Wide-ranging defects have persisted for years as manufacturers covered up problems, lied to federal regulators and failed to remedy known malfunctions, USA TODAY found. Some defective parts remained in use for decades — and some are still in use — because manufacturers refused to acknowledge or recall the ...

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Plans to expand scope of license-plate readers alarm privacy advocates

Documents obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting show that a leading maker of license-plate readers wants to merge the vehicle identification technology with other sources of identifying information, alarming privacy advocates. Vigilant Solutions is pushing a system that eventually could help fuse public records, license plates and facial recognition databases for police in the field.

The Livermore, California, company released its own facial recognition software last year for use in stationary and mobile devices. The technology uses algorithms to determine whether a person’s face matches that of somebody already in a law enforcement database. Like license-plate readers, facial ...

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Bus companies’ lapses mount, but federal scrutiny lags

One in four of the more than 3,700 commercial motorcoach and passenger van companies regulated by the federal government has never received a full safety evaluation, according to an investigation by The Boston Globe. Nearly half have not been reviewed in more than two years.

Buses carry nearly as many people as airlines, but receive far less scrutiny. More than 170 people were killed in bus crashes from 2010 to early 2014, while no one died in commercial plane crashes on US carriers during that period.

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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Repeat drunk drivers still able to get plea deals

Eleven years of data analyzed by the Columbus Dispatch showed that those charged multiple times with operating a vehicle while impaired were able to get their charges reduced through a plea deal almost as often as those who had no recent drunk driving charges. 

Some say repeat offenders know how to beat the system. Drivers can refuse to submit to a breath test if they are pulled over by police. In 2009, defendants refused chemical tests in 36 percent of the cases handled by city prosecutors. In 2013, it was 41 percent. Without the results of such tests, prosecutors lack ...

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Despite law, vehicles often not impounded in repeat DUI cases

A KCRA-Sacramento investigation found that officials often don’t use a law that allows them to impound cars of repeat DUI drivers.

The station obtained statistics on impounds from local police departments throughout Northern California. They found that some law enforcement agencies haven’t impounded a single repeat offender’s car in four years.  By cross-referencing those numbers with arrested drunk drivers who fit the impound criteria, the station learned there were dozens of drivers who could have been towed but weren’t.

Narrows Marina boat launch: Dark, deadly and unregulated

"A News Tribune investigation found that at least eight cars have plunged into the water at the Narrows Marina boat launch over the past 17 years. Four of 11 occupants were killed. Another was left permanently disabled," the News Tribune reported.

The accidents involved different types of people, from thieves outrunning the cops to an elderly couple who apparently got lost. Two drivers were drunk.

Records from the accidents paint a similar picture: All were the result of lost or confused motorists driving into the water by mistake. All happened in the dark. Most happened at or around high tide ...

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