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Greek Letters at a Price

The cost of joining a sorority can be crippling, a New York Times article explains. Official charges include Panhellenic dues, chapter fees, administrative fees, nonresident house/parlor fees, a onetime pledging and initiation fee and contribution toward a house bond. Members must also buy a pin (consider the diamond-encrusted one) and a letter jersey. Without housing, basic costs for the first semester (the most expensive) average $1,570 at University of Georgia sororities, $1,130 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and $1,580 at Syracuse University.

"It was like signing up for a loan — they said the debt could ...

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Federal tech contracts awarded to job brokers with labor violations

When the U.S. Department of Labor needed a new contractor to upgrade its aging computer systems, it turned to labor broker Saras America. The firm should have sounded familiar. The year before, regulators had threatened to block the company from importing foreign workers because it had shorted the pay of nearly 40 high-tech employees, among other labor violations.

So what happened? The Center for Investigative Reporting explains.

Post-crash fires in small planes cost 600 lives

 

Small-airplane fires have killed at least 600 people since 1993, burning them alive or suffocating them after crashes and hard landings that the passengers and pilots had initially survived, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

The victims who died from fatal burns or smoke inhalation often had few if any broken bones or other injuries, according to hundreds of autopsy reports obtained by USA TODAY. Fires have erupted after incidents as minor as an airplane veering off a runway and into brush or hitting a chain-link fence, government records show. The impact ruptures fuel tanks or fuel lines, or both, causing ...

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Family members beat the odds in winning prized firefighting jobs

The Los Angeles Times uncovered a pattern of nepotism within the L.A. County Fire Department. The newspaper found that nearly 7 percent of the 2,750 firefighters are the sons of department veterans. Taking into account others such as brothers and nephews, relatives account for 13 percent of the staff, the investigation found.

The report also uncovers how interview questions – which should be locked away – have been passed around the department, landing in the hands of firefighters' family members as material to aid their preparations.

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.

Jacksonville children are in detention longer than Florida law intends

Florida juveniles are being locked up in Jacksonville-area detention centers longer than in any other part of the state and longer than the law intends, according to a Florida Times-Union investigation.

The wide-ranging look at the area’s juvenile detention system also found that kids are sometimes held in overcrowded conditions. The troubling conditions are draining taxpayers’ wallets and raising concerns about the legal system’s handling of juveniles.

Athletes, teams donate big to political campaigns

An investigative team analyzed thousands of financial records from federal, state and local elections and discovered how sports teams, owners and athletes are contributing to political campaigns.

The 10 Investigates team from Tampa Bay and Sarasota’s 10 News found that many of the area’s major teams have contributed political funds – usually toward the state’s dominant party. The experts they interviewed suggest the money is seen as an investment to tip legislators toward passing stadium-friendly legislation.

To read and watch the full story, click here.

Extra Extra Monday: Uneven assessments, National Guard misconduct, Chicago migration myth

Across Wisconsin, uneven property assessments fly in the face of fairness | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By measure after measure, in cities, towns and villages across Wisconsin, property assessors are discounting uniformity and trampling on fairness, while officials with the state Department of Revenue do little to rectify the disparities, an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found.

In dozens of communities, 20% or more of residential property taxes are being paid by the wrong people, according to the Journal Sentinel's analysis of Department of Revenue records for each of the state's 1,852 municipalities. The analysis considered communities ...

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Despite big job promises, incentives often fail to deliver

 North Carolina, much like other states, uses millions in taxpayer dollars to lure and retain businesses, bringing new jobs. But years after these jobs were announced by executives and state leaders, most failed to fully materialize, a WRAL News analysis found. More than 100 companies named in job announcements since 2009 have since reported no new jobs. Some have laid off workers or closed up shop altogether.

Water officials in California refuse to follow own conservation rules

In Southern California, a region in severe drought, many cities have passed rules on water usage per household per day. While the average water usage in a single-family home is now using 361 gallons per day, water conservation advocates on city councils haven’t been following their own regulations. Mike Soubirous, a Riverside City Council member who voted for new, strict rules in July, used over a million gallons in his home last year, nearly ten times the amount of the average family.

Soubirous is far from alone. According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, 25 other officials in similar ...

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