Extra Extra : March 2007

Undercover agents sneak bomb past TSA screeners

Deborah Sherman of KUSA-Denver reports that "Checkpoint security screeners at Denver International Airport last month failed to find liquid explosives packed in carry-on luggage and also improvised explosive devices, or IED's, worn by undercover agents, sources told 9NEWS." The agents testing the TSA security were part of the "Red Team," a group of covert agents organized in 1988 by the Federal Aviation Administration. Since 2003, they have investigated security measures at 735 airports.

Pivotal player in potential Bonds indictment remains silent

ESPN.com investigative sports reporter Mike Fish reports on Greg Anderson, the personal trainer whose testimony prosecutors believe could put Barry Bonds behind bars and, in turn, derail his record home run chase. Federal prosecutors "convinced U.S. District Judge William Alsup that Anderson's cooperation is pivotal to their ability to indict [Barry Bonds]. Because Anderson isn't talking despite being subpoenaed to appear before two grand juries, he remains locked up for contempt of court." Anderson will remain behind bars until the grand jury session is scheduled to end in July, unless the U.S Attorney grants a ... Read more ...

Charter Schools: Missing the Grade

Digging through audits from more than 300 charter schools in Florida, Orlando Sentinel reporters Vicki McClure and Mary Shanklin showed the intertwined business dealings that allow school operators to make money on their publicly funded charters by leasing them buildings, loaning them money at interest rates as high as 21 percent and hiring relatives to work at the schools. While Florida never posted the audits for public consumption, the Sentinel put them online in a searchable format so parents could see the massive debt, operating losses at half of the schools, and dozens of related-party transactions. About 40 percent of ... Read more ...

Conflicted Justice

Following a six-month investigation, Alan Maimon of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports on the "conflict system" in Clark County, Nev., in which private attorneys are assigned to poor defendants whom the public defender's office cannot represent due to conflicts of interest. An examination of every case the 30 contract defenders took to felony court in a recent 12-month period showed that the system suffers from a severe lack of standards and oversight that yield uneven justice and questionable government spending. In response to the newspaper's findings, a committee of judges has proposed dramatically overhauling the system. The entire ... Read more ...

Navy lacks plan to defend against Russian-built missile

Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg reveals that the "U.S. Navy, after nearly six years of warnings from Pentagon testers, still lacks a plan for defending aircraft carriers against a supersonic Russian-built missile, according to current and former officials and Defense Department documents." Concern exists that the missile, known as the "Sizzler" may be purchased by Iran. A Pentagon budget document shows that the Navy has until April 29 to report on how it plans to defend against this weapon.

One third of fatal accidents linked to shady driving records

Sarah Okeson of Florida Today investigated Brevard County drivers involved in fatal accidents, specifically looking at drivers charged with DUI manslaughter or vehicular homicide between 2000 and 2006. She found that more than a third of them didn't have a valid license to be on the road at the time of the wreck, had a prior conviction for DUI, or had been convicted of at least five traffic violations in the three years prior to the fatal accident. The investigation also revealed problems with coordination between courts and the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in dealing ... Read more ...

Journalist's investigation helps lead to woman's murder conviction

Nancy Badertscher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the conviction of Lynn Turner. Turner, already serving a life term for the murder of Randy Thompson, was given a 2nd conviction for the murder of her late husband, Glenn Turner. "Turner and Thompson initially were thought to have died of heart problems. But several months after Thompson died, questions raised by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution led authorities to investigate the deaths as homicides, with the common link being their love for Lynn Turner." Read a Q & A with Jane Hansen, the AJC staff writer who helped to unearth the facts of the ... Read more ...

Toxic vapors threaten well-being of residents of Victor, NY

Virginia investment company profits off blight

Meghan Hoyer and Matthew Jones of The Virginian-Pilot investigated the purchase of over 250 houses and lots in depressed areas of cities such as Portsmouth, Norfolk and Newport News by a Virginia Beach-based company and its investors. Five years later, half the properties still sit in disarray with thousands owed in back taxes. "Since forming in late 2001, CM Development has financed its operations largely by selling its properties repeatedly among a growing circle of investors at ever-higher prices. The investors, drawn by the promise of big returns, have taken out larger and larger loans on the houses." They take ... Read more ...

AP found unauthorized classification of Caltrans contracts

An investigation by the Associated Press uncovered that the California Transportation Department classified nearly 300 contracts worth over $13 million - and many of them not competitively bid - as confidential without proper authority. The General Services Department grants the authority to classify contracts. "The agency was unaware Caltrans listed confidential contracts in its records until notified by AP." An earlier AP investigation has found many California Justice Department contracts mistakenly labeled confidential, whic the CJD attributed to employee error. The issue of confidential contracts is being considered by a state Senate subcommittee to address concerns with how agencies track expenditures and ... Read more ...