Extra Extra : June 2007

Mohamed Atta and 9/11: The Secret FAA Files

Eric Longabardi, reporting for "The Enterprise Report" at ERSNews.com, reports on the "secret FAA airmen files" of Mohamed Atta, the lead pilot in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The files, posted on the site, and additional exclusive materials provide details about the extensive flight training that helped Atta earn a commercial pilot's license in the U.S. Longabardi writes that the records show that Atta and his co-conspirators had far more sophisticated skills than previous media accounts acknowledged.

Sunshine Laws disregarded by council members

Beth Kormanik of The (Jacksonville, Fla.) Times-Union evaluated the daily calendars of city council members from June 1, 2005, to Dec. 1, 2006 and found dozens of meetings that violated Florida's open meetings laws. "The computer-assisted analysis documented 307 scheduled meetings, excluding committee and full council meetings. Forty-seven calendar listings dealt with specific items of city business such as the Cecil Field referendum, city contracts and downtown traffic but were held without prior public notice and without a written account of the proceedings." As a result of the investigation, State Attorney Harry Shorstein has recommended a grand jury investigation ... Read more ...

Biotech developer scams Florida cities

Danger in Tow: An investigation into U-Haul International

A year-long investigation by Myron Levin and Alan C. Miller of the Los Angeles Times reveals that practices of U-Haul International, the nation's largest provider of rental trailers, are compromising safety on the road. The three-part series explores how U-Haul policies increase likelihood of accidents; spotty maintenance practices; and how, when sued, U-Haul has a history of losing or spoiling evidence.

Juvenile sex offenders pose problems to schools

A report by Anna Song of KATU-Portland, Ore. reveals that juvenile sex offenders often go right back to school after being charged.. Due to their status as minors, school administrators cannot disseminate this information beyond the staff. The story exposes the inconsistency of local school policies when it comes to such offenders: Some schools tell all staff members, some tell just a few. Ultimately, it's up to the principal and can vary by school, not just by district.

Lead hazards still taint cheap toys

Mary Shedden of The Tampa Tribune reports on the continuing problem of lead turning up in children's toys produced outside the U.S. Using independent testing, her investigation turned up toxic levels of lead in one out of three pieces of costume jewelry or trinkets purchased from area stores. In some cases, items subject to recalls were still on the shelves. "About 9 million pieces of children's jewelry have been recalled since 2006, but an understaffed and underfunded U.S. consumer regulatory agency has failed to fine a U.S. retailer or distributor for selling jewelry containing toxic ... Read more ...

Mothball fleet polluting Suisun Bay

An aged maritime fleet located in Suisun Bay off the coast of California is an environmental threat according to an investigation by Thomas Peele of the Contra Costa Times. Over 21 tons of toxic metals have shed off the decaying ships into the water creating a significant environmental risk, significantly greater than Maritime Administration office have previously acknowledged.

Secret Shelters

Fred Kelly reports on a two-week investigation by The Charlotte Observer which uncovered an "underground network" of shelters and safe houses, many run by religious ministries, which have sprung up as official shelters face issues of overcrowding. Exact numbers on how many of these make-shift shelters exist are unknown, but The Observer located 17 in the course of their investigation. Officials in the area worry about lack of oversight and regulation which could put residents at risk.