Extra Extra : August 2007

One in five taxis cited in state inspection

The Arizona Republic's M.B. Pell reports that one out of every five taxis in Arizona failed state inspections in the past year. Inspectors from the Department of Weights and Measures "conducted nearly 1,570 field inspections of cabs, citing 120 taxis and limousines for having improperly sealed, calibrated or installed meters. Among other citations, 126 vehicles had no insurance or too little insurance, and 95 drivers did not have valid driver's licenses, according to field inspection data." Of $196,400 in fines levied since 2004, $97,975 has been collected.

Fugative fundraiser has been hiding in plain sight

Chuck Neubauer and Robin Fields of the Los Angeles Times report that Norman Hsu, a fugitive for over a decade, has been hiding in plain sight as a prominent Democratic fundraiser. Fifteen years ago, Hsu pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft agreeing to serve up to three years in prison. His identity was confirmed this week by his lawyer, who claimed Hsu had no recollection a plea that included prison time. As a top-tier fundraiser, Hsu "is credited with donating nearly $500,000 to national and local party candidates and their political committees in the last three years ... Read more ...

Disability coverage fails workers in North Carolina

Coretta Scott King's FBI files opened

KHOU.com offers the first look at the FBI's files on Coretta Scott King. Mark Greenblatt will report on the nearly 500 pages he received and the King family's reaction to the contents. "KHOU has found that even after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the FBI's Scott King file shows the Bureau actually intensified their spying and surveillance of the new widow." Greenblatt and executive producer David Raziq pursued the records for more than a year, beginning shortly after Scott King's death in January 2006.

No prosecution for prison guards accused of sexual misconduct

Electric co-op to energy conglomerate

Margret Newkirk of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Georgia's Cobb EMC, one of the largest electric co-ops in the nation and described as "an aggressively expanding conglomerate." "While most co-ops reimburse that invested money to customers over time, Cobb EMC hasn't returned a nickel of it in more than 30 years: It was sitting on $240 million of ratepayer cash at the end of last year. Meanwhile, Cobb EMC has invested millions of its customers' dollars over the past decade to build a for-profit company called Cobb Energy." By operating the for-profit company as part of the co-op ... Read more ...

Prescription pain med use nearly doubles

An investigation by Frank Bass of the Associated Press shows that the use of pain medication has nearly doubled in the U.S. over the past eight years. According to the latest figures from the Drug Enforcement Adminstration, "More than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores…enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in the country." Reasons for the surge have been linked to an aging population, unprecedented marketing by pharmaceutical companies, and changes in the medical communities philosophy on pain management.

Travel regulations don't touch executive branch officials

Ken Dilanian of USA Today reports that many executive branch officials regularly still accept trips from companies and associations which stand to benefit from the agencies' decisions. Although members of Congress cannot accept these sorts of gifts according to the newly passed ethics bill, the restrictions do no apply to other branches of government. "More than 200 trips during the 12-month period [April 2006 to March 2007], however, were paid for by corporations or trade groups that are regulated by, or do business with, the department or agency." While these trips are permissible as long as there is no conflict ... Read more ...

57 Philadelphia area bridges "deficient"

Paul Nussbaum and Dylan Purcell of The Philadelphia Inquirer report that nearly 60 bridges in the Philadelphia area are rated structurally "deficient" with traffic on those bridges ranging from 25,000 to 160,000 vehicles daily. Six thousand bridges are rated "deficient" in Pennsylvania, the greatest number in the nation. Included in their report is an interactive map of bridges in the Philadelphia area with details about each.