Extra Extra : April 2008

Investigation uncovers flammable wiring on airplanes

A nine-month investigation by Phil Williams of NewsChannel 5 (Nashville, Tenn.) shows that the wiring used on many planes "should not be used for airborne application." Both Kapton and PVC/Nylon wiring have been proven highly flammable, yet both are currently found on airliners. Test videos revealing issues with these types of wire came from the Federal Aviation Administration's own files. A scientific report from the FAA's own experts deemed it unfit for use on aircraft. All of the recently grounded MD-80 planes contain Kapton wiring. A complete listing of which aircraft have Kapton and PVC/Nylon wiring ... Read more ...

"Business of the Bomb: The Modern Nuclear Marketplace"

Michael Montgomery, of American RadioWorks, and Mark Schapiro, of the Center for Investigative Reporting, teamed up to explore the growing nuclear black market which is making it difficult to contain the proliferation of atomic weapons throughout the world. "Experts cite two ominous trends: an increase in the number of nations seeking to enrich uranium, and the emergence of international nuclear smuggling networks." The hour-long radio documentary can be heard here. (The program will be re-broadcast on KQED in the Bay Area April 30 at 8 p.m. PST. Check your local public radio schedules for broadcast dates in your area.)

Revisiting Willow Island

The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette published a two-day package marking the 30th anniversary of the Willow Island Disaster, the largest construction accident in U.S. history. Fifty-one construction workers died on April 27, 1978, when a scaffold collapsed during construction of a coal-fired power plant along the Ohio River. The Gazette examines the disaster's causes, interviews survivors and discusses continuing workplace safety problems nationwide.

The global food crisis

A series by The Washington Post explores the causes and implications of the current global food crisis, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1970s. "A complex combination of poor harvests, competition with biofuels, higher energy prices, surging demand in China and India, and a blockage in global trade is driving food prices up worldwide." The impact is not limited to impoverished countries; consumers in the U.S. and other countries are feeling the impact of rising food costs.

Contaminated drinking water found in some LA public schools

A three-month investigation by Joel Grover of KNBC-Los Angeles found lead levels in drinking water that exceeded EPA safety limits at several area public schools. Contaminated fountains were found at nine of the 30 schools tested. An internal report obtained by the network showed that the district had known about the problem for 18 years. In some cases, it was found that employees falsified records to indicate that drinking water was safe.

Exploits of rural prostitution ring exposed

High price of diplomacy with China

The first of two investigative reports from the Center for Investigative Reporting's James Sandler examines the Bush administration's efforts to squelch legal proceedings against two high ranking Chinese officials accused of torturing members of religious groups, including Fulan Gong. The two accused officials are former trade minister Bo Xilai and Beijing

Suicides in D.C. jail point to problems within Department of Corrections

Brendan Smith of the Washington City Paper reports on two suicides in the Washington D.C. jail that revealed widespread misconduct and inadequate mental-health monitoring by corrections personnel. For ten months, the Director of the Department of Corrections fought a FOIA request for the reports from the internal-affairs investigations into the suicides. The reports showed that numerous personnel made false statements in an effort to cover-up wrongdoings by the DOC and Unity Health Care, the company contracted to provide psychiatric assessment and care within the jail.

Safety issues ignored despite marked increase in nail gun injuries

A Sacramento Bee investigation into the dangers associated with nail guns reveals a dramatic increase in injuries over the last decade. Andrew McIntosh reports that despite an increase in injuries — some resulting in death — the Consumer Product Safety Commission has done little to address safety issues. While many accidents go unreported, an April 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that injuries have "increased more than threefold in a decade, from about 12,000 in 1995 to about 42,000 in 2005."