Extra Extra : September 2010

Popular hair treatment may pose health hazard

A KOIN-Portland investigation found that a popular hair treatment may pose health hazards.  The "Brazilian Blowout" treatment for damaged hair claims to be formaldehyde-free, but a test conducted by Oregon Safety and Health Division tested a sample and found it to contain up to 10 percent formaldehyde. Stylists working with the product have complained of sore throats and nose bleeds.  The maker's of the product have openly questioned the findings because the sample was not provided by the manufacturer.

Contracts fail lift Alaskan natives from poverty while others profit

A program created by the federal government four decades ago to settle native land claims in Alaska has failed deliver on its promise to lift impoverished native Alaskans out of poverty. Though special privileges granted by Congress have launched Alaska native corporations into one of the great contracting booms in American history, a Washington Post investigation found that native shareholders have gotten relatively little of the federal contracting dollars. Instead, millions of dollars have gone in many cases has gone to nonnative executives, managers, employees and traditional federal contractors in the lower 48 states. In one example, last year, Sitnasuak ... Read more ...

Accidents, lax oversight call pipeline safety into question

A two-part series by the Detroit Free Press found that "despite hundreds of oil and natural-gas pipeline accidents in the last decade, there are no federal regulations governing how far major pipelines should be from homes, or schools or businesses."   An interactive graphic show where oil and gas pipelines run through the state of Michigan, and where leaks have occurred.

Breakdown: Traveling dangerously in America series

A 23-story package investigates the state of travel in America uncovering a breakdown of safety systems across the board. Safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board are taking over 5 years to implement leaving people vulnerable from air to rail, road to sea.  This investigative package was conducted by journalism students from 11 universities participating in the Carnegie-Knight Journalism Initiative in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity. Their work is being published by MSNBC.com and The Washington Post.

Justice influenced by prosecutors' conduct

USA Today’s Brad Heath and Kevin McCoy documented 201 criminal cases across the nation in which federal judges found that prosecutors broke laws and ethics rules. "They caught some prosecutors hiding evidence, found others lying to judges and juries, and said others had broken plea bargains."  The abuses resulted in both the wrongful incarceration of innocent people and for the guilty to go free.  An interactive map allows readers to examine the cases and types of problems identified in the investigation.

Nonprofit covered nearly $1.9 million in personal expenses

A review of federal tax records by Christopher Baxter of The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) found that now-former leaders of a nationally prominent nonprofit with close and growing ties to Easton, Pa. improperly used nearly $1.9 million from the group's tax-free coffers for personal expenses between 2003 and 2008. The Nurture Nature Foundation, headquartered in New York City and owner of several properties in Easton, disclosed in the tax filing that two directors used foundation money for personal benefit in violation of the tax code. At the top of the list is famed professional arbitrator and philanthropist Theodore ... Read more ...

Special treatment ran deep for OneUnited

A report by R. Jeffrey Smith of The Washington Post reveals that OneUnited Bank "received special treatment that went beyond what the Treasury Department or the bank and its political supporters have previously disclosed." Despite multiple internal warnings, Congress and regulators "broke with customary practices" to award the bank federal bailout funds. The story includes a timeline showing OneUnited's path to securing federal bailout money. It is one of only a few banks that have failed to make six consecutive TARP dividend payments to the federal government.

Loophole allows attorneys to exploit Illinois residents facing foreclosure

A loophole in state and federal laws has made it easy for some attorneys to take advantage of Illinois residents struggling to keep their homes, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune. In 2006, Illinois and other states passed legislation that banned charging upfront fees for loan modifications. But the law doesn't apply to attorneys. As a result, some mortgage rescue firms are circumventing the law by recruiting attorneys to collect upfront fees from consumers. Attorneys have also set up their own shops. They're all capitalizing on the huge number of people looking for help as nearly ... Read more ...

Breaks by judge, police kept gang leader on the street

A violent Milwaukee youth who was a leader in a notorious street gang got breaks from the juvenile court system that kept him on the street were he committed new crimes, an investigation by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich revealed.  The newspaper reported in July that miscommunication between federal and state authorities later resulted in missing a chance to arrest Barragan in a courtroom before he fled to Mexico and became one of the U.S. Marshals Service's most wanted fugitives. In the new report, the newspaper found systematic problems earlier in the life of Armando Barragan. The ... Read more ...