Extra Extra : July 2011

‘Designer’ recreational drugs causing violence and death across the country

Pam Louwagie, of The Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, reports on the devastating results of “designer” drug use. These legal substances are marketed online as  “herbal incense” and “bath salts,” which seem like a safer alternative to street drugs. However, Louwagie points out that all over the country teens and adults alike are experiencing some terrifyingly dangerous side-effects.

“In an upscale suburb of New Orleans, a doctor’s son, high on bath salts, slit his throat in front of his family, then later took a shotgun to his head.

Outside Seattle, a 38-year-old man killed his wife, then himself, during a high-speed ...

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Colorado farmers face losing water rights during nine-year legal struggle

In 2002, farmers in two Colorado counties experienced a devastating drought but because of shares held in a “century-old irrigation company,” were told they would be able to “keep their coveted their irrigation water.” However, nine years later, the farmers are still facing dry land and looming financial ruin. In this investigation by theDenver Post, reporters Karen E. Crummy and Eric Gorski reveal that the lawyer for the Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Co., also represented the “United Water and Sanitation District,” which was the public water district “attempting to build a Front Range water-delivery system.” The lawyer, John P ...

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Detroit’s Human Services Department spends $200k+ on new furnishings instead of feeding and clothing low-income families

Steve Neavling and Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press uncover, that despite a third of Detroit’s population living below the federal poverty line, their Human Services Department spent “$182,000 in furniture purchases destined for the department offices at 5031 Grandy, near Warren and Mt. Elliott.”

City officials said the purchases were especially egregious because the agency handles most of the federal money to feed and clothe poor people, find jobs for unemployed people, create subsidized housing, open homeless shelters and operate the early childhood education program Head Start.

Following the money on Chicago’s tax-increment financing program

A program designed to help Chicago’s most-blighted neighborhoods did little to help the West Side neighborhood of Austin, according to an investigation by the online site AustinTalks. Just one project has been completed since 2000, although unemployment in the neighborhood
is among the highest citywide and the area is home to more people than any other Chicago community.

http://austintalks.org/2011/07/tif-program-designed-to-benefit-struggling-neighborhoods-does-little-to-help-chicago%E2%80%99s-most-populated-community/

A searchable map partner site ChicagoTalks published earlier this year shows more than half of the nearly 200 private-sector TIF projects approved citywide between Jan. 1, 2000, and July 30, 2010, are ...

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California schools struggle with restraint training programs

Restraint training for teachers who deal with unruly students has become a bigger need than ever in some California counties, reports the Bay Citizen. Negative “behavioral episodes in California schools more than doubled to 21,076 between the 2005-6 and 2009-10 school years, according to California Department of Education figures.” Instances of the restraint or seclusion of a student “are considered emergency interventions” that are employed when a student appears to be a threat to his or herself or to others.

For some time, schools have relied on restraint training programs and protocols that were developed by companies that seemed ...

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Part three in five part series: KUOW News in Seattle investigates violence in the ER

In today’s story on dangers in the workplace, John Ryan covers hospitals and emergency rooms.

“Most of us face little risk of being assaulted while we’re on the job. But if you’re a cop, a convenience store clerk or a cab driver, your line of work can quickly turn violent. The same is true for people working in hospitals and nursing homes.” Ryan discussed the problem of what happens when patients are in pain and agitated, and try to take it out on the people who are trying to give them care.  One nurse describes the unfortunate ...

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Clerical errors in the Social Security Administration report thousands of living people as dead

The Social Security Administration each month falsely reports that nearly 1,200 living Americans have died.

These clerical errors, found in a federal database ominously titled the “Death Master File,” might be darkly humorous — evoking Mark Twain’s famous quip that death reports can be greatly exaggerated — were not the consequences so severe.

Thomas Hargrove with Scripps Howard News Service talks with one woman who has had such luck. ” “It has just been one thing right after another since I found out that I was dead,” said an unsmiling Judy C. Rivers, 58, of Jasper, Ala. “Right now, I am ...

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KUOW News-Seattle investigates workplace safety in 5 part series

John Ryan takes a closer look at some of the more dangerous jobs in the country with an eye for safety laws and regulations.

http://www.kuow.org/specials/danger-at-work.php

Today, KUOW highlights a day in the life of a lineworker, one of the most dangerous jobs, right up there with commercial fishing.

Ryan talks with workers who ‘free-climb’, or climb electrical poles without being harnessed, despite the high safety standards for almost every other job in the country.“All workplaces in this country have to be safe. That’s the law of the land. But above the land ...

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FL schools closing the gaping divide amongst low and high-income students

Sharona Coutts and Jennifer LaFleur of ProPublica lay out, flawlessly, data previously unreleased by the federal government that shows “Florida leads the nation in the percentage of high-school students enrolled in high-level classes—Advanced Placement and advanced math. That  holds true across rich and poor districts.”

LaFleur, Coutts, Al Shaw, and Jeff Larson also put together a database that lets you search your own school district to compare.

http://projects.propublica.org/schools/

After several reports of abuse, HI long-term care facilities goes unsanctioned

“In a state where nursing homes are rarely sanctioned, federal regulators did not penalize one of Hawaii’s premium institutions for its failure to protect defenseless elderly women from a sexually abusive caregiver. They also didn’t sanction a nursing home even after a nurse’s failure to follow physician orders resulted in the puncturing of a man’s abdominal organ, requiring surgery. The nurse inserted a feeding tube larger than what the doctor ordered. Those were among the cases Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Rob Perez cited to illustrate that Hawaii nursing homes often go unpenalized even when deficient care leads ...

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