Extra Extra : February 2013

New state law conceals records of abuse, neglect in nursing homes

"Families’ abilities to hold potentially negligent nursing facilities accountable have been diminished by a recent change in state law that bars records of abuse and neglect from use in the courts, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has found." Read Wisconsin Watch's full investigation here.

Troubled teens: At risk and overlooked

An Arizona Republic investigation finds some of Arizona's most severely troubled youth have reportedly been sexually and physically abused in residential treatment centers amid lax oversight by the state agencies that license, monitor, fund and assign children to the facilities.

Extra Extra Monday: Medical bills, hyperengineered food and private prison cash

Time
Bitter Pill: Why medical bills are killing us
“Breaking these trillions down into real bills going to real patients cuts through the ideological debate over health care policy. By dissecting the bills that people like Sean Recchi face, we can see exactly how and why we are overspending, where the money is going and how to get it back. We just have to follow the money.”

New York Times Magazine
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
“Inside the hyperengineered, savagely marketed, addiction-creating battle for American ‘stomach share.’”

Columbia Journalism Review
Immigration reform and private prison cash

“Key lawmakers ...

Read more ...

OSHA assessing state safety offices’ effectiveness

"Problems in Nevada four years ago have federal officials still trying to determine whether states with their own workplace safety agencies are as good as OSHA."

IOSHA falling down on job?

"The Indiana agency charged with keeping workplaces safe performs far fewer inspections than in the past, issues fewer serious violations and in recent years has struggled with employee turnover. Created in the 1970s as a state-run offshoot of a similar federal agency, the current Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a dramatically changed – and some say underfunded – agency."

Minnesota draining its supply of water

"Minnesotans have always prided themselves on their more than 10,000 lakes, great rivers and the deep underground reservoirs that supply three-fourths of the state’s residents with naturally clean drinking water. But many regions in the state have reached the point where people are using water — and then sending it downstream — faster than the rain and snow can replenish it. Now state regulators, who have never said no to a water permit, for the first time are planning to experiment with more stringent rules that will require some local communities to allocate scarce water."

Court cases secret, so are the reasons

State law requires that some legal battles be filed under seal, such as whistleblower lawsuits. But the Tribune found chancery judges also have sealed cases for a fellow judge, the Wrigley family and a former Chicago Bulls basketball player.

In nonprofit game, athletes post losing records

“But an examination of the group’s financial records — part of a Globe review of more than 150 Internal Revenue Service filings by 50 nonprofits operated by professional athletes — reveals that just 37 cents of every dollar raised by the Josh Beckett Foundation went toward its mission to “improve the health and well-being of children.” That’s far less than the 65 to 75 cents that nonprofit specialists say is an acceptable minimum.”

The Case of the phantom ballots: an electoral whodunit

"Within 2½ weeks, 2,552 online requests arrived from voters who had not applied for absentee ballots. They streamed in much too quickly for real people to be filling them out. They originated from only a handful of Internet Protocol addresses. And they were not random. It had all the appearances of a political dirty trick, a high-tech effort by an unknown hacker to sway three key Aug. 14 primary elections, a Miami Herald investigation has found.”