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Extra Extra Monday: NSA spying on smart phone data, America's underground adoption market, troubled group homes

The Child Exchange | Reuters
“Inside America’s underground market for adopted children”

Privacy Scandal: NSA Can Spy on Smart Phone Data | Der Spiegel
"The United States' National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. Top secret NSA documents that SPIEGEL has seen explicitly note that the NSA can tap into such information on Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Google's Android mobile operating system."

Left with nothing | The Washington Post
"This man owed $134 in property taxes. The District sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000house and sold it. He and many other homeowners like him were left with nothing."

Payoffs alleged at assisted living centers | San Diego Union-Tribune
"The 2011 documents allege several instances of state inspectors taking bribes, one of many problems found in a six-month investigation of assisted living facilities by U-T San Diego and the CHFC Center for Health Reporting at the University of Southern California."

Goliad's $1 million mess | Victoria Advocate
"An extensive Victoria Advocate investigation reveals a program started to promote economic development has instead been riddled with poor record-keeping, questionable loan practices, missing documents and virtually no accountability."

Some pharmacists get their licenses back despite history of drug abuse | Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
"A Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting examination of state pharmacy board records showed that during the last ten years, 16 Maine pharmacists had their licenses revoked by the state for stealing drugs. Thirteen pharmacists during the same period were allowed by the board to practice pharmacy despite their history of drug abuse and theft. Five of them went on to steal or abuse drugs again and lose their licenses once more."

The Horror Every Day: Police Brutality In Houston Goes Unpunished | Texas Observer
"What’s rare is for the Houston Police Department to punish its officers for excessive force. An eight-month Texas Observer investigation found that during the past six years, Houston civilians reported officers for “use of force”—the department’s term for police brutality—588 times. The Internal Affairs division investigated each complaint and dismissed all but four."

Farmers Boost Revenue Sowing Subsidies for Crop Insurance | Bloomberg News
"A Depression-era program intended to save the nation’s farmers from ruin has grown into a 21st-century crutch enabling affluent growers and financial institutions to thrive at U.S. taxpayer expense. Federal crop insurance encourages farmers to gamble on risky plantings in a program that has been marred by fraud and that illustrates why government spending is so difficult to control."

R.I. DMV computer project is years behind schedule | Providence Journal
"The state government started trying to replace the Division of Motor Vehicles’ antiquated computer system in 2006, with the new system ostensibly to be working in mid-2010."

It’s still trying, with the price rising by leaps and bounds, partly because the state had to pay a large claim after wasting 23,300 hours of the contractor’s time. It will cost $15.5 million, well over half again as much as the $8.8-million contract price.

Safeguards failed, so evil got another chance | The Boston Globe
“There were many chances to stop John Burbine, accused of abusing 13 children — decades after he devastated a couple and their 3 little boys”

Death brings questions about personal care homes | Houston Chronicle
"Statewide, dozens of seniors and disabled persons die each year in so-called personal care homes, though the exact numbers are unknown since such homes mostly are unregulated in Texas. Most deaths are natural and attract little or no public scrutiny. Texas state law requires licenses for larger group homes but leaves the option of regulating smaller ones to cities and counties."

After paying $600,000 to 'Hoe' Brown, Hillsborough changes homeless program | Tampa Bay Times
"Managers of Homeless Recovery said they do not have the staff to inspect properties where the agency pays to house its clients. Brown is one of dozens of landlords they deal with. The managers said the agency does not refer clients to specific properties, and they've never gotten a complaint about Brown's property. Neither is true, according to hundreds of emails reviewed by the Times."

Dangerous pursuit: Austin police foot chases can lead to injuries, shootings | Austin American-Statesman
“Nearly a third of Austin police shootings -- some fatal -- came after chases on foot”

For-profit colleges soaking up tax dollars despite student loan defaults, low graduation rates -- and could be in trouble | San Jose Mercury News
"Despite their high prices and promises of good jobs, more than a dozen of the Bay Area's most expensive trade schools graduate fewer than half of their students, report alarming rates of students defaulting on their loans -- or both."

Drivers’ $1 donation yields little for organ donors and their families | Pittsburgh News
"The fund has raised about $10 million since 2000, including about $1 million or 10 percent that a state law designated to help organ donors’ families pay funeral and medical expenses. But none of the money has been spent to defray those bills, a Tribune-Review investigation found. Even after the state started a smaller program to help living donors or deceased donors’ families to defray hotel and meal expenses, it spent slightly more than $180,000 of the $1 million for that. Only one deceased donor’s family was helped before the state stopped reporting the results in 2011."

Earmarks on rise again in Olympia | Seattle Times
"Legislators steered more than $170 million in the state’s capital budget toward special projects that largely sidestep public debate and detailed documentation. The list ranges from a college radio station to a monument commemorating a stranded ship."

Troubled group homes escape state scrutiny | Miami Herald
“Critics say these facilities are actually unlicensed ALFs, using a different name to avoid licensure and inspection — and to enhance their profits. An ALF, in addition to providing housing, can help with daily tasks like bathing, dressing and taking medication. To open one, an operator must pass a background check, pay fees and submit to inspections.”

At violent summer’s end, weary city grapples with the toll | The Baltimore Sun
"At the end of a summer that saw significant increases in shootings and homicides, The Sun told the stories of seven Baltimoreans affected by the violence. They included a man whose wife was killed, a witness who fled the city, a cop on the beat and the leader of a neighborhood watch group."

Off-campus houses a long-standing problem for Naval Academy | The Baltimore Sun
"Last week’s hearing on sexual assault allegations against three U.S. Naval Academy football players highlighted a little-known problem at the school: off-campus rental houses that violate academy regulations but have been the scene of alcohol-and sex-fueled parties for years. The Sun found that the houses, nestled in quiet suburban neighborhoods, have been the focus of residents’ complaints and the scene of other alleged sexual assaults."

Left in limbo, hundreds of Minnesotans with mental illness languish in jail |  Star Tribune
"Hundreds of inmates with dangerous psychiatric problems languish in county jails across the state."

Forgotten Era: DA contenders Spota and Perini: Ties to ’80s probes of Suffolk law enforcement | Newsday
"In the late 1980s, state and local investigators probed widespread misconduct in Suffolk County, much of it criminal, in the district attorney’s office and county police department. The scrutiny culminated in a controversial 1989 report by the now-defunct State Commission of Investigation. The report presented a disturbing portrait of a broken county law enforcement system. Perini, and to a lesser extent Spota, are both linked to allegations of misconduct in the report, although neither man was ultimately charged with wrongdoing."

Care home deaths show system failures | U-T San Diego
"Hundreds of seniors in San Diego County have suffered broken bones, deadly bed sores, sexual assaults and other injuries at assisted living homes that promised them care and safety in their waning years, state regulatory records show. For many, poor care hastened their deaths. At least 27 San Diego County seniors have died since 2008 from injuries and neglect suffered in the facilities."

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