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Security camera feeds at schools, jails easily accessible to the public

Hundreds of thousands of security camera feeds could be open to anyone with an Internet browser, according to a Scripps national investigation.

Scripps found schools, jails and stores all with easily accessible video feeds. A security researcher interviewed as part of the investigation reported that three out of four cameras he studied were not secure. The Federal Trade Commission estimates about 25 billion devices are hooked up to the Internet.

In diverse Texas, whites dominate police ranks

White officers dominate in communities across Texas, an investigation by University of Texas at Austin students found. Analyzing current demographic data reported to a state agency, they discovered that almost a third of the state’s police departments had no female officers. The Dallas suburbs had the largest concentration of demographic disparities, where, in most cases, the percentage of white officers was at least 40 percentage points higher than the percentage of white residents. Significant disparities  also were found in East Texas. The investigation was published in Reporting Texas, a UT online news site, and The Dallas Morning News.

N.J. National Guard’s top officers drove drunk, kept leadership positions

At least four high-ranking colonels in the New Jersey National Guard have been convicted of drunken driving since 2009, according to a story by NJ Advance Media.

Three of the cases took place under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Michael Cunniff, who overseas 8,500 soldiers and airmen. Cunniff kept two of the colonels in leadership roles for months after their arrests.

At the same time, the Jersey Guard is dealing with claims of cronyism and racism among its senior officers.

$15 million in state funds held in non-profit bank account

KARK 4 News spent two months going through years of board minutes, financial documents and audits after receiving a tip that millions of state dollars were sitting in an out-of-state account, even as rice farmers continued to pay millions in check-offs each year. The station found that members of the state board voted to send this money into a nonprofit bank account, failed to report the revenue to financial officials and may have spent millions of those dollars without the authorization to do so.

Phoenix Fire Department has ties with insurer

KPNX-TV continues their series “Raked Over the Coals” involving the Phoenix Fire Department. This time, they uncovered a customary practice by Farmers Insurance involving an arson case. Their investigation exposes Farmers “Unwritten Rule.” The insurance company withholds reports that are favorable to their insured if they're facing criminal prosecution. Exculpatory evidence that could potentially prove their innocence so Farmers can deny the claim. A regional employee for Farmers admitted under oath he’s done it 5-15 times.

St. Louis County municipalities block access to driver's licenses to collect unpaid fines

Several municipalities in St. Louis County have used the Missouri Department of Revenue to force residents into making court payments, according to an investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Residents in Northwoods, Hanley Hills and Breckenridge Hills have been threatened with possible license suspensions, even though city officials have no such authority. A woman from Northwoods was even blocked from renewing her license because of unpaid fines. A local judge said that should not have been done.

No statewide plan to address rising sea levels across Florida coastline

Florida has 1,200 miles of coastline. Many communities along the coast — such as historic St. Augustine — have experienced chronic flooding. Potable drinking water has been contaminated with salty seawater. Rising tides and frequent storm surges have washed out roads from Jacksonville to Key West. Despite growing concerns from local officials in charge of these coastal communities, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has downsized many vital environmental agencies across the state and set aside efforts to combat rising sea levels, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Ohio consumers face difficulties filing complaints against utilities

Ohio consumers going up against a utility company haven’t fared well in recent years, according to an article by The Columbus Dispatch. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ruled in favor of consumers just four times in the last 10 years. Nearly 870 people made formal complaints in that time period.

Settlements are the most common outcome, the paper found. Cases, which range from sale and service concerns to alleged property damage, can take years to resolve.

Slow response times, inadequate training and political feuds plague several Pennsylvania fire departments

A series of reports by WTAE-TV investigative reporter Paul Van Osdol has exposed numerous problems with several fire departments across Pennsylvania, including issues that could potentially put the public at risk. In Western Pennsylvania, for example, it took some departments more than 14 minutes to respond to structure fires, which is over the minimum federal standard response time for rural areas.

In other communities, neighboring departments have been blocked from helping altogether because of political feuds between fire chiefs. In addition, the investigation uncovered a lack of training for volunteer firefighters. In one particular incident, firefighters may have forgotten to ...

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Manicurists paid below minimum wage

After interviewing more than 150 nail salon workers and owners, it was found that many manicurists are paid below the legal minimum wage, according to an investigation by The New York Times. These workers are also sometimes forced to pay a fee before being trained and some work for months without any pay at all.

The Labor Department had failed to conduct an investigative sweep of nail salons until last year, and the Times found that 80 percent of the time the department investigated a salon, workers were found to be underpaid.