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Plans to expand scope of license-plate readers alarm privacy advocates

Documents obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting show that a leading maker of license-plate readers wants to merge the vehicle identification technology with other sources of identifying information, alarming privacy advocates. Vigilant Solutions is pushing a system that eventually could help fuse public records, license plates and facial recognition databases for police in the field.

The Livermore, California, company released its own facial recognition software last year for use in stationary and mobile devices. The technology uses algorithms to determine whether a person’s face matches that of somebody already in a law enforcement database. Like license-plate readers, facial ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Nebraska releases prisoners early; Koch brothers hold secret summit; Missile defense system proves unreliable

$40-billion missile defense system proves unreliable | Los Angeles Times

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, was supposed to protect Americans against a chilling new threat from "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iran. But a decade after it was declared operational, and after $40 billion in spending, the missile shield cannot be relied on, even in carefully scripted tests that are much less challenging than an actual attack would be, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The Missile Defense Agency has conducted 16 tests of the system's ability to intercept a mock enemy warhead. It has ...

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GPS monitor didn’t stop sex offender who murdered girl

Washington State Department of Corrections documents reveal that parole officers missed telling clues that were being transmitted by a sex offender’s GPS tracking bracelet in the days and weeks before he murdered a 13-year-old girl. Seattle's KING 5 examined records from the 5-year-old murder as part of its series of investigations into the failures of electronic monitoring programs that law enforcement and courts use to keep watch on criminals who would otherwise be in prison or jail.

VA executives received $100M in bonuses as problems mounted

Executives and employees of the troubled Veterans Affairs health system enjoyed over $100 million in bonuses, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The federal government warned the VA in the past about the growing issue of excessive patient wait times and its detrimental effect on the health care system. Still, VA executives and employees received $108.7 million in bonuses over the course of three years.

Since 2005 more than a dozen reports have been released showing the negative impact of patient wait times at both the national and local levels. The VA said more than 57,000 veterans waited ...

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Asian slave labor producing prawns for supermarkets in US, UK

Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal.

A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that ...

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Taxpayers face big Medicare tab for unusual doctor billings

More than 2,300 providers – doctors, nurses, physician assistants – earned $500,000 or more from Medicare in 2012 from a single procedure or service, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the data. A few of those providers, including an internist in Los Angeles and a dermatologist in Port St. Lucie, Fla., collected more from the single procedures than anyone else who billed for them — by very large margins.

The data release was prompted by a Journal legal effort to make the information public. This story is the first of a series, Medicare Unmasked, examining how payments are made ...

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Bus companies’ lapses mount, but federal scrutiny lags

One in four of the more than 3,700 commercial motorcoach and passenger van companies regulated by the federal government has never received a full safety evaluation, according to an investigation by The Boston Globe. Nearly half have not been reviewed in more than two years.

Buses carry nearly as many people as airlines, but receive far less scrutiny. More than 170 people were killed in bus crashes from 2010 to early 2014, while no one died in commercial plane crashes on US carriers during that period.

Extra Extra Monday: Indiana BMV overcharged customers; Officials withheld records on workplace harassment; Rail workers failed to fix track before collision

Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods not havens for crime | Naples Daily News

Neighbors fear a decrease in property values and an increase in crime when low-income Habitat homeowners move in. It's a concern law enforcement officials say and a Daily News analysis shows is unfounded by data.

 

Oso neighborhood never should have been built | The Seattle Times

This year, Steelhead Haven was destroyed by a massive landslide that crashed across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River and killed 43 people.

More than a half century ago, when Taylor opened the community, she failed to secure a required permit, avoiding ...

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Lack of lawyers leaves Georgia teens fearing lifelong harm from minor cases

Hundreds of kids from poor families are pushed through the court system without legal counsel, according to The Guardian US.

The Southern Center for Human Rights found that in 2012 more than 680 kids went through the Cordele, Georgia circuit courts for juvenile offenses. And while a very small number had a private lawyer, only 52 had a public defender.

"That means that each year more than 600 kids under the age of 17 are effectively being thrown into the bearpit of the US criminal justice system and left to fend for themselves," The Guardian wrote.

The problem is so ...

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The Two Elk Saga: How one man’s dream became state, federal nightmare

WyoFile is featuring a special investigative series, “The Two Elk Saga,” by former Los Angeles Times correspondent and regular WyoFile contributor Rone Tempest. Wyoming has a long history of uncritically embracing, then giving public money to, dubious and expensive energy projects. The proposed $2 billion DKRW Advance Fuels — coal-to-liquids — plant near Medicine Bow is the latest example. The aborted $100-million GE-UW High Plains Gasification project — which cost the state $7 million before GE abruptly backed out in 2011 — is another.

This Two Elk series, supported by grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and WyoFile founder Christopher Findlater, is an ...

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