When a group of wealthy immigrants learned Vermont ski resort Jay Peak had converted their $17.5 million worth of equity investments into loans — a transaction they were not told about until five months after the fact — investors were incensed. But resort officials defend the transaction, saying it was in the investors’ best interest. The state says they had every right to do it, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., stands behind the program that let them.
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While a county moratorium forbids new sand mines, area towns and villages have been annexing the land companies have acquired, hoping to reap additional taxes that reduce the burden on residents. The result is that farmers and other like the Flynns – who don’t live or vote in those towns yet live next door to the mines – have no say over what is happening around them.
Mining is not new here. But a Tribune review of property sales reveals that sand mining companies have quietly bought at least 3,100 acres in LaSalle County since 2005, a swath larger than ...Read more ...
"A 100Reporters investigation of the diamond trade in South Africa has found that companies here pay a royalty rate far lower than that of other African states. Companies can also reduce or cancel out export taxes if they offer locally-mined diamonds to the state for purchase—even if the South African government never buys the gems, often due to formidably high prices."
Extra Extra Monday: High-poverty schools, the troubled VA healthcare system, medical examiner accuracy
Fatally flawed: Truth gets buried under broken rules | The Charlotte Observer
In a five-part series launched Saturday, the Charlotte Observer reveals that N.C. medical examiners routinely fail to follow crucial investigative steps, raising questions about the accuracy of thousands of death rulings.
The living face the consequences. Widows can be cheated out of insurance money. Families may never learn why their loved ones died. Killers can go free.
After a medical examiner concluded David Worley died in a Harnett County car wreck last July, a funeral home discovered what the examiner missed: four stab wounds in his back. His ...Read more ...
Competing corn and oil lobbies aren’t the only groups involved in a battle over a policy that could reduce the amount of ethanol refiners have to blend into gasoline. Reuters found that owners of two Philadelphia-area refineries, the Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, also played a major role.
Continuing to increase the amount of ethanol required in gasoline could cost thousands of jobs, the refiners and their allies argued. This interactive graphic, created by Reuters, compiles records of lobbyists' meetings with policymakers.
Lobbyists for the oil refiners spent $81 million in 2013. That's more than triple what ...Read more ...
Dangerous Minds/Insane System | The Virginian-Pilot
But what happened in Apartment 433 was more than just another murder.
It was a window into today's mental health care: a system as dysfunctional as the clients it serves. So gutted it has little power to put away even the most dangerous for any real length of time – and almost nowhere to keep them, even if it could.
Last year's tragedy in Sen. Creigh Deeds’ family inspired at least 60 mental health bills in the General Assembly.
Nothing emerged that will keep anyone any safer from someone like Bruce Williams.
Read more ...
Land Quest is an experiment in cross-border investigative journalism by two European, two Kenyan and one American journalist that seeks to redefine both the focus and the audience of development reporting.
The data reveals Kenya as the battlefield between two competing financial interests: the flow of aid money from Europe to Kenya, and multinational profits from Kenya to Europe. Aid money flows into Kenya to help strengthen institutions and private companies, from agro-industrialists to oil barons.
The project, funded by a grant from the European Journalism Centre, is designed to raise awareness about the need for developed and developing countries ...Read more ...
Investigators say former Utah Attorney General John Swallow “exploited a web of vaguely named nonprofit organizations in several states to mask hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders,” The New York Times reports.
“Public records, affidavits and a special legislative report released last week offer a strikingly candid view inside the world of political nonprofits, where big money sluices into campaigns behind a veil of secrecy.”
We took a break from publishing Extra Extra during the 2014 CAR Conference. Here are some of the stories that ran while we were away:
Fords with faulty transmissions not recalled | WTAE Pittsburgh
Following the redesign of Ford Fiesta and Focus transmissions in 2011, hundreds around the country said they're concerned about the safety of the vehicles. They have reported difficulty shifting as well as odd crunching and grinding noises as the cars change gears.
Dozens of consumers in Western Pennsylvania filed lawsuits alleging that, despite assurances from dealers, the vehicles do not function properly. The cars have not ...Read more ...
A Chicago ride-sharing company did not run complete criminal background checks on thousands of drivers, the Chicago Tribune reported this morning.
The Tribune learned of the lax oversight when it tried to profile a driver for the company, Uber. The driver selected for the story had a felony conviction for residential burglary.
The company later admitted its background checks had missed county-level criminal convictions.
Read the full story here.