Extra Extra : First Amendment & FOIA

Reports reveal safety violations at many bioterror labs

Recent glaring safety lapses involving anthrax, smallpox and a dangerous strain of bird flu are the latest violations at a half-dozen laboratories run by federal health agencies, 11 labs run by universities and eight more operated by state, local or private entities, according to government reports stamped "restricted" obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

The reports by the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited inadequate security procedures, lax inventory records for germs that could be used as bioterror agents and training concerns. Auditors warned in reports issued ...

Read more ...

North Carolina State University wants exemption from public records law

North Caroline State University says an open records law has caused the school to lose out on dozens of contracts with private companies and, in turn, millions of dollars in funding, reports WRAL. However, school officials were not able to offer an exact number of dollars lost or the number of companies that have declined to work the university.

Now, NCSU is hoping for an open records law exception that will protect the information shared during private businesses' research.

Extra Extra Monday: Fatal flaws in Oklahoma’s execution system, absent city council members, teacher misconduct

Fatal Flaws: How Oklahoma’s lethal injection process went wrong | Tulsa World

Nearly 15 years after Stephanie’s murder, Lockett lay dying as her family watched along with a gallery of law enforcement officials, prison administrators and journalists through the window of Oklahoma’s execution chamber.

State officials had promised in court records and interviews that Oklahoma’s new execution protocol would dispatch him swiftly and painlessly. They were so confident in this assurance that Gov. Mary Fallin ordered Lockett to be executed April 29, the same night another convicted killer was set to die.

Lockett’s death didn’t ...

Read more ...

Attorney General emails detail discussions before botched Oklahoma execution

In the weeks leading up to a botched execution, an Oklahoma assistant attorney general referred to defense attorneys’ warnings that the execution could go awry as “hysterical speculation,” records released to the Tulsa World show.

Assistant Attorney General John Hadden also wrote in a March 21 email that he was “not eager to answer a bunch of questions” from reporters about the state’s execution plans but worried about appearing “overly secretive.”

Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office released more than 100 pages of emails to the World Friday following an Open Records Act request. The World requested all emails ...

Read more ...

A look at local, national coverage of Oklahoma’s botched execution

IRE board member Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor at the Tulsa World, was among the media witnesses present Tuesday during the botched execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett.

In a short video posted on the Tulsa World’s website, Branstetter and reporter Cary Aspinwall describe the failed execution.

The execution has prompted some local news outlets to scrutinize their state’s lethal injection drugs. Here’s a look at how local and national media are covering the story:

 

LOCAL

Execution scrutiny rages after botched execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett | Tulsa World

Oklahoma's botched execution Tuesday became the subject of ...

Read more ...

Audit shows Miss. rural water association plagued by financial problems

An audit of the North Lee County Water Association in Mississippi turned up widespread financial management problems, including violations of several state and federal laws, the Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS) reports.

The audit, which is likely “the most rigorous examination ever” of the nonprofit cooperative's financial records, comes on the heels of a $1.2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administration.

While copies of the audit are required to be available for public inspection, the water association did not comply with state law.

The association has been plagued with problems, according to the ...

Read more ...

Extra Extra Monday: Accident reports, deportations and school finances

Jail Crunch | Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

OCCRP reporters filed freedom of information requests to prison authorities across Eastern Europe. The interactive visualization is a compilation of the data received from each prison authority, organized to demonstrate similarities and differences between prison demographics and crime categories across the region.

OCCRP journalists conducted dozens of interviews with convicted criminals throughout Eastern Europe. The videos are an extension of the Jail Crunch visualization and provide a personal window into how crime works in the region.

 

Drivers pay for accident reports | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A private company that sells vehicle accident reports for ...

Read more ...

New York state offices ignore Freedom of Information Laws

Extra Extra Monday: American Indian casinos, oil field fatalities, student absenteeism

Suicide rate hits 25-year high in region | Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal

Craig Russell Wishnick is one of 238 residents of Dutchess and Ulster counties to die by suicide in the five years ending in 2011, 73 more than in the five years ending in 2003, according to a Poughkeepsie Journal analysis of death certificates over a 13-year period. That is an increase in harder-hit Dutchess of 62 percent and the first hike in the county rate after a quarter-century of steady and solid decline.

 

Does Utah’s air pollution increase school absences? | The Salt Lake Tribune

Health problems are a ...

Read more ...

Email shows effort to shield bin Laden photos

According to the Associated Press, "A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the U.S. military's top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al-Qaida founder's corpse or turn them over to the CIA."

When the AP initially asked for emails to and from Adm. William McRaven, the document ordering the removal or destruction of the bin Laden photos was not included. The conservative legal group Judicial Watch recently received the email under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read the full story ...

Read more ...