Extra Extra : Government (federal/state/local)

Extra Extra Monday: National Guard cronyism, forfeiture abuse, a web of lawyers

Racial bias, cronyism tearing apart N.J. National Guard, senior officers allege | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The New Jersey National Guard prides itself on rigor and readiness, and, from its sprawling base southeast of Trenton, its members became a beacon of help after Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy ravaged portions of the state. But internal records obtained by NJ Advance Media show the Guard now faces a storm of its own, with at least four senior officers, including two top minorities, alleging a "toxic command climate," fueled by racial discrimination and retaliatory actions.

Iowa forfeiture: A ‘system ...

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Municipal courts are well-oiled money machine

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigated the municipal court system and found a money-driven system favoring connections and cash over justice.

The report reveals the system is set up to operate in secret and to direct business to lawyers. It expands on the Department of Justice’s findings that Ferguson’s police department acted as a collection agency for a "constitutionally deficient" court.

To read the full story, click here.

Oregon man commits no crime, but held in jail for 900 days

A material witness in a murder case has been held in jail pending trial for nearly 900 days, according to a report by The Oregonian. Benito Vasquez-Hernandez, 58, spends his days like any other inmate at Washington County Jail, despite the fact he’s not charged with any crime.

The death of baby Ada Mae and the tragic effects of veteran addiction

A Veterans Affairs office's penchant for over-prescribing painkillers did more than spread addiction. It was the root of dozens of tragedies that scarred the region around Tomah, Wisconsin.

Reveal dug into the death of six-week-old Ada Mae. The horse and buggy she was cradled in with her family was struck in 2009 by a Dodge Caravan, the driver of which was a Marine Corps veteran high on painkillers and tranquilizers from the Tomah VA.

The investigation unravels the widespread addiction problem among veterans and details the collateral damage.

For the full report, click here.

Extra Extra Round-up: Whistleblowing farmers, no oversight for IT contractors, and grand jury investigating landfill contractor

Cock Fight: Meet the Farmer Blowing the Whistle on Big Chicken | Fusion

Craig Watts is a chicken farmer – and now, a whistleblower. Fusion documented Watts’ journey, from his struggle to speak out to the reaction of his employers: Perdue Farms. Two months after going public with his grievances, Watts says he has been visited 26 times by company representatives and even placed on a “performance improvement plan.” Meanwhile, the majority of chicken farmers live at or below the poverty line, four companies control more than half of the industry, and animals are subjected to insufferable living conditions.

Assault of Central ...

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After report, prosecutors charge man in connection with real estate fraud scheme

Prosecutors have charged a man in connection with a widespread real estate fraud scheme detailed in reports by KSHB-Kansas City.

Willis L. Watson, 35, faces nine different counts of felony forgery and theft, according to KSHB’s latest report.

Reporter Ryan Kath found that someone had been stealing homes by forging signature of both the living and the dead. Often, he found, the homeowners had no idea.

Kath discussed the investigation as part of IRE’s "Behind the Story" and "Story Shorts" series. 

Aaron Schock's ethics under scrutiny

The list of questionable practices keeps growing for Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock. In 2013, the House Ethics Committee revealed that Schock may have violated House rules by soliciting campaign contributions for a committee that supported fellow Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger. 
 
Recently, the Associated Press has reported that Schock has spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors. The AP has discovered at least a dozen of these flights, totaling more than $40,000. 
 
In addition, Schock has remodeled his office after the popular television program "Downtown Abbey" and even used funds ...

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Government hired collectors to go after debtors

Debt collection horror stories are nothing new. But there's a whole other side to the industry that no one’s talking about: collectors hired by government agencies to hunt down debtors.

CNNMoney spent months investigating this booming business and one of its biggest players, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson. Hundreds of consumer complaints were analyzed from state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission, among other organizations, and dozens of attorneys and other experts were interviewed.

Chemical known for lung destruction still unregulated

For nearly two decades, federal regulators tasked with overseeing worker safety in the United States have been well aware of the lung destruction tied to diacetyl. But the federal government failed to regulate exposure to the chemical. An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found the chemical is now a problem for those working in the coffee industry and diacetyl has quietly seeped into other products, this time being inhaled straight into the lungs of a growing number of consumers as they smoke or "vape" e-cigarettes. Inhaling the chemical can quickly destroy the lungs, according to more than a dozen ...

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Quake Debate: Science questioned while state's earthquake studies go unfinished

In 2014, Oklahoma was the site of 585 earthquakes measured 3.0 or above; that's more earthquakes than in the past 35 years combined according to Tulsa World.

A significant amount of scientific studies have attributed this dramatic shift in natural disasters to the 3,200 active disposal wells, where water produced in the drilling of oil and natural gas is then injected deep into the ground.

Despite the overwhelming support in the science community of these sites as the cause of the earthquakes, state officials with the power to control the disposal wells refuse to act. Energy industry ...

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