The U.S. government started keeping secret records of Americans' international telephone calls nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed. According to an investigation by USA TODAY, for more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included ...Read more ...
Extra Extra : Homeland Security
Hurricane Ike sent a clear message that the people and vital energy industry of greater Houston, one of America's largest urban areas needed protection from rising seas. Six years later, it remains an easy target as storm surges grow increasingly more destructive. Many major coastal cities are in the same boat.
A Reuters analysis of RealtyTrac data for the third installment of the “Water’s Edge” series found that at least $1.4 trillion worth of businesses and homes line the country’s tidal shores, yet the U.S. lacks a unified national response to rising sea levels. The ...Read more ...
Lizhong Fang, a Chinese national and computer programmer, had access to a variety of sensitive information during his short time at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center in Phoenix. His work on facial recognition software allowed him to view the Arizona driver’s license database as well as law enforcement records.
Fang disappeared in 2007, and those responsible for hiring him say the privacy of up to 5 million people has been compromised. Officials never disclosed the possible privacy breach.
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 ...
Extra Extra Monday: Fatal flaws in Oklahoma’s execution system, absent city council members, teacher misconduct
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 ...
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 ...Read more ...
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 short stretch across the fence from this road, just a few hundred yards long, is perhaps the one spot along the entire U.S.-Mexico border where Border Patrol agents are most likely to be attacked with rocks and to respond with force," the Arizona Republic reported.
"Roughly one in every six incidents along the entire 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border in which agents used force against rock throwers in recent years occurred here, across the fence from three adjacent streets leading to the fence in Nogales, Ariz., an investigation by The Arizona Republic has found."
Read the ...Read more ...
"Following an uproar by residents and some members of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security has opened an investigation into whether $15 million in tax dollars to build housing for Border Patrol agents here was improperly spent," The Arizona Republic reports. Read the full story here.
Extra Extra Monday: Abuse at private youth prisons, fertilizer plant blast could happen again, little accountability in Southwest Border killings
Gun license numbers don't tell whole story | Daily Herald
State data paints an imperfect picture of gun ownership across the suburbs.
Prisoners of Profit | The Huffington Post
Florida's Lax Oversight Enables Systemic Abuse At Private Youth Prisons.
Broken Bonds | Chicago Tribune
Despite borrowing $10 billion to fund school construction, Chicago still has an overcrowding problem. Millions also went to schools that now stand empty.
Waiting for the 8th |The Washington Post
The months seem a bit longer for a D.C. woman and her family after recent cuts to the food stamps they rely on.