Extra Extra : Homeland Security

Extra Extra Monday: Teacher absences, prescription painkillers, complaints at for-profit care centers

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend's many enterprise stories -- the last one of 2012 -- from around the country. We'll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast. Did we miss something? Email tips to web@ire.org.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Do teachers’ absences affect student learning?
Seventy-three Western Pennsylvania public school districts paid nearly $25 million for substitute teachers to cover classes when full-time educators were not in the classroom during the last school year, according to records for 17 ...

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Audio surveillance quietly being installed in public buses

"Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily."

"Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio."

Extra Extra Monday: Beef's raw side, pension spiking and reckless prescription writing

The Kansas City Star
Beef's Raw Edges 
"The Kansas City Star, in a yearlong investigation, found that the beef industry is increasingly relying on a mechanical process to tenderize meat, exposing Americans to higher risk of E. coli poisoning. The industry then resists labeling such products, leaving consumers in the dark. The result: Beef in America is plentiful and affordable, spun out in enormous quantities at high speeds, but it's a bonanza with hidden dangers. Industry officials contend beef is safer than it's ever been."

The Los Angeles Times
Dying For Relief: Reckless prescribing, patients endangered
"By ...

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Extra Extra Monday: Costly deals, controversial treatments, unequal foundations for college

The Indianapolis Star
Star Watch Investigation: Vectren's costly coal deal is a profit for company, pain for ratepayers
“At a time when coal prices were at record highs, Vectren locked into expensive, multiyear agreements to buy almost all of its coal supply from its own wholly-owned mining subsidiary, Vectren Fuels. And ratepayers paid the price. Experts say Vectren disregarded the common industry practice of staggering its coal purchases through shorter-term contracts to hedge against unusually high prices.”

The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah Highway Patrol discipline problems go beyond Lisa Steed
“While the case of Cpl. Lisa Steed, the one-time ...

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Texas police spend millions on drones

"While the nation disputes if, when and where the government should use drones over U.S. soil, Texas state police are taking their surveillance efforts to the next level.  In a little-noticed July purchase, officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety inked a $7.4 million contract with the Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. for a high-altitude spy plane. Unique technology affixed to the state’s new aircraft could raise the ire of civil libertarians and privacy advocates."

"Texas state police spokesman Tom Vinger said most of the plane’s missions will be carried out on the border between ...

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A look at one of the nation's largest immigration facilities

"Reporters Lewis Kamb of The (Tacoma) News Tribune and Carol Smith of InvestigateWest collaborated on a five-part series that examines immigration issues in the Northwest, and how one of the nation's largest immigration detention facilities got built in Tacoma, next to a Superfund site, and within a volcanic hazards area and tsunami inundation zone."

NYPD using counterterrorism tactics on lawful citizens

Documents further confirm surveillance of Muslim-Americans

To escape U.S. justice, just flee the country

"Chicago Tribune reporters found eight Chicago-area fugitives during an 18-day trip to Mexico -- five wanted for murder, two for raping or molesting children and one for shooting a man. Growing numbers of criminal suspects flee the U.S. each year to evade trial for murder, rape and other serious felonies. Breakdowns in the criminal justice system allow the suspects to escape, then cripple efforts to bring them to justice, the Tribune found in an investigation based on new Justice Department data as well as sealed warrants and other government records on 129 border-crossing fugitives from northern Illinois."

Undercover police in UK give false identities in court

In a report by The Guardian, it has been revealed that a covert unit of Scotland Yard has been posing as activists and taking part in various protest groups. Even after being arrested and prosecuted, the undercover officers maintained their false identity as an activist while under oath.

“Revelations about the deployment of police spies in protest groups have provoked controversy this year, but the latest allegations may be the most damaging. Police chiefs now stand accused of authorising their undercover officers to give false identities in a deliberate manipulation of the legal system.”