Extra Extra : Politics

Extra Extra Monday: LAPD turns violent crimes into minor offenses, Florida police bend rules on sex stings

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Learn how to get started on our podcast episode, "Cracking the Crime Stats." Steve Thompson of the Dallas Morning News and Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times explain how to spot red flags in the data.

LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes as minor offenses | Los Angeles Times

The LAPD misclassified nearly 1,200 violent crimes during a one-year span ending in September 2013, including hundreds of stabbings, beatings and robberies, a Times investigation found.

The incidents were recorded as minor offenses and as a result did not appear in ...

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Pro-troop charity misleads donors while lining political consultants’ pockets

Move America Forward calls itself the nation's "largest grassroots pro-troop organization," and has recruited a bevy of Republican luminaries, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, to support its efforts.

Yet a ProPublica examination of its fundraising appeals, tax records and other documents shows that Move America Forward has repeatedly misled donors and inflated its charitable accomplishments, while funneling millions of dollars in revenue to the men behind the group and their political consulting firms.

Read the story here.

Extra Extra Monday: ATF stings, voter fraud and the new subprime bubble

Investigation: ATF drug stings targeted minorities | USA TODAY

The nation's top gun-enforcement agency overwhelmingly targeted racial and ethnic minorities as it expanded its use of controversial drug sting operations, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has more than quadrupled its use of those stings during the past decade, quietly making them a central part of its attempts to combat gun crime. The operations are designed to produce long prison sentences for suspects enticed by the promise of pocketing as much as $100,000 for robbing a drug stash house that does not ...

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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 ...

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How the VA developed its culture of coverups

The resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki isn’t likely to fix systemic problems at the beleaguered agency, the Washington Post reports.

The VA’s “towering bureaucracy,” once designed to prevent mismanagement and corruption, ultimately allowed it to hide its problems from senior staff.

Scheduling clerks were told to “zero out” wait times. In Phoenix, for instance, official data showed veterans waited an average of 24 days for an appointment. In reality, the average wait was 115 days. Reporter David Fahrenthold explains:

This is how it worked: A patient asked for an appointment on a specific day. Turner ...

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Most Wyoming legislators pass one or zero bills

Of the Wyoming Legislature’s 90 members, only 28 lawmakers got one bill passed in this year’s legislative session, according to a Casper Star-Tribune analysis. Thirty-nine didn’t succeed in getting any bills passed. Fourteen didn’t sponsor anything.

But passing bills is only one way to measure a lawmaker’s effectiveness.

“There are a lot of legislators who may be equally effective because they kill bills that wouldn’t be any good,” Karl Kurtz, a political scientist for the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Star-Tribune.

Read the story here.

Carlyle-owned refiner helps weaken ethanol policy

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 ...

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Billions unaccounted for in Venezuela's communal giveaway program

The unsupervised spending in El Chaparral is symptomatic of a vast community aid effort with lax financial controls. A network of more than 70,000 community groups has received the equivalent of at least $7.9 billion since 2006 from the federal agency that provides much of the financing for the program, Reuters calculates, based on official government reports.

The money is part of a broad government effort called the "communal state" that steers funds to communities, primarily through an outfit called the Autonomous National Fund for Community Councils, or Safonacc. But exactly how much money passes through this system ...

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Georgia Bureau of Investigation probes former Douglas County district attorney

According to WAGA - Atlanta, acting Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner didn't take long to clear the air and clear the decks. On his second day on the job, Fortner fired office manager Tammie Agan, her sister, her son, and another legal assistant.

An earlier I-Team investigation showed how former District Attorney David McDade used seized drug money to provide perks, high-paying second jobs and internships for Agan and her family.

McDade has always said he has done nothing wrong. Fortner says he expects “further action” in the ongoing Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into how McDade spent seized ...

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Construction contracts given to political-campaign donors

A school board in Florida split up construction work into a number of small contracts it then gave to companies that had donated to the superintendent's political campaign, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.  In doing so, the school board avoided the $2-million threshold in state statute that would have triggered competitive bidding. Read the full story here.