Extra Extra : June 2008

Incident at CDC lab shines light on safety concerns

Following a failure in the ventilation system at the Centers for Disease Control facility, the door of a high-containment lab was sealed with duct tape, according to a report by Alison Young of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The air-flow failure lead to the potential exposure of nine CDC employees to Q fever, a potential bioterrorism agent. This incident adds to the list of concerns surrounding the $214 million CDC facility, including an event last summer when generators failed to come on during an hour-long power outage.

Drug money seizures influence law enforcement

A four-part series by NPR's John Burnett explored the impact of drug asset seizures on law enforcement culture in the U.S. "While drug-related asset forfeitures have expanded police budgets, critics say the flow of money distorts law enforcement — that some cops have become more interested in seizing money than drugs, more interested in working southbound than northbound lanes." (Parts one, two, three and four.) Burnett reflects on how the nature of his investigation changed as he was reporting on the story.

Taxpayer-funded network mismanaged, fails to avoid propaganda

A joint ProPublica-CBS 60 Minutes investigation finds that the U.S.taxpayer-funded news network Al-Hurra is "woefully mismanaged and poorly supervised despite complaints from Congress." The network was launched in 2004 to, as President Bush put it, "cut through the barriers of hateful propaganda" in the Arab world. As it turns out, it has a very small audience and at times has included anti-Israeli propaganda. The story will air Sunday, June 22 on 60 Minutes with an accompanying series on the ProPublica website.

Conventions accept millions in corporate donations

"John McCain, who wrote the law banning corporate donations to the political parties, and Barack Obama, who refuses lobbyist money, will be nominated for president at conventions largely funded by industries whose Washington clout they've railed against on the campaign trail." reports Bloomberg's Jonathan D. Salant. The corporate donations undermine both candidate's interest in curbing special-interests. The donations enable lobbyists to obtain credentials to attend the conventions and events, "allowing them to mingle with lawmakers acting on legislation important to them."

Police video leads to questions in investigation of journalist's murder

A secret police video obtained by The Chauncey Bailey Project raises questions about the involvement of Yusuf Bey IV in the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. In the video, Bey IV "describes Bailey's shooting in detail...then, laughing, he denies he was there, and boasts that his friendship with the case's lead detective protected him from charges." Devaughndre Broussard was charged with the murder of Bailey, but his trial has not yet been scheduled. Documents reviewed by The Chauncey Bailey Project call into question the accuracy of "summation of evidence" used by the lead detective in charging Broussard ... Read more ...

War veterans used in controversial drug testing

A Washington Times/ABC News investigation has found that distressed soldiers returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan are being targeted by the government for drug testing. The drugs being tested include some with severe side-effects such as psychosis and suicidal behavior. In the case of one study, it took the Veterans Administration over three months to contact patients about the debilitating — and potentially dangerous — mental side effects. "The warning did not arrive until after one of the veterans taking the drug had suffered a psychotic episode that ended in a near lethal confrontation with police."

Commission plagiarized study for own report

A report by Georgia's mental health commission lifted large portions from a Michigan study published in 2004, reports Alan Judd and Andy Miller of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The report presents as its own work entire sentences, paragraphs and longer passages from other sources, with no more than superficial editing. It duplicates, with only two minor changes in wording, the 'values' listed in the Michigan study. Seven of Georgia's eight 'key findings' mirror Michigan's. Even Georgia's vision statement is appropriated from the Michigan report." The Journal-Constitution reviewed the similarities between the Georgia and Michigan reports after an ... Read more ...

Many U.S. detainees wrongly imprisoned

A report by Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers reveals that the U.S has wrongly imprisoned dozens of men "in Afghanistan, Cuba and elsewhere on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence, old personal scores or bounty payments." The report comes after an 8-month investigation spanning 11 countries on three continents. "Of the 66 detainees whom McClatchy interviewed, the evidence indicates that 34 of them, about 52 percent, had connections with militant groups or activities. At least 23 of those 34, however, were Taliban foot soldiers, conscripts, low-level volunteers or adventure-seekers who knew nothing about global terrorism. Only seven of ... Read more ...

Paper's investigation leads to DNA tests for inmates

The Columbus Dispatch, in its ongoing coverage of inmate DNA testing, reported that half of the 30 cases highlighted by the newspaper in January as prime candidates for testing have been approved, and evidence is headed to the lab. These fifteen tests are more than have been done in the entire 5-year history of Ohio’s inmate DNA testing program. Most of the inmates had previously been rejected for testing. Others had been approved years earlier, but testing had never been completed.