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$40-billion missile defense system proves unreliable

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 failed in eight of them, government records show.

Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times here.

$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 failed in eight of them, government records show.

 

Nebraska prison doors open too soon | Omaha World-Herald

The examination of prison records revealed that Nebraska Department of Correctional Services officials had released or were set to release dozens of prisoners years before their sentences were supposed to end.

All told, state officials had carved at least 750 years off the collective sentences of more than 200 of the state’s worst criminals. The problem: The department was using a formula that doesn’t square with how sentences should be calculated.

After The World-Herald revealed its findings Friday to Corrections Director Michael Kenney, he immediately directed staff to recalculate the sentences. He said he had been unaware of the problem.

 

Friends want probe of 77-year-old's death after arrest | Springfield News-Leader

Branson residents are questioning why city police arrested a 77-year-old man with health problems on an Arkansas bad check warrant from 1996 and held him in jail for five days.

Shortly after his release from Taney County Jail, Evans E. Ray was found dead in his home. It's unclear how long he was deceased in the home before he was found.

 

Uncertified teachers in NY state classrooms | Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, N.Y.)

The New York State Education Department’s most recent list of teachers whose credentials do not match their teaching assignments includes 4,280 assignments in more than 1,100 schools across the state, a Central New York Media Group review of state education records found.

While employing an unqualified teacher is a misdemeanor in New York, the state Education Department does almost nothing to crack down on instances where districts sidestep certification rules. The Education Department notifies school districts of instances where teachers may lack proper credentials, but its involvement ends there. Some school districts take action to fix the problem, and others do not.

 

Secret Summit: 24 hours with the Koch brothers | inewsource.org

Last weekend and into today, the billionaire Koch brothers and supporters converged on the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. This columned, luxury compound, little more than an hour north of San Diego, has 400 rooms, a spa, a golf course, a private beach and six restaurants. Staff confirmed the entire hotel — including food and beverage service — had been bought out for a special event.

An event so secret it had a code name on the schedule: “T&R Sales Meeting.”

Hotel guests who weren’t part of the conference — including two inewsource reporters who stayed the night Friday — were escorted out of the hotel by security on Saturday afternoon.

 

Kids with no vaccinations clustered in some schools | The Columbus Dispatch

Some Ohio schools might as well have a target painted on the side of the building as far as public-health experts are concerned.

In some schools in the state, as many as 1 in 3 incoming kindergartners and newly enrolled older students have parents who oppose vaccines, according to a Dispatch analysis of schools’ immunization counts.

 

Bottom line is more than meets the eyes | The Virginian-Pilot

In one of the most recent releases, Medicare published data about payments to physicians and for outpatient services.

Dr. Alan Wagner’s name stuck out.

According to the records, in 2012, he collected upward of $6 million from the government insurance for seniors, the second-highest amount among nearly 20,000 physicians and other individual providers listed in Virginia. Only a Richmond-based radiologist specializing in minimally invasive procedures ranked higher, receiving $8.2 million from Medicare.

 

St. Clair County doles out more than $3.3 million in settlements behind closed doors | News-Democrat (Belleville, IL)

More than $3.3 million in legal settlements have been approved behind closed doors in St. Clair County in the past 10 years -- possibly in violation of the state's Sunshine laws.

The settlements range from $900,000 to a teenage boy allegedly sexually abused at the county's Juvenile Detention Center to $1,000 to a person claiming injuries when placed under arrest by sheriff's deputies. The county admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlements. County officials released the settlements to the News-Democrat following a request through the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/06/14/3256998/st-clair-county-doles-out-more.html#storylink=cp

According to the Associated Press, "A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the U.S. military's top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al-Qaida founder's corpse or turn them over to the CIA."

When the AP initially asked for emails to and from Adm. William McRaven, the document ordering the removal or destruction of the bin Laden photos was not included. The conservative legal group Judicial Watch recently received the email under a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read the full story here.


Despite being banned in countries such as Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Germany, Ireland and the Philippines, the potentially explosive fertilizer ammonium nitrate  can be purchased pure and by the ton in the United States, according to the Dallas Morning News.

An investigation by the newspaper found that "for more than a decade, U.S. efforts to tighten controls over ammonium nitrate fertilizer have repeatedly failed, bogged down by bureaucratic gridlock and industry resistance. Regulations approved years ago remain unenforced and unfinished. Mere talk of safer substitutes has been blocked by those with profits at stake."

Use only as directed | ProPublica and This American Life
“About 150 Americans a year die by accidentally taking too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The toll does not have to be so high.” Read the stories from ProPublica.

Company Behind Snowden Vetting Did Check on D.C. Shooter | Bloomberg
“The U.S. government contractor that vetted Edward Snowden, who leaked information about national surveillance programs, said it also performed a background check on the Washington Navy Yard shooter.”

Archdiocese knew of priest's sexual misbehavior, yet kept him in ministry | Minnesota Public Radio
“A memo written in 2011 obtained by MPR News from police shows the former vicar general – the top deputy of the archdiocese – did not want parish employees to know about Wehmeyer's past. ‘At every step of the way, this could have been prevented,’ Haselberger said. ‘This is just failure after failure after failure after failure.’”

Insiders Allege Fraudulent Accounting at SamTrans | NBC Bay Area
“Insiders say they were asked to make changes to the San Mateo County Transit District’s financial records that they believe were illegal; they say SamTrans made up expenses to create the appearance it needed more taxpayer money.”

D.C. Fire Stations Near Navy Yard Understaffed in Shooting | NBC Washington
“News4 I-Team has learned some D.C. firehouses were understaffed during Monday morning's shooting at the Navy Yard. Twelve people were killed and eight others injured when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis opened fire inside Building 197 in Southeast D.C. around 8:30 a.m. Alexis was later shot and killed by police.”

Legal problems sent midwife to Utah, where another baby died | Salt Lake Tribune
“This is not the first time El Halta has been accused of straying beyond her expertise. It is not her first encounter with the law, nor her first delivery that ended with a death. But for decades she has remained committed to natural childbirth, and some clients say she has helped countless women avoid complicated surgeries and provided choice in births where hospitals may offer few options. ‘They’ll have to cut off my hands to stop me,’ he once told a Michigan newspaper.”

Metro Phoenix housing market’s turnaround creates new issues | Arizona Republic
Now, buyers and renters live in those places — in properties re-floored, repainted and relandscaped. The number of empty houses in the Phoenix area today stands at about 10,000, according to an Arizona Republic analysis of housing data.

Scoring errors jeopardize tests: Poor oversight raises risk | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“It can mean the difference between college and a factory job; between scraping by and a chance for more. The former principal is still haunted by the few times he told parents their children wouldn’t receive a high school diploma because they had failed the exams.”

Carolinas HealthCare’s planes used for business, personal trips | Charlotte Observer
A Charlotte Observer story published Sunday revealed that the CEO of one of the nation's largest nonprofit hospital systems enjoys a rare perk: the freedom to fly hospital planes for both business and pleasure. Flight logs provided by Carolinas HealthCare System show that chief executive Michael Tarwater took at least 29 personal flights on the system’s planes from 2008 through 2012. Tarwater, an accomplished pilot, often flew hospital planes on business trips as well. Some experts believe the practice is rare – and questionable. “It seems inappropriate for them to use (planes) for personal purposes, given that they are being supported via tax exemption,” said Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. “So we are all paying for the vacation the CEO is taking.”

Lee Zurik Investigation: Hingle to jail, taxpayers pay him $400k | WVUE New Orleans
“Former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle surrendered himself Monday, reporting to a federal prison in South Carolina where he'll serve most of his nearly four-year sentence. And even while he's behind bars, the public will still be paying Hingle.”

UCI doctors downplayed risks of surgical robot | Orange County Register
“Two top UC Irvine surgeons have spent a decade working with a California company to promote a $2 million surgical robot despite a lack of reliable scientific evidence showing that it is safe or gives patients better results.”

Justice Dept. watchdog never probed judges' NSA concerns | USA Today
“In response to a FOIA request from USA TODAY, the Justice Department said its ethics office never looked into complaints from two federal judges that they had been misled about NSA surveillance.”

DeVry Lures Medical School Rejects as Taxpayers Fund Debt | Bloomberg Markets Magazine
“DeVry, which has two for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean, is accepting hundreds of students who were rejected by U.S. medical colleges. These students amass more debt than their U.S. counterparts -- a median of $253,072 in June 2012 at AUC versus $170,000 for 2012 graduates of U.S. medical schools.”

DWP says it can't track millions in ratepayer money | Los Angeles Times
“DWP ratepayer funds flow to two groups run by agency managers and union leaders, with little accountability.”

After 9/11, the New York Police Department built in effect its own CIA  and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA. The appointments of David Cohen, a former senior CIA officer, and Larry Sanchez, a CIA analyst, represented a major shift in mind-set at the NYPD. Cohen and Sanchez’s guiding idea was that if the NYPD had its own eyes and ears in the ethnic communities of the five boroughs, maybe things could be different. To catch the few, the NYPD would spy on the many.

The Washington Post takes an in-depth look at the "black budget" which spans over a dozen agencies to make up the National Intelligence Program.

Wilson Andrews and Todd Lindeman use data visualizations to lay out what the $52.6 billion is spent on.

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Based on an internal audi and other top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post reports that most infraction involved unauhtorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets, ranging from "significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls." 

Read the documents at The Washington Post.

UCLA officials bend travel rules with first-class flights, luxury hotels | The Center for Investigative Reporting
Over the past several years, six of 17 academic deans at the Westwood campus routinely have submitted doctors’ notes stating they have a medical need to fly in a class other than economy, costing the university $234,000 more than it would have for coach-class flights, expense records show.

U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans | Reuters
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

FBI allowed informants to commit 5,600 crimes | USA Today
The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation's top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.

Cracks in the System: Salmonella proves to be a problem in beef too | Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
As recently as March of 2013, Salmonella Typhimurium in ground beef was linked to more than 20 human illnesses in six states. In September 2012 nearly 50 people in nine states became ill from eating ground beef tainted with Salmonella Enteritidis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Top drone supporter, beneficiary now looks to uses closer to home | Investigative Reporting Workshop
The strikes are deeply unpopular in South Asia and in other parts of the world. The Taliban killed 10 foreign mountaineers in Pakistan in June — in retaliation, the Taliban said, for the U.S. drone strikes. Many of the drones that were used in Pakistan, along with those sent to Afghanistan, will soon have a permanent home here in the U.S.

Syria’s unspoken crimes | Vanity Fair
There have been reports that in war-torn Syria, rape has become an epidemic as both sides seek to de-stabilize, frighten, and ruin the other. But unearthing the stories of these widespread atrocities is difficult, and often impossible. Women in Syria face dire political, personal, and familiar consequences if they admit to being victims—no matter how awful the tale. Janine Di Giovanni traveled into the country and through the surrounding refugee camps to trace the few stories that rape survivors dared to speak aloud.

Mexican journalists targeted | Al Jazeera
Amid the recent fanfare surrounding big arrests in Mexico's drug war, those journalists still daring to shed light on the cartels and corrupt state officials keep on dying, and the killers, they just keep on getting away with it.

No accountability in police custody death | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Gina Barton exposes the lack of accountability in a death in police custody. After James Perry died, each agency that handled a piece of the case -- police, sheriff, local hospital -- cited the other in excusing its own actions. Perry, an epileptic, died on the floor of the jail six hours after suffering a seizure.

Industry muscle targets federal 'Report on Carcinogens' | Center for Public Integrity
Increasingly, industry is targeting Huff’s former employer and its parent, the Department of Health and Human Services — in particular, HHS’sReport on Carcinogens. Two lobby groups sued the agency after two widely used chemicals were listed in the report. In a victory for industry, lawmakers mandated additional, ongoing scientific reviews of the document. And, a trade association representing makers of fiber-reinforced plastics claimed credit for a congressional hearing last year that evolved into an open airing of industry grievances.

“A former CIA officer has broken the U.S. silence around the 2003 abduction of a radical Islamist cleric in Italy, charging that the agency inflated the threat the preacher posed and that the United States then allowed Italy to prosecute her and other Americans to shield President George W. Bush and other U.S. officials from responsibility for approving the operation," McClatchy reports.

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