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Extra Extra Monday: OSHA ignores slow and silent killers, corporate influence reaches court, back-door school handouts

As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester  | The New York Times
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency that many Americans love to hate and industry calls overzealous, has largely ignored the slow, silent killers that claim the most lives.

Corporations, pro-business nonprofits foot bill for judicial seminars | Center for Public Integrity
Conservative foundations, multinational oil companies and a prescription drug maker were the most frequent sponsors of more than 100 expense-paid educational seminars attended by federal judges over a 4 1/2-year period, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation.

Back-door school handouts | Chicago Tribune
Rolled into the usual state aid sent to districts, the subsidies are all but hidden and have been skyrocketing, starting at $46 million and increasing more than 1,000 percent in the years since lawmakers approved them, state data show. At its peak in 2008, the program cost taxpayers $805 million, with the majority of school districts not getting a penny.

Old gas pipelines: A danger under our feet | Detroit Free Press
Crisscrossing Michigan are more than 3,100 miles of old wrought- and cast-iron natural-gas pipelines -- the type federal regulators consider the most at risk of corrosion, cracking and catastrophic rupturing. The state's two largest utilities have replaced less than 15% of these pipelines -- 542 miles -- in the past decade.

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories 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

Title loans hurt poor, critics say | Arizona Republic
More than 430 auto-title-lending branches have been licensed in Arizona since 2009, the year after voters rejected payday lending, state figures show. By comparison, from 2000 to 2008, about 160 title-lending branches were licensed with the state. The rise of title lenders has rekindled a debate over whether these kinds of high-interest loans ultimately help or take advantage of low-income borrowers.

Lame-duck Cravaack handed out large raises to his staff | Star Tribune
Former U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) awarded his staff some of the largest salary increases in Congress last year as he left after one term in office. For the first three quarters of 2012, the Minnesota Republican’s staff payroll averaged a little over $197,000. In the final three months of the year, it shot up to $354,000, an 80 percent increase. For decades, departing members of Congress have awarded large bonuses and salary increases to longtime staff, but these raises were of a magnitude typically awarded by senior members of Congress.

For Boston cabbies, a losing battle against the numbers | The Boston Globe
Boston’s cabbies can be a surly lot, but consider what they endure. A Globe investigation finds a taxi trade where fleet owners get rich, drivers are frequently fleeced, and the city does little about it.

Athlete charities often lack standards | ESPN
An "Outside the Lines" investigation of 115 charities founded by high-profile, top-earning male and female athletes has found that most of their charities don't measure up to what charity experts would say is an efficient, effective use of money.

Parolee GPS ankle monitors: Major flaws found in vendor's system | Los Angeles Times
The electronic ankle monitors California used for several years to monitor more than 4,000 high-risk sex offenders and gang members were so inaccurate and unreliable that corrections officials said that the public was “in imminent danger.”

Santa Clara County workers ignored red flags in Shirakawa case | San Jose Mercury News
A trail of embarrassing inaction at numerous levels of county government enabled the years-long crime spree of disgraced former Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., who will be sentenced in the coming weeks for perjury and misuse of public funds.

Many Low-Income Students May Fail Because of Reading Law | Oklahoma Watch
Among thousands of Oklahoma students who could be held back in third grade for failing a state reading test next year, a disproportionate share will likely be low-income children, anOklahoma Watch analysis of state data found.

Making the grade: Inside the college admissions process | Philadelphia Inquirer
During the last month, on two occasions, The Inquirer has spent a total of about eight hours in the room with Lehigh staff members as they made sometimes difficult and agonizing decisions. It was a window into a highly competitive, emotionally charged process, often kept secret. The Inquirer agreed not to identify applicants.

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