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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

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 17,000 teachers reviewed by the Tribune-Review.

Bloomberg News
For-Profit Nursing Homes Lead in Overcharging While Care Suffers
“Thirty percent of claims sampled from for- profit homes were deemed improper, compared to just 12 percent from non-profits, according to data Bloomberg News obtained from the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via a Freedom of Information Act request.”

The Miami Herald
How Florida limits care for disabled kids
“A private company boasts it has saved Florida tens of millions — by helping ration care for families with severely disabled children. Here’s how the process works.”

The Washington Post
Rising painkiller addiction shows damage from drugmakers’ role in shaping medical opinion
“A closer look at the opioid painkiller binge — retail prescriptions have roughly tripled in the past 20 years — shows that the rising sales and addictions were catalyzed by a massive effort by pharmaceutical companies to shape medical opinion and practice.”

The Los Angeles Times
Dying for Relief: Reckless doctors go unchecked
“Law enforcement officials and medical regulators could mine the data for a different purpose: To draw a bead on rogue doctors. But they don't, and that has allowed corrupt or negligent physicians to prescribe narcotics recklessly for years before authorities learned about their conduct through other means, a Times investigation found.”

The New York Times
Drone War Spurs Militants to Deadly Reprisals
“For several years now, militant enforcers have scoured the tribal belt in search of informers who help the C.I.A. find and kill the spy agency’s jihadist quarry. The militants’ technique — often more witch hunt than investigation — follows a well-established pattern.”

The Salt Lake Tribune
Driven by suicide, gun deaths are increasing in Utah
“Data from the Utah Department of Health show gun deaths from 2007 to 2011 were 23 percent higher than from 2001 to 2005.”

The New York Times
Ruthless Smuggling Rings Put Rhinos in the Cross Hairs
“Driven by a common belief in Asia that ground-up rhino horns can cure cancer and other ills, the trade has also been embraced by criminal syndicates that normally traffic drugs and guns, but have branched into the underground animal parts business because it is seen as “low risk, high profit,” American officials say.”

The Oregonian
Medical marijuana: A few high-volume doctors approve most patients
“The Oregonian's examination of high-volume marijuana doctors -- including interviews with physicians and clinic operators as well as a review of state documents, medical licensing reports, court records and caseload data -- paints a picture of a highly specialized industry.”

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