Problems shielding troops more extensive than thought

Michael Moss of the New York Times used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents showing that “the Pentagon’s difficulties in shielding troops and their vehicles with armor have been far more extensive and intractable than officials have acknowledged.” The paper used a Department of Defense inspector general’s report that outlined the problems in…

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Gang leaders control crime, despite incarceration

Michael Montgomery of American Radioworks spent five months investigating following inmates at staff at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. He found that prison gangs are controlling crime “far outside prison walls and across the country.” Some of the gang leaders were already serving life sentences and are now facing prosecution for crimes committed outside…

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Officials fail to act on abuse claims

Michelle Roberts of The Oregonian found that warnings about abusive behavior by state parole officer Michael Lee Boyles went unheeded for years, and Oregon officials acted only after the suicide of a young man supervised by Boyles. “State officials received repeated and detailed warnings from a family raising concerns about Boyles and his behavior with…

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Nonprofit tax breaks scrutinized for hospitals

Misti Crane and Geoff Dutton of The Columbus Dispatch reported a three-day series, “Prescription for Profit,” that examines the impact of specialty hospitals on general hospitals. The series also examines how nonprofit hospitals use aggressive collection tactics to collect from poor patients and whether the four hospital systems in Columbus deserve their $88 million tax…

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Delays, inconsistencies plague veteran affairs

Chris Adams and Alison Young of Knight-Ridder Newspapers sued the Veterans Administration to obtain records never before released to the public. They showed that “injured soldiers who petition the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for those payments are often doomed by lengthy delays, hurt by inconsistent rulings and failed by the veterans representatives who try…

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Helicopter problems put crew members at risk

Michael Fabey of the Savannah Morning News used Coast Guard data to find that “Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter engines continue to lose power, threatening the lives of pilots and crew members. There were 423 incidents of power failure in the helicopters in the fleet between Aug. 4, 1985, and Sept. 30, 2004.” Air Station…

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Affluent residents more likely than minorities to show up for jury duty

Andrew Tilghman of the Houston Chronicle analyzed local court data to show that “residents of Harris County’s predominantly white, affluent neighborhoods are up to seven times more likely to show up for jury duty than those in the county’s lower-income, mostly minority neighborhoods.” The paper used the area’s more than 140 ZIP codes to divide…

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Serious workplace violation fines low

Marc Chase of The (Northwest Indiana) Times used OSHA data to investigate workplace safety violations. They found “that fines at or below the minimum are the rule, not the exception, in cases involving what OSHA considers serious violations. The average fine from 1991 to 2003 was $862.74 per serious violation, $637.26 less than the minimum…

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