Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "regulation" ...

  • L.A.'s Earthquake Risks

    The Los Angeles Times’ look at earthquake safety exposes how spotty mapping of faults, substandard construction and uneven regulation make hundreds of buildings in Southern California susceptible to collapse.
  • Merchants of Meth

    I exposed a concerted and well-funded campaign by the country’s leading pharmaceutical companies to defeat bills in Congress and state legislatures that were aimed at stopping the spread of toxic methamphetamine labs. At issue? Pseudoephedrine sales. The popular decongestant is the one key ingredient needed to make homemade meth. It also generates revenue for major pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck of more than $600 million a year. Fuelled by easy access to pseudoephedrine, the number of meth labs in the United States has increased by more than 60 percent since 2007. Thanks in large part to pharmaceutical industry lobbying, there has been no federal legislation to address the spread of meth labs since 2005. In 2006, Oregon successfully moved to restrict meth cooks’ access to pseudoephedrine by making it a prescription drug, despite heavy lobbying against the bill from the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, the number of meth labs in the state has fallen drastically—by more than 90 percent. Faced with the mounting social, law enforcement, and environmental costs associated with meth, legislators in at least 25 other states sought to pass similar laws. But pharmaceutical lobbyists fought back, and in all but one state—Mississippi—the bills were defeated. My reporting examined how the industry has set state lobbying spending records as it has deployed a new kind of lobbying strategy to block regulation of pseudoephedrine. Instead of focusing their efforts on courting politicians, they have taken their message directly to voters, deploying thousands of robocalls in key electoral districts and large ad buys in major media markets for advertising across multiple platforms from radio to the Internet. Their messaging, I found, was deceptive, failing to even mention that the proposed bills had to do with combatting the meth epidemic. I also examined the results of an electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking database known as NPLEx, which is meant to prevent excessive purchasing. While it’s the only reform to ever earn backing from the pharmaceutical industry, I found a system full of holes that has been ineffective at preventing the spread of meth labs in virtually every state that has adopted it.
  • Haves and Have-Nots: Uganda's drug-trial business is booming - but is it fair?

    Drug trials in developing nations around the world are growing exponentially. They are cheap. Rules are more lax. Uganda is one of the leading places in the world where this trend is taking place. In one of the world’s AIDS epicenters, in Gulu, northern Uganda, children are given a choice: be part of a drug trial involving risky treatment and at least get regular medications. Or rely on public health programs that often mean regularly missing required dosages of life-saving pharmaceuticals. The result is emblematic of a system where the ethics of drug trials face a grim reality. “The problem is that inadequate medical care creates a strong impetus for parents to agree to have their kids in research,” said Elizabeth Woeckner, president of Citizens for Responsible Care and Research, an organization that works to protect people who are the subjects of scientific research. “What should be voluntary is not quite so.” In the last five years, drug trials in Uganda have nearly doubled. There have been more than 100 trials in the last five years there. Drug companies such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer and Novartis, as well as American agencies, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, work in places like Uganda because of the low cost and the number of patients who will sign up quickly for tests. At the same time, public funding for global health is diminishing. Despite safeguards, since the late 1990s a number of well-publicized cases have highlighted tests that appeared to violate ethical standards and regulations. While signing up for a trial is voluntary, that doesn’t make the decision easier – especially for parents who must decide what is best for their children, and knowing that the alternative means. This in-depth investigation goes beyond the surface to show the tough choices that arise from even the best intentioned drug trials, the vast sums of money at stake, and the seismic shift that has happened in the past decade for how the world tests drugs on humans.
  • Explosion at West

    Tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer at a central Texas plant exploded last April with the force of a small earthquake. The blast came just two days after the Boston Marathon and, in the national media, was overshadowed by events in the Northeast. While not the result of a terrorist attack, the explosion in West, Texas, was far larger and deadlier, and raised more significant public safety issues. In a series of investigative reports over eight months, The Dallas Morning News revealed that ammonium nitrate remains virtually unregulated by federal and state governments, despite its well-known explosive potential. (Timothy McVeigh used it in 1995 to blow up an Oklahoma City federal building.) Efforts to strengthen oversight have been blocked by industry lobbyists and government gridlock, The News found, even as the Pentagon sought bans on ammonium nitrate in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In pro-business, anti-regulation Texas, the federal government’s lax oversight meant no oversight at all. West Fertilizer Co. – scene of the disaster – violated almost every safety best practice. No state agency was charged with preventing an ammonium nitrate blast. There was no public registry of companies that handled the compound, even though many facilities are near homes and schools. Texas prohibits most counties from having fire codes and does not require facilities like West to obtain liability insurance. Gov. Rick Perry and other state politicians, who created this wide-open environment, washed their hands of the problem. They said West was a tragic accident that no amount of regulation could have prevented. The News’ findings, however, proved otherwise.
  • In Harm's Way

    "In Harm's Way" uncovers a pattern of poor government regulation and dangerous safety problems in the booming interstate bus industry, which now carries as many passengers from city to city as domestic airlines--700 million passenger rides a year. In an investigation that took most of the year, the KNBC I-Team exposed how federal regulators routinely allow unsafe buses to remain on the roads, sometimes with fatal consequences. In 2013, California had a record number of major bus crashes--11 of them--with hundreds of injuries and over a dozen deaths.
  • Controversial uranium mining plan

    In their two-day Journal Special Report, reporters Joe O'Sullivan and Daniel Simmons-Ritchie took a hard look at a controversial plan to resume uranium mining in South Dakota. The mining, through a process known as "in situ," is generally regarded as a cleaner and more environmentally friendly way to recover uranium. But this five-piece series revealed a host of problems at in-situ mines across the region that contradict the claims made by the company, Powertech Uranium Corp., that wants to do the mining. The stories also documented how the state of South Dakota -- through legislation curtailing mining regulations and administrative easing of other regulations -- has helped pave the way for the return of mining. By combing through Canadian securities documents, the reporters also revealed the history of Powertech Uranium Corp., which has never before operated a mine.
  • "In Harm's Way"

    "In Harm's Way" uncovers a pattern of poor government regulation and dangerous safety problems in the booming interstate bus industry, which now carries as many passengers from city to city as domestic airlines--700 million passenger rides a year. In an investigation that took most of the year, the KNBC I-Team exposed how federal regulators routinely allow unsafe buses to remain on the roads, sometimes with fatal consequences. In 2013, California had a record number of major bus crashes--11 of them--with hundreds of injuries and over a dozen deaths.
  • CBS News Investigates The Rollout of Healthcare.gov

    Three weeks into the disastrous launch of healthcare.gov we were asked to produce a series of reports digging into the practical and political problems surrounding the project. We were able to cultivate important inside sources who provided crucial context and shed light on what went wrong and how the administration attempted to spin and cover it up. Among other findings, we exclusively showed how the Obama administration falsely stated that there would be no impact on the majority of Americans insured through work, exposed how HHS stopped issuing key regulations needed to develop healthcare.gov for months prior to the 2012 elections, uncovered tests that happened just days before the launch, showing that it crashed with just a few hundred users, revealed the so-called “death spiral” business model that predicts an abysmal collapse of the entire program if the number and profile of enrollees doesn’t drastically improve, and unearthed the shocking security risks of healthcare.gov that were documented and discussed prior to launch.
  • Rhode Island Priest Sex Abuse Letters

    In 2012 and early 2013, three Catholic priests were removed from duty at parishes in Rhode Island after credible allegations of sexual abuse against them surfaced. Several adult victims came forward to report assaults that happened decades earlier. In each case, the Diocese of Providence sent a letter describing the abuse and the circumstances to Rhode Island State Police. But because of Rhode Island's brief Statute of Limitations, as short as three years in some cases, there was no way to prosecute the priests criminally. Victims were also unable to bring civil lawsuits in most cases. NBC 10 wanted to know how many other Rhode Island priests had been credibly accused of sexual abuse but never charged with child molestation or rape. While the Diocese of Providence is not subject to public records laws, Rhode Island State Police maintained copies of the letters and must comply with the state's open records regulations. Over a six month period, public records requests revealed 45 letters sent to State Police by the Diocese during the past decade. The letters gave new insight into what victims experienced and how they were treated once they came forward. They also raised questions about why some cases were apparently reported to State Police, while others were not.
  • Dirty Ice

    The NBC CT Troubleshooters were given some gross pictures of commercial ice machines by a source in the industry. We were told black slime, mold and other kinds of contaminants cover the machines that dispense your ice at fast food restaurants and other eateries. Our insider says it’s caused from a lack of proper maintenance on the machines. We used our hidden camera and took a closer look at food handling practices in Connecticut and what we found was disturbing. Often times, food service employees DO NOT treat ice as food. The story has created a buzz in the food industry and with the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF certifies ice machines for use in restaurants). In its most recent meeting the NSF discussed looking at ice machines that apparently violate NSF regulations and the FDA Food Code by sucking air and microorganisms from the floor drain (and other places) into the ice bin. This air flow defect was newly discovered and is probably the source of much of the contamination in ice machines we found in our investigation.