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By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity cigarettes

Tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc. last year helped fund several of the nation’s most politically active — and secretive — nonprofit organizations, according to a company document reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

Reynolds American’s contributions include $175,000 to Americans for Tax Reform, a nonprofit led by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, and $50,000 to Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy outfit heavily backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

By Bridget Huber, Fair Warning 

Cows at a large Wisconsin dairy farm/Kate Golden, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Cows at a large Wisconsin dairy farm/Kate Golden, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

As factory farms take over more and more of the nation’s livestock production, a major environmental threat has emerged: Pollution from the waste produced by the immense crush of animals.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that America’s livestock create three times as much excreta as the human population.  By the agency’s reckoning, a dairy farm with 2,500 cows – which is large, but not exceptional – can generate as much waste as the people in a city the size of Miami.

By Ronnie Greene, Center for Public Integrity 

Tesla electric cars

Tesla electric cars

They are two cutting-edge electric car makers, headquartered in California and backed by powerhouses of politics and money. In 2009, each secured half-billion dollar loan commitments from President Obama’s Department of Energy to help transform their clean-energy cars from drawing boards to showrooms.

But this week, the fortunes of Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive took sharply divergent turns.

By Raymond Bonner, Special to ProPublica

Florida's two legal means of execution

Florida’s two legal means of execution

States that impose the death penalty have been facing a crisis in recent years: They are short on the drugs used in executions.

In California, which has the country’s largest death row population, the chief justice of the state supreme court has said there are unlikely to be any executions for three years, in part due to the shortage of appropriate lethal drugs. As a result, state prosecutors are calling for a return of the gas chamber.