A moving story: Crooked movers victimize customers and usually get away with it

By Brian Joseph, FairWarningillustration_2

Gwen Caplan’s nightmare began with a Yelp search.

It was the summer of 2012 and the middle-aged mother of two was looking for someone to move her and her kids from San Rafael, Calif., to Glendale, Ariz. Money was tight, so Caplan scoured the web for an affordable but reputable moving company.

Her search unearthed several moving companies. One was called America’s Best Movers. It had terrible reviews online. “I said to myself, ‘It’s a good thing I used Yelp. I’m not going to use these people,’ ” Caplan would later tell a criminal grand jury. (more…)

The cash-rich pharmaceutical lobby and the rising cost of drugs for Medicare seniors

By Stuart Silverstein, FairWarning 

President George W. Bush signing the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

President George W. Bush signing the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

When the Republican-controlled Congress approved a landmark program in 2003 to help seniors buy prescription drugs, it slapped on an unusual restriction: The federal government was barred from negotiating cheaper prices for those medicines. Instead, the job of holding down costs was outsourced to the insurance companies delivering the subsidized new coverage, known as Medicare Part D.

The ban on government price bargaining, justified by supporters on free market grounds, has been derided by critics as a giant gift to the drug industry. Democratic lawmakers began introducing bills to free the government to use its vast purchasing power to negotiate better deals even before former President George W. Bush signed the Part D law, known as the Medicare Modernization Act. (more…)

VIDEO: 15 Years Later, Unanswered Questions of 9/11

Presented by Florida Bulldog  and Nova Southeastern University. Dan Christensen, editor and founder of the nonprofit news organization,  moderated a panel on Sept. 8 at Nova Southeastern University featuring former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, co-chair of Congress’s Joint Inquiry into 9/11; Sharon Premoli, a victim’s advocate who was at work on the 80th floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck; Sean Carter, a partner with Philadelphia’s Cozen O’Connor law firm who is helping lead a lawsuit on behalf of the victims’; Thomas Julin, Florida Bulldog’s attorney and a partner with the Gunster law firm in Miami; and Dr. Charles Zelden, an NSU history and political science professor.

Florida Bulldog and Nova Southeastern University present: Sen. Bob Graham and Unanswered Questions of 9/11 on 15th Anniversary

On Sept. 8, join former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, co-chair of Congress’ Joint Inquiry into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, for a lively panel discussion at Nova Southeastern University about the continuing search answers and justice 15 years on. A question and answer session will follow.9-11-plan200x200

Purchase tickets and learn more on EventBrite. Proceeds benefit the Florida Bulldog, an independent 501(c) 3 nonprofit providing watchdog reporting in the public interest. To make a tax-deductible contribution to Florida Bulldog click here. (more…)

‘We are a law firm’: How telemarketers sold false hope to homeowners struggling to pay mortgages

IKEA agrees to massive recall of chests linked to tipover deaths of young children

By Brian Joseph, FairWarning 

Ikea store in Sunrise

Ikea store in Sunrise

IKEA, the home furnishings giant, announced Tuesday that it is recalling about 180 models of chests and dressers that it admitted do not meet voluntary industry safety standards, including the popular MALM-style dresser, which has killed three children by tipping over and falling on them. (more…)

Growing momentum for self-driving cars worries safety advocates

By Brian Joseph, FairWarning 

Many of the self-driving cars in Google’s fleet are converted Lexus SUVs.

Many of the self-driving cars in Google’s fleet are converted Lexus SUVs.

On Valentine’s Day in Silicon Valley, one of Google’s experimental, self-driving cars sideswiped a city bus at 2 miles an hour. The incident marked the first time an autonomous car contributed to an accident on a public road, but did nothing to diminish the Obama administration’s enthusiasm for driverless vehicles.

A month after the crash, at an autonomous car conference in Dearborn, Mich., Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, said his agency and the federal Department of Transportation “are using all the tools we have available to advance what see as a revolution in technology,” according to his prepared remarks. “Our goal is to hasten this revolution.” (more…)

In 2015, motorcycle crashes helped drive highway death toll to highest level in years

By Paul Feldman, FairWarning cyclecrash

Last year was a bad one for motorcyclists, with a new estimate showing that 5,010 bikers were killed in crashes nationwide, the worst death toll in seven years.

Florida led the nation with an estimated 550 motorcyclist fatalities in 2015 amid the largest year-to-year surge in such deaths of any state, according to an analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The grim new count pushed the Sunshine State well past last year’s leader, California. (more…)

Auditors: feds failed to rein in billions over-billed by Medicare Advantage plans

By Fred Schulte, Center for Public Integrity 

Carol Berman, of West Palm Beach speaks with pedestrians about the need for policymakers to protect Medicare Advantage benefits during the Coalition for Medicare Choices' Medicare Advantage Food Truck stop on North Capitol Street in Washington on Monday, March 9, 2015. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Carol Berman, of West Palm Beach speaks with pedestrians about the need for policymakers to protect Medicare Advantage benefits during the Coalition for Medicare Choices’ Medicare Advantage Food Truck stop on North Capitol Street in Washington on Monday, March 9, 2015. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Private Medicare Advantage plans treating the elderly have over-billed the government by billions of dollars, but rarely been forced to repay the money or face other consequences for their actions, according to a new Congressional audit.

In a sharply critical report made public Monday, the Government Accountability Office called for “fundamental improvements” to curb overbilling by the health plans, which are paid more than $160 billion annually. The privately run plans, an alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare,  have proven popular with seniors and have enrolled more than 17 million people. The plans, which were the subject of a Center for Public Integrity investigation, also enjoy strong support in Congress. (more…)

9/11 Commission lawyers wanted to probe possible Saudi Royal family ties to hijackers

By Brian P. McGlinchey, 28pages.org georgewbushkingabdullah

As President Obama prepares to visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, his administration is under increasing pressure to declassify 28 pages that, according to many who’ve read them, illustrate financial links between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers.

Meanwhile, a far lesser-known document from the files of the 9/11 Commission—written by the same principal authors as the 28 pages and declassified last summer without publicity and without media analysis—indicates investigators proposed exploring to what extent “political, economic and other considerations” affected U.S. government investigations of links between Saudi Arabia and 9/11. (more…)

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