Thousands of drones fill the skies, raising fears of midair collisions

By Rick Schmitt and Stuart Silverstein, FairWarning 

Owen Ouyang

Owen Ouyang

On a Saturday night in early December, while relaxing at his Martinez, Calif., home, Chinese exchange student Owen Ouyang decided to have some fun. He went out to the front yard and launched a sleek new drone he had recently purchased online for about $1,000.

The 2.8-pound drone, advertised as “easy to fly,” proved anything but. Soon after takeoff, the drone veered dangerously toward a power line. It then climbed more than 700 feet – right into the path of a California Highway Patrol helicopter. A head-on collision was averted only after the chopper’s crew made a sharp right-hand turn at the last moment. (more…)

Doubts raised about chemical stew in fragrances used in commercial products

scientistsBy Brian Joseph, FairWarning 

For Joyce Miller, one sniff of scented laundry detergent can trigger an asthma attack.

“What happens is I feel like someone is standing on my chest,” says the 57-year-old professor of library science in upstate New York. “It’s almost like a choking feeling – pressure and choking. And then the coughing starts,” she said. (more…)

Unrestrained: Profit and abuse at Florida group homes for the profoundly disabled

By Heather Vogell, ProPublica 

Carlton Palms Educational Center in Mount Dora

Carlton Palms Educational Center in Mount Dora

Three years ago, it looked like the Florida agency that oversees care for children and adults with disabilities had finally had enough.

It filed a legal complaint that outlined horrific abuse at Carlton Palms, a rambling campus of group homes and classrooms near the small town of Mount Dora. (more…)

Lawmakers protect title loan firms while borrowers pay sky-high interest rates

Critics fault new highway law for concessions to trucking industry

By Brian Joseph, FairWarning bigtrucks

A $305 billion highway bill approved by Congress and signed by President Obama last week includes several provisions aggressively sought by the trucking industry that, critics say, will undermine traffic safety.

The long-awaited legislation – known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST, Act – removes truck safety ratings from a public Department of Transportation website. It also creates a pilot program to put drivers as young as 18 behind the wheel of a big rig if they have received military training to operate a similar vehicle. The law also will slow efforts to raise the insurance requirements for big rigs, which have been required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability coverage since 1985.

(more…)

GOP governors, including Rick Scott, take cue from Obama on how to push policy

By Rachel Baye, Center for Public Integrity 

The Let's Get to Work political group began running this ad featuring Florida Gov. Rick Scott, called "On the Move," in March to help promote the Republican's proposed tax-cut plan. Use of such political groups to push policies, rather than elections, is a new twist on how governors are using political money. Youtube/Let's Get To Work

The Let’s Get to Work political group began running this ad featuring Florida Gov. Rick Scott, called “On the Move,” in March to help promote the Republican’s proposed tax-cut plan. Use of such political groups to push policies, rather than elections, is a new twist on how governors are using political money. Youtube/Let’s Get To Work

Two Republican governors are copying an unusual tactic from President Barack Obama’s political playbook: using pet political groups seeded by donors to push policies, not just candidates.

Political organizations tied to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner are diverging from the typical so-called leadership PACs used by federal lawmakers and some governors to amass power because they are not just giving campaign contributions to like-minded legislators. Instead they are pushing the governors’ legislative agendas with public campaigns far removed from the campaign trail. (more…)

Racial politics flavor debate over banning menthol cigarettes

By Myron Levin, FairWarning 

Kool, introduced in the 1930s by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., was one of the early menthol brands, and until the 1950s the most popular. This 1937 ad was one of many that promoted Kool as soothing to the throat. (Cigarette ads courtesy of the Stanford University collection)

Kool, introduced in the 1930s by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., was one of the early menthol brands, and until the 1950s the most popular. This 1937 ad was one of many that promoted Kool as soothing to the throat. (Cigarette ads courtesy of the Stanford University collection)

Lorillard Tobacco donated nearly four times as much to Republican candidates as to Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections. No surprise there — most businesses count on Republicans to hold the line on regulations and taxes.

But Lorillard made a striking exception for one set of Democrats: African Americans. (more…)

Trouble at the Statehouse: secrecy, questionable ethics and conflicts of interest

By Nicholas Kusnetz, Center for Public Integrity 

The Florida House of Representatives

The Florida House of Representatives

In November 2014, Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure that, among other reforms, barred the state’s elected officials from accepting lobbyists’ gifts. But that hasn’t stopped influence peddlers from continuing to provide meals to lawmakers at the luxurious Capital Hotel or in top Little Rock eateries like the Brave New Restaurant; the prohibition does not apply to “food or drink available at a planned activity to which a specific governmental body is invited,” so lobbyists can buy meals so long as they invite an entire legislative committee.

Such loopholes are a common part of statehouse culture nationwide, according to the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of state government by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. The comprehensive probe found that in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists. (more…)

Heavy-spending trucking industry pushes Congress to relax safety rules

By Brian Joseph, FairWarning trucking

Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers. (more…)

Speaking up for safety can lead to retaliation against workers

By Stuart Silverstein and Brian Joseph, FairWarning bnsf 

As both a veteran railroad worker and union official responsible for safety, Mike Elliott became alarmed when he learned of trouble-plagued train signals in his home state of Washington.

Signals, he said, at times would inexplicably switch from red to yellow to green – potentially creating confusion that could lead to a crash. Elliott raised that and other signal issues repeatedly with his managers at BNSF Railway Co. But eventually, Elliott concluded that “these guys are running me around in circles.” (more…)

Page 1 of 2012345»1020...Last »

Newsletter

Notify me by email when new stories are published.

Bulldog Archives