Two years after dangerous bacteria was found in the drinking water of communities along the Rio Grande River, little has been done to hold anyone accountable, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism. The report provides “glimpses of the workings – and dysfunctions – of Webb County politics and how those dynamics may have contributed to the breakdown of a system charged with providing safe drinking water to nearly 10,000 people.”
Last May, a shootout at a restaurant in Waco, Tex., left 9 dead, 20 wounded, and nearly 180 people in police custody. GQ interviewed 22 bikers involved and analyzed the events through the eyes of 22 bikers involved – all insist “they showed up that morning to make peace” and believe “the real blame for all the dead bodies belongs with the Waco police.”
Catholic leaders have “allowed allegedly abusive priests to slip off to parts of the world where they would face less scrutiny from prosecutors and the media,” GlobalPost reports. The yearlong investigation found five priests who were permitted “to continue working for the church despite serious accusations against them,” serving in small communities in lesser-developed South American countries. Read the full story here
During the late 1970s, Exxon assembled a team of researchers “that would spend more than a decade deepening company understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business” before transitioning to a stance of “climate change denial” about a decade later, Inside Climate News reports. The results of the eight-month investigation tell an “untold chapter in Exxon's history, when one of the world's largest energy companies worked to understand the damage caused by fossil fuels.”
Methylene chloride, a chemical frequently used in paint strippers, can be lethal to workers and consumers using the products “in areas where the fumes can concentrate,” the Center for Public Integrity reports. The CPI’s investigation “identified at least 56 accidental exposure deaths linked to methylene chloride since 1980 in the U.S.” caused by asphyxiation or heart attack while using products containing the solvent. Read the full story here
California’s drought has devastated the state on multiple levels, and Mother Jones has revealed yet another that may even affect produce – such as citrus, almonds, apples, peaches, grapes, and blueberries – sold in grocery chains nationwide. Southern California farms have been increasing their recycling of wastewater generated as a byproduct of oil refining. Oil companies including Chevron provide water used to irrigate thousands of acres of farmland, which may leave traces of chemicals in the crops. “The State Water Resources Control Board requires periodic testing of oilfield water that is used for irrigation but has not set limits for many contaminants. Recent tests of irrigation water supplied by Chevron … turned up benzene, a carcinogen, at higher concentrations than what is allowed in California drinking water.”
Read the full story here.
New Jersey’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program has made little progress in restoring thousands of homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 because of bottlenecks in the reconstruction process caused by sluggish government agencies and programs, reports the Asbury Park Press. Nearly $96 million in budgeted funds available to New Jersey had not been released by the end of March, according to HUD reports. “Although more than 1,300 homes have been rebuilt through the state’s flagship rebuilding program, less than half of those have been elevated. Just 64 — out of 15,100 homeowners that originally sought help — are finished.”
Read the full story here.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposal would shut down retailers selling novelty helmets that don't meet Department of Transportation standards for motorcycle safety, reports FairWarning. Cheap and plentiful, the helmets — also known as “loophole lids” or “brain buckets” – are imported from overseas and sold on the Internet. Retailers are able to legally sell them under the disclaimer that they are “not intended for highway use.”
"Federal officials have long been aware of the dangers of novelty helmets. In the Federal Register notice of the proposed rule, NHTSA cited a 2009 study of injured motorcyclists in Maryland. In the study, 56 percent of those wearing a novelty helmet had serious head injuries versus just 19 percent of riders wearing a DOT-certified helmet." Read the full story here.
Despite the United Nations policy of "zero tolerance" for sexual violence, Megan Nobert, a humanitarian worker based at the U.N.'s Bentiu, South Sudan camp, has been unable to get the agency to investigate evidence she was drugged and raped. A Buzzfeed News narrative of Norbert's case reports that she has a letter from the alleged rapist apologizing for having sex with her and a toxicology report from the camp's medical clinic that found traces of cocaine, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine in her blood. “[The alleged rapist] disappeared from South Sudan, and Nobert’s case disappeared from the record. The U.N.’s 2015 statistics on sexual exploitation and abuse, which its website states are current through the end of May, do not include a single complaint against a vendor anywhere in the world.”
Read the full story here.
It appears the Medicare database needs a bit of updating. A Vice News and MedPage Today investigation discovered thousands of doctors and other providers were listed to have graduated from schools that have been defunct for about a century. Many professionals are unaware of the phantom schools and may not even know if they are listed as graduates. “In some cases defunct schools had names similar to the names of active schools, but many were far off the mark. Since all but one of these schools closed between 1864 and 1923, no doctor who graduated from one of them would still be practicing — or alive — today.
Thrust into the national spotlight, the Baltimore prosecutor who charged six police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, told the Baltimore Sun last week that she learned at an early age she “about the importance of taking responsibility for the choices and mistakes that we make.” The Sun’s backgrounder on State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby delves into five generations of her family’s complex relationships with the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police. “Mosby's father, a Boston police officer, was accused of robbing a drug dealer — and for a time dismissed from the department. Her mother, also an officer at the department, was disciplined several times and served a 45-day suspension for violating a substance-abuse policy. An uncle was dismissed after he failed drug tests. Several other members of Mosby's family waged legal battles against their law enforcement agencies. Her grandfather, a founder of a minority law enforcement association, alleged racial discrimination in a lawsuit against the Boston Police Department and lost.