New England Muckrakers

Notable investigative stories from newspapers, websites and TV and radio newsrooms in the six New England states plus “Citizen Muckraker” reports.

Recent Posts

Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars: L.A.’s “Entitled” Westsiders Behind City’s Epidemic

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

There's a growing epidemic in Los Angeles--more and more kids are contracting pertussis, or "whooping cough," and the measles.  The reason?  Wealthy parents are opting not to vaccinate their children.  As rates of whooping cough increase in these affluent areas, the number of kids receiving immunizations is dropping. From the story: "An examination by The Hollywood Reporter of immunization records submitted to the state by educational facilities suggests that wealthy Westside kids — particularly those attending exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens — are far more likely to get sick (and potentially infect their siblings and playmates) than other kids in L.A. The reason is at once painfully simple and utterly complex: More parents in this demographic are choosing not to vaccinate their children as medical experts advise." Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Who’s behind the Chinese takeover of the world’s biggest pork producer?

 

One year ago, a Chinese company bought Smithfield Foods. To date, the $4.7 billion deal is the biggest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company in history. From the story: "The deal came two years after China's communist government issued an edict directing its food industry to scour the globe in search of agricultural resources, prompting concerns about the government’s role in the takeover." The Center for Investigative Reporting spent months examining the deal. The results of their investigation aired in a two-part broadcast on PBS NewsHour. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Need to reach a DSS worker? Can you hold for 78 minutes?

The average wait time to speak to a Connecticut Department of Social Services worker on the phone was one hour and eighteen minutes in August. Seventy-one percent of people who wanted to speak to a DSS worker hung up before their call was answered.  

From the story:  "More than a year after DSS launched the new call centers as part of a broad “modernization” effort, people who use the system say reaching a worker remains unacceptably difficult. The long wait times are especially problematic, DSS clients and advocates say, because many poor people rely on cellphones with limited minutes that can quickly get sapped if they need to call the department." Read the full story at CT Mirror. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Latino workers die at higher rates in job accidents

  Latino workers are increasingly taking on the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in American society--and they're paying for it with their lives. Los Angeles-based investigative nonprofit Fair Warning took a look at recently released numbers that showed that Latino workplace fatality rates exceeded those of other races. From the story: "Safety experts point to reluctance among many Latino workers, particularly immigrants, to protest job hazards. They commonly attribute the reluctance to language barriers or fears that complaining about working conditions will cost them their jobs or even lead to deportation." Read the full story at Fair Warning Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Asylum seekers living
 in limbo in Maine

Hundreds of asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa live in Maine's major cities.  These men and women live in limbo: they are undocumented, but protected from deportation.  However, they cannot work until after they have resided in the United States for at least six months. Maine is now embroiled in a political battle led by Gov. Paul LePage to stop state-funded welfare for asylum seekers. From the story:

"Citing a 1996 federal welfare-reform law that restricts assistance to undocumented immigrants, LePage vowed to withhold reimbursements to communities that continue to provide state funds to such non-citizens through a program known as General Assistance. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

How aggressive police take millions from motorists not charged with crimes

Over three decades ago, at the height of the war on drugs, the government began practicing asset forfeiture. Basically, a police officer can take money or property from you, even if you've never been charged with a crime, and it's up to you to prove that you legally acquired it. Since 9/11, a rise in aggressive policing has led to hundreds of millions being seized on America's roads from motorists who have never been charged with a crime. And cash-strapped law enforcement departments are reliant on that cash for funding. From the story: "A thriving subculture of road officers on the network now competes to see who can seize the most cash and contraband, describing their exploits in the network’s chat rooms and sharing “trophy shots” of money and drugs. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Foreign Powers Buy Influence At D.C. Think Tanks

In Washington D.C., lawmakers, government officials and the news media rely on think tanks to provide policy analysis and scholarship. These think tanks are supposedly independent, but a new investigation by the New York Times shows that more than a dozen prominent groups have accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments. From the story: "The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research." Read the full investigation at the New York Times. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Athletes, Assaults and Inaction

Photo via ESPN.com

Colleges and universities throughout the country are allowing sexual assault allegations against student athletes to fall through the cracks.  ESPN's Outside the Lines launched an investigation into two student athletes allegedly responsible for assaults on seven different women while attending three different universities.  It took multiple reports of sexual assault before either student athlete faced consequences. From the story:

"Last year, the National College Health Assessment found that more than 10 percent of women said they had been the victim of some form of sexual assault on campus in the previous 12 months. Although it's unknown how many instances of campus sexual assault involve athletes, 'Outside the Lines' research of media coverage found at least 30 Division I schools had such reports in the past five years." Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Bread, Milk and Mayhem

fair-warning-homepage

Just as Kimmy Dubuque was about to enter a Cumberland Farms convenience store to get a cup of coffee, she was struck and killed by an SUV. Police said the SUV, driven by an 81-year-old man who suffered a stroke, had sped through the parking lot of the Chicopee, Mass., store and smashed into the front, pushing Dubuque, 43, through a wall. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

In Ferguson, Court Fines and Fees Fuel Anger

Tensions between the community and police in Ferguson captivated the world this summer. Protests broke out after the death of teenaged Michael Brown. But distrust between the people of Ferguson and the police didn't start this summer. From the story: "ArchCity Defenders, a St. Louis-area public defender group, says in its report that more than half the courts in St. Continue Reading →

Filed under: