Taser use at U.S. police departments poorly regulated—and sometimes deadly

Many police departments in the U.S. fail to regulate the way officers can use Tasers, The Guardian reports. The Guardian obtained medical records for 19 of the “47 officer-involved deaths that have occurred following the use of a Taser” in 2015, finding that seven were ruled homicides, five undetermined, six accidental, and one due to “natural causes.” Of rulebooks from 29 departments across the country, only two were found in complete accordance with national “Electronic Control Weapon Guidelines,” which were revised in 2011 to ensure that officers understand the “lethal potential” of Tasers when deployed multiple times, according to The Guardian’s investigation. Read the full story here.

Federal initiative to enable immigrants to file forms online still flounders after ten years

The federal government has spent more than $1 billion on an initiative to “digitize immigration forms” over the past ten years, but so far only one document can be filled out online, The Washington Post reports. While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had planned to spend a half-billion dollars on the program and complete it by 2013, it’s now expected to take another four years and cost about $3.1 billion, according to The Washington Post. “The initiative was mismanaged” since the beginning, The Washington Post’s investigation shows. Read the full story here.

Juveniles that commit sex crimes on Fort Hood military base seldom prosecuted

Sex crimes committed by juveniles on military sites, namely Fort Hood, often go unpunished, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Between 2006 and 2012, 39 sexual assaults committed by juveniles on the Fort Hood military base resulted in little or no action on the local and federal level, according to an internal legal memo obtained by the American-Statesman. The American-Statesman’s investigation examines the problems with the military legal system that create “a jurisdictional black hole in which there is no clear authority for prosecuting juvenile crime on military installations.”

Read the full story here.

No U.S. state graded higher than a C on integrity report card

Eleven states flunked a test measuring state integrity nationwide, according to a “deeply troubling” report from the Center for Public Integrity. Alaska scored the highest, earning a C on CPI’s State Integrity Investigation, which assesses and ranks state accountability based on answers to an extensive set of hundreds of detailed questions researched by reporters in each state. CPI’s investigation found “state lawmakers and agency officials operate with glaring conflicts of interest and engage in brazenly cozy relationships with lobbyists” while “ethics and open records laws are riddled with loopholes.”

Read the full story here.

Five Vietnamese-American journalists murdered from 1981-1990, no consequences for killers


New evidence indicates that the U.S. government was aware of the hand a Vietnamese military group had in the killings of five Vietnamese-American journalists from 1981 to 1990 but failed to act, ProPublica and Frontline report. Federal investigators had speculated that the National United Front for the Liberation of Vietnam was involved in the murders of the journalists, who “worked for small publications serving the refugee population that sought shelter in the U.S after the fall of Saigon in 1975,” but the FBI did not make a single arrest in connection with the crimes. Reporters from ProPublica and Frontline, who reopened the investigation in 2014, “tell the story of a reign of intimidation and murder for which no one has been held to account.”

Read the full story here.

“Good Deeds. Great Deals.” slogan overstates charitable contributions of thrift store chain

Rapidly expanding thrift store chain Savers, Inc., offers shoppers charitable claims that “appear to be vastly overblown,” InvestigateWest reports. Despite the slogan of Savers’ Value Village stores—“Good deeds. Great deals.”—InvestigateWest’s investigation found that the company’s charity partners only receive between 8 and 17 percent of Savers’ total revenue, and the store “does not routinely tell donors how much of their used-goods donation actually goes to charity.”

Read the full story here.

Political affiliation amounts to extra cash for South Carolina lawmakers

State legislators in South Carolina are making money from their government connections, the Center for Public Integrity reports. An analysis by CPI and The Post and Courier revealed that “20 current and former lawmakers reported ties to about $16 million in contracts with state and local government since 2009.” These affiliations “raise serious questions about conflicts of interest involving lawmakers who profit from state and local government while determining the laws that regulate those businesses,” CPI writes. Read the full story here.

Turkish religious movement behind free trips to Turkey for members of congress

A moderate Islamic movement started by a Turkish scholar has secretly financed “as many as 200 trips to Turkey for members of Congress and staff since 2008, apparently repeatedly violating House rules and possibly federal law,” USA Today reports. USA Today’s investigation found that groups affiliated with Fethullah Gülen, the movement’s leader, have sponsored more than $800,000 worth of congressional trips over the past eight years according to forms filed with the House, many of which were likely falsified. It’s unknown exactly “where the $800,000 came from, since many of the groups involved do not appear to have the resources to pay for large delegation trips,” according to USA Today. Read the full story here.

Prostitutes end up in prison more often than sex traffickers in Florida

Despite efforts at the state level in Florida to enforce harsher punishment for sex-trafficking crimes, very few facing related charges end up behind bars, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting reports. FCIR’s investigation found that only 24 men and women were in Florida prisons for sex-trafficking crimes in mid-October, while “hundreds of prostitutes are still being arrested annually.” These numbers don’t line up with state laws revised in 2012 and 2013 that stipulate “perpetrators of human trafficking be penalized for their illegal conduct and that the victims of trafficking be protected and assisted by this state and its agencies,” according to FCIR. Read the full story here.

State neglect of mental hospitals makes them dangerous places for patients, workers

Hundreds of millions of dollars in state budget cuts have turned state-funded mental hospitals from refuges for those who need treatment to “treacherous warehouses where violence is out of control and patients can’t get the care they need,” the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune report. The newspapers’ investigation found that “violent attacks at the state’s six largest hospitals have doubled,” since 2009, resulting in at least 15 deaths. In a state where there are no minimum staffing requirements for mental institutions, “violent patients wander the halls unsupervised,” according to the investigation. Read the rest of the story here.