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

Till Death Do Us Part

In South Carolina, a woman dies at the hands of a domestic abuser once every twelve days. More South Carolina women have been murdered by former or current lovers than South Carolinian soldiers have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Post and Courier has conducted a multipart, multimedia investigation, and found that "[a]wash in guns, saddled with ineffective laws and lacking enough shelters for the battered, South Carolina is a state where the deck is stacked against women trapped in the cycle of abuse." Read the full story at the Post and Courier.  Continue Reading →

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Are brokers luring soldiers out of the federal retirement plan?

Federal employees, including veterans and soldiers, get the benefit of a "top-flight" retirement plan from the government. Called the Thrift Savings Plan, it offers some of the lowest fees on the market. But there's an exodus of money from these plans, and it may be because brokers are urging former federal workers to put their money in more expensive accounts. One man went to find out why. From the story:

"Bloomberg News found one company that caters to the military promised “no-fee” IRAs -- language that the financial industry’s own self-regulatory group has called misleading -- and another offered a $200 bonus to roll over. Continue Reading →

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From Reagan to Obama: The Path of American Education Reform

In 1981, the Reagan administration commissioned a report on America's public schools. The report harshly critiqued the education system, drawing the ire of many on the left who said the solutions proposed ignored poverty and inequity in the system. Today, President Obama's administration admits its education reform is highly influenced by the 1981 report. Sarah Garland of the Hechinger Report and The C.S. Monitor have detailed how America got from Reagan's report to today's fight over the Common Core. From the story:

"But as many policy prescriptions from the report and the movement it fueled become reality, they’re sparking a another backlash among those who say the country has embraced the worst of “A Nation at Risk” – an overhyped sense of crisis and business-focused mentality – and turned its back on the report’s best ideas about empowering teachers, raising expectations for students, and identifying and training better school leaders." Continue Reading →

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Inside the Dark, Lucrative World of Debt Collection

Millions of Americans owe billions in debt that have been sold to debt collectors. The New York Times published an article by Jake Halpern detailing the shadowy world of debt collectors, adapted from his upcoming book "Bad Paper: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld." 

From the story:

"From 2006 to 2009, for example, the nation’s top nine debt buyers purchased almost 90 million consumer accounts with more than $140 billion in “face value.” And they bought at a steep discount. On average, they paid just 4.5 cents on the dollar. These debt buyers collect what they can and then sell the remaining accounts to other buyers, and so on. Those who trade in such debt call it “paper.'"

Read the full story at the NY Times.  Continue Reading →

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The tools of war are making their way to America’s police departments

Many have criticized police in Ferguson, Mo. for their response to protests after an officer shot a young black man.  In June of this year, Matt Apuzzo investigated how military gear ends up in the hands of local police around the country. From the story:

"During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft." Read the full story at the New York Times Continue Reading →

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Ten major findings from the Center of Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity recently published a roundup of ten major findings from investigations they've published in the first half of 2014. They include a list of universities that accepted funding from the Koch foundation, teens sent to jail without legal representation, and the EPA's failure to implement a more stringent standard for arsenic in drinking water. CPI's story about arsenic in drinking water was also featured on Reveal, a new investigative radio program produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. Read the full list at the Center for Public Integrity Continue Reading →

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Beyond the Border: The humanitarian crisis in Texas

Texas is the deadliest state for undocumented immigrants trying to make it from Central and South America to the United States. Hundreds are dying in the wilderness. The majority don't die at the border, but 70 miles north, in Brooks County, where U.S. Border Patrol has a checkpoint. To get around the checkpoint, migrants must hike through the backcountry, often dying of heatstroke. The Texas Observer and the Guardian US have paired up to do a four-part, multimedia story about the crisis in Texas. Continue Reading →

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Suspicious prescriptions for HIV drugs abound in Medicare

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that Medicare Part D paid for over $30 million in questionable prescriptions for HIV drugs in 2012. From the story:

"The inspector general's report raise new questions about Medicare's stewardship of Part D. A ProPublica series last year showed that Medicare's lax oversight has enabled doctors to prescribe massive quantities of inappropriate medications, has wasted billions on needlessly expensive drugs and exposed the program to rampant fraud. Part D cost taxpayers about $65 billion in 2013." Read the full story at ProPublica

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Fracking is causing earthquakes in Oklahoma

Oklahoma now rivals California in seismic activity, and scientists are telling residents to prepare for "the big one." In The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance links the dramatic uptick in earthquakes to fracking. From the story:

"Last year there were 109 earthquakes of 3.0 or bigger in Oklahoma—a record high. But by one-third of the way through this year, Oklahoma had already logged 145 earthquakes of that magnitude. Looking at these numbers, scientists believe there's a significant chance the state could see a damaging magnitude 5.5 (or bigger) quake next." Continue Reading →

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