Next week from the Center: Tragic grain bin deaths and travel for federal judges

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The Center is publishing two major investigations next week that you can read here and will hear on NPR as well as other partners.

On Sunday, we are partnering with NPR and The Kansas City Star to look into the “drowning” deaths of people working around grain storage bins. The investigation found that federal regulators have routinely slashed fines in these cases, including a 2010 grain bin accident in Mt. Carroll, Ill., that took the lives of a 14-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man. A third worker, 20, barely escaped.

You can read that story Sunday here on our website on and in the Sunday Kansas City Star. NPR’s All Things Considered airs the grain story on Tuesday and you can also hear it on Wednesday's Morning Edition. If you miss either NPR story or the story in the Kansas City Star, we'll share those in next week's Weekly Watchdog.

The grain death story is part of our Hard Labor series on workers’ rights.

Coming midweek as part of our Consider the Source project, the Center will investigate the money behind all expense-paid seminars for federal judges.

Our lengthy investigation reveals that the top sponsors of judicial travel are some of the world’s largest oil and pharmaceutical companies and a relatively small number of right-wing, “free market” nonprofit organizations.

Seminars attended by judges have titles such as the “Moral Foundations of Capitalism,” which is sponsored by a cadre of corporate and nonprofit backers and taught by professors known for their free-market, anti-regulatory views.

The investigation also uncovered instances of judges’ ruling in favor of the sponsors of the seminars they attended. You can read the investigation here, on our website.