A life-and-death struggle for asylum in America

By Susan Ferriss and Amy Isackson

Teens' tortured road to asylum in America.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… icials rush to prioritize resolution of minors’ applications, members of Congress are aggressively attacking the current asylum system as well as children …"

"… orporations and law schools. In September, as part of the budget process, Congress rejected a White House request for $64 million to hire more immigration ju …"

"… errified to hand over records. Under current federal law — laws some in Congress now want changed — minors who arrive on their own must be released from …"

"… ala have some of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. A Congressional Research Service paper issued in July took note of a United Nati …"

Prison bankers cash in on captive customers

By Daniel Wagner

Private company profits by helping prisons squeeze inmates' families for cash.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Treasury":

"… no-bid deals between Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the U.S. Treasury, under which they provide financial services to the federal Bureau of Pris …"

Afghans don’t like soybeans, despite a big U.S. push

By Alexander Cohen and James Arkin

Washington ignored warnings that Afghans were unlikely to embrace protein-rich soy products.

Excerpts from this story referencing "lobbyist":

"… who signed it. She’s an Obama political appointee and former registered lobbyist for the International Dairy Foods Association, where she was general couns …"

Federal complaint challenges Texas town's new ban on housing any border kids

By Susan Ferriss

Civil rights groups are challenging ordinances that prohibit cooperation with federal officials if they ask to shelter kids in towns.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Public Integrity":

"… ished region struggling with organized crime and drug cartels, as the Center for Public Integrity has reported.  Debate is on over whether to alter existing fede …"

Trains, amputations and the roots of why kids are on the run

By Susan Ferriss

Reports have long warned of chaos in Central America many minors say they want to escape.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Department of Justice":

"… in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and the struggle to address it. The U.S. Department of Justice has archived many reports assessing the growing threats of gangs. The …"

Class-action suit: Wrong to put kids into immigration court with no lawyers to help

By Susan Ferriss

Kids whose dad was killed by gangsters are among the plaintiffs in a suit arguing that children should have lawyers in immigration court.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… ho work with immigrant kids have argued. This week, President Obama asked Congress to allocate $3.7 billion in emergency funds to finance a range of response …"

Herbicide ban on hold in Sri Lanka, as source of deadly kidney disease remains elusive

By Sasha Chavkin

After Sri Lanka's announced ban on a Monsanto herbicide, opponents challenged the action and convinced the president to put the ban on hold.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Glyphosate":

"… l processes for its ability to form strong chemical bonds with metals. “Glyphosate acts as a carrier or a vector of these heavy metals to the kidney,” Jaya …"

"… ls,” said Monsanto’s Director of Corporate Affairs Thomas Helscher. “Glyphosate is actually a relatively poor chelator for heavy metals when compared to p …"

"… y metals, according to scientists and academic studies consulted by ICIJ. Glyphosate is a highly versatile chelator because its molecule includes three differe …"

Sri Lanka bans Monsanto herbicide citing potential link to deadly kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Sri Lanka orders ban on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, citing kidney disease outbreak; Monsanto said the evidence is unproven.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… idney disease that has killed tens of thousands of agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. The malady is suspected by scientists to be caused b …"

"… Dr. Catharina Wesseling of the Program on Work, Environment and Health in Central America (SALTRA). "However, although beneficial for worker's health, we should not …"

"… worker's health, we should not expect that this will solve the epidemic in Central America." Jayasumana’s article contends that glyphosate, which forms powerful c …"

CDC launches industry-financed studies of deadly kidney disease in Central America

By Sasha Chavkin

The CDC launches industry-funded research into a kidney disease killing thousands of Central American agricultural workers.

Excerpts from this story referencing "United States":

"… s and NGOs involved in groups such as CENCAM, many of them from Europe and United States, focus on brutal working conditions in the sugar industry. For its part, …"

Money, research target mystery kidney disease in Americas

By Sasha Chavkin

Escalating a search for the cause of a mysterious kidney disease, health ministers from the Americas target money and research to CKD.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Health":

"… Last week’s declaration from the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called on member states to conduct research and survei …"

Countries target pesticides as suspected link to rare kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Governments from El Salvador to Sri Lanka explore the role of pesticides in a malady killing laborers, as other scientists eye heat stress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… In El Salvador, the congress approved a ban earlier this month on 53 agrochemicals. If the law is signed by Salvadorean president Mauricio Funes, the country …"

"… -------- The most sweeping measure contemplated so far: The ban on 53 agrochemicals approved on September 5 by El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly, including …"

"… 2-4,D, produced by Dow chemicals. The proposed law would prohibit various chemicals that have long been banned in most of the world, but also includes widely …"

"… , 2-4,D, paraquat and endosulfan. Salvadorean health officials believe agrochemicals containing toxic heavy metals are the primary cause of the disease. The m …"

World Bank approves loan to sugar plantation amid concerns about kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

World Bank approved $15M loan to Nicaraguan sugar plantation, even as industry is ravaged by disease.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Ombudsman":

"… been investigated through studies requested by the IFC Compliance Advisor Ombudsman,” stated the IFC’s review documents, referring to the Boston Universit …"

Center kidney disease series honored by Society of Environmental Journalists

A CPI examination of a rare kidney disease that has afflicted laborers and vexed researchers across continents is honored.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Society of Environmental Journalists":

"… rs across continents was honored this week with a reporting prize from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Mystery in the Fields, a 3-part series published in September, won 2nd P …"

New urgency targets mysterious kidney disease in Central America

By Sasha Chavkin

In El Salvador, health ministries formally recognize a kidney disease killing laborers — and vow deeper scrutiny of its causes.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… stigate and treat the disease, and promotion of stronger regulation of agrochemicals. The declaration represented a major victory for El Salvador and its heal …"

"… hether there was adequate evidence to declare the disease is linked to agrochemicals and respond by restricting their use. At the conference, El Salvador pres …"

"… zation, documented elevated levels of cadmium and arsenic contained in agrochemicals and within environmental samples from the endemic region — and found the …"

"… h El Salvador and Sri Lanka’s reports, including evidence of how the agrochemicals are entering victims’ bodies or what products are at fault. Despite the …"

Federal initiative to help schools recognize youth sex trafficking

By Susan Ferriss

Students can be exploited more if they are suspended or expelled for misbehavior and left unsupervised alone.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Secretary":

"… stop brought in a thousand dollars a day. Alice Hill, senior counselor to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, said human trafficking, whether to …"

In Sri Lanka, new steps target mysterious kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

In Sri Lanka, the president vows controls on chemicals potentially linked to chronic kidney disease, as hospitals take steps for patients.

Excerpts from this story referencing "chemicals":

"… se tighter controls on pesticides and fertilizers amid growing concern the chemicals are helping fuel a mysterious epidemic of chronic kidney disease devastati …"

"… Mahinda Rajapaksa pledged to take action to crack down on contaminated agrochemicals.“There is a theory that pesticides and chemical fertilizer contribute to …"

"… ations will be formulated to require suppliers and distributors of all agrochemicals to comply with quality standards.”A committee of government ministers is …"

"… kera. Wijesekara, whose office oversees imports and permitting of agrochemicals, said Sri Lanka had already taken a significant step earlier this year: es …"

Separated by law: Families torn apart by 1996 immigration measure

By Susan Ferriss and Amy Isackson

Immigration measure has split husbands from wives, children from parents.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… 005, and all seemed well. But shortly thereafter a deadly hurricane struck Central America and southern Mexico, and Jorge lost all contact with his parents. He told …"

In India, verdant terrain conceals clues to a fatal kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

How a rare kidney disease is killing laborers and vexing researchers in three countries.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… ness tormenting the area. For more than a decade, a rash of chronic kidney disease has been striking down the villagers of this remote agricultural belt in t …"

"… cultural belt in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. In some villages, the disease has impacted from 24 to 37 percent of the population, two to three times h …"

"… e. This type of damage accounts for less than 4 percent of end-stage renal disease in the United States, and is consistent with severe dehydration and toxic …"

"… .Yet in other ways Uddanam is different. The research to date suggests the disease is confined to a single belt of villages that spans less than 100 miles. D …"

As kidney disease kills thousands across continents, scientists scramble for answers

By Sasha Chavkin

How a rare kidney disease is killing laborers and vexing researchers in three countries.

Excerpts from this story referencing "disease":

"… neys are failing, and no one knows why.A mysterious form of chronic kidney disease — CKD — is afflicting thousands of people in rural, agricultural commu …"

"… er from diabetes and high blood pressure, the usual risk factors for renal disease. They experience a rare form of kidney damage, known as tubulo-interstitia …"

"… They experience a rare form of kidney damage, known as tubulo-interstitial disease, consistent with severe dehydration and toxic poisoning.Other common links …"

"… e used heavily, and communities drink local groundwater. In each case, the disease began surging in the 1990s.Despite a decade of research in each affected r …"

About the 'Mystery in the Fields' project

By Ronnie Greene

About the Project: Mystery in the Fields

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… illing laborers and crippling communities in three different regions, from Central America to Sri Lanka to India. As death tolls mount, researchers remain puzzled, u …"

"… kin exposed how chronic kidney disease was so prevalent in some regions of Central America it left communities filled with widows and scientists searching for answer …"

Support our new investigation into a deadly disease killing agricultural workers

By Ellen Weiss

Support our investigation of a disease that is killing workers around the world.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… mostly affects older people with diabetes and high blood pressure. But in Central America, each year thousands of agricultural laborers — almost all men, lacking …"

"… are killing some of the world’s poorest and most marginalized workers in Central America to other parts of the world — across several continents.   Now, we …"

Costa Rica to study kidney disease afflicting sugarcane workers

By Sasha Chavkin

In Costa Rica, health officials and one company step up against a disease that's claimed thousands of lives in Central America

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… hat is killing thousands of sugarcane workers and other manual laborers in Central America. The Costa Rica study will seek to answer one of the thorniest and most po …"

"… e solution — said Jennifer Crowe, a researcher with SALTRA, a network of Central American scientists that has played a pioneering role in the study of the epidemic …"

"… 2011, the United States helped defeat a proposal by El Salvador and other Central American nations to include CKD in an initiative by the World Health Organization …"

"… he Centers for Disease Control has yet to take an active role or recognize Central America’s CKD epidemic. A CDC spokeswoman said she is “not aware of any new de …"

The weekly watchdog: Dec. 12 - Dec. 16

By Bill Buzenberg

In case you missed them, catch up on this week's top investigations from iWatch News

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… CKD — is a manageable illness that primarily affects the elderly. But in Central America the condition is instead devastating whole communities, according to a new …"

Thousands of sugar cane workers die as wealthy nations stall on solutions

By Sasha Chavkin and Ronnie Greene

Mysterious kidney disease has killed thousands of men in an isolated region of Central America, but why?

Excerpts from this story referencing "San Antonio":

"… ;Resistance has begun to soften — notably at Nicaragua Sugar’s Ingenio San Antonio plantation, where the Boston University team is working. But the industry …"

"… nies to collaborate on a study of worker safety. She said that the Ingenio San Antonio and Ingenio Monte Rosa ignored the request. In 2007, Aragon said another …"

"… d another request for access by her colleagues was rejected by the Ingenio San Antonio. “Ultimately, that was the conclusion,” she said. “Not one sugar com …"

"… hen-Ambassador Paul Trivelli notified the U.S. State Department of Ingenio San Antonio’s first ethanol shipment and wrote that the company had embraced “the …"

About this project

A look at the reporting process behind 'Island of the Widows'

Excerpts from this story referencing "BP":

"… ProPublica, where his reporting on disabled borrowers with student loans, BP oil spill damage claims and BP cleanup workers helped prompt changes in fe …"

"… g on disabled borrowers with student loans, BP oil spill damage claims and BP cleanup workers helped prompt changes in federal and private programs. He …"


A note of the data and analysis for 'Island of the Widows'

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… n the region. …"

"… .The data show that this formula clearly reflects the CKD epidemic. Across Central America in 2009, the most recent year available, 87 percent of male deaths from ki …"

"… Also, WHO data show that while kidney disease grew among women in the four Central American countries used for analysis, the rate of growth was smaller among women t …"

"… he U.S. Renal Data System. But even this increase pales compared to men in Central America. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, the countries where data is complete from 1 …"

Hotter, drier, meaner: Trends point to a planet increasingly hostile to agriculture

By Douglas Fischer

A host of data point to one conclusion: Our increasingly hotter, drier planet is going to be a tough place to farm

Excerpts from this story referencing "Africa":

"… mate change. …"

"… – To get a glimpse of the future, look to East Africa today.The Horn of Africa is in the midst of its worst drought in 60 years: Crop failures have left …"

"… to have continued dryness, at least for the next 10 or 15 years, over East Africa," said Chris Funk, a geographer at the U.S. Geological Survey and founding …"

"… he American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco cautioned that East Africa is just one example. Many recent events – discoveries from sediment core …"

Cartels carve new drug routes in Central America

By Nick Miroff

In a Belizean town known for its trade in contraband, illicit drugs cast a new shadow

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… , Belize — I met Bobby on my last night in Belize, the night before this Central American nation celebrated its 30th anniversary of independence.I was standing out …"

"… try. Mexico’s powerful drug cartels have recently muscled their way into Central America, looking to open new smuggling routes for the multi-billion-dollar cocaine …"

"… vernment had pledged more than $200 million in new security assistance for Central America. But politicians in the region want more, saying sovereignty and stability …"

"… in fast boats, traffickers can dodge Mexico’s army and navy patrols. As Central America’s least-populated and least-defended country, the worry was that Belize …"

FACT CHECK: Paul ‘stood with Reagan,’ but not long

By FactCheck.Org

Attempting a jab at Perry's support of Al Gore, Paul highlights his relationship with Reagan, but not the fair-weather part

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… s to Honduras as "unconstitutional," calling the president "a bully boy in Central America" in a March 21, 1988, article by the Associated Press.Paul told  …"

Child advocates say more should be done to assist immigrant minors crossing the border

By Susan Ferriss

Child advocates say assistance needed to keep young border crossers away from criminals

Excerpts from this story referencing "Central America":

"… ercent of minors overall and unaccompanied were Mexican, and the rest were Central American, Chinese or nationals of other countries. Mexican and U.S. law enforcemen …"

"… ven if, after being caught, they say they want to return home, journeys to Central America or more distant regions usually take longer than 72 hours, or three days, …"