Five-state study finds high levels of airborne chemicals near oil and gas sites

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

A study of air emissions near oil and gas wells found strikingly high levels of benzene and other dangerous chemicals in some locations.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pennsylvania":

"… l. The study monitored air at locations in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. It comes amid a growing body of research suggesting tha …"

"… past 18 months. A Yale University study released in September found that Pennsylvania residents living less than two-thirds of a mile from natural-gas wells wer …"

"… on.’ And then it was off the charts.” In desperate search of data In Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna County, six of the air samples shipped off for testing con …"

"… t we could to document anything,” said Roter, 53, who lives in Brooklyn, Pennsylvania. “The best way to have a real discussion about what’s really happening …"

Mega-donors give big to state candidates

By Rachel Baye, Reity O'Brien and Ben Wieder

More than two dozen donors have given at least $1 million to state-level campaigns ahead of Nov. 4.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Federal Election Commission":

"… imits at the federal level in April, with its ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.  States such as Connecticut and Wisconsin have p …"

"… paigns. Thanks to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and subsequent rulings, there is no limit to what a person, corporation o …"

"… o given about $8 million to federal super PACs this year, according to the Federal Election Commission. In 2012, he was the largest Democratic donor to independent spending grou …"

Pennsylvania congressman launches frack waste investigation

By David Hasemyer and Zahra Hirji

Congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is asking state officials to review environmental exemptions for fracking waste.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… into the third-largest state producer of natural gas behind Texas and Louisiana. In those two states and others, questions are increasingly being raised a …"

Pennsylvania super PAC gets 'dark money' infusion

By Michael Beckel

Nonprofit Green Orchard Inc. is listed as the sole donor to new Prosperity for Pennsylvania super PAC.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Miami Heat":

"… nal Federation of Independent Business, tax preparer H&R Block and the Miami Heat basketball team. For the National Federation of Independent Business in F …"

Ads in U.S. Senate contests turn nasty

By Dave Levinthal

More than seven in 10 U.S. Senate-focused television ads last week attacked or criticized a political candidate.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee":

"… red a positive message during that month’s second week.  Crown the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as last week’s ultimate hater. Not only did it produce more TV ads than …"

Open pits offer cheap disposal for fracking sludge, but health worries mount

By David Hasemyer and Zahra Hirji

Air emissions from oil and gas waste are among the least regulated, least monitored and least understood components of the fracking boom.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Matthew Cartwright":

"… y the people elected to set those standards.”  Last year, U.S. Rep. Matthew Cartwright, a first-term Democrat from Pennsylvania, drafted a bill that would remove …"

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 "food":

"… care, and when inmates do have money, it’s used for candy and other junk food. Inmates in the county receive payments through Touchpay, a JPay competito …"

"… eive payments through Touchpay, a JPay competitor that often partners with foodservice giant Aramark. Funding prisons out of the pockets of families and …"

"… as “about you, and your inalienable right to the unbridled enjoyment of food and wine.” The invitation, printed on a disposable beer coaster, promis …"

"… ion: They would charge prisoners sky-high prices for phone services, snack foods, hygiene products and clothing, then return a large cut back to the priso …"

Non-candidate spending increases in state elections

By Rachel Baye, Reity O'Brien, Kytja Weir and Ben Wieder

TV ad spending in state elections since 2010 is down, but the portion ponied up by political nonprofits and state-level super PACs rises.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Rick Perry":

"… according to Texas political consultant Ray Sullivan, who helped run Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign. “Candidates in the Republican primary w …"

Secret politics pervade popular companies

By Dave Levinthal

Some well-known brands keep their political spending secret while others are more forthcoming, new survey shows.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Center for Responsive Politics":

"… ertly advocating for or against federal-level candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  Topping the list is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the natio …"

Bill aims to stop coal companies from denying benefits to miners with black lung

By Chris Hamby

Two coal-state senators plan to introduce legislation to reform the federal benefits program for black lung victims.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pennsylvania":

"… C News. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, aims to put a stop to …"

Can this 'dark money' group help the Democrats keep the Senate?

By Michael Beckel

Patriot Majority USA raises millions from unknown sources to play attack dog in the South.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Politics":

"… fied as a contributor to Patriot Majority USA by the Center for Responsive Politics. Greg Crist, a spokesman for the American Health Care Association, declin …"

How big telecom smothers city-run broadband

By Allan Holmes

Municipal broadband boosts business, but often stops at city limits thanks to lobbying muscle of telecom giants.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… d millions of dollars on lawsuits to kill municipal broadband. Lafayette, Louisiana, population 123,000, considered building a network in 2004 when city leade …"

Firearms more likely to be used in suicides than in homicides

By Carmen Forman and Jacob Byk

At least 50 people died per day from firearm suicide; 26 died from firearm homicides.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Air Force":

"… facilitator. Egan took the Office of Suicide Prevention job after a long Air Force career. He regularly staffs the office’s booth at gun shows to talk to p …"

Firearms used in homicides often purchased illegally

By Kelsey Jukam, Aaron Maybin and Jordan Rubio

A News21 analysis of the FBI’s national database of supplementary homicide reports found that across the country, 17,422 black men between a

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… nished battle. But a war still courses through the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the past decade, it’s claimed the lives of hundreds of people —&nb …"

"… you get out here and shoot you somebody. You get yourself a body.”  Louisiana’s murder rate has been the highest in the country, with 10.8 murders for …"

"… country, with 10.8 murders for every 100,000 people. Some have attributed Louisiana’s high murder rate to the prevalence of weapons in the state and its str …"

Growing number of biosafety labs raises public health concern

By James Arkin

Construction of new biosafety labs a waste of money, possible threat to public health, say reports and experts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "National Nuclear Security Administration":

"… g the need for and cost effectiveness of the project, and that the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs Los Alamos and other energy labs, “needs to fully reassess i …"

EPA: No comment on fracking air pollution

By Jim Morris and Lisa Song

No one at the Environmental Protection Agency has been willing to talk on the record about air pollution associated with fracking in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pennsylvania":

"… ta, the Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming and the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania. Our first attempt at an on-the-record interview was with Ron Curry, the …"

Families sick from fracking turn to scientists

By Lisa Song

A Pennsylvania nonprofit provides free health consultations to people who live near gas drilling sites and complain of health effects.

Excerpts from this story referencing "natural gas":

"… But because there are no comprehensive studies about the health impacts of natural gas drilling, it's hard to determine if their problems are linked to the gas w …"

"… cience to help people deal with their ailments. "As far as unconventional natural gas drilling goes, we are the public health service of the United States right …"

"… s of shale gas development. provide tips on how to reduce exposure to natural gas activities, perhaps by using indoor air filters or keeping daily logs of s …"

How oil and gas firms gained influence and transformed North Dakota

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Industry has transformed the state, but at what cost?

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pennsylvania":

"… . Towns here have not tried to ban the practice, as they have in Colorado, Pennsylvania and even Texas. Residents are largely supportive of the oil industry — a …"

Medicare Advantage plans require more scrutiny

By Fred Schulte

Government inspector says private Medicare plans difficult to investigate due to lack of access to data.

Credit rating industry dodges reforms, despite role in financial meltdown

By Alison Fitzgerald

Despite playing a central role in the economic collapse, firms that gave inflated ratings to toxic bonds remain untouched by reforms.

Excerpts from this story referencing "commissioner":

"… r money back, plus interest. SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White and three other commissioners declined or ignored requests to be interviewed for this story. In a July …"

Outside money pouring into governors races

By Ben Wieder

Dem, GOP associations are spending more than double as much on governors' races in the 2014 cycle than at the same period in 2010.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Texas":

"… inois, Bruce Rauner, along with contributions to Republican groups in Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania and Kansas. So far this cycle, the DGA has put up ad …"

Health insurers have their way with regulators

By Fred Schulte

Billions in Medicare Advantage overpayments likely gone for good.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Washington":

"… pens because federal officials have kept most audit results confidential. Washington health-care lawyer Thomas C. Hill said insiders have known of …"

"… ”  Patrick Burns, a co-director of Taxpayers Against Fraud, a Washington-based group, said that only stiff penalties will protect taxpayers from ge …"

Court reopens third case after Center uncovered judicial conflicts of interest

By Chris Young

Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reopens 2007 case after Center alerts judge that his wife owned ExxonMobil stock when he ruled on case.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Judge":

"… om the plaintiff, Daniel Tilli, saying that he was “in disbelief” that Judge Thomas Reavley did not know that his wife had owned stock in the oil compa …"

"… even years after the court ruled. Reavley is married to fellow 5th Circuit Judge Carolyn King. Tilli, a Bethlehem, Pa., resident who represented himself, …"

"… ed because of a stock conflict involving 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Allyson Duncan, a new three-Judge panel reached the same decision as the f …"

"… sion as the first. Another case tainted by stock ownership of 11th Circuit Judge Frank Hull is still pending. Many of the others remain in limbo. Lyle Cay …"

Comcast-Time Warner deal may hinge on anemic low-cost Internet plan

By Allan Holmes

Comcast Corp. will use heavily criticized broadband program for the poor to persuade regulators to OK Time Warner buyout.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Barack Obama":

"… d. “Having Internet in your home is an absolute necessity.” President Barack Obama agrees. In his 2011 State of the Union Address, Obama pledged to ensure hi …"

Who’s bankrolling secretive liberal group America Votes?

By Michael Beckel

A dozen anonymous donors accounted for most of the $12.7 million America Votes raised during its last fiscal year.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Internal Revenue Service":

"… ded. Several state-specific partners are also named. Tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service and documents submitted to the Department of Labor do provide some insight …"

Juvenile injustice: truants face courts, jailing without legal counsel to aid them

By Susan Ferriss

Court procedures leave minor offenders with few rights.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pennsylvania":

"… to counsel for truants during court proceedings. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, counsel is automatic and can only be waived after multiple steps to ensur …"

"… waived after multiple steps to ensure children grasp what they are doing. Pennsylvania was rocked by a scandal a couple of years ago when two juvenile court judg …"

Toomey discloses trip after inquiry

By Michael Beckel

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey failed to disclose a March trip to an exclusive, 'off-the-record' conference.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Chris Christie":

"… ouse Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ranked among the event’s headliners. At the summit, Toomey spoke on a p …"

Super PAC leaders score perks from political donations

By Julie Patel

Super PAC founders enjoy fine dining, big salaries and a steady business for their consulting firms.

Excerpts from this story referencing "California":

"… rise to Rick Hasen, a law and political science professor at University of California, Irvine, who publishes the Election Law Blog. “Super PACs are not just …"

Casinos and offshore companies battle for billions in online gambling push

By Nicholas Kusnetz

Congress, states and a rich mix of characters argue over regulation.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… Mississippi, where a bill was introduced but failed to pass. Lawmakers in Louisiana held hearings on the issue. The Rational Group, the firm that owns PokerS …"

How watchdog journalism makes a difference

By Bill Buzenberg

Impact from 'Breathless and Burdened' a textbook example of the power of relentless reporting.

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