Thousands of Drones Fill the Skies, Raising Fears of Midair Collisions FairWarining Investigates

Thousands of Drones Fill the Skies, Raising Fears of Midair Collisions

On a Saturday night in early December, while relaxing at his Martinez, Calif., home, Chinese exchange student Owen Ouyang decided to have some fun. He went out to the front yard and launched a sleek new drone he had recently purchased online for about $1,000. The 2.8-pound drone, advertised as “easy to fly,” proved anything […]

FairWarning Investigates

August 6, 2015 - Durango, Colorado: Rayna Willhite of Aztec, NM, holds a bottle of water she collected from the Animas River on Thursday, north of Durango, Colo., August 6th 2015,  near Bakers Bridge. The river is carrying mine waste from the Gold King Mine north of Silverton. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald/Polaris) /// FairWarining Investigates

No End in Sight for Toxic Legacy of Abandoned Mines

The U.S is pockmarked by thousands of abandoned mines, particularly in the Western states. Abandoned mines are the sites of tragedies every year, often from people drowning in flooded pits or shafts. Hardrock mines in the West—sources of gold, silver, uranium and other metals—also contaminate waterways with arsenic and other heavy metals. The point was dramatized in August by an accidental spill at the Gold King Mine in Colorado that sent millions of gallons of tainted water into the Animas River.

Many of these abandoned mines are on land owned by the U.S. government. But federal agencies have struggled with the problem for years, ...

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Photo courtesy tobacco.stanford.edu. FairWarining Investigates

Racial Politics Flavor Debate Over Banning Menthol Cigarettes

Lorillard Tobacco donated nearly four times as much to Republican candidates as to Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections. No surprise there — most businesses count on Republicans to hold the line on regulations and taxes.

But Lorillard made a striking exception for one set of Democrats: African Americans. It gave campaign cash to half of all black members of Congress, as opposed to just one in 38 non-black Democrats, according to an analysis by FairWarning of records from the Center for Responsive Politics. To put it another way, black lawmakers, all but one of whom are Democrats, were 19 times as likely as ...

Big Trucks, Big Bucks FairWarining Investigates

Big Trucks, Big Bucks

Heavy-Spending Trucking Industry Pushes Congress to Relax Safety Rules

Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers.

The proposals represent a wish list of the trucking industry, including allowing significantly longer and heavier trucks, and younger drivers. The industry spends heavily on lobbying and campaign contributions, giving largely to Republicans, who control both the House and ...

Mike Elliott, a former BNSF employee who sued the railroad for retaliation. (Photo by Michael Dwass) FairWarining Investigates

For Big Railroads, a Carload of Whistleblower Complaints

As both a veteran railroad worker and union official responsible for safety, Mike Elliott became alarmed when he learned of trouble-plagued train signals in his home state of Washington.

Signals, he said, at times would inexplicably switch from red to yellow to green – potentially creating confusion that could lead to a crash. Elliott raised that and other signal issues repeatedly with his managers at BNSF Railway Co. But eventually, Elliott concluded that “these guys are running me around in circles.”

So Elliott, 57, of Tacoma, Wash., pressed his concerns with the Federal Railroad Administration, summarizing the matter in a January ...

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Doubts Raised About Chemical Stew in Fragrances Used in Consumer Products

For Joyce Miller, one sniff of scented laundry detergent can trigger an asthma attack. “What happens is I feel like someone is standing on my chest,” says the 57-year-old professor of library science in upstate New York. “It’s almost like a choking feeling – pressure and choking. And then the coughing starts,” she said. Miller […]

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Commentary

FairWarining Commentary

Dreading Those Drones

There’s something very wrong with recreational drones. You can see the attraction. They can be extremely easy to fly and they take cool pictures. The Consumer Electronics Association forecasts about 700,000 will be sold to hobbyists, gift-givers and random shoppers this year, up from 430,000 in 2014 but far fewer than the 1.1 million sales […]

FairWarining Commentary

Older Cars Left Behind When Safety Motors Ahead

Federal auto safety regulations cover new cars, of course. But what about older cars? Of the more than 250 million vehicles on the roads, three-quarters are more than five years old, according to the data firm IHS Automotive, and more than 50 million are pre-1999 models. They met the government’s safety rules when they were […]

‘Stand Up to Cancer’ Not Standing Up to Cigarette Promoters

In three previous national telethons, Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars for cancer research. Contributions to the “War on Cancer” pledged in the fourth such telethon on September 5 would seem to be welcome. But several sponsors that were praised in the telecast appear to be doing […]