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 […]

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 […]

FairWarning Investigates

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 ...

iStock photo FairWarining Investigates

The Hard Truth About the Softest Mineral

Tougher Testing Sought to Detect Asbestos in Talc

We use talc in many up close and personal ways: to powder babies’ bottoms, as an ingredient in cosmetics, a filler in capsules and pills--even as a food additive. In a world of ominous, unpronounceable chemicals, could anything be less scary than talc?

Yet talc, the softest known mineral, is dug from the ground, where it can keep bad company. Talc is sometimes interlaced with asbestos, which can cause fatal diseases in those who inhale its microscopic, lung-scarring fibers.
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In an unsettling reminder, recent tests found stray asbestos from contaminated talc in some Chinese-made toy fingerprint kits and crayon ...

Marsha Dau FairWarining Investigates

Jailhouse Medicine

A Private Contractor Flourishes Despite Controversy Over Inmate Deaths

In July 2011, a jailhouse nurse in Imperial County, Calif., found inmate Marsha Dau lying naked and dazed on the concrete floor. Charged with illegally transporting aliens, Dau, 58, recently had been exhibiting strange and aggressive behavior. For her own safety, the jail put her in an empty, beige cell with no clothes. Now, three days later, she was on her back, semi-conscious and pale.

The nurse who found her was Elisa Pacheco, an employee of the California Forensic Medical Group, a private company that provides correctional medical services to rural counties like Imperial, near the Mexico border. Pacheco later would testify Dau looked dehydrated. ...

Courtesy of iStock FairWarining Investigates

Collision Course: With Wary Eye on Big Trucks, Bike Riders Seek Safe Space on City Streets

On a July afternoon in New Orleans last year, Philip Geeck was riding his bicycle in a marked bike lane on a busy street. Approaching an intersection, he came up alongside a tractor-trailer truck hauling a tank of chemicals. Geeck, 52, was at the 18-wheeler's midpoint when suddenly, without signaling, the truck began to turn right, witnesses say.

Victor Pizarro was driving nearby and watched in horror as the scene unfolded. He saw a look of confusion on Geeck's face as the trailer came toward him. Geeck, an experienced cyclist known to his friends as “Geric,” tried to get away from the truck but couldn't make ...

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Watchdog Finds That Nearly 1 in 5 OSHA Whistleblower Probes Are Flawed

Federal officials responsible for protecting whistleblowers and examining their claims of employer retaliation are mishandling nearly one in five of their investigations, a government watchdog reports. A review by the inspector general of the U.S. Labor Department found that 18 percent of the investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration lack one or more […]

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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 […]