By Paul Kiel, ProPublica, and Mitchell Hartman, Marketplace
itle Credit Finance is two doors down from Cashwells Title Pawn and World Finance Corp. on Victory Drive outside of Fort Benning, in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Mitchell Hartman/Marketplace
This story was co-produced with Marketplace. Listen to their coverage.
Seven years after Congress banned payday-loan companies from charging exorbitant interest rates to service members, many of the nation’s military bases are surrounded by storefront lenders who charge high annual percentage rates, sometimes exceeding 400 percent.
The Military Lending Act sought to protect service members and their families from predatory loans. But in practice, the law has defined the types of covered loans so narrowly that it’s been all too easy for lenders to circumvent it. (more…)
By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity
Amid withering accusations the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party and other conservative groups with enhanced scrutiny, the agency faces another problem: it’s drowning in paperwork.
The IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division, which finds itself at the scandal’s epicenter, processed significantly more tax exemption applications in fiscal year 2012 by so-called 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations — 2,774 — than it has since at least the late 1990s, according to an analysis of IRS records by the Center for Public Integrity. (more…)
By Christie Thompson, ProPublica
President Barack Obama meets with Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske in the Oval Office White House Photo by Pete Souza
When the Obama administration released its 2013 Drug Control Strategy recently, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske called it a “21stcentury” approach to drug policy. “It should be a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue,” he said.
The latest plan builds on Obama’s initial strategy outlined in 2010. Obama said then the U.S. needed “a new direction in drug policy,” and that “a well-crafted strategy is only as successful as its implementation.” Many reform advocates were hopeful the appointment of former Seattle Police Chief Kerlikowske as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy signaled a shift in the long-lasting “war on drugs.”
By Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica
President Obama opening this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll
When the annual White House Easter Egg Hunt faced cancellation this year due to the package of mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, the National Park Service kicked into high gear. It rescued the event — held since 1878 — with money from “corporate sponsors and the sale of commemorative wooden eggs,” according to the Washington Post.
The nation’s airline passengers also caught a break last month when Congress passed (and President Obama quickly signed) a bill allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to shift some funds and halt the furloughs of air traffic controllers that had been blamed for long flight delays around the country.
But other programs haven’t been so lucky. (more…)
By Lois Beckett, ProPublica
Photo: ACS Law
In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight. (more…)
By Susan Ferriss, Center for Public Integrity
Put on a sex registry for the offense of public nudity as a minor. Harassed by neighbors out of a home and banned from a homeless shelter because of an offense committed at age 15.
The New York-based research group Human Rights Watch issued an extensive report Wednesday on the life-shattering consequences of putting minors on sex registries for offenses — sometimes shockingly mild offenses — for the rest of their lives. (more…)
By Raymond Bonner, Special to ProPublica
Former Texas District Attorney Ken Anderson photo by: Ricardo B. Brazziell / Austin American-Statesman
For 30 years, Ken Anderson was the face of law enforcement in Williamson County, Texas, first as a bearded district attorney asking the court for tough sentences, and for the last 10 years handing those kinds of sentences out as a judge.
Earlier this month, his beard gone, his hair white, Anderson, noted for his talks to school children about the criminal justice system and the dangers of drugs, walked into the courthouse again, this time as a defendant. He had come to turn himself in, be fingerprinted, photographed and post $2,500 bail. A few hours earlier a judge had ordered his arrest. (more…)
By Marian Wang, ProPublica
As college-bound students weigh their options, they often look to the various statistics that universities trumpet — things like the high number of applications, high test scores, and low acceptance rate.
But students may want to consider yet another piece of info: the ways in which schools can pump up their stats. (more…)
By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity
Facebook chairman Marc Zuckerberg
Gun groups, defense contractors, oil companies and the world’s largest social network increased their spending on lobbying last quarter, bucking an overall downward trend, newly filed congressional disclosures show.
As debate over gun control raged in the Senate, the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Mayors Against Illegal Guns each spent more on federal-level lobbying during the year’s first three months than in any previous quarter. (more…)
By Rick Schmitt, FairWarning
The results were tragic, but not surprising, last May when Suzanne Randa and her fiance, Thomas Donohoe, crashed while riding Donohoe’s Harley Davidson on Highway 79 near the Southern California city of Loma Linda.
Donohoe, who was wearing a helmet meeting federal safety standards, escaped injury and walked away from the accident. Randa, 49, who wore a so-called novelty helmet that was cheap and stylish but offered but no real protection, died at the scene after her headgear’s strap broke and her head slammed onto the pavement. (more…)
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