Michael Grabell

Journalism

TSA Body Scanners
The Transportation Security Administration is planning to roll out body scanners at nearly every airport security lane in the country by 2014.  Right now, it has deployed more than 500, split about evenly between two technologies — one using X-rays and another using radio frequency waves.  Several prominent radiation safety experts have raised concerns about exposing millions of airline passengers to X-rays.

Read more at ProPublica

Economic Stimulus Package
The $825 billion stimulus, passed in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession, included a mix of infrastructure projects, tax cuts, safety net spending, and investments in clean energy, education reform, broadband, and high-speed rail.  Adjusted for inflation, it was bigger than the WPA, the moon race, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Marshall Plan after World War II.  Where did the money go and what did it achieve?

Read more at ProPublica  

Alaska Native Corporations
When the oil boom came to Alaska, Congress promised new economic opportunities for native peoples like the Cape Fox Tlingit.  The Tlingit had wrested a subsistence life from the harsh coasts of southeast Alaska for thousands of years, only to see their villages destroyed, their resources exploited and their population wiped out by disease when white settlers came in the 19th century...

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3

Air Marshals: Undercover and Under Arrest
Shawn Nguyen bragged that he could sneak anything past airport security using his top-secret clearance as a federal air marshal. And for months, he smuggled cocaine and drug money onto flights across the country, boasting to an FBI informant that he was “the man with the golden badge.” ... And when Brian “Cooter” Phelps wanted his ex-wife to disappear, he called a fellow air marshal and tried to hire a hit man nicknamed “the Crucifixer.”

 Read more at ProPublica

Toxic Neighbors
A Dallas Morning News investigation found dozens of sites with hazardous chemicals close to residential neighborhoods. It's a risk repeated throughout Dallas County, from low-income neighborhoods to the suburbs to new lofts along the Trinity River. Some plants and warehouses are within blocks – even across the street – from homes, apartment complexes, and schools.

Read more at The Dallas Morning News

Penny Stocks
KEMP, Texas – In this Kaufman County ranching town between Gun Barrel City and Styx, up a gravel driveway at a baseball field, amid the flies and the July heat, John Eckerd digs through a burnt orange Dumpster. It is a last-ditch effort to save his ticket to the big time – a Girls Gone Wild-style video filmed at NASCAR races called Racetrack Girls Go Nutz.

Part 1    Part 2    Sniffex    MN1.com

Lance Armstrong Case
Lance Armstrong rose to sporting power in a world where paranoia ruled. He had his meals delivered in a blue cooler for fear of sabotage. His team members drove miles to dump their trash, knowing that the moment they threw something away, someone else would pick through it. And former cyclists were so worried about the power the seven-time Tour winner wielded that they began taping conversations with his associates.

Read more from The Dallas Morning News

Hurricane Rita Bus Fire
In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, a bus full of nursing home patients trying to escape ahead of the next storm burst into flames, killing 23 people. How did the charter bus go from the "Lincoln Town Car of tour coaches" to a "coffin on wheels"? A Dallas Morning News investigation found numerous holes in federal bus safety regulations.

Inside the bus    Path to final journey    School bus safety: Parts 1 and 2

Anthrax Cream
A Dallas businessman claims to have the answer for an anthrax attack -- a 16-ounce, $179 bottle of skin lotion, made from grapefruit seeds and the oil of an Australian tree. How the product won the backing of a powerful congressman, a respected police chief, and a microbiologist at a university known for bioterrorism research.

Read more from The Dallas Morning News

The Battle over Baby Daniel
Baby Daniel is nearly brain-dead. He cannot breathe without a ventilator. He cannot eat without a feeding tube. And if his mother doesn't find another hospital, the doctors will disconnect him and he will die. The case illustrates the delicate decisions that determine not only when a child's life should end, but when motherhood does as well.

Read more from The Dallas Morning News


Just for fun...

Donkey's Big Day in Court

“Call your first witness,” Judge Steven Seider said.

“Your honor, we call Buddy,” attorney Jeff Sandberg replied. “The donkey.”

Facing the Music for Daring to Dance

There was clear and convincing evidence that booties were shaking on the night of March 31... 

A Night in Purgatory

Since the club opened, police reports show, patrons have been knocked unconscious, hit in the head with beer bottles, punched, kicked, slapped, scratched, choked until passing out, bitten on the thigh, beaten with a Glock pistol, hit with a flashlight, hit with a crowbar, hit with a small weight attached to a heavy chain, thrown headfirst into a parking meter, threatened with a handgun for groping women after drinking eight Incredible Hulk shots, pushed, Maced, Tasered, pulled by the hair and hit in the face with a high-heeled shoe.
 
Prom Weekend at the Jersey Shore

On a rainy Friday before a recent prom weekend, Seaside Heights was virtually a ghost town. The red neon signs in front of motels read ''Vacancy,'' and the metal doors on boardwalk booths rattled in the wind. Slowly but surely, the revelers arrived, toting duffle bags and boom boxes.

By Saturday night, Seaside Heights was a tangle of shouts, spotlights, and crowds. The neon signs had switched to ''No Vacancy.'' Teenagers had taken over the town.

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