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Dig Investigative nuggets from the staff of Reveal

The Hate Report: Changes are coming to how we report on hate

In this week’s round-up: The Hate Report isn’t going to be weekly anymore, so we can focus even more on original reporting.

After nearly two years of delivering the Hate Report to your inbox every Friday, we’ve decided to change things up.

We’ll be moving away from the weekly format of some curation from other sources and some original reporting. Instead, we’re going to spend more time researching our own original stories, and send out the Hate Report periodically when those stories are ready.

We launched the Hate Report as America was waking up to a new era of hate. There were increasing hate attacks, and we were just beginning to understand the alt-right. We wanted to get ourselves and our readers up to speed on an urgent story.

Now, two years later, hate certainly isn’t going away. Neither is our investigative reporting on it. But we’ve all begun to understand the contours of the story better. There are scores of reporters on the story. And we think our energy is best spent focusing on new, original investigations.

One of the things we’re most proud of is the formation of the Hate Sleuths, a crack team of newsletter subscribers who volunteer their time to help us research. We’ll still keep that team going, and already have them tracking down potential stories.

We’re going to dig into data sets, rake through the internet’s darkest corners, and file Freedom of Information Act requests to discover the hidden truths about the hate movement, before they explode out... Read More >

The Hate Report: What white nationalists think about Tucker Carlson

In this week’s roundup: We researched the darkest corners of the internet to gauge support for Fox News pundit, and the perpetrator of the Charlottesville attack goes on trial.

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson has spent the last couple of years transforming from mainstream conservative to America’s leading white nationalist pundit.

He has used his nightly show to question whether racial diversity is truly a positive thing in America. He has promoted, and defended, the phrase “It’s OK to be white,” which has become a slogan for racists across the country. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claimed last year the campaign was “sweeping the nation.”

Just last month Carlson suggested that a Georgetown professor was calling for “genocide” of white people. This is a warning that has been circulating in white supremacist circles for decades. And he has used his perch to play down the issue of white nationalism in America: “It’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category,” he said on his show earlier this year.

One of the stated goals of leading white nationalists has been to mainstream their racist ideals into the modern conservative movement. With that in mind, we were curious to see whether the hardcore white nationalists on the web viewed Carlson as their messenger to the broader public.

We asked our Hate Sleuths, a group of loyal Hate Report readers who volunteer their time to help research, to comb through sites that often host hate speech for mentions of... Read More >

FBI moves to fix critical flaw in its crime reporting system

New Orleans – The FBI will fast-track a fix to address flaws in its uniform crime report and is expected to change reporting rules to encourage more transparency about the outcomes of investigations by local law enforcement agencies, following a yearlong investigation by Newsy, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

The investigation uncovered a major flaw in the FBI’s next-generation crime reporting system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System. The new system does not track cases police classify as “unfounded,” a category for when police say the victim is lying or the reported crime did not occur.

In our November investigation, we found that the FBI reports zero unfounded cases for thousands of agencies using the new system, although records from those agencies show they classify many cases this way.

For example, the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia showed no unfounded cases in the FBI crime statistics for 2016. However, internal department records show that Prince William County police classified nearly 40 percent of all rape cases as unfounded that year.  

“You have found something that needs to be corrected,” said Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., chairman of the FBI’s NIBRS transition task force, and chief of police in Fairfax County, Virginia. “This is a crisis, an emergency.”

Roessler said following the news report, he reached out to senior FBI leadership and received a commitment from the bureau last week that the... Read More >

We got the government to reverse its longtime policy to get Silicon Valley diversity data

Federal labor officials have decided to reverse their longtime policy and release diversity numbers for government contractors such as Oracle and Palantir Technologies in response to a lawsuit filed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Reveal submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for the workplace statistics of those and other tech companies as part of a project analyzing the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. We requested the companies’ official EEO-1 reports, which show the race and gender numbers for total U.S. employees grouped by broad job categories.

But five companies – Oracle, Palantir, Pandora Media, Gilead Sciences and Splunk – objected to the requests, claiming that the diversity data is a trade secret. In each case, the U.S. Department of Labor initially agreed with the companies and denied Reveal’s FOIA requests.

For many years, the Labor Department has allowed federal contractors to block public records requests for their demographics by calling them trade secrets.

We filed a lawsuit in April, alleging that the Labor Department was violating the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit calls the trade secret argument unjustified and asks for an injunction requiring the Labor Department to “promptly release the withheld records.”

On Oct. 30, the Labor Department notified the five government contractors that it would disclose their diversity numbers over their objections. Citing the lawsuit, the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs told the companies that it has “undertaken a supplemental review” and “will initiate disclosure.” The companies have until Nov. 19 to take legal action... Read More >

A user’s guide to Tesla’s worker safety problems

As Tesla races to revolutionize the automobile industry and build a more sustainable future, it has left its factory workers in the past, still painfully vulnerable to the dangers of manufacturing.

It’s a story we’ve been covering closely.

Last week, we published our newest investigation into the working conditions at CEO Elon Musk’s factory.

We found that:

  • Even as Tesla pushed back against our previous reporting, it doubled down on its efforts to hide injuries from the government and public.
  • The Tesla factory’s medical clinic has failed to properly care for injured workers as part of a strategy to lower the company’s injury count.
  • By calling work injuries non-occupational, denying medical treatment to those who need it and sending seriously injured workers back to the production line with no work modifications, Tesla avoided counting those injuries and made its safety record look better than it actually is.
  • Tesla’s contract doctors tell staff to send injured workers to the emergency room in a Lyft instead of an ambulance.

This is the latest revelation in a story has unfolded over the last couple of years. Here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed:

May 2017: Tesla workers are under intense pressure, and the company’s injury rate is higher than average

The Guardian reported that Tesla workers endured long hours, injuries and intense pressure to meet Musk’s production goals – and cited 911 calls for fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains. Also, the advocacy organization Worksafe issued a report that Tesla’s injury rate was... Read More >

Texas’ voter ID law is confusing voters into disenfranchising themselves

In 2016, Texas’ most important congressional race could have turned on a simple question: Am I allowed to vote?

Nearly 15 percent of the people who didn’t vote in Texas’ 23rd Congressional district that year told researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston that a major reason they didn’t cast a ballot was that they didn’t have an ID.

Here’s the thing: Nearly every single one of those non-voters — around 98 percent — actually had the proper ID to vote.

Latinos, who make up the majority of the district’s population, were significantly more likely than white voters to say that the state’s voter ID law was more restrictive than it actually was. That has created an advantage for Republicans, who attract the lion’s share of the district’s white vote.

In the end, Republican Will Hurd beat Democrat Pete Gallego by a mere 1.3 percent of the vote.

“You can make a pretty good case that, had voter ID legislation not existed, Pete Gallego may very well have defeated Will Hurd,” said Mark Jones, the Rice professor who conducted the study.

With Texas voters ready to go to the polls tomorrow, it remains an open question how confused voters remain over the state’s law. And it remains secret just how much Texas officials have done to educate voters about the law.

Texas’ 2011 voter ID law is perhaps the most famous of the widespread voter restrictions created in the wake of President Barack Obama’s 2008 election. It mandated that anyone... Read More >

The Hate Report: Gab got shut down, but only after 11 people died

In this week’s roundup: Tech companies severed support with alt-right social media site Gab this week, but the site’s hateful content was well-known before the Pittsburgh massacre; how President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories help confuse and radicalize terrorists; and how to help victims of hate.

On Saturday morning, a man walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and opened fire. After about 20 minutes of shooting, he had killed 11 people, mostly elderly worshippers, in the worst anti-Semitic attack in the nation’s history. When SWAT teams arrived, the suspect — who police have identified as 46-year-old Robert Bowers — returned fire before surrendering to police.

In the minutes before the attack, Bowers had posted three chilling words on his Gab account:

“I’m going in”

That Bowers chose Gab to announce his intention to attack Jews shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The alt-right social network, which we have been reporting on for almost a year, has managed to thrive by courting racists from across the world who were getting kicked off of Twitter and Facebook. Branding itself as a free speech haven, Gab has for months run a propaganda campaign aimed at attracting people exactly like Bowers.

By Tuesday, Gab had stopped functioning. The site’s hosting provider, Joyent, booted the site, as did payment processors PayPal and Stripe. On Sunday, Gab’s chief technology officer announced he was quitting the company. But the site’s founder, Andrew Torba, vowed to fight on: “GAB IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE,” he wrote... Read More >

Pipe bombing suspect would just be the latest Trump fan to direct anger at his enemies

A picture is emerging of the prime suspect in a string of incidents where pipe bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and opponents of President Donald Trump.

This morning, authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, a Florida resident, and seized Sayoc’s white van. Journalists quickly revealed that Sayoc appeared to be a rampant Trump fan: His van was festooned with Trump stickers and memes, he posted photos and videos of himself at Trump rallies on social media, and two Twitter feeds he is believed to have run were full of Trump slogans and threats to opponents of the president.

As we’ve previously reported, people across America have been attacking people and punctuating their attacks with Trump’s name since the president took office.

Last year, we interviewed more than 80 people who were attacked, physically or verbally, by Trump supporters who specifically mentioned the president during their attacks. And we confirmed another 70 reports that were made to the Documenting Hate database, an effort run by ProPublica. Our project, Trumping Hate, lays out what we found:

Interviews with the targets of and witnesses to these incidents showed a striking pattern. The abusers had a clear message: Trump’s going to take care of a problem – and that problem is you.

This pattern extended across races, religions and sexual orientation. Two days after the presidential election, a gay man in Michigan heard a taunt from a group of men: “Trump is going to get rid of people like you.” A week later, a Jewish woman in Austin,... Read More >

We exposed modern-day redlining in 61 cities. Find out what’s happened since

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro launched a fresh push in his investigation of modern-day redlining Tuesday, calling on home loan applicants in Philadelphia to file complaints with his office if they believe they have faced discrimination or experienced irregularities when trying to take out a mortgage.

“Redlining represents institutional racism,” he said. “It sets city blocks and whole neighborhoods back. … We need to hear from consumers who believe they’ve been victimized in the home lending and banking industries so we can hold those responsible accountable.”

Pennsylvania is one of five states, along with the District of Columbia, whose attorneys general have launched investigations following a February expose from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. We found that in 61 cities – including Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C. – people of color were far more likely to be turned down for a home loan than their white counterparts. This troubling pattern of denial occurred even when people of color made the same amount of money as whites, tried to take out the same size loan, and buy in the same neighborhood.

The report drew strong condemnations in Washington. “Racial discrimination in mortgage lending and in any kind of lending is unacceptable,” Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, told a House committee. “Wherever we have authority, we will use it to stop that from happening and punish it when it does happen.”

Lawmakers took to the floors of the House and Senate to condemn the practice, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren,... Read More >

Immigrant children still being drugged at shelter despite judge’s order, lawyers say

The government is violating a federal judge’s order to stop medicating immigrant children held at a troubled Texas shelter without proper consent and to move the children to other housing, attorneys for the children allege in new court filings.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered July 30 that immigrant children held at Shiloh Treatment Center could no longer be medicated with psychiatric drugs without the consent of a parent or court authorization and that any children not deemed a danger to themselves or others be moved to less restrictive housing. Gee also found the children should be allowed access to private phone calls.

After a court filing in a separate case noted that the children still had not been evaluated to determine whether they should be moved, Gee appointed a private attorney to oversee the government’s compliance with the order. Government lawyers recently filed a motion requesting that the judge reconsider her decision because the Office of Refugee Resettlement “has been provided no opportunity to develop evidence,” records state.

But lawyers representing the children held at Shiloh allege in the new court filings that the government is failing to comply with the order. As recently as this week, attorneys interviewed some of the immigrant children at Shiloh. The facility, about 20 miles south of Houston, has been under investigation in the past following the deaths of several teenagers in its care.

“Child after child reported that the Court’s order has had little impact on ORR’s placing children at Shiloh or on the treatment they... Read More >

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