The Crimes of SEAL Team 6

Matthew Cole, The Crimes of SEAL Team 6. The Intercept, 10 January 2017. Officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, SEAL Team 6 is today the most celebrated of the U.S. military’s special mission units. But hidden behind the heroic narratives is a darker, more troubling story of “revenge ops,” unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities — a pattern of criminal violence that emerged soon after the Afghan war began and was tolerated and covered up by the command’s leadership.

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Innocents: El Salvador, where pregnant women have more to fear than Zika

Rachel Nolan, Innocents. Harper’s, October 2016. “There are six countries in the world that prohibit abortion under all circumstances, without exceptions for victims of rape or incest or for cases in which the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother: El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, Malta, and Vatican City. In the United States, even the most fervent antiabortion groups maintain that women who have abortions are victims, instead directing their attacks at doctors. Earlier this year, when Donald Trump suggested that if Roe v. Wade were reversed, women who choose to terminate a pregnancy should be subject to “some form of punishment,” he was denounced across the political spectrum.

That scenario already exists in El Salvador, a country of 6.3 million, where an active medical and law-enforcement system finds and tries women who are suspected of having had abortions. Public prosecutors visit hospitals to train gynecologists and obstetricians to detect and report patients who show “symptoms of abortion.” Doctors are legally obligated to be informants for the police.”

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Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found

David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner and Megan Twohey, Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found. The New York Times, 1 October 2016.

Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show. The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.”

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A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases

Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, and Tim Evans, A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases. IndyStar, 4 August 2016. “USA Gymnastics has failed to report to police many allegations of sexual misconduct by coaches. That allowed predatory coaches to continue working with children for years after the organization was warned.”

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Busted: How a $2 Roadside Drug Test Sends Innocent People to Jail

Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders, How a $2 Roadside Drug Test Sends Innocent People to Jail. ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, 7 July 2016. “This story was co-published with The New York Times Magazine…. Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?”

Update, August 2016: Sidney Awards, Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders Win August Sidney for Exposing Faulty Roadside Drug Tests that Send Innocent People to Jail.

“Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders of ProPublica win the August Sidney for “Busted: How $2 Roadside Drug Tests Send Innocent People to Jail.”

“The story, co-published with the New York Times Magazine, found that faulty roadside drug tests send thousands of people to jail every year. These tests are so unreliable that they are inadmissible in court, yet motorists plead guilty based on tests that can be tripped false positive by dozens of common, legal chemicals, including household cleaners.

A false positive test for crack cocaine turned Amy Albritton’s life upside down. The 43-year-old property manager had no criminal record until a particle on the floor of her car falsely tested positive for crack cocaine. Follow-up tests pegged the substance as food debris, possibly a breadcrumb.

There’s no way to know how many wrongful convictions arise from false roadside results, but as Gabrielson noted in an interview with the Backstory, “even the smallest of false positive rates would produce hundreds annually.””

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In New Jersey Student Loan Program, Even Death May Not Bring a Reprieve

Annie Waldman, In New Jersey Student Loan Program, Even Death May Not Bring a Reprieve. The New York Times, 3 July 2016. This story was co-published with ProPublica. “After her son was killed, Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti was able to get the remaining balance of his federal student loans written off. But the New Jersey state agency that had also lent her son money told her, ‘Your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness.'”

Update: Annie Waldman, New Jersey Will No Longer Collect Loans From Families of Dead Students. ProPublica, 6 December 2016. “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed into law a bill requiring the state’s student loan agency to forgive the loans of borrowers who die or become permanently disabled. Last July, an investigation from ProPublica and The New York Times found that New Jersey’s student loan agency aggressively sought repayment of loans with already onerous terms, even after some of the recipients had died. The efforts had traumatized grieving families, and forced some into financial ruin…. ‘A parent’s worst nightmare is losing a child, and if that unfortunate event should occur, the last thing a parent should have to face is someone calling to collect money for student loans,’ said State Sen. James Beach in an emailed release. This law will put an end to that practice and help establish new policies to put in place.'”

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The Bank Robber: The computer technician who exposed a Swiss bank’s darkest secrets

Patrick Radden Keefe, The Bank Robber: The computer technician who exposed a Swiss bank’s darkest secrets. The New Yorker, 30 May 2016. “A few days before Christmas in 2008, Hervé Falciani was in a meeting at his office, in Geneva, when a team of police officers arrived to arrest him. Falciani, who was thirty-six, worked for H.S.B.C., then the largest bank in the world. He was on the staff of the company’s private Swiss bank, which serves clients who are wealthy enough to afford the minimum deposit—half a million dollars—required to open an account…. As the Swiss police escorted him from the building, he insisted that he had done nothing wrong.”

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The Panama Papers: Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

Bastian Obermayer, Gerard Ryle, Marina Walker Guevara, Michael Hudson, Jake Bernstein, Will Fitzgibbon, Mar Cabra, Martha M. Hamilton, Frederik Obermaier, Ryan Chittum, Emilia Diaz-Struck, Rigoberto Carvajal, Cécile Schilis-Gallego, Marcos Garcia Rey, Delphine Reuter, Matthew Caruana Galizia, Hamish Boland-Rudder, Miguel Fiandor and Mago Torres, Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and CorruptionThe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 3 April 2016. “Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens. In this story: Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world. Current and former world leaders in the data include the prime minister of Iceland, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia. More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories. Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens.”

About this project.

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The List: Juveniles and the Sex Offender Registry

Sarah Stillman, The List. The New Yorker, 14 March 2016. “When juveniles are found guilty of sexual misconduct, the sex-offender registry can be a life sentence.” When juveniles are charged with and found guilty of sexual misconduct, should they be on the registry of sex-offenders for decades?

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Missing and Murdered: The Trafficked (in Canada)

Tavia Grant, Missing and Murdered: The Trafficked. The Globe and Mail, 10 February 2016. “Indigenous women and girls are being exploited by gangs and other predators with little being done to stop it. Missing and Murdered: The Trafficked: The story behind our investigation into the exploitation of indigenous women and girls, by Tavia Grant, 10 February 2016: “The Trafficked project sprang from an ongoing Globe and Mail investigation into missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. In the course of that reporting, the issue of human trafficking surfaced as a factor that puts some aboriginal women at even greater risk of disappearing or being killed. The Globe and Mail spent three months investigating the subject, dedicating one reporter full-time to delve into who the victims are, how the crime is committed, what the long-term impact is and how the federal government has responded.”

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