In this episode, we tackle the murkiness surrounding daycare records; online scams take center stage in an investigation into foreign currency trading; we look at what’s behind toxic delays at the EPA; and we’re off to Mexico to explore the business of making babies.
How safe is your child’s day care?
Reporter Katharine Mieszkowski sought the answer to this question for her own daughter and found that this kind of basic information is hard to come by – and Katharine uncovers obscure government documents for a living.
State inspection reports are public records, but it’s accessing them that’s a problem for many parents. More than a dozen states don’t post these records online.
In California, a state with one of the worst transparency records, Reveal’s own senior data editor, Jennifer LaFleur, joined Katharine as they headed to department offices to do the bold and the tedious: They began scanning paper copies of electronic documents to make them – that’s right – electronic. Hundreds of hours were put into this endeavor but, luckily, there was some light at the end of the paper-lined tunnel.
After we started reporting on this information gap, California passed a law requiring some day care data to be posted online, but lots of crucial knowledge remains hidden. In this story, Katharine introduces you to one family that could have benefited from seeing those hidden day care violations much earlier.
So right about now, you’re probably wondering if your state puts its day care inspection records online. We put together an easy way to help you find out: You can search by state or look at the entire map of the U.S. to see how the states compare.
What’s the status of your state’s day care records?
Crime In The Cloud
For the next story, in case you’re not familiar with the following terms, here’s a quick cheat sheet:
“Forex” is short for foreign exchange.
“Mooches” are victims of investment scams.
Nowadays, a boiler-room scam doesn’t require a bunch of guys in a basement dialing for dollars. All it takes is a professional-looking website, heartfelt testimonials and some good search engine optimization. And instead of a hit list of mooches, all these new fraudsters have to do is wait for people to search for a simple keyword like “investment” and land on their site.
The Internet has allowed criminals to create elaborate fraudulent worlds in the cloud, making their victims 21st-century mooches.
Watch a video on Bloomberg.com that was used to help trick investors into giving money to a fake company.
When Politics Mix With Science
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This saying comes to mind when considering this next story about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
For years, the EPA has been sitting on information about serious health risks posed by certain toxic chemicals. The agency’s job is to protect public health and the environment, so why haven’t we heard about these concerns?
Lawmakers and industry groups opposed to new regulations on toxic chemicals have found a way to keep the EPA mum. Reporter David Heath from The Center for Public Integrity has uncovered a strategy that has been remarkably successful for those guarding their own interests at the risk of public health. Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surrogacy South Of The Border
Would you travel south of the border to make a baby? Wait – it’s not what you think.
Business is booming for the surrogacy industry in Mexico. But Reveal reporter Sandra Bartlett discovers what can go wrong when one of the biggest players in the baby game closes up shop and goes bankrupt.
Planet Hospital, an international agency in the medical tourism business (for organ transplants, plastic surgery, etc.), is at the heart of this story – and now is under FBI investigation.