by Cora Currier ProPublica, Jan. 11, 2013, 1:14 p.m.
You might have heard about the “kill list.” You’ve certainly heard about drones. But the details of the U.S. campaign against militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia — a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s national security approach – remain shrouded in secrecy. Here’s our guide to what we know—and what we don’t know.
Where is the drone war? Who carries it out?
Drones have been the Obama administration’s tool of choice for taking out militants outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Drones aren’t the exclusive weapon – traditional airstrikes and other attacks have also been reported. But by one estimate, 95 percent of targeted killings since 9/11 have been conducted by drones. Among the benefits of drones: they don’t put American troops in harm’s way.
by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Jan. 8, 2013, 9:13 a.m.
The Independent Foreclosure Review was supposed to be a full and fair investigation of the big banks’ foreclosure abuses, and it was trumpeted as the government’s largest effort to compensate victimized homeowners. Federal regulators, who designed the review, forced banks to spend billions to carry it out. Millions of homeowners were eligible and hundreds of thousands submitted claims. But Monday morning, the very regulators who launched the program 18 months ago announced that it had all been a massive mistake and shut it down.
Instead, 10 banks have agreed to pay a total of $3.3 billion in cash to the 3.8 million borrowers who had been eligible for the review. That’s an average of around $870 per borrower. But typical of a process that’s been characterized by confusion, delays and secrecy, regulators said the details of how the money will be doled out were not yet available.
by Suevon Lee ProPublica, Jan. 7, 2013, 9:28 a.m.
U.S. gun policy is set by both state and federal law. We previously published an explainer on the ways states have eased gun restrictions. But federal policy, too, has become more gun friendly in recent years — and we’re not just talking about the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the handgun ban in Washington, D.C., and held that people have a right to keep guns in their homes.
Here, we outline five federal policies relating to guns you may not have known about:
1. A federal firearms trace database is off-limits to the public.
How often do federally licensed gun dealers sell guns that are then used in crimes? It’s hard to know, because for nearly a decade such gun trace data has been hidden from the public. Even local law enforcement had been, until recently, barred from accessing the database for anything but narrow investigations.
by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Dec. 31, 2012, 10:33 a.m.
As the sixth year of the foreclosure crisis comes to an end, the percentage of loans in foreclosure remains a staggering eight times higher than it was in 2005. About 5.3 million homeowners — about 11 percent of all borrowers — are behind on their payments.
But 2012 was also the year that home prices hit a bottom and have started to very slowly climb. The number of new homeowners falling behind on their payments has dropped substantially since the peak. The government also took a dramatic step: a $25 billion settlement with the five biggest mortgage servicers.
Earlier this year, ProPublica focused on one homeowner — Sheila Ramos, who lost her home in Florida and ended up living in a tent in Hawaii — to pull together all the threads of the crisis and give readers a single story that explains the causes of the crisis, the bumbling response by the big banks and Washington, and the human toll exacted by the whole debacle. It is also available as a Kindle Single, which includes extra material.
by Theodoric Meyer ProPublica, Dec. 28, 2012, 12:34 p.m.
President Obama will meet with congressional leaders today in another attempt to avert the fiscal cliff — the automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 1 unless Congress can strike a deal. The cuts and tax hikes, which total more than $500 billion, are so large and so sudden that many economists fear they would plunge the country back into recession.
As Washington tries to hash out a deal, we’ve taken a step back to break down the numbers behind our deficit — how it grew so big, why it is actually shrinking and whether a deal can bring it under control.
How much are we in debt?