Great Lakes Toxics Data Suppressed?

Millions of people in the Great Lakes region may face health problems from toxic pollution, but a study on the risk is under wraps seven months after its conclusion, and the scientist who led the project has been demoted. The Center for Public Integrity reports that Dr. Christopher De Rosa, a federal toxicology researcher, told his superior that delaying the report has the “appearance of censorship of science … regarding the health status of vulnerable communities.” In a letter to De Rosa, Dr. Howard Frumkin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote that the study’s quality is “well below expectations.” De Rosa has since been demoted, according to the CPI, in what he claims is illegal retaliation by Frumkin.

New York Targets Nonprofit Fraud

New York City investigators are looking into more than 30 cases of potential nonprofit fraud, the New York Post reports. The investigations follow a 2006 scandal at the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, in which two executives confessed to misappropriating $1.2 million. The new inquiry will review $3.8 billion in 2007 city contracts with nonprofit health and human services organizations. Rose Gill Hearn, who spearheaded the new investigation, told the Post that fraud typically has involved executives asking their staff to create invoices for projects that didn’t take place, or to approve checks for home improvements and other personal expenses. She blamed lax oversight by nonprofit boards of directors, and said all the investigations could lead to criminal prosecutions both in New York City and at the state level.

Housing Crash Takes Down Renters, Too

Among the 11,000 San Francisco Bay Area homes repossessed in 2007 are hidden statistics — the number of renters quickly evicted following their landlords’ fall from grace. No one knows how many renters have been shown the door, but the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the number is “high.” One housing counselor told the newspaper that it has become a “common problem,” while the Oakland city attorney’s office has heard “a ton of anecdotes” about such evictions, according to a neighborhood legal advocate. Efforts to strengthen tenants’ rights have been stymied at the state level. Meanwhile, some lenders are said to speed up the eviction process by telling tenants in foreclosed properties that they no longer have to pay rent — and then serve them eviction notices for nonpayment several months later.

Shoemakers Walking Away from South China

More than 1,000 shoe factories in southern China have closed in the past year — half of them just in the past 12 weeks — and many more will be shutting down in the coming months, according to news reports. Hong Kong’s Asia Times reports that about 10,000 factories of different types are expected to close in the region this month, as wages increase and environmental and employment regulations tighten. About half the companies leaving Guangdong are moving to other provinces of China, according to Hong Kong’s Asia Times. At least 25 percent of them are moving to other Asian nations such as Vietnam, where labor is cheaper and regulations looser, according to the newspaper. China’s new Labor Contract Law, which was implemented last month, is seen as a major factor in the mass exodus of industry.