What We Read This Week: Our Investigative News Roundup
Inside the Border Patrol’s Racist Facebook Group
Members of a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants, discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility in Texas on Monday and posted a vulgar illustration depicting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) engaged in oral sex with Trump, reported the independent investigative news service ProPublica. according to screenshots of their postings. Created in August 2016, the Facebook group is called “I’m 10-15” and boasts roughly 9,500 members from across the country. (10-15 is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody.”) The group described itself, in an online introduction, as a forum for “funny” and “serious” discussion about work with the patrol. “Remember you are never alone in this family,” the introduction said. ProPublica received images of several recent discussions in the 10-15 Facebook group and was able to link the participants in those online conversations to apparently legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents, including a supervisor based in El Paso, Texas, and an agent in Eagle Pass, Texas.
On the NRA Gravy Train
A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum. The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances. In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post. The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members.
What’s Behind the EPA’s ‘No Animals’ Testing
The EPA is moving forward with a plan to sharply reduce and ultimately phase out experimental testing on lab animals, a move that may severely cut back on the agency’s testing of harmful chemicals and other toxins, reported the Intercept. In an undated internal memo sent in late June to assistant administrators, EPA chief Andrew Wheeler explained that the agency will cut its funding for experiments on mammals in half by 2025. The memo, which was reviewed by The Intercept, also said that the EPA plans to stop using mammal studies for the approval of new chemicals by 2035 and that it will aim to eliminate all mammal studies. Under the new plan, any animal study done after that point will require approval by the EPA administrator. The EPA is promoting alternative methods to gauge the threats posed by chemicals, such as computer modeling and tests on cells, which have been increasingly used in recent years. Yet no legal limits have ever been set using these alternative methods alone. Without the tests on rats, mice, and rabbits currently used to gauge the toxicity of chemicals and set safe levels, public health and environmental advocates worry that the policy shift will leave EPA unable to limit chemicals at all. “It effectively will mean you can’t regulate,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Featured image: Border Patrol agents near Amado, Arizona, May 4, 2018. (Nancy Montoya, Arizona Public Media)