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Inside the Firewall: Tracking the News That China Blocks

Every day since Nov. 17, 2014, ProPublica has been testing whether the homepages of international news organizations are accessible to browsers inside China. Of the 18 in our test, 0 are currently blocked. Below are the results. To test, we use GreatFire.org, a censorship monitoring service in China that launched in 2011.

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Timeline: The Tortured History of the Senate’s Torture Report

It has been more than five years since the Senate began investigating the CIA’s detainee program, a period marked by White House indecisiveness, Republican opposition, and what we now know was CIA snooping.

Reporting From the Youngest Land in the World

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(Edmund D. Fountain for ProPublica/The Lens)

On October 13, we stepped off a boat in the middle of the Mississippi River Delta onto brand new land. The ground, about six months old, was a bit squishy but it held firm under our boots. It was put there by engineers working on a quixotic project to save Southeast Louisiana, which is sinking into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of about a football-field every hour.

We had covered this area before, as part of our interactive story “Losing Ground.” We came here on a brisk but warm morning to bear witness and, especially, to take photos.

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Louisiana’s Moon Shot

The state hopes to save its rapidly disappearing coastline with a 50-year, $50 billion plan based on science that’s never been tested and money it doesn’t have. What could go wrong?

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Will My Obamacare Health Plan Costs Go Up?

The open enrollment season for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act is open until Feb. 15, 2015. Our interactive tool lets you compare plans before you renew your insurance through the federal exchange.

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Crude Connections: Where Do Trains Carry Crude Oil?

The amount of crude oil being carried on America’s railroads has grown enormously in recent years. Though the routes taken by crude-bearing trains is hidden from the public, safety-incident data reveals some of the routes.

How to Ask Programming Questions

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(Photo by photosteve101 via Flickr)

Already picked a programming language and started learning how to code? Inevitably, you’ll need to ask for some coding help. Even the best, most experienced developers do. It doesn’t matter if you’re chatting with an instructor, emailing a listserv like NICAR, posting on Stack Overflow, or even just tweeting out a question, there are ways to make sure your question gets answered. This guide is aimed at journalists, but can apply to anyone.

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The Millions New York Counties Coulda Got

In 1999, New York counties had a choice to make. They had just been promised annual payments from tobacco companies as part of a national settlement to reimburse them for smoking-related health care costs. Like winning the lottery, they could either get small payments indefinitely—or take a lump sum immediately by entering into “securitization” deals. Counties knew that these deals would mean less money in the long run, but bankers said they offered protection in case the payments shrank or went away. Now the cost is clear: millions pledged to investors that counties could have kept for themselves.

A Big Article About Wee Things

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Wee things are everywhere on the web: from graphics and data visualizations to interactions and navigation tools. With Waldo as our guide, we'll take a look at how people read and interpret small visual forms, why tiny details can be hugely useful, and what principles we can apply to make all these little images and moments work for us.

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Losing Ground: Southeast Louisiana is Disappearing, Quickly

Scientists say one of the greatest environmental and economic disasters in the nation’s history—the rapid land loss occurring in the Mississippi Delta—is rushing toward a catastrophic conclusion. ProPublica and The Lens explore why it’s happening and what we’ll all lose if nothing is done to stop it.

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Tobacco Bonds May Be Dangerous to Your State’s Financial Health

After a bruising legal fight, tobacco companies agreed in 1998 to compensate 46 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories for the health-related costs of smoking. Wall Street helped turn their annual payments into upfront cash by selling bonds to investors. Some of the deals included a form of high-risk debt, capital appreciation bonds, which obligated governments to pay out billions of their tobacco income in the future.

Announcing Raster Support for Simple Tiles

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(NASA Landsat 8 imagery)

To support the work we're doing for a project launching this year that relies on satellite imagery, we've added raster-data support to the newest version of Simple Tiles.

Why We Removed the Form 990 PDFs From Nonprofit Explorer

Last month, we removed links to download Form 990 document PDFs from our Nonprofit Explorer interactive database.
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A Disappearing Planet

Today’s extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

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The NSA Revelations All in One Chart

We plotted the NSA programs, showing which ones fall squarely into the agency’s stated mission of foreign surveillance, and which ones are more controversial.

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Can Schools in Your State Pin Kids Down? Probably.

Public schoolchildren across the country were physically restrained or isolated in rooms they couldn’t leave at least 267,000 times in the 2011-2012 school year, despite a near-consensus that such practices are dangerous and have no therapeutic benefit. Many states have little regulation or oversight of such practices. This map shows where your state stands.

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Restraint Techniques

A Minnesota Department of Education report shows these three common restraints. So-called prone restraints are known to restrict breathing and can be lethal to children. About half of states don’t have a law prohibiting public schools from using such restraints. Minnesota doesn’t allow prone restraints on disabled children and will ban the tactics altogether after August 2015.

The Road to Health is Paved With Good Data

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The Health Data Consortium awarded ProPublica the Health Data Liberators Award at this year's Health Datapalooza for its work on "The Prescribers" series. From left: Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Health Data Consortium; Jennifer LaFleur, senior editor for data journalism at The Center for Investigative Reporting, formerly of ProPublica; Charles Ornstein, senior reporter at ProPublica; and Dr. Nirav Shah, last year’s recipient and former New York state commissioner of health.

ProPublica News Applications Desk Receives Data Journalism Award

The Global Editors Network recognized ProPublica one of eight Data Journalism Awards, announced today in Barcelona.
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Ambulances for Dialysis Patients on Rise

New Jersey leads the nation in average annual Medicare spending on ambulance services per dialysis patient, billing for unusually large numbers of non-emergency ambulance rides, according to a our analysis of Medicare payment data. Several ambulance providers said they’ve heard of providers who sign up patients who don’t need the service — a form of fraud. These charts show spending by state from 2001 to 2011, compared to national averages. Sort by the most-recent year or by state.

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