Orphan earmarks, drugged cops and overmedicated children in foster care: These were the subjects of investigations published by students of Columbia University’s Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism this past month. USA Today led its Jan. 5 edition with a Stabile Center investigation into how congressional earmarks have cost states $7.5 billion dollars in lost highway funding over the last 20 years. Stabile Center student Cezary Podkul began researching “orphan earmarks” last summer and found over 7,000 congressionally directed highway projects in which the money, or a good portion of it, remains unspent for various reasons. At least 3,600 of these haven’t been spent at all because of typographical or other errors. But states cannot reallocate these unspent earmarks, which are counted against their share of federal highway funds.