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Blankenship's Grip on Coal Country, Biker Gangs and More in #MuckReads Weekly

Some of the best #MuckReads we read this week. Want to receive these by email?  Sign up to get this briefing delivered to your inbox every weekend.

The Fall of King Coal (Mother Jones)

"A mascot of the coal industry's worst excesses, Blankenship pumped millions of dollars into West Virginia's political system to promote an anti-regulatory agenda and curry favor with state lawmakers and officials. But Massey's pursuit of profits at any cost ultimately proved to be Blankenship's downfall. When, on April 5, 2010, an explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 workers—the worst mining disaster in the United States in 40 years—prosecutors began slowly building a case against the powerful mogul ... The irony is that, even at the nadir of Blankenship's power, his ideology is ascendant."

Cell phone lobby win means 'more people will die' (The Center for Public Integrity)

"More than 10,000 people, who would otherwise be saved, die every year when calling 911 from a cellphone because emergency dispatchers can't get a quick and accurate location on them, the Federal Communications Commission calculated, when it proposed new 911 location rules last year for wireless phones. The problem isn't the dispatchers, police officers or firefighters who respond to the emergency calls. The failure is that the technologies used by wireless carriers — like industry giants AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. — fail repeatedly to locate indoor callers."

The Untold Story of the Texas Biker Gang Shoot-Out (GQ)

"'The city of Waco is looking at paying out hundreds of millions of dollars,' says Michael White, Wilson's attorney. 'I don't think we've ever seen something on the scale of 175-plus people being arrested for something they did not do.' To survive the storm, the city's legal strategy seems to be to pressure the Waco 177 into pleading guilty to minor infractions for time served; this would preclude the bikers from being able to sue for wrongful imprisonment."

"They Told Me It Never Happened" (BuzzFeed News)

"After a cursory investigation of the claim they compelled her to file, the police abruptly concluded Lara was lying about being raped and arrested her. ...Internal documents and recordings of private meetings obtained by BuzzFeed News, none of which have previously been made public, show how grievously the police botched their investigation from start to finish, allowing their beliefs about sexual assault to influence the way they pursued the case."

Alabama Demands Voter ID—Then Closes Driver's License Offices In Black Counties (TPM Muckraker)

"Facing a budget crisis, Alabama has shuttered 31 driver's license offices, many of them in counties with a high proportion of black residents. Coming after the state recently put into effect a tougher voter ID law, the closures will cut off access — particularly for minorities — to one of the few types of IDs accepted."

Illinois and Cook County reconsider profits from inmate phone calls (Chicago Reporter)

"'It's expensive to police and cage millions of people. So what they're doing is shifting the responsibility onto the backs of the people they're policing and caging,' said Paul Wright, a former inmate and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, a national organization based in Florida. 'They can't monetize human contact.' Such criticisms have led the FCC and some Illinois legislators to consider either reducing or eliminating commissions collected by prisons."

Secret Service Tried to Discredit U.S. Lawmaker (Associated Press)

"An assistant director suggested leaking embarrassing information to retaliate against Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee. The actions by the employees could represent criminal violations under the U.S. Privacy Act, said the report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general, John Roth."

DEA agents kept jobs despite serious misconduct (USA Today)

"Lawmakers expressed dismay this year that the drug agency had not fired agents who investigators found attended 'sex parties' with prostitutes paid with drug cartel money while they were on assignment in Colombia. The Justice Department also opened an inquiry into whether the DEA is able to adequately detect and punish wrongdoing by its agents."

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