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Police Brutality from Chicago to Gitmo and More in MuckReads Weekly

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"Illegal ... immoral ... ineffective ... unconstitutional."That is how the deputy commander of a now-defunct Guantanamo task force described the interrogation tactics of Richard Zuley, a Navy reserve lieutenant who was known for extracting intelligence from his subjects through prolonged shackling, threats against family members and sleep deprivation. The Guardian traced some of Zuley's methods at Gitmo to the police precincts of Chicago, where his detective work helped put at least one innocent man in prison and has generated serious allegations of abuse. Zuley declined to comment. — The Guardian via @attackerman @guardianus

It's called popcorn lung. Diacetyl — used to flavor items like candy, coffee, chips and increasingly popular e-cigarettes — has been linked to hundreds of injuries and at least five deaths among workers in popcorn factories and flavoring companies over the last 15 years. When inhaled in large, concentrated amounts, it can obliterate your lungs, experts say. Researchers and regulators have known about the harmful affects of the chemical for years, but the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety has issued nothing more than an advisory bulletin to manufacturers on how to reduce exposure. And while most studies focus on the nicotine risks of e-cigarettes, one study found nearly 70% of flavored "smoke juice" contained diacetyl. "These are avoidable risks," said one researcher.  — The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via @john_diedrich

Surprise? "Consumer protection rules rarely apply to government debts." Government agencies are outsourcing debt collection to private firms for things like unpaid taxes, parking tickets and traffic tolls. Although these are government debts, consumer protection laws usually don't bind the private firms collecting against them. One of those firms is Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, which "has gone so far as to argue it has immunity because it is an extension of the government," CNN Money reports. These firms have "the power to threaten debtors with the suspension of their driver's license, garnishment of their wages, foreclosure and arrest to get them to pay up." They are also able to charge debtors directly, while consumer creditors collect fees from the debt itself. — CNN Money via @MarkObbie

The 'Watchtower' will decide which abusers are predators. Internal documents portray a religious hierarchy more concerned with protecting its members from criminal prosecution than from sexual abuse. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, which governs Jehovah's Witnesses around the world, has repeatedly instructed church elders to handle allegations of sexual abuse against children in secret, and to "avoid unnecessary entanglement with secular authorities who may be conducting a criminal investigation." In a written statement, church officials told Reveal they "continue to educate parents and provide them with valuable tools to help them educate and protect their children."  — Reveal via @Rachael_Bale

Heroin: a deadly twist to urban decay. Wealthy suburbs are feeding the heroin trade in one old, industrial New Jersey town, contributing to a rise in violence as police resources (and overall employment) have declined, The (Bergen) Record reports. "To me, it's like a state of emergency," said one Bergen County police lieutenant, who estimated 300 people travel into Paterson every day for heroin. Blight contributes to the problem, but city officials are ill-equipped to combat it: record keeping is poor, staffs are small and budgets are tight. "As a result, millions in property taxes and sewer bills routinely go unpaid." — The Record via @terryparrisjr

Fostering profit. BuzzFeed News investigates the widespread abuse of children and teenagers under the care of National Mentor Holdings, a for-profit company that has “turned the field of foster care into a cash cow.” Regulators across several states have reported scores of instances of abuse or neglect, and at least six children have died in Mentor homes in recent years, including a 2-year-old in Texas “whose foster mother swung her body into the ground like an ax.” A Mentor executive told BuzzFeed the company has provided excellent care for “literally thousands of vulnerable children.” But former employees suggest a drive for profits has led to shortcuts in care. — BuzzFeed News via @KendallTTaggart


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