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The Best MuckReads of 2015

We've rounded up some of the best reporting from other news organizations in 2015. What are your favorite mucks of 2015? Share in the comments or on Twitter using #MuckReads2015. Want to receive these by email? Sign up to get this briefing delivered to your inbox every weekend.

Editor's Note: This post was first published Nov. 27, 2015. It has been updated with new material.

Dying To Be Free, The Huffington Post, January 2015

As the heroin epidemic in the United States gets worse, addicts are often prescribed standard treatments like 30-day detox and 12-step programs. But these are usually unsuccessful, according to a yearlong investigation by the Huffington Post. Researchers say they've found an alternative form of heroin treatment — the problem is, doctors aren't using it.

Fostering Profits, Buzzfeed, February 2015

National Mentor Holdings, the largest for-profit foster care company in the nation, is home to widespread abuse of children and teenagers. This Buzzfeed News investigation goes inside the company and looks at the shortcuts in care caused by a push for profit.

California Security Firms Stay in Business After Licenses Are Revoked, Reveal, March 2015

Regulators revoke their licenses citing abuses of power, but these California security companies keep operating. Some even get their licenses back. Reveal News analyzed disciplinary orders going back to 2000 and found that dozens of security companies doing business without being licensed.

How Wall Street captured Washington's effort to rein in banks, Reuters, April 2015

In a two-part series, Reuters looks at how lobbying efforts have helped stymie efforts to reform the financial practices Dodd-Frank intended to stop, and the system of moving deals offshore that allowed Wall Street to 'get around' derivatives rules.

US Military Personnel Have Been Convicted of $50 million worth of crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Center for Public Integrity, May 2015

The Center for Public Integrity looks into a system of corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. service members and finds that they were convicted of $50 million in crimes including theft, rigged contracts and bribery.

Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race, NPR, June 2015

The U.S. military systematically tested mustard gas on African-American, Puerto Rican and Japanese-American troops during World War II — then failed to pay benefits to thousands of exposed soldiers.

Ghost Students, Ghost Teachers, Ghost Schools, Buzzfeed, July 2015

The U.S. consistently touted education as one of its big successes in Afghanistan. However, this investigation found the claims of success were often wildly exaggerated. More than a tenth of the schools built with U.S. funding were shut down and, of the ones that were running, enrollment was far less than officially recorded.

Cruel and All-Too-Usual, The Huffington Post, July 2015

When kids go to adult prisons, they are often subject to the same treatment as older inmates. Some states restrict use of force, but most don't. And officers don't always have to report cases of force, which in Michigan includes "'routine force' used to separate fighting inmates and 'routine application of restraints." However, for kids, 'routine force' can result in permanent damage.

589 Days to Justice?, Florida Times-Union, August 2015

Jerome Maurice Hayes spent 19 months in jail for three armed robberies that prosecutors couldn't prove he committed. Despite two alibis, a passed polygraph, and a connection that implicated his brother, he was held for 589 days. This Florida Times-Union investigation looks at how that happened.

Failure Factories, Tampa Bay Times, August 2015

In 2007, the Pinellas County School Board decided that it would be best to abandon integration efforts. A series of events followed that that led five once average schools in black neighborhoods to become "failure factories."

Meet the Obscure Company Behind America's Syria Fiasco, Buzzfeed, September 2015

Belarus isn't usually considered one of the "nice guys" by the United States and the European Union. In fact, Belarus is typically off-limits to U.S. arms dealers. Purple Shovel LLC, however, did just that and more — with deadly consequences.

The Hard Truth About Cops Who Lie, WNYC, October 2015

Several NYPD officers with "documented credibility problems" have managed to stay on the force. How? This investigation by WNYC looks at how officers "testily" on the stand in order to put "bad guys" behind bars by "tailoring" their testimony or sometimes outright lying.

How Riverside County became America's drug pipeline, The Desert Sun/USA Today, November 2015

Riverside County, California, is home to both the largest narcotics hub and the biggest wiretapping operation in the nation. A joint investigation by The Desert Sun and USA Today explores how Riverside became like the 'Costco warehouse of narcotics dealers' and why the wiretapping program may not be legal.

Deadly Dentistry, Dallas Morning News, December 2015

Nearly every other day in the United States, someone goes to the dentist and ends up dead or injured, according to an investigation by the Dallas Morning News. In many states, there is little or no accountability as dentists continue to put lives in danger by taking unnecessary risks.

Pumped Dry, USA Today/The Desert Sun, December 2015

This five-part investigation examines several locations where groundwater is drying up because of how fast it's being pumped from aquifers, including  the United StatesIndiaPeru and  Morocco. In California,  over 3,400 households have run out of water in the last two years.

Global supermarket selling shrimp peeled by slaves, AP, December 2015

What do Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Olive Garden have in common? They all acquired shrimp from Thai plants that employ slave labor. Some businesses were surprised by the AP's findings and others maintained that their shrimp were not tied to forced labor. But since shrimp is often mixed as it's packaged and distributed, it can be difficult to track tainted supply.


This year The Counted from The Guardian and Police Shootings from Washington Post offered us a glimpse at the bigger picture of police violence in America.

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