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The Billion-Dollar Industry You’re Probably Not Thinking About And More In MuckReads Weekly

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The billion-dollar industry you're probably not thinking about. Should your dog's medicine go through the same rigorous testing as the drugs you'd give your child or take yourself? Spoiler: They don't. An investigation by the Indianapolis Star found a "higher risk of unforeseen side effects, a legal arena that offers little protection to pet owners and marketing tactics that have been eliminated from the human drug market." Drug companies — which pulled in $7.6 billion in retail sales for animal medicines last year — could spend more time and money to develop safer pet medicines, but don't. "It is not a very complicated reason for why things look the way they do," said one veterinary expert. — The Indiana Star via @AlexCampbell

Crime pays … for the companies that use prison laborers. In Washington State, 1,600 incarcerated men and woman punch into work each day at prison factories to make everything from school lunches to furniture. Some earn as little as 55 cents a day. With their labor, Washington Correctional Industries generates as much as $70 million in annual revenue. But according to a Seattle Times investigation, the program hasn't lived up to its promised benefits. The program "has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, charged exorbitant markups to state agencies to make up for losses, and taken jobs from private businesses that can't compete with cheap prison labor," the Times found. — The Seattle Times via @JimNeff4

"Because there's not uniform training, some of these guys are just dopes." To carry a gun, police officers must complete training and education requirements, plus some basic background checks. For private security guards, the process is much easier. The Center for Investigative Reporting found that laws for private-sector guards are all over the place — there is minimal oversight and "almost no accountability." Furthermore, some states have given guns to guards who are not legally allowed to have them, have no firearm training whatsoever or have domestic violence convictions and restraining orders. — The Center for Investigative Reporting via @JewettCIR

 "With the plans they have … Mossville just sits in the way."  Motivated by the fracking boom, energy companies are expanding petrochemical plants, oil refineries and fertilizer factories around the country. Sasol North American is working to transform Mossville, La., from an unincorporated area founded by freed slaves into a massive petrochemical plant. The company is offering voluntary buyouts to the 300 remaining inhabitants, saying its expansion will bring more than a thousand jobs to the area. But an investigation by The Center of Public Integrity shows that expansion would also bring greater greenhouse gas emissions. — The Center for Public Integrity via @mjbeckel

The other tragedy in Ferguson: school segregation. Michael Brown's school district is among the poorest in Missouri. About half of the black male students never graduate. Just one in four graduates enter a four-year college. Clayton Public Schools, five miles away, is practically the opposite — white, high scoring, little poverty in sight. The educational experience for students like Brown reveals a subtle, ongoing racial crisis: a vast disparity in resources and expectations for black children in America. This crisis is called segregation. — ProPublica via @nhannahjones


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