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.

U.S. military personnel have been convicted of $50 million worth of crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan (The Center for Public Integrity)

"'The more money you throw into a weak-rule-of-law situation, the more fraud you'll see,' said [former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart] Bowen, [who served as the principal watchdog for wrongdoing in Iraq from 2004 to 2013]."

A game of chicken: USDA repeatedly blinked when facing salmonella outbreaks involving foster farms (The Oregonian)

"USDA officials are so worried about being sued by companies that they've set a high bar for evidence, even rejecting samples of tainted chicken that state health agencies believed would help clinch their case, records and interviews show."

The price of nice nails (The New York Times)

"Lawsuits filed in New York courts allege a long list of abuses: the salon in East Northport, N.Y., where workers said they were paid just $1.50 an hour during a 66-hour workweek; the Harlem salon that manicurists said charged them for drinking the water, yet on slow days paid them nothing at all; the minichain of Long Island salons whose workers said they were not only underpaid but also kicked as they sat on pedicure stools, and verbally abused."

The computers are listening: How the NSA converts spoken words into searchable text (The Intercept)

"By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.  And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn't shown signs of even knowing that it's going on."

Why couldn't $130 million transform one of Baltimore's poorest places? (The Washington Post)

"The most significant problem, according to community organizers and the Enterprise report, was that new businesses and jobs never materialized. ... In the absence of jobs, the drug trade flourished. ... 'Those drugs have everything to do with the condition of the neighborhood,' said [Stephen] Harlee, who said he has been clean for three years and has a maintenance job at an East Baltimore homeless shelter."


#MuckReads Local: Sheriff says deputy since fired; tape subpoenaed as part of federal probe (The New Orleans Advocate)