Here are this week's top must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email to MuckReads@ProPublica.org. The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on our site and @ProPublica.
The Shady Marketing Scheme That’s Buying Off Your Favorite Bloggers, Gawker
A small marketing agency working for big corporate clients offers to pay well-read bloggers for linking to clients’ sites in posts, telling one Gawker blogger it’s a way to make some money under the table. According to the email correspondence, which Gawker posted, the agency claims to have such arrangements with editors at The Huffington Post, Business Insider and Technorati, although the sites have denied knowledge of the agency and the practice.
Contributed by @A_L
Both Sides of the Law, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Nearly 100 Milwaukee police officers have remained on the force despite breaking the law. In the first installment of a three-part series, the Journal Sentinel looks at the failure to discipline the city’s cops, and some of the most egregious offenses they’ve been allowed to get away with. In one case, an officer "beat his wife so badly there was blood in every room of their house." You can also take a closer look at the details of each officer’s case with this searchable database.
Contributed by @js_watchdog
On Edge of Paradise, Coachella Workers Live in Grim Conditions, California Watch
In California’s Coachella Valley, migrant workers are crowded into squalid trailer parks that are home to “arsenic-tainted water, frequent blackouts and raw sewage that backs up into the shower.” The development of these unregulated parks was fueled by a 1992 law allowing farms to build housing units without obtaining zoning and land-use permits.
Contributed by @sdmattpotter
The Mayor’s Millionaire Club, Chicago Reader
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, has held dozens of meetings with bankers and business elites over the summer — meetings that were kept off his public schedule. While many of Chicago’s social-service and community groups are left out in the cold, Emanuel makes time for wealthy out-of-state donors and political operators with little connection to Chicago.
Contributed by @mariancw
Incentives And Cultural Bias Fuel Foster System, NPR
Federal law mandates that Native American children who are taken from their parents should be placed with relatives or a member of their tribe. But in South Dakota, state records show that “native children are more than twice as likely to be sent to foster care as children of other races, even in similar circumstances.” The majority of those children are placed with non-native families.
Contributed by @srubenfeld
Loaded Guns in Checked Bags Aren’t on TSA’s Radar, Los Angeles Times
TSA officials disclosed this week that they’re only mandated to scan checked baggage for explosives, not loaded guns. Loaded guns in checked baggage aren’t treated as a concern because they’re not accessible to passengers, but past cases show they can go off and cause damage to the plane.
Contributed by @shelbygrad
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