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.
Remains of War Dead Dumped in Landfill, The Washington Post
It isn’t happening anymore. But from 2003 to 2008, the Dover Air Force Base mortuary had been cremating troops’ remains and dumping the ashes in a landfill, instead of the current practice of burial at sea. Families were not told of the method. The Air Force’s deputy chief of personnel said it “was the common practice at the time, and since then our practices have improved.”
Contributed by @stepshep
Parks Chief Blocked Plan for Grand Canyon Bottle Ban, The New York Times
Grand Canyon National Park officials were close to banning the sale of plastic water bottles until Coca-Cola protested. The company, which owns the Dasani bottled-water brand, has donated more than $13 million to the national parks. The creator of the plan to ban the water bottles described them as “the single biggest source of trash” inside the canyon, and said he felt that the ethical issues were being “influenced unduly by business.”
Contributed by @KYWeise
We know Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican representing Georgia, hasn’t been particularly good at banking. One of the banks he invested in shut down, and the other has cumulative losses of nearly $16 million. What we don’t know is whether his investments, up to $500,000, run afoul of House ethics rules. Reuters wrote that his “botched foray into banking is in some ways typical of the self-dealing rampant in Georgia during the housing boom.” Gingrey told Reuters he’s done nothing wrong.
Contributed by @elliottjustin
Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey, Food Safety News
Pollen has been removed from more than three-fourths of the honey tested from U.S. grocery stores, including some of the biggest brand names. This means the product can no longer be classified as honey, and makes it impossible to judge its safety. Though this would cause several world health organizations to flunk the product, the FDA does not test products labeled as honey for pollen content.
Contributed by @foodinteg
The Cruelest Show on Earth, Mother Jones
A yearlong investigation turned up several examples of abuse in how Ringling Bros. treats its animals. “Ringling elephants spend most of their long lives either in chains or on trains, under constant threat of the bullhook, or ankus — the menacing tool used to control elephants,” Mother Jones reported. Despite whistleblowers, inspectors and investigators building a case, regulators have not acted.
Contributed by @danielle_ivory
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