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Top MuckReads: Toxic Chemicals, Sexual Abuse and ‘Hiroshima’ War Tactics

The best watchdog journalism of the past week.

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 including the hashtag #MuckReads, or by sending an email to [email protected]. The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on our site and @ProPublica.

U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use ‘Hiroshima’ Tactics for ‘Total War’ on Islam, Wired

Before the U.S. military suspended a course on Islam for senior officers, instructors lectured that a "total war" would be necessary to protect the United States from an Islamic menace. "Islam must change, or we will facilitate its self-destruction," said one of the teachers.

Contributed by @elliottjustin

Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse, The New York Times

In a two-part series, The Times examines an insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, the largest of its kind outside Israel, which shuns members for reporting sexual abuse to police. “There is no nice way of saying it,” said one community member. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”

Contributed by @kleinmatic

Playing With Fire, Chicago Tribune

Toxic flame retardants are packed into American homes under the guise that their protective benefits outweigh the health risks. Unfortunately, that belief is the result of the industry’s decades-long “campaign of deception” that downplayed the risks and overhyped the effectiveness of their products, which often don’t work.

Contributed by @craignewman

Credit Scars, The Columbus Dispatch

A year-long review of 30,000 complaints filed against credit-reporting agencies revealed a massive number of mistakes — “that’s not my name; my house did not foreclose; I’m not dead” — which, no matter how small, can have huge ramifications on consumers’ credit.

Contributed by @paulkiel

What did vets charity do with $56M? CNN

The Disabled National Veterans Foundation has spent more on marketing services than on actually helping veterans. A private company runs its fundraising, which often ends up costing more than $1 to raise $1. The foundation does sometimes send charities "badly needed" donations. "They sent us 11,520 bags of coconut M&M's," said one charity's executive director. "We didn't have a lot of use for 11,520 bags of coconut M&M's."

Contributed via e-mail by Devna Shukla

Mitt Romney’s Prep School Classmates Recall Pranks, But Also Troubling Incidents, The Washington Post

A look at the presumed Republican presidential nominee in prep school (complete with slideshow) that has raised questions about whether Romney bullied a fellow student who later came out as gay.

Contributed by @kleinmatic

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