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We Are Treating Heroin Addiction Wrong Even Though We Know Better (MuckReads Weekly)

Some of the best #MuckReads we read this week. Want to receive these by email? <a href="">Sign up</a> to get this briefing delivered to your inbox every weekend.

Why heroin addiction treatment is stuck in a "scientific dark age." Standard treatment for heroin addicts is not all that different today than it was decades ago: willpower over chemistry. It's a 12-step program. It's a rigid 30-day drug detox center. And the majority of the time it's not successful, according to a yearlong investigation by the Huffington Post. Researchers say they have found a treatment that works in the form of Suboxone, a newer alternative to the controversial methadone detox method — but barely any doctors are using it. Meanwhile, things are getting worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports heroin related deaths doubled between 2010 and 2012. — The Huffington Post via @amzam

California's trucks no longer meet air quality standards – so they sold them to Oregon. In the last 13 years, Oregon has spent $7 million – most of it federal grants – to retire, replace or retrofit 724 old diesel engines. It's an ongoing effort to reduce the number of these "older, higher-polluting" diesel engines on the state's highways. But the recent purchase of dozens of old big rigs from California — trucks that failed to meet tighter air quality standards — undercuts this effort to improve air quality and lower diesel soot emissions. — The Oregonian via @robwdavis

"American legs are being lost while Cuban legs are being saved." The relationship between the United States and Cuba has warmed. And while Americans may soon be able to travel to Cuba, the diabetes drug Heberprot is still in limbo. The 9-year-old, "much-heralded, limb-saving" drug developed by a Havana firm is currently forbidden in the U.S. due to the Cold War-era economic blockade. The two countries are scheduled to talk about issues like travel, immigration and commercial ventures, but talk of the drug has been noncommittal. — FairWarning via @lathropd

Mexico's response to billions in potential fraud: look the other way. Between 2003 and 2012, a Reuters investigation into the state-owned petroleum giant Pemex found $11.7 billion in contracts that Mexico's Federal Audit Office cited as having serious problems. From 2008 to 2012, auditors recommended action in 274 cases. Pemex acted on three of them, and a handful of employees were suspended. Further insulating Pemex and the Mexican government from addressing these fraud allegations, the auditors — seemingly independent employees of a separate federal agency — were found to collect paychecks from Pemex and work in the company's offices. "In Mexico, no one gets punished," said the former head of Mexico's Federal Audit Office. — Reuters via @micarosenberg

Food is the oil of the 21st century, and China is going on a global buying spree. Chinese nationals owned $81 million worth of U.S. farmland in 2011. A year later, that number jumped to $900 million. Another Chinese company then bought Smithfield Foods — a Virginia-based company that processes 32 million pigs a year. With that purchase, China boasted $1.4 billion in U.S. farmland. The country now owns 1 in 4 pigs raised in the U.S. Why has China positioned itself to own a significant chunk of food production in the U.S.? The Center for Investigative Reporting investigates the country's aggressive push for pork. — The Center for Investigative Reporting via @Brizzyc


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