MuckReads: AIG’s Mysterious Profit and the Deadliest Place in Mexico

Journalism in the public interest.
March 2 2012 3:06 PM

AIG's Mysterious Profit and the Deadliest Place in Mexico

This week's top MuckReads from ProPublica.

foreclosed home
A foreclosed home in Islip, N.Y. Owners of homes with smaller loans spend less time in their homes during foreclosure than owners defaulting on $1 million-loans.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

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 The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured at ProPublica and @ProPublica.

For the Costliest Homes, Foreclosure Comes Slowly, Wall Street Journal
High-end homeowners, with loans of at least $1 million, tend to remain in their houses, without making payments, for longer than those with smaller loans. In 2008, this foreclosure gap didn’t exist. So what gives?
Contributed by

The Deadliest Place in Mexico, Texas Observer
After Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006, he sent military forces to the Juarez Valley to squelch the drug cartels. Residents claim an alliance formed between the two instead, and years later, most people who haven’t fled are either terrified or dead.
Contributed by @Jake_Bernstein


U.S. "Info Ops” Program Dubious, Costly, USA Today
The Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to sell the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to often-hostile populations. But no one really seems to know whether the marketing and propaganda campaigns, dubbed here “the modern equivalent of psychological warfare,” are actually working. On Friday, members of Congress called for a probe of the program.
Contributed by @elliottjustin

Bending the Tax Code, and Lifting AIG’s Profit, New York Times
Wondering about that $19.8 billion fourth-quarter profit that AIG announced? It turns out the company earned only $1.6 billion, and the rest comes in the form of a tax benefit resulting from the Treasury Department tweaking a rule back in 2008 to help out the company during the financial crisis. “This rule-twisting could deprive the government of tens of billions of dollars, assuming the firm remains profitable,” the Times reports.
Contributed by @coracurrier

How Three Germans Are Cloning the Web, Businessweek
Three German brothers have hit on a wildly successful business model: They take an Internet business that is succeeding in the United States anc copy it for the international market. Among their more-than 100 countries are clones of Zappos, eHarmony, Airbnb, and Pinterest. A former high-level employee estimates the company is worth at least $1 billion.
Contributed by @KYWeise

These stories and many more can be found at ProPublica. You can also subscribe to a daily #MuckReads email or follow ProPublica on Twitter. Reader submissions are key to making #MuckReads a success—please contribute!

Cora Currier is a reporting intern at ProPublica.

Blair Hickman is ProPublica’s social media producer.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

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