Top MuckReads: Fannie Mae, Kill Panels, and Unnecessary Medical Spending

Journalism in the public interest.
Oct. 7 2011 3:50 PM

Kill Panels, Problems at Fannie Mae, and Unnecessary Medical Spending

This week’s Top MuckReads from ProPublica.

Fannie Mae
The Palm Beach Post reports that Fannie Mae continues to use a foreclosure law firm that Freddie Mac fired

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Here are this week's must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica's running list of the best investigative or accountability journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting links to stories and using the hashtag #muckreads or by sending an e-mail to The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then highlighted on our site and on Twitter.

State Outsourced Allocation of Federal Disaster Recovery Funds to Firm With Ties to Perry, Austin American-Statesman
After Congress appropriated billions in federal disaster recovery funds to help Texans recover from Hurricanes Dolly and Ike, Texas quietly outsourced the management of more than $1 billion of those funds to an outside contractor with close ties to the administration of Gov. Rick Perry.
Contributed by @rachaelgleason


Secret Panel Can Put Americans on “Kill List,” Reuters
A panel of national security officials within the Obama administration is in charge of placing militants on a kill/capture list for approval by the president. Details about the panel are scarce, as there are no laws establishing it, no rules on how it should operate, and no public record of its operations. Current and former officials told Reuters that Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was recently killed in a U.S. drone attack, was one of the militants on the list.
Contributed by @BostonReview

Koch Subsidiary Told Regulators It Has “Direct and Substantial Interest” in Keystone XL, InsideClimateNews
Energy conglomerate Koch Industries has repeatedly told lawmakers that it has no financial interest in the Keystone XL pipeline project — controversial for its path through the middle of the country and the heavy type of oil it will carry — but a Koch Industries subsidiary is saying otherwise. The Koch subsidiary filed a document with Canadian energy regulators saying it had a “direct and substantial interest” in the pipeline.
Contributed via email by David Sassoon

Fannie Mae Sticking With Fired Florida Law Firm, Palm Beach Post
Though federal mortgage backer Freddie Mac saw fit to fire a foreclosure law firm for its shoddy foreclosure practices, Freddie’s much larger sister company, Fannie Mae, has continued to use the same firm, citing the cost of transferring files to new attorneys. The Florida firm settled with the state attorney general’s office over flawed foreclosure practices earlier this year.
Contributed by @paulkiel

Tale of Two Loan Programs, Wall Street Journal
More than 100 of the banks that received federal funds intended for small-business loans ended up using some or even all of it to repay their bailout debts, which carry higher interest rates. This swapping of one kind of debt for another is “a bit of a shell game,” as one bank official acknowledged, but it’s technically allowed, even though doing so diverts loans from the small businesses they were intended for.
Contributed by @paulkiel

Forty percent of Medicare Spending on Common Cancer Screenings Unnecessary, probe suggests, iWatch News
Between 2003 and 2008, Medicare spent about $1.9 billion on medically unnecessary cancer screenings. Of all the cancer screenings paid for by Medicare during that time period, 40 percent ignored the guidelines of a government advisory panel.
Contributed by @emmanator

L.A. County Jail Guards Aid Drug Trading, Sources Say, Los Angeles Times
Corrupt guards at the Los Angeles County jail, the country’s largest jail system, helped smuggle in drugs for inmates, fueling a drug trade behind bars. The FBI is already conducting a probe of the jail system over allegations of smuggling and abuse by sheriff’s deputies.
Contributed by @shelbygrad

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, so when you see some great journalism, be sure to tag it. 



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.