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.
In Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll, the New York Times
NATO’s secretary general said in November there were no confirmed civilian casualties from airstrikes. But on-the-ground reporting revealed credible accounts of at least 40 deaths, and maybe more than 70, that weren’t acknowledged until the Times presented the evidence.
Contributed by @AlejandroLazo
Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance, Chicago Magazine
Violent street gangs put aside bloody rivalries to meet with politicians who were courting their votes. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” a former gang leader said. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”
Contributed by @sewella
How Ethiopia’s Adoption Industry Dupes Families and Bullies Activists, the Atlantic
In Ethiopia, where some locals say adoption is “becoming the new export industry for our country,” those trying to track down birth families are uncovering fraud and facing threats and violence.
Contributed by @TheAtlantic
Kentucky Lenient on Troubled Doctors Accused of Pill Pushing, the Courier-Journal
A “pattern of permissiveness” means Kentucky doctors get second and third chances after illegally prescribing drugs. One doctor made $15 million in Internet sales from patients he never saw, but had his ban on prescribing such drugs quickly lifted.
Contributed by @charlesornstein
Phantom Firms Bleed Millions From Medicare, Reuters
A sham AIDS clinic—complete with patients getting kickbacks but no treatment—stole $4.5 million from Medicare. According to Reuters, similar schemes are bilking hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare.
Contributed by @Reuters
Millions in VA funds go to ineligible firms, Dayton Daily News
The program is designed to help disabled veterans find work or start small businesses. But $500 million has gone to ineligible businesses, including some who qualified by putting disabled veterans in charge of front companies that exist only on paper.
Contributed by @ITeamOhio