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.
Our Man in Kandahar, Atlantic
A warlord and suspected drug trafficker, Abdul Raziq has been an American ally in the fight against the Taliban and now serves as the “acting” police chief in Kandahar. Multiple sources say that Raziq has been engaging in torture and murder, and using the war on terror as a cover to punish those he doesn’t like.
Contributed by @AzmatZahra
U.K. Tabloid Paid Spies for Scoops, Associated Press
News of the World didn’t just pay private investigators to hack into the cell phones of people they wanted to write about—they also paid spies at rival papers to steal their competitors’ stories. A mild-mannered secretary at one rival tabloid was actually feeding scoops to NotW for about $375 a week.
See all #MuckReads on the phone hacking scandal
Nevada’s Big Bet on Secrecy, Reuters
Lax corporate liability laws have turned Nevada into a hotspot for shell companies, with an industry of consultants who help corporations keep their dealings under wraps. Companies register with Nevada addresses knowing that it allows them to engage in activities they could be sued for in other states.
Contributed by @LindaAustin
BCS Spending, Gifts Raise Questions and Criticism, Arizona Republic
The Arizona Republic investigates whether some college football teams’ contracts give them an unfair advantage in advancing to the Bowl Championship Series, and whether the considerable spending the bowls do on gifts and executive pay are appropriate for their nonprofit status.
Contributed by @cherrill_crosby
I Can Find an Indicted Warlord. So Why Isn’t He in The Hague?, Mother Jones
Bosco Ntaganda is a Congolese warlord, and the International Criminal Court has a warrant out for his arrest. Almost everyone in the city of Goma is afraid of him, and human rights groups have cataloged a long list of his atrocities. Mother Jones tries to find out why he hasn’t been arrested and put on trial.
Contributed by @NickBaumann
Payday Lending Bankrolls Auto Racer’s Fortune, iWatch and CBS News
Scott Tucker has made his fortune running a payday lending operation online, sheltered from liability through his partnerships with tribal groups that can’t be sued in state court. (Tucker says it’s the tribal groups that actually own the operation.) Either way, the business charges nearly 800 percent interest on its loans, and five states have tried to shut it downContributed by @colegoins
Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit, New York Times
Private prison companies are capitalizing on the boom in immigrant detention in the U.S., Britain, and Australia. But those companies also have a record of inmate abuse. The Times looks to Australia, where the detention business has gotten ugly in recent years.
Contributed by @emmanator
Nepal: Children for Sale, Al Jazeera English
In Nepal, children’s homes and government agencies can make thousands of dollars on each international adoption. Al Jazeera interviews Nepali parents who sent their children to homes in the city in the hope they’d get a better education, only for them to be given to Western families for adoption without their parents’ consent.
Contributed by @ravinepal