Romney at Cranbrook, Wasteful Charities, and Scary War Tactics

This week’s top MuckReads from ProPublica.

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 including the hashtag #MuckReads, or by sending an email to The best submissions are selected by ProPublica’s editors and reporters and then featured on ProPublica and @ProPublica.

Stevens Hall, where presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney lived while he was attending Cranbrook. Cranbrook is in the news after a Washington Post story alleging that Romney bullied a fellow student.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.


Mitt Romney’s Prep School Classmates Recall Pranks, But Also Troubling Incidents, Washington Post
Jason Horowitz talks to former classmates of Mitt Romney’s from Cranbook School, where he attended high school. The classmates recall an incident in which they restrained a student and cut his hair.
Contributed by @kleinmatic

U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use “Hiroshima” Tactics for “Total War” on Islam, Wired
Before the U.S. military suspended a course on Islam for senior officers, instructors lectured that a “total war” would be necessary to protect the United States from an Islamic menace. “Islam must change, or we will facilitate its self-destruction,” said one of the teachers.
Contributed by @elliottjustin

Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse, New York Times
In a two-part series, the Times examines an insular ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, the largest of its kind outside Israel, which shuns members for reporting sexual abuse to police. “There is no nice way of saying it,” said one community member. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”
Contributed by @kleinmatic


What Did Vets Charity Do With $56M?, CNN
The Disabled National Veterans Foundation has spent more on marketing services than on actually helping veterans since 2007. A private company runs their fundraising, which often ends up costing more than $1 to raise $1. They do sometimes send charities “badly needed” donations. “They sent us 11,520 bags of coconut M&M’s,” said one charity’s executive director. “We didn’t have a lot of use for 11,520 bags of coconut M&M’s.”
Contributed via e-mail by Devna Shukla

Playing With Fire, Chicago Tribune
Toxic flame retardants are packed into American homes under the guise that their protective benefits outweigh their health risks. Unfortunately, that belief is the result of the industry’s decades-long “campaign of deception” that downplayed the risks and overhyped the effectiveness of its products, which often don’t even work.
Contributed by @craignewman

Credit Scars Columbus Dispatch
A yearlong review of 30,000 complaints filed against credit-reporting agencies revealed a mass of mistakes – “that’s not my name; my house did not foreclose; I’m not dead”— which, no matter how small, can have huge ramifications on consumers’ credit.
Contributed by @paulkiel

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