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Weekend #MuckReads: Strawberries Grown With Dangerous Pesticides

Some of the best #MuckReads we read this week.

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Are your strawberries grown with these dangerous pesticides? Nine out of 10 strawberries come from California. But to keep this $2.6 billion industry growing, farmers rely on a fumigant that state scientists say poses an increased risk of cancer. While Dow AgroSciences, manufacturer of the chemical 1,3-Dichloropropene, said agricultural use of the fumigant doesn't pose a cancer risk, state researchers say otherwise.  — The Center of Investigative Reporting via @rachael_bale

"The agency has created a culture that says, 'If you throw a rock at me, you're going to get shot.'" Politico examines a U.S. Border Patrol operation that has become "one of the nation's deadliest law enforcement agencies." Known as "The Green Monster" by officials in Washington, D.C., the Border Patrol has ballooned since 9/11 to 60,000 employees and a budget bigger than the FBI, ATF, DEA, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals and the entire NYPD annual budget combined. That growth has come with a cost: assaults, misconduct cases, corruption and excessive force complaints. — Politico via @YoungRJeremy

If you don't have to pay the fine for having an unsafe workplace, why provide a safe workplace? Thousands of mines are operating despite owing safety penalties that go back as far as 20 years, according to an NPR investigation. In their years of delinquency, these mines reported injury rates 50 percent higher than mines that paid penalties. In a joint investigation, NPR and Mine Safety and Health News report that federal regulators are either unable or unwilling to get these owners to pay up. "Coal mine regulation is not a high-profile area of law enforcement. ... It's a fairly low priority," said one former assistant U.S. attorney. — NPR via @AnnaBoikoW

Bank of America kept this school district in the dark about a shaky bond market. In September 2007, a bond deal went forward for Chicago Public Schools worth $263 million. The deal was based on something called "auction-rate" bonds. These bonds were risky but as long as nothing drastic happened, could turn around quick cash for the district. But something bad happened – the economic meltdown. Internal documents show that the bank had an inkling it was coming, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune. The deal went forward anyway. — Chicago Tribune ($$ paywall) via @ChiTribWatchdog

The nurse may not be in the room as much as you think. U.S. nursing homes report staffing levels to Nursing Home Compare, a consumer website run by the federal government. But the self-reported numbers differ vastly from those reported to Medicare. In fact, eight in 10 nursing homes reported higher levels of registered nurse care to the government website than they did to Medicare, according to an analysis by The Center of Public Integrity. One advocate wasn't surprised that the data was flawed, but said she was "truly stunned" by the level over-reporting by nursing homes. — The Center for Public Integrity via @BGPublic

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