Our 9 Favorite Feature Stories This Week: Prisoner Firefighters, The New Jim Crow, The New Glenn Beck

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This week for BuzzFeed News, Amanda Chicago Lewis reports on the inmates who are the front line in California’s battle against wildfires. Read that and these other stories from BuzzFeed and around the web.

1. The Prisoners Fighting California’s Wildfires — BuzzFeed News

Photograph by Wes Schultz

As climate change makes the role of inmate firefighters in California increasingly crucial, Americans are beginning to ask whether the type of low-level offenders who qualify for the program even deserve to be locked up. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

2. The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster — ProPublica

Catherine Barde/American Red Cross via Flickr

After Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac, the Red Cross says it delivered 17 millions of meals and millions more in relief items to needy Americans. But according to an investigation by Justin Elliott, Jesse Eisinger, and Laura Sullivan, “The Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Sandy and Isaac, leaving behind a trail of unmet needs and acrimony.” Read it at ProPublica.

3. Jim Crow ReturnsAl Jazeera America

Photograph by Zach D. Roberts for Al Jazeera America

An important investigation by Greg Palast: “Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb…” Read it at Al Jazeera America.

4. The Undocumented Immigrants Who Rebuilt New York After Sandy — BuzzFeed News

David Noriega / BuzzFeed

As Superstorm Sandy’s floodwaters receded from the New York metropolitan area, much of the hardest, dirtiest, and most dangerous work fell to immigrant day laborers. Their stories, in their own words, as told to BuzzFeed News’ David Noriega. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

5. The New Glenn BeckD Magazine

Photograph by Trevor Paulhus for D Magazine

Michael J. Mooney profiles the conservative talk show host, who’s been a little quieter since moving to North Texas — but no less productive. “All told, he has about 300 employees, and tallying his various endeavors, Forbes put his 2013 income at $90 million — more than Oprah.” Read it at D Magazine.

6. Pipino: Gentleman ThiefEpic

In 1991, one of Venice’s most famous landmarks, the Palazzo Ducale, was robbed by one of the city’s most infamous thieves. Joshua Davis and David Wolman tell the story of the robbery — and its complicated aftermath. Read it at Epic.

7. Why Would Someone Steal the World’s Rarest Water Lily?The Guardian

Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Sam Knight on a splashy heist and its implications: “In this late, degraded chapter in our planet’s conservation, it is possible to see plant theft as part of a general, depressing quickening: as more plants become endangered, because their habitats are destroyed, they become more desirable to collectors, because they are rare, and so on.” Read it at The Guardian.

8. My Grandma the PoisonerVice

Illustration by Matt Rota

A disturbing essay by John Reed: “Today, when I think back on it, I don’t wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer.” Read it at Vice.

9. My Stepfather, The Peeping Tom — BuzzFeed News

Illustration by Justine Zweibel for BuzzFeed

Michelle Tea’s mother’s husband confessed to having spied on her in her bedroom and bathroom years ago. Figuring out how to maintain a relationship with him — and with her mother — has been traumatic, even if they don’t consider it sexual abuse. Read it at BuzzFeed News.

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