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Judge abolishes Idaho law that made it illegal to expose factory farm cruelty.

If you're like me, nothing beats a big, meaty cheeseburger off the grill.

And if you're like me, you probably don't really like to think about where your food comes from. But we really need to.

Of course, I try to buy responsibly farmed meat for the most part, but I'm definitely guilty of purchasing lower-grade beef in a pinch or when the sale price is just too good to beat.


This image lives permanently in the depths of my subconscious.

It's just way too easy to not think about what horrible things may have happened to that package of beef on its journey to my supermarket's cooler.

Unfortunately, out of sight, out of mind is exactly what the meat industry wants.

That's why many big factory farms have proposed laws to prevent animal advocates from exposing their practices.

Animal rights groups have spent years fighting for more transparency about what goes on inside factory farms, often in the form of undercover videos taken inside poultry and pork factories that aren't playing by the rules.

In 2013, the meat industry processed over 100 million pigs. Photo by Nick Saltmarsh/Flickr.

But instead of cleaning up their farming methods, a lot of these manufacturers have been trying to punish the people who capture and distribute this kind of evidence via "ag-gag" laws, as they're known, that try to keep these videos from ever seeing the light of day. Not cool.

Some of them make it illegal to enter an animal facility with intent to use a camera or video recorder. Others inflict harsh penalties on people who lie on employment applications in order to gain access to these places.

Starting around 2011, state-level ag-gag bills started cropping up everywhere. Thankfully, most of the bills have died due to strong opposition, but the laws have passed in several key areas, like Iowa and Kansas, for example, both of which are central hubs for factory farms.

We may not want to watch the horrifying behind-the-scenes videos filmed at factory farms, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have access to the truth.

In 2007, The Humane Society of the United States shot one such undercover video at the Hallmark Meat Packing Co. plant in Chino, California. The footage showed appalling treatment of sick cows, yes, but it also tipped off the USDA that the resulting meat may not have been safe for consumption. What followed was one of the biggest meat recalls in U.S. history.

Ag-gag laws make obtaining that kind of footage a punishable crime.

Going vegetarian or vegan is a great way to make a difference, but it's actually OK to eat meat. It's even OK if you don't want to know where it comes from.

It's just not OK for factory farms to escape accountability for their actions.

There is good news, though. A federal judge in Idaho just struck down the state's whistleblowing law.

Big Ag, meet your maker — Judge B. Lynn Winmill. Photo from U.S. Courts website.

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled on Aug. 3, 2015, that Idaho's ag-gag law violates the First Amendment (free speech, ftw!) following a lawsuit from a coalition of animal activists and civil rights groups.

"Audio and visual evidence is a uniquely persuasive means of conveying a message, and it can vindicate an undercover investigator ... who is otherwise disbelieved or ignored," Winmill wrote in his ruling.

You said it, buddy.

And it's a good thing this ruling came down because Idaho's ag-gag law really sucked. In addition to making it damn near impossible for anyone to collect hard evidence of wrongdoing, its penalties for whistleblowers were actually worse than the ones for inflicting animal cruelty in the first place!

Absurd.

Good riddance to ag-gag in Idaho. But there's a lot more work to be done.


Big Agriculture is an extremely formidable opponent. According to the North American Meat Institute itself, meat and poultry sales in the U.S. were over $150 billion in 2009. That kind of money buys you some serious lobbying firepower and a lot of influence when it comes to public policy.

But the industry as a whole needs to be held accountable.

Yes, trespassing and lying on employment applications should be illegal, but the factory farming industry shouldn't get to inflict special penalties just because they have friends in high places. And they definitely shouldn't be shielded from following — at the very least — basic animal welfare guidelines.

Ag-gag is currently holding strong in at least six states (as of March 2015), but the federal court throwing its weight around in Idaho definitely bodes well for the future of this battle.

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

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Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

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Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

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Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

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