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Heroes

They have fought against this dam for decades, but the end is now in sight.

"Here come the white people."

Big dams. Did you know they're the largest, most expensive structures we make?

The cost to build a mega dam goes way beyond money. They flood land, kill forests, destroy rivers and the life it supports, and displace tens of thousands of people.

Often, the culture and biodiversity destroyed by a big dam can never, ever be replaced.


Igre and her people in Brazil are facing just this reality. The Belo Monte is a giant dam being built on the river they call home.

We are starting to learn more and more not-so-good things about mega dams.

Big dams flood hundreds of thousands of acres of land behind them. They also harm rivers by depriving them of water and fundamentally altering natural fluctuations in flow and temperature. The loss of plants, fish, and other wildlife is astronomical.

Worse are the ongoing costs to cultures who live closely with rivers.

Belo Monte will flood an area of 190 square miles along the Xingu River. According to the Brazilian government, the flooding will force the relocation of up to 20,000 people, many of them belonging to at least 18 different ethnic groups. Nongovernmental organizations, like Amazon Watch, say the number of displaced may rise as high as 40,000.

The record of relocating cultures is not good. Forcibly removed from their homes and deprived of ways of life, once self-sufficient people can face hunger, rampant alcoholism, and high unemployment. Also, big dams are a "boom-and-bust" kind of development. Once they are built, many of the jobs go away.

Igre and other people of the Amazon have been fighting for decades against the Belo Monte Dam and their right to life.

Chief Rayoni of the Kayapo people, an international ambassador for the Brazilian rainforest and the people who live there, traveled to Paris in 2000 with a petition against the Belo Monte.

But after years of protesting and working with others to appeal to courts for their human rights to the land and their way of life, they have lost. The Belo Monte, which will be the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam, will close the river and begin operation in August 2015.

To make matters worse for indigenous people, it is just one of several mega dam projects on Amazonian rivers planned by the Brazilian government to fuel its booming growth.


People who have been watching and assessing dams are beginning to speak out against big dams and in favor of a whole suite of “agile energy alternatives" like wind, solar, and mini-hydropower facilities.

Sure, all sources of energy have negative impacts, but here's why people who once supported big dams are having second thoughts:

  • The actual construction costs of big dams are too high to ever yield a positive return and countries often end up in debt trying to repay loans for big dams.
  • The reservoirs for big dams in tropical places emit high amounts of methane due to the lush jungle covered by waters each year as the basin fills. One study reported 3.5 times more CO2 released than an oil power plant generating an equal amount of electricity. Oy!
  • Building dams leads to deforestation, and deforestation is a main cause of reduced rainfall in places like the Amazon. Without forests, there is no rain, and without rain, rivers dry up. So healthy forests are the key to providing water!

Rivers and their people need your help.

The fight is already on against the next big dam project.

The Brazilian government is planning to build five dams in the Tapajós River basin. In November 2014, members of the Mundukuru tribe organized with Greenpeace to raise awareness of the threats to their human rights. The sign, made with stones on a sandbar of the river reads, "Free Tapajos."

More people need to know that big dams are not "green" energy. It's not necessary to force people pay these terrible natural and cultural costs to produce the energy we need to live well.

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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