Animal rights activists uncover the dark underbelly of factory farming:
Carlson’s secretly recorded footage, compiled over more than a month, triggered a cruelty indictment and cost the dairy a major buyer. The takedown, in 2008, was Carlson’s first assignment. Hired out of college by Kroll Advisory Solutions to gather business data, he left to find work at a nonprofit firm devoted to social justice. Neither the Polaris Project nor the Environmental Investigation Agency called back, but Mercy for Animals did. After several weeks of training, he hired on at Willet, a giant dairy in Locke, New York, that churned out 40,000 gallons of milk a day. So damning was his footage of standard factory-farming practice – chopping the tails off calves without anesthesia; gouging the horns off their heads with hot branding irons, also without anesthesia; punching cows, kicking calves, beating desperately sick downers – that Nightline ran it on national TV, confronting Willet’s CEO on camera. “Our animals are critically important to our well-being, so we work hard to treat them well,” droned Lyndon Odell of the 5,000 cows standing in lagoons of their own shit. Shown tape of the tortured calves, and pressed on whether a cow feels pain, he rolled his shoulders and mumbled, “I guess I can’t speak for the cow.” It bears saying here that nothing would have come from the tape if left to the whims of Jon Budelmann, the Cayuga County DA. “We approached him with our evidence and he told us to fuck off – he wasn’t going to take on Big Dairy,” says Carlson. “It was only after we went to the media with the tape that he got off his ass and brought charges.” (Budelmann later cleared Willet of any wrongdoing, telling the Syracuse Post-Standard that while Willet’s practices might seem harsh to consumers, they’re “not currently illegal in New York state.”)
PUBLISHED: Dec. 10, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7298 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring Rolling Stone, Alex Buono, the Washington Post, New York magazine and Orion, with a guest pick by E.A. Mann.
Did U.S. Special Forces commit war crimes in Afghanistan? Matthieu Aikins investigates the discovery of 10 missing Afghan villagers who had been buried outside a U.S. base. Officials say a translator was solely responsible, but he and other witnesses say there’s more to the story:
I tell Kandahari that multiple witnesses claim to have seen him participate in abusive interrogations, and that another had seen him execute Gul Rahim, but he flatly denies ever killing anyone. He says that he had left Nerkh soon after Batson was injured, after quarreling with Kaiser. The Americans were trying to frame him for their own crimes, he says. “They knew what was happening,” he says. “Of course they knew. If someone does something on the base, everyone sees it. Everyone knows everything that’s going on inside the team.”
PUBLISHED: Nov. 6, 2013
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8309 words)
As our Longreads Member Drive continues (sign up here to join us), we wanted to share more of our Member Picks with everyone, to show how your financial support helps us find and share outstanding storytelling from the past and present. Today we’re thrilled to feature "Quebrado," by Jeff Sharlet, a professor at Dartmouth, contributing editor for Rolling Stone and bestselling author. The story was first published in Rolling Stone in 2008 and is featured in Sharlet's book Sweet Heaven When I Die. Thanks to Sharlet for sharing it with the Longreads community.
PUBLISHED: Oct. 24, 2013
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9133 words)
Awkward, grumpy interview with the legendary Cream drummer:
"Are you living in England now?
Yes. That's where I am right now. You just phoned me so you know that this is an English phone number.
"I know, I just wanted to ask.
Well why ask me questions if you know the answer?"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1800 words)
Gay teens in Georgia are being expelled from private Christian schools that are using a local law to raise money in a way that is so shrouded in mystery that the Society of Professional Journalists has awarded the law the Black Hole Award, for "the most heinous violations of the public's right to know":
"Now a sweet-faced sophomore with big blue eyes and a wry sense of humor, Tristan, who asks that we not use his real name, tells me this over fried cheese and Buffalo wings at a Chili's 20 minutes from the midsize Georgia town where he lives. He's here with two friends, a junior who asks to go by Emily and a senior who lets me use his real name, Jason, because he'll have graduated before anyone will read this. Though there's a Chili's closer to their homes, they've requested to meet here because if authorities at their school learned they were gay, they would not just be punished, they would be expelled.
"Many Christian schools in Georgia and across the nation have similar policies, sometimes explicitly written into a pledge that students or their parents must sign when they enroll. At certain schools, a student need not even engage in acts of sexual 'impurity'; simply identifying as gay or acting in support of a gay friend can lead to dismissal. 'The Academy reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant and/or to discontinue enrollment of a student . . . participating in, promoting, supporting or condoning pornography, sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bisexual activity; or displaying an inability or resistance to support . . . the qualities and characteristics required of a Biblically based and Christ-like lifestyle,' reads the 'Academy/Home Partnering Agreement' at Providence Christian in Lilburn, Georgia, a school with religious underpinnings very similar to those at the school Tristan attends. 'No 'immoral act' or 'identifying statements' concerning fornication, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality or pornography will be tolerated,' warns the Cherokee Christian Schools in Woodstock, Georgia. 'Such behavior will constitute grounds for expulsion.'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 10, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5263 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring Outside, Rolling Stone, Humanities Magazine, Walrus Magazine and The New York Times, with a guest pick by Tessa Wegert.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 20, 2013
Fifteen-year-old Audrie Pott took her own life after nude photos of her were circulated around school by high school classmates. Three boys were later arrested and charged. It's "a shocking tale of sexual assault in the Digital Age" that's becoming less uncommon as a number of high-profile cases similar to Pott's makes headlines while many others go unreported:
"'It's a perfect storm of technology and hormones,' says lawyer Lori Andrews, director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology in Chicago. 'Teen sexting is all a way of magnifying girls' fantasies of being a star of their own movies, and boys locked in a room bragging about sexual conquest.'
'But as of yet the law provides little protection to the rights of those violated. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act effectively means that no Internet provider can be forced to take down content for invading a person's privacy or even defaming them. 'I could sue The New York Times for invading my privacy or Rolling Stone for defaming me,' Andrews says. 'But I couldn't sue and get my picture off a website called sluttyseventhgraders.com.'
"The flip side of this ugly trend is that when gang-rape participants and bystanders record and disseminate pictures of an assault, public outrage is inflamed and cops and prosecutors have evidence they can take to court. This can mean rape victims get more justice than in years past. Arguably, the Steubenville rape would never have been prosecuted without the video. However, since so many of the incidents involve juveniles, punishment is neither swift nor certain."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6029 words)