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Using Your Tax Dollars to Fund This Cow’s Abnormal Triplets, Plus More From MuckReads Weekly

Some of the best #MuckReads we read this week. Want to receive these by email? <a href="">Sign up</a> to get this briefing delivered to your inbox every weekend.

Cows normally have one calf, not twins or triplets. Pigs generally have eight piglets, not 14. "Easy care" sheep sounds more like a product than a herd left to die in the elements. This is what's happening at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, a taxpayer-financed institution that is helping the meat industry produce more profitable livestock. Over the last 50 years, the center has "fought the spread of disease, fostered food safety and helped American ranchers compete in a global marketplace." But a Times investigation found that these gains have come at a steep cost to animal welfare. — The New York Times via @kmieszkowski

The mining industry has changed a lot since 1872, but this law has not. The Mining Law of 1872 allows hardrock mining companies — those that mine gold, silver, copper, iron and uranium — to drill on 245 million acres of federal land without paying a cent. By contrast, oil and gas companies pay a 12.5 percent royalty fee (about $11 billion a year). And that's just the business side. Environmentally speaking, this 133-year law doesn't include any protections. "The environmental laws we have right now are not really covering the damage done by the hardrock mine industry," said one environmental policy expert. — The Center for Investigative Reporting via @prbrescouncil

Did the Park Service use bad science to kill an oyster farm? Kevin Lunny has owned and operated the Drakes Bay Oyster Company in a Pacific inlet north of San Francisco since 2005. This winter, an 80-year tradition of shellfish farming in the estuary came to an end when the National Park Service shut Drakes Bay down, claiming the company was a "heavy industry that imperiled the park's wildlife." While some environmentalists say "good government prevailed," an investigation by Newsweek found that the science-as-evidence used to close down Lunny's farm was either altered or bad. — Newsweek via @CivilEats

Colorado is one of five states that allow childcare providers to go three years without inspection. A Denver Post investigation found that 24 children have died at these state-licensed facilities since 2006. They also found at least 43 with five or more violations; most of them remained open for business despite violations like staff drug use and poor treatment of children. State officials cited one provider for locking children in a dark garage and telling them spiders would bite them, but allowed the facility to stay open. These childcare facilities only need to be inspected every three years. Dog daycare centers on the other hand? Well, the state requires annual visits for those. — The Denver Post via @GregGriffin

As "dark money" groups grow, the agency that polices them shrinks. Designated as "social welfare" groups, these nonprofits are barred from engaging in politics as their primary activity. But dozens of conservative "dark money" nonprofit groups pumped $130 million into the midterm elections with little interference. The Internal Revenue Service is supposed to audit and police them, but they rarely do. Over the last four years, the agency has lost 13,000 employees. Its budget was just chopped by nearly $350 million. Meanwhile, these "dark money" groups are simply "not afraid of the IRS or anybody else on this matter," a former IRS employee said. — The Center for Public Integrity via @davelevinthal


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