AMERICAblog NewsJohn Oliver – AMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Thu, 14 Jun 2018 19:55:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Scott Walker cuts $250 million from public universities, wants to give it to Milwaukee Bucks http://americablog.com/2015/07/scott-walker-cuts-250-million-from-public-universities-wants-to-give-it-to-milwaukee-bucks.html http://americablog.com/2015/07/scott-walker-cuts-250-million-from-public-universities-wants-to-give-it-to-milwaukee-bucks.html#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 18:20:18 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=130471 Claims that funding for the stadium will boost economic activity are unsupported by economic evidence.

The post Scott Walker cuts $250 million from public universities, wants to give it to Milwaukee Bucks appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recently signed a state budget that included $250 million in cuts to the state’s university system. Yesterday, the Wisconsin State Senate voted 21-10 to give $250 million in public financing to the Milwaukee Bucks — to be used to build a new arena for the team. The bill to subsidize the Bucks now heads to the State Assembly.

When accounting for interest, the state will eventually pay $400 million over 20 years under the proposal. On top of their funding for the stadium’s construction, Wisconsin taxpayers will contribute $4 million per year to the arena, for which they will receive $500,000 per year in revenue from a surcharge on ticket sales. The Bucks have opposed the surcharge.

As Deadspin notes, it isn’t as if the Bucks couldn’t afford to build the arena on their own; they fought for and are on the verge of getting $250 million in public funding because they could:

Marc Lasry, a Bucks co-owner, is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1.87 billion, while co-owner Wesley Edens was worth $2.5 billion in 2007 before suffering a downturn (though not so big of one to prevent him from owning an NBA team) in the Great Recession. Together, they will pay just $150 million towards the arena…

…The vote came one day after NBA commissioner Adam Silver claimed that a “significant” number of NBA teams were still losing money. It really is quite a brilliant racket. By crying poor the NBA claws back money from the players, and by teams threatening to move—like the Bucks did just a week ago—they blackmail cities into paying for arenas instead of for desperately needed public services.

As John Oliver detailed in a recent segment, Milwaukee isn’t the only team extorting its local government for money it doesn’t need:

Public funding for stadiums is granted under the premise of spurring economic activity, a claim that economists almost unanimously dispute, as, per Deadspin, “Most of the jobs created are temporary construction ones, and arenas simply shift where leisure money is spent—at the arena instead of at a local movie theater or at a restaurant.” As Oliver cites, the city of Milwaukee would likely see a bigger boost in economic activity if they simply dumped 250 million one dollar bills from a helicopter over its downtown area.

The BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the Milwaukee Bucks currently play, via Wikimedia Commons

The BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the Milwaukee Bucks currently play, via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, keeping $250 million in the state’s public university system would be a net-positive for the state in the long run.

Public funding for sports stadiums is one of the few issues in which a constituency that is generally politically apathetic — sports fans — are able to trump strong partisans on both the left and right. As Deadspin pointed out in their story, there is something for liberals and conservatives alike to hate when the government throws money at already-wealthy sports teams: it unnecessarily distorts the market, exacerbates inequality and comes at the expense of necessary public services.

And yet, all a team has to do is threaten to move, and their fans all of a sudden become active democratic citizens, flooding town meetings and writing letters to their representatives warning them that if the team leaves, they will hold those who voted against stadium funding personally responsible.

The post Scott Walker cuts $250 million from public universities, wants to give it to Milwaukee Bucks appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
BREAKING: Pentagon finalizing plans to lift ban on transgender individuals in military http://americablog.com/2015/07/breaking-pentagon-finalizing-plans-to-lift-ban-on-transgender-individuals-in-military.html http://americablog.com/2015/07/breaking-pentagon-finalizing-plans-to-lift-ban-on-transgender-individuals-in-military.html#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 18:59:22 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=130418 The Pentagon had previously lifted rules barring trans servicemembers, but branch-level rules remain.

The post BREAKING: Pentagon finalizing plans to lift ban on transgender individuals in military appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
The Associated Press is reporting that the Pentagon is finalizing plans to lift the ban on transgender people from serving in the military. The Obama administration has remained relatively quiet on the issue, but reports from earlier this year suggested that the military was open to reviewing their policy on transgender servicemembers.

As Zach Ford wrote at ThinkProgress in December, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowed gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military, but the branches each retained their own policies specifically banning transgender people. In August of last year, the Department of Defense reversed similar rules — one of which stipulated that anyone with”defects of the genitalia” was unfit for service. These rules were replaced with guidelines stipulating that people with medical conditions would have to have their conditions reviewed before being accepted for service, but only disorders that directly affected an individual’s ability to serve could be cause for rejection. Being transgender does not fit that description, as the American Psychiatric Association no longer considers it a mental illness.

This shift cleared the way for a review as to whether or not the individual branches’ rules still made sense. They didn’t. As Ford continued:

The only obstacle blocking transgender service then is the fact that the individual branches have not updated their policies to match the DOD’s. The Palm Center report notes that by maintaining categorical prohibitions, the services are enforcing regulations that “are too sweeping” because they do not distinguish conditions that impair fitness for assignment or duty from those — like being trans — that don’t. In other words, transgender identities remain a disqualification for purely tautological reasons.

As John Oliver described just over two weeks ago, the military’s policy on transgender individuals serving amounted to a recruitment poster reading: “I Want You. Maybe. After We Talk About Your Genitals for a Bit.”

Of course, this policy makes no sense. We currently have a military in which commanding officers are thanking transgender soldiers for the invaluable work they have done — and acknowledging their gender identity — while serving them discharge papers.

The Pentagon, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pentagon, via Wikimedia Commons

There are currently an estimated 15,500 transgender individuals serving in the military. Clearly, they have not diminished the combat readiness of our troops. Nearly every argument for continuing to spend time and energy discharging them that doesn’t boil down to “I think they’re gross,” and that isn’t an argument that deserves serious consideration. The only one that doesn’t — that transgender individuals often rely on hormone treatments that could become unavailable in long-term combat posts, is belied by the fact that other individuals with similar needs are not barred from service. As The Washington Post outlined in April:

Privately, some military officials argue that transgender soldiers could not serve in hardship posts, because they rely on hormone treatments. Transgender advocates point out that troops with other medication requirements, such as diabetics, are not automatically disqualified from service.

Being transgender says nothing about one’s ability to serve in the military. Lifting the ban makes good moral sense and good military sense. It’s high time the Pentagon finalized the change.

The post BREAKING: Pentagon finalizing plans to lift ban on transgender individuals in military appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver: Take the No-Prank Pledge this April Fool’s Day http://americablog.com/2015/04/john-oliver-take-the-no-prank-pledge-this-april-fools-day.html http://americablog.com/2015/04/john-oliver-take-the-no-prank-pledge-this-april-fools-day.html#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:30:33 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=126789 In Sunday’s web extension of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver had a few choice words for April Fool’s Day, a holiday he described as “to comedy as St. Patrick’s Day is to Irish culture.” Listen to him describe why pranks are terrible, and why you shouldn’t mess with your friends or family today: And, if you are so […]

The post John Oliver: Take the No-Prank Pledge this April Fool’s Day appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
In Sunday’s web extension of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver had a few choice words for April Fool’s Day, a holiday he described as “to comedy as St. Patrick’s Day is to Irish culture.”

Listen to him describe why pranks are terrible, and why you shouldn’t mess with your friends or family today:

And, if you are so inclined, take the Last Week Tonight No-Prank Pledge:

I solemnly swear that on this April Fool’s Day I will not post a fake engagement photo Facebook like some kind of a**hole, nor will I perpetuate a celebrity death hoax, because that makes people sad. In fact, I will not play any practical jokes, and if I see someone planning a prank I will say to them, “Hey, you’re being a dick right now. Stop being a dick. Stop being a dick. Seriously, stop being a dick.”

Or don’t. Your call. You can always try and replicate some of the best pranks of 2014 (Warning: strong language and possible injuries ahead):

The post John Oliver: Take the No-Prank Pledge this April Fool’s Day appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Credit Suisse buys article in The New Republic to court LGBT community http://americablog.com/2015/02/credit-suisse-buys-article-in-the-new-republic-to-court-lgbt-community.html http://americablog.com/2015/02/credit-suisse-buys-article-in-the-new-republic-to-court-lgbt-community.html#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:00:44 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=126125 There isn’t a lot of money in journalism these days. The Internet has forced the print editions of newspapers and magazines to either close down their shops or move online. And even when they do launch themselves into cyberspace, they find that people don’t want to pay for information that they can find on Twitter […]

The post Credit Suisse buys article in The New Republic to court LGBT community appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
There isn’t a lot of money in journalism these days. The Internet has forced the print editions of newspapers and magazines to either close down their shops or move online. And even when they do launch themselves into cyberspace, they find that people don’t want to pay for information that they can find on Twitter for free.

It doesn’t help that the traditional way to monetize online content — display advertisements, like the one below this sentence — aren’t very effective. Only 0.1 percent of banner ads are clicked; 85 percent of those clicks come from just 8 percent of Internet users.

And on mobile devices, which account for an ever-increasing share of Internet traffic, roughly half of all display ad clicks are accidental.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was wandering around the Internet on Monday night and saw this on The New Republic‘s homepage:

The New Republic homepage native ad

Right there, placed along with some of the best journalism the Internet has to offer, is a sponsored post from Credit Suisse, which paid The New Republic more than enough for that spot to cover the rest of the articles on the page — no annoying banner ads needed.

The post is part of the online journalism community’s workaround to the problem posed by no one clicking on gaudy display ads: native advertising. Native ads are posts that look like regular content that the site would otherwise publish, but are actually marketing materials either based on or fully supplied by the company that pays for the placement.

In case you missed it, John Oliver had a great explainer on native ads not too long ago:

This particular native ad was one of the less misleading ones I’ve come across. The post is categorized as “sponsored content” on the homepage, and the article itself includes a disclaimer right at the top that reads: “This article is sponsored by Credit Suisse.” So it isn’t as if The New Republic was passing off a fluff piece as an article that they would have otherwise written for free.

And yet, the ethical dilemma is still obvious: It’s a shame that one of my favorite news outlets is selling their name and reputation to a massive corporation that wants to increase its market share in a targeted audience, but without ads like these, The New Republic either wouldn’t be able to pay its bills or would have to charge a subscription for its online arm. This would take away access to its content from the vast majority of Internet users who, like me, aren’t likely to pay for their news and analysis.

The dilemma gets even murkier when the content embeds subtle references to how awesome the company sponsoring the ad is with information that I would have actually have wanted had it not been delivered in the form of an ad. Take this passage, for example:

Although much of the nation lacks laws to protect LGBT people, corporations have begun to adopt their own protective practices nationwide. In 2002, the Human Rights Campaign released the first Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which rated companies based on the inclusiveness of their sexual orientation policies. The index inspired hundreds of businesses to become more transparent, providing more information about their practices to consumers.

Credit Suisse was one of those businesses. It has had a perfect score on the CEI for 10 years in a row. Just over a year ago, though, the bank decided to go one step further than its peers. In October 2013, it released its own index to track the performance of LGBT-friendly companies. It also unveiled the Credit Suisse LGBT Equality Portfolio to allow its clients to invest in a basket of companies with high scores on the CEI and high capital appreciation potential.

The LGBT Equality Index would be pretty cool on its own, and it got its fair share of organic coverage when it launched, but Credit Suisse wants to make damn sure that you know who’s responsible for it. And, of course, they want a few more people to invest in their portfolio. That wouldn’t be so bad if it were sliced up and repackaged in a Buzzfeed listicle — by the way, Buzzfeed makes a majority of its revenue through native advertising — but when corporate humblebragging is designed to look like serious journalism, I feel like I need to take a shower after clicking through.

So what do we do? This is the nature of the business we’re in, and it isn’t likely to get better any time soon. As users become more savvy in avoiding overt ads, and as monetizing the Internet becomes increasingly competitive, news outlets are going to feel increasing pressure to take the money they can get by injecting marketing materials into their content, further blurring the line between journalism and corporatism.

After all, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product.

The post Credit Suisse buys article in The New Republic to court LGBT community appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver on Sarah Palin’s “Today Show” appearance (video) http://americablog.com/2014/12/john-oliver-sarah-palins-today-show-appearance-video.html http://americablog.com/2014/12/john-oliver-sarah-palins-today-show-appearance-video.html#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:55:57 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=125008 And who knew Sarah Palin has a pay-subscription Web "show"?

The post John Oliver on Sarah Palin’s “Today Show” appearance (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Who knew Sarah Palin has a new pay-subscription Web video channel, for all those Palin fans who just can’t get enough of the woman who handed the presidency to Barack Obama.

sarah-palin-john-oliver

The Daily Beast has a wonderful write-up of Palin’s “show”:

The content, not surprisingly, will be easily lampoonable by the “liberal elite intellectuals” that the channel’s namesake frequently rails against. There’s a surfeit of paeans to Ronald Reagan; a countdown of “DAYS LEFT IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION”; a regular “ASK ME ANYTHING” video in which just-plain-Sarah fields personal and political questions from inquiring subscribers; a featured link to “Bristol’s Blog,” in which the oldest Palin daughter (and single mom) muses on everything from a biblically correct Adam-and-Eve routine on Dancing With the Stars to the treachery of Lena Dunham and the Hollywood lefties who empower it; and “SALLY’S WORD OF THE DAY,” chosen by Palin’s mother Sally Heath.

Thursday’s word was “judicious.” Presumably, Sally Heath’s future words of the day will not include “revigorated,” as in her daughter’s “ASK ME ANYTHING” answer to a subscriber who was interested in supporting a third political party. “Reagan didn’t believe in a third party when he was running,” Palin chirped. “He believed in a revigorated GOP.” (Also, not to be a pedant about it, but the ex-guv is flat wrong when she goes on to assert in the same answer that Reagan “first ran for president in 1976”; Palin’s research team, if any, should note: The year was 1968.)

I found a John Oliver segment, that may or may not be recent (it’s not dated), about Sarah Palin’s “brave” appearance on the Today Show. It’s below. Enjoy.

The post John Oliver on Sarah Palin’s “Today Show” appearance (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver on the evils of sugar (video) http://americablog.com/2014/10/john-oliver-evils-sugar-video.html http://americablog.com/2014/10/john-oliver-evils-sugar-video.html#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 22:39:43 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124200 Sugar activates our brains in a similar manner to cocaine, apparently.

The post John Oliver on the evils of sugar (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
In honor of Halloween, John Oliver takes on SUGAR.

Apparently, the average American eats 75 pounds of sugar a year.

Oliver reports that they now put sugar in everything from crackers to salar dressings to beef and jerky.

For example, Oliver says that one serving of Clamato juice has 11g of sugar, or basically 2.3 teaspoons (which is almost a tablespoon). Which may not sound like much, but I like a lot of sugar in my morning coffee, and I still wouldn’t put a tablespoon.

He goes on to show an old ad from the sugar industry touting sugar’s healthy aspects.

sugar-healthy

He also says that the American Beverage Association weighed in with the FDA about possible new rules requiring products to detail the amount of “added sugar.” The Beverage Association would like the FDA to require products to spell out the number of “grams” rather than “teaspoons,” because teaspoons “may carry and unfair negative connotation that undermines the factual nature of nutrition information.”

In other words, people will freak if they find out how many teaspoons of sugar are actually in products, and freak out. But no one, Oliver points out, understands the metric system.

Then he shows a clip of the president of the Sugar Association, talking about sugar’s impact on obesity and diabetes:

“As it relates to obesity there’s been plenty of science that exonerates sugar, that clarifies sugar does not contribute to obesity or diabetes.”

It seems the Harvard School of Public Health disagrees:

 Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

Oh, there’s more:

Sugary drinks increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout.

A 20-year study on 120,000 men and women found that people who increased their sugary drink consumption by one 12-ounce serving per day gained more weight over time—on average, an extra pound every 4 years—than people who did not change their intake. (19) Other studies have found a significant link between sugary drink consumption and weight gain in children. (20) One study found that for each additional 12-ounce soda children consumed each day, the odds of becoming obese increased by 60% during 1½ years of follow-up. (21)

People who consume sugary drinks regularly—1 to 2 cans a day or more—have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks. (22) Risks are even greater in young adults and Asians.

A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks. (23) A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link. (24)

A 22-year study of 80,000 women found that those who consumed a can a day of sugary drink had a 75% higher risk of gout than women who rarely had such drinks. (25) Researchers found a similarly-elevated risk in men. (26)

The post John Oliver on the evils of sugar (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver: Ayn Rand – How Is This Still A Thing? http://americablog.com/2014/10/john-oliver-ayn-rand-still-thing.html http://americablog.com/2014/10/john-oliver-ayn-rand-still-thing.html#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:39:07 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=124090 Interestingly, Rand was pro-choice and REALLY didn't like Reagan.

The post John Oliver: Ayn Rand – How Is This Still A Thing? appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Because I’m loathe to pull punches, I’ll admit to liking Atlas Shrugged, and Ayn Rand, in college.

Some of her non-Atlas writing, especially about the Soviet Union, was pretty spot on. (I was, and remain, pretty hawkish on all things Soviet, including modern-day reincarnations. I’ve never been a great fan of bullies.)

And ironically, as John Oliver points out in the video below, Rand was pro-choice and really didn’t like Reagan.

ayn-rand

Sadly, a lot of really bad people like Ayn Rand nowadays. Which would make anyone with a soul think twice.

John Oliver takes Rand on in his ongoing series: “How is this still a thing?”

The post John Oliver: Ayn Rand – How Is This Still A Thing? appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver exposes Miss America Pageant scholarship debacle (video) http://americablog.com/2014/09/jon-oliver-miss-america-pageant.html http://americablog.com/2014/09/jon-oliver-miss-america-pageant.html#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:37:33 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=123144 Miss America claims to provide $45m in scholarships. It's more like half a million.

The post John Oliver exposes Miss America Pageant scholarship debacle (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver weighed in on the Miss America Pageant, which took place last week. Apparently, the pageant claims to provide $45 million per year in scholarships for women. Oliver dug up the tax forms, and it’s more like $482,000 per year.

miss-america-jon-oliver

He’s got some great clips. They actually asked the women last week to solve the ISIS problem. Another was asked about the Gitmo hostage exchange.

Also, Oliver really zings the pageant badly by going and checking out their tax records. While Miss America claims to give $45 million in scholarships a year, he found out that it’s more like $482,000. About $44.5 million short.

Oliver then went and attempted to get the tax filings of every Miss America pageant in every single state. The numbers didn’t add up.

It turns out that they tally the scholarships that individual pageant contestants have been offered by schools around the country. For example, Miss Pennsylvania is offered a choice of four scholarships, but Miss America tallied all four together, even though the winner will really only take one.

old-miss-americaAnother “scholarship,” $2.5m to a school in Alabama, is really only a $54,000 scholarship that Miss America then multiplied by the number of pageant contestants, 48, since they could all theoretically attend the university if they all wanted to. In fact, no one accepted a scholarship from that school that year.

I’m really blown away that Oliver did this. Wow.

The post John Oliver exposes Miss America Pageant scholarship debacle (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver on “The Day of Colonial Aggression” (aka the 4th of July) http://americablog.com/2014/07/john-oliver-day-colonial-aggression.html http://americablog.com/2014/07/john-oliver-day-colonial-aggression.html#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 19:14:27 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=121201 "We in America love fireworks. Why? Well, because they're like sparkly guns you can shoot in the sky."

The post John Oliver on “The Day of Colonial Aggression” (aka the 4th of July) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver covered the 4th of July fireworks on this week’s show last night, even though he clearly pre-recorded the broadcast, so rather than show actual fireworks from around the country, he simply pantomimed them.

The man really is funny.  As I’ve written before, I think he really comes in to his own hosting. He was okay as a correspondent on the Daily Show, but I didn’t really love him until he hosted for Jon Stewart last summer. And now he has his own show on HBO.

Here are a few snippets of quotes:

“We were off this week in observance of Independence Day. Or as they call it where I’m from, the Day of Colonial Aggression.”

“We in America love fireworks. Why? Well, because they’re like sparkly guns you can shoot in the sky.”

Then, Oliver pantomimed the fireworks:

John Oliver fireworks

John Oliver fireworks

Then the big finale:

john-oliver-fireworks-3


NOTE FROM JOHN: I know I say this a lot, but I’m not kidding, we need your help sharing our content on social media if we’re going to keep AMERICAblog alive. Please share our stories, which brings us visitors, and helps us earn more ad revenue.” Thanks for your help. JOHN

The post John Oliver on “The Day of Colonial Aggression” (aka the 4th of July) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
The Hobby Lobby case, explained by HBO’s John Oliver http://americablog.com/2014/07/hobby-lobby-case-explained-hbo.html http://americablog.com/2014/07/hobby-lobby-case-explained-hbo.html#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=121026 "Govt. is not an a la carte system where you can pick and choose based on your beliefs."

The post The Hobby Lobby case, explained by HBO’s John Oliver appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
I’ve been starting to watch John Oliver’s new show on HBO, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

It’s a good show. Oliver, who was previously on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” did a great job last summer subbing for Jon Stewart when he was away.  Oliver was actually quite brilliant, and I’m not someone who particularly got a charge out of his segments on that show. But as host, he rocked.

So it was only natural that someone at HBO must have watched as well, and ultimately said “give this man a show!”

john-oliver-hobby-lobby

In this segment, filmed Sunday night, Oliver weighs in on the Hobby Lobby case that was decided yesterday by the Supreme Court. The court ruled yesterday that Hobby Lobby did not have to abide by the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, since Hobby Lobby is a closely-held company, and thus the company is permitted to be kinda-sorta its owners (even though legally that’s not the case at all when you incorporate).

The decision hadn’t come out yet when Oliver was giving his views Sunday night.

He’s quite good. The show is clearly at its early stages, and

John Oliver: “Government is not an a la carte system where you can pick and choose based on your beliefs. Taxation is more of an all-you-can-eat salad bar. You don’t get to show up and go, ‘look, I know it costs $10.99, but I’m only paying $7.50 because I have a moral objection to beets. Because of course you do, they’re an abomination of a root vegetable…. Everyone has their own version of beets.”


NOTE FROM JOHN: I know I say this a lot, but I’m not kidding, we need your help sharing our content on social media if we’re going to keep AMERICAblog alive. Please share our stories, which brings us visitors, and helps us earn more ad revenue.” Thanks for your help. JOHN

The post The Hobby Lobby case, explained by HBO’s John Oliver appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
The jack-booted thugs of the supplement industry http://americablog.com/2014/06/jack-booted-thugs-supplement-industry.html http://americablog.com/2014/06/jack-booted-thugs-supplement-industry.html#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 16:12:56 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=120842 John Oliver's extensive take-down of America's powerful nutritional supplement industry.

The post The jack-booted thugs of the supplement industry appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Continuing our look at dietary supplements, John Oliver has a quite intensive segment on the industry and its benefactors in Washington, DC (Senators Harkin and Hatch come to mind), bought and paid for by lots of lobbying dollars.

I was working in the Senate in 1993 when the supplement-crazies went nuts over proposed new federal regulations requiring supplements to, among other things, be able to prove that they were safe.

Yes, suggesting that something be “safe” before you sell it the public for their consumption, is a very controversial topic in Washington, DC.

supplements-hatch-harkinThe supplement industry got a groundswell of people calling Congress. I didn’t even work on the issue, and they were calling me. Non-stop. And it worked.

I remember at the time not feeling terribly sympathetic to the supplement industry. Personally, I like the idea of the government making sure that before someone can sell me food, it has to be proven to be, you know, actual food. Something that won’t kill me.

In the segment, Oliver cites a NYT story from 2010 showing that supplements often don’t even contain what they claim to contain.

Canadian researchers tested 44 bottles of popular supplements sold by 12 companies. They found that many were not what they claimed to be, and that pills labeled as popular herbs were often diluted — or replaced entirely — by cheap fillers like soybean, wheat and rice….

Two bottles labeled as St. John’s wort, which studies have shown may treat mild depression, contained none of the medicinal herb. Instead, the pills in one bottle were made of nothing but rice, and another bottle contained only Alexandrian senna, an Egyptian yellow shrub that is a powerful laxative. Gingko biloba supplements, promoted as memory enhancers, were mixed with fillers and black walnut, a potentially deadly hazard for people with nut allergies.

Of 44 herbal supplements tested, one-third showed outright substitution, meaning there was no trace of the plant advertised on the bottle — only another plant in its place.

The NYT found a number of concerns about fish-oil labeling as well.

Even more troubling reporting from the NYT:

Critics of the $32 billion a year supplement industry argue that the F.D.A. is hampered by a federal law that, they say, was written largely to protect the industry, the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

The law, which gives companies much leeway in how they manufacture and advertise supplements, allows them to put products on the market without F.D.A. approval. As a result, the agency has little power to stop tainted products from landing on store shelves in the first place, even though research suggests that adulteration and mislabeling are widespread.

1994. That would be right after the supplement industry anschluss of Congress.

And finally, I’d reported a few months ago on all those wonderful Chinese herbs and supplements, 89% of which contained banned pesticides:

Chinese herbs purchased in China

  • 74% of the samples bought in China tested positive for pesticides.
  • 50% of the samples contained traces of three or more pesticides.
  • 40% of the samples contained the residue of pesticides that have been banned in China. The World Health Organization has classified some of the pesticides as “extremely” or “highly” hazardous.
  • 32% of the samples contained 11 to 40 pesticides each.
  • Some of the poison residue was 100 to 500 times the maximum European residue limit.

Chinese herb exports to western markets

  • 89% of the made-in-China medicinal herbs bought in western countries contained three or more kinds of pesticides.
  • 72% of the samples tested exceeded the safety levels set by European authorities. (Seven samples couldn’t be tested, so the percentage could be even higher.)
  • 47% of the samples showed residues of pesticides classified as “highly or extremely hazardous” by the World Health Organization.

I’m pretty freaked about anything from China nowadays. Whether it’s dog-killing treats, or exploding watermelons.  Oh yes, didn’t you know? China had a recent problem where its watermelons were exploding like old Soviet TV sets. Apparently, farmers were overusing growth hormones, which caused the watermelons to explode:

Isn’t that special. Here’s John Oliver on the supplements (he really goes after Dr. Oz):


NOTE FROM JOHN: I know I say this a lot, but I’m not kidding, we need your help sharing our content on social media if we’re going to keep AMERICAblog alive. Please share our stories, which brings us visitors, and helps us earn more ad revenue.” Thanks for your help. JOHN

The post The jack-booted thugs of the supplement industry appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Eurovision and Crimea, as covered by John Oliver’s new show http://americablog.com/2014/05/eurovision-crimea-covered-john-olivers-new-show.html http://americablog.com/2014/05/eurovision-crimea-covered-john-olivers-new-show.html#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 22:18:12 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=119120 On John Oliver's new show on HBO, "Last Week Tonight," he covers the Eurovision Song Contest and Crimea.

The post Eurovision and Crimea, as covered by John Oliver’s new show appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
On John Oliver’s new show on HBO, “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver covers the Eurovision Song Contest and the latest from Crimea.

john-oliver-eurovision-conchitax

On the Eurovision front, gay drag queen Conchita Wurst won the international competition, much to the consternation of the Russians and their former satellites.

On the Crimean front, Russian President Putin staged a photo opp in the occupied and annexed territory yesterday, while announcing the creation of a two-pound commemorative coin with Putin’s own face on it.


NOTE FROM JOHN: Please share our content on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and beyond. As I explained the other day, when you share our stories, you help bring us visitors, which increases our ad revenue and helps to keep this site alive. Thanks for your help. JOHN

The post Eurovision and Crimea, as covered by John Oliver’s new show appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver on fast-food workers striking, and Fox’s absurd coverage (video) http://americablog.com/2013/08/john-oliver-fast-food-workers-striking-video.html http://americablog.com/2013/08/john-oliver-fast-food-workers-striking-video.html#comments Fri, 02 Aug 2013 16:04:53 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=99599 John Oliver really rips into Fox News for its absurd coverage of the minimum wage debate.

The post John Oliver on fast-food workers striking, and Fox’s absurd coverage (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
The Daily Show’s John Oliver on fast-food workers, such as at McDonald’s, striking for better wages, and Fox News’ absurd coverage.

mcdonalds-workers-strie

The post John Oliver on fast-food workers striking, and Fox’s absurd coverage (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Colbert and Daily Show on the Asiana pilot-names joke snafu (video) http://americablog.com/2013/07/colbert-daily-show-asiana-pilots-names-joke.html http://americablog.com/2013/07/colbert-daily-show-asiana-pilots-names-joke.html#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2013 22:33:38 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=97970 The captains' names were reported as Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk, and Bang Ding Ow.

The post Colbert and Daily Show on the Asiana pilot-names joke snafu (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, and John Oliver of the Daily Show, both delved into the matter of the NTSB confirming for a San Francisco TV station a series of joke-names for the pilots of the Asiana plane that crashed in San Francisco last week.

As we reported at the time, the TV station claimed that the pilots were:

Asiana-plane-crash-san-francisco

The names are a phonetic joke:

Captain Something Wrong
Way too low
Holy f*ck
Bang, ding, ow!

Colbert and Oliver were on vacation last week, so they couldn’t cover it then.  They’re covering it now :) Colbert was outraged that…. the fake names were Chinese for a Korean airline.

Here’s Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report – and check out our Stephen Colbert archives of more videos:

The Colbert Report

Here’s John Oliver on the Daily Show:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The post Colbert and Daily Show on the Asiana pilot-names joke snafu (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Sup. Ct. DOMA decision as seen by Stephen Colbert & The Daily Show (video) http://americablog.com/2013/06/sup-ct-doma-decision-as-seen-by-stephen-colbert-the-daily-show-video.html http://americablog.com/2013/06/sup-ct-doma-decision-as-seen-by-stephen-colbert-the-daily-show-video.html#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 15:02:19 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=96188 I was waiting all day yesterday to see how they'd handle this. They even have Samantha Bee!

The post Sup. Ct. DOMA decision as seen by Stephen Colbert & The Daily Show (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
John Oliver of the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report cover the Supreme Court’s historic decision striking down DOMA, and dismissing the Prop 8 case which means Proposition 8 is struck down and gay marriage is legal again in California.

They even have Samantha Bee!

Daily-Show-Colbert-DOMA-Prop-8

Stephen Colbert:

“I for one cannot believe the court threw out DOMA, it was passed in 1996 to guarantee that traditional marriage was between one man and one woman for the sacred purpose of getting Bill Clinton reelected.”

Be forewarned, Colbert makes a bi pun. Who thinks those are funny?

Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report:

The Colbert Report

John Oliver on the Daily Show:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

And a bonus video from Colbert interviewing Emily Bazelon of Slate about the Supreme Court decisions on DOMA, Prop 8, and the Voting Rights Act:

The Colbert Report

The post Sup. Ct. DOMA decision as seen by Stephen Colbert & The Daily Show (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Colbert Report and Daily Show on the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision http://americablog.com/2013/06/colbert-report-and-daily-show-on-the-supreme-courts-voting-rights-act-decision.html http://americablog.com/2013/06/colbert-report-and-daily-show-on-the-supreme-courts-voting-rights-act-decision.html#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 11:00:59 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=96178 "Chief Justice John Roberts knows that the South doesn't need to be babysat anymore."

The post Colbert Report and Daily Show on the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report, and John Oliver of the Daily Show, cover the Supreme Court having gutted the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

Stephen-Colbert-VRA

Both Colbert and Oliver do a great job.

The Colbert Report

The post Colbert Report and Daily Show on the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act decision appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Daily Show’s John Oliver on Immigration Reform and GOP panic over Latino voters http://americablog.com/2013/06/daily-shows-john-oliver-on-immigration-reform-and-gop-panic-over-latino-voters.html http://americablog.com/2013/06/daily-shows-john-oliver-on-immigration-reform-and-gop-panic-over-latino-voters.html#comments Wed, 19 Jun 2013 22:59:15 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=95387 John Oliver: "We choose to help you not because we want you, but because mathematically we feel we have to."

The post Daily Show’s John Oliver on Immigration Reform and GOP panic over Latino voters appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
The Daily Show’s John Oliver does a great segment on Republican panic over immigration reform, in this case their panic over losing the Latino vote forever if immigration reform doesn’t pass.

Daily Show immigration reform

I’d written a few days ago about how GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, who previously had threatened to kill immigration reform if it helped the plight of binational gay couples, is now suddenly saying that it’s irresponsible to threaten to kill immigration reform because it will make the GOP lose the Latino vote forever.

Here’s what Graham had to say:

“If we don’t pass immigration reform, if we don’t get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn’t matter who we run in 2016,” [Graham] said. “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party.

The only way we can get back in the good graces of the Hispanic community, in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

John Oliver had this to say about Lindsey Graham’s “demographic” concern for Latinos :

“I say to you the Hispanic community, we choose to help you not because we want you, but because mathematically we feel we have to.”

The post Daily Show’s John Oliver on Immigration Reform and GOP panic over Latino voters appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Hilarious Daily Show on France’s, Russia’s, Pope’s anti-gayness http://americablog.com/2013/06/daily-show-gay-france-russia-pope-marriage.html http://americablog.com/2013/06/daily-show-gay-france-russia-pope-marriage.html#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 14:07:36 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=92630 John Oliver: "How is it that France's anti-gay protests look so much gayer than our pro-gay protests?"

The post Hilarious Daily Show on France’s, Russia’s, Pope’s anti-gayness appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
A truly excellent segment on the Daily Show, with John Oliver now hosting as Jon Stewart is away producing a movie. In this one, they go after France’s homoerotic anti-gay protesters, Russia’s anti-gay parliament, and the Vatican’s claims that they are infested with a “gay lobby.”

First France.

I’d reported the other day on the series of anti-gay protests in France preceding and following France’s legalization of marriage for gay couples a few weeks ago. For some reason, the French anti-gay bigots have adopted pink as their color, and tend to have their male protesters – always young, buff men – walk around shirtless.  Calling it “homoerotic” does not do it justice.  It’s more “homo.”  Or as John Oliver put it:

“How is it that France’s anti-gay protests look so much gayer than our pro-gay protests?”

Note the young men at a recent anti-gay protest in Paris sporting their pink sunglasses, pink overalls, and pink neckerchiefs tied around their necks like farm-girl extras in Oklahoma!  Yep, nothing gay about that.

France-anti-gay-marriage-protests

Then there are the French anti-gay-marriage flashmobs, where men dressed in skin-tight unitards, sporting wings, flew around the square between two dueling anti-gay mobs of women yelling “mom!” and men yelling “dad!”  Again, nothing gay about a guy parading his junk in public.

french-flash-mob-anti-gay

And there is most definitely nothing gay about teenage guys with six-packs putting on tight crotch-hugging pants, ripping their shirts off, then lighting a flare and racing through the finals of the French Open.

Yes, the anti-gay protester was quite literally “flaming”:

Homoerotic anti-gay protesters disrupt French Open finals

Fabulously flaming anti-gay marriage protester disrupts the finals of the French Open.

Oliver then moves on to Russia, where the lower house of parliament recently passed legislation pretty much banning pro-gay speech in the entire country.  Oliver notes that Putin, like his French anti-gay counterparts, also has an odd penchant for going shirtless.

Vladimir-Putin-shirtless

And finally we have the Vatican, which is so gay it can’t even figure out that it keeps putting seeming-flamers on TV to represent its anti-gayness.  The pro-Vatican apologist who went on CNN to defend the Vatican’s recent comments about a “gay lobby” in the Vatican…. well, you really have to see and hear for yourself – go to 4:25 in the video and just watch, listen, and tell me that Father Edward Beck doesn’t do the voice over on the Honey Badger video:

Father-Edward-Beck

This guy makes Lindsey Graham sound like to Tom Selleck.

Do watch the segment, it’s one of the best I’ve seen on the Daily Show.

The post Hilarious Daily Show on France’s, Russia’s, Pope’s anti-gayness appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Jon Stewart investigates the Australian gun control “failure” (video) http://americablog.com/2013/04/john-oliver-investigates-the-australian-gun-control-failure-video.html http://americablog.com/2013/04/john-oliver-investigates-the-australian-gun-control-failure-video.html#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 18:01:33 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=87636 A look at the incredibly successful gun control legislation passed in Australia a while back.

The post Jon Stewart investigates the Australian gun control “failure” (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>
Jon Stewart looks at the failure of background check legislation in the US Senate by having Jon Oliver look at effective gun control in Australia.

Of course, the gun advocate says Australia isn’t the “real world” and is akin to “going to Planet X.”  Of course, Oliver got the gun nut to shut up when the gun nut said laws don’t work, look at the war on drugs.  So Oliver replied, so we shouldn’t have any laws restricting drugs because drug laws don’t work?  Gun nut was speechless.

Jon-Stewarts-Jon-Oliver-Gun-Control

Oliver, incredibly, got to sit down with the Australian Prime Minister who got gun control passed in Australia.

It’s a good episode.

The post Jon Stewart investigates the Australian gun control “failure” (video) appeared first on AMERICAblog News.

]]>