Mixed Media

Jon Stewart Talks to Atul Gawande About Death, Dying, and Ebola

| Tue Oct. 7, 2014 6:51 PM EDT

Jon Stewart had Atul Gawande, the fabulously talented writer and surgeon, on his show yesterday to laugh in the face of death. Gawande's new book, Being Mortal, is a must-read for anyone who doesn't want to die in an ICU. It tackles the thorny subject of how the medical profession has failed badly when it comes to the needs of the dying, or, as Gawande put it to me a few hours before the Daily Show taping, "We have medicalized aging, and that experiment is failing us." Let's hope this book makes a difference when the time comes.

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Scott Brown Promises Women He Has Supported Contraception Since He Was Barely Legal

| Mon Oct. 6, 2014 7:16 PM EDT

In an effort to defend his record on supporting women's access to contraceptives, Scott Brown has potentially shared more information than any single voter wants to know.

"To think that I don't support women's rights and ability to get contraception is just a false premise," Brown said during a Monday debate with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). "I have since I was 18 years old."

Brown, who is the GOP senate candidate in New Hampshire, was responding to a question regarding his past co-sponsorship of legislation opposing Obamacare because of its requirement mandating employers provide healthcare coverage (birth control being the most controversial) to workers.

He did not elaborate on the exact fundamental shift that occurred when he turned 18. Perhaps, Brown was overwhelmed by his newfound civic duty to vote in a presidential election?

But hey! In the case, you are reveling in Brown's likely personal detail, here are some photos of the former senator working out and loving it.

Let John Oliver And Jeff Goldblum Show You How Police Commit "Legalized Robbery"

| Mon Oct. 6, 2014 2:42 PM EDT

In last night's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver guides us through the uncomfortably murky practice of civil forfeiture -- a completely legal procedure that allows police to seize one's money and property without ever charging said person with any wrongdoing.

Oliver's segment cites a recent Washington Post investigation into the shady practice, which is used by law enforcement agencies throughout the country and is reportedly on the rise. As Ezekiel Edwards of the Criminal Law Reform Project succinctly labels in Oliver's segment, yes, civil forfeiture sounds an awful lot like "legalized robbery by law enforcement."

Pretty disturbing, no? Thankfully, Oliver's report includes a helpful "Law & Order" parody featuring Jeff Goldblum to walk us through the absurdity that is civil forfeiture.

Check Out This Incredible Trove of Vintage Amateur Gospel

| Mon Oct. 6, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Memphis Spiritual Four

Various Artists
The Soul of Designer Records
Big Legal Mess Records

 

With 101 tracks on four discs, The Soul of Designer Records isn't for casual listeners, but it will delight most anyone who partakes. This amazing, irresistible collection chronicles the output of the Memphis-based Designer label, which from 1967 to 1977 served as a vanity press for mostly amateur gospel artists looking to record their own 45s. Despite the artists' nonprofessional status, not to mention the microscopic budgets, the recordings are almost uniformly excellent and exciting, marked by raw, unfeigned passion and stripped-down settings that suggest a church-ified counterpart to garage rock. From Grand Junction to Cora Bell Watkins to the Mighty Blytheville Aires, likable nobodies all, this is one terrific set.

The (Almost) Unabridged Barbara Lynn

| Mon Oct. 6, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

Barbara Lynn
The Complete Atlantic Recordings
Real Gone Music

Barbara Lynn

The Complete Atlantic Recordings spotlights Texas-born singer Barbara Lynn, best known for the 1962 smash hit "You’ll Lose a Good Thing." While her tenure with Atlantic Records in the late '60s and early '70s failed to generate major commercial sparks, there's plenty of fine Southern soul (tempered with a dash of Motown) on this 25-song collection. Lynn's husky drawl never sounded better than it does on "This Is the Thanks I Get," "People Like Me" or her previously unreleased version of the Box Tops "Soul Deep." For those who prefer a more concise portion, Light in the Attic Records will release a straight reissue of Lynn's sole Atlantic album at the end of October.

Elizabeth Warren: The Feds Are Far Too "Cozy" With Wall Street

| Wed Oct. 1, 2014 5:04 PM EDT

Pointing to recently leaked audio recordings between officials at the Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs bankers, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is slamming regulators for being far too timid and compliant when it comes to laying down the law with big banks.

"Well, ultimately this report tells us exactly what we already knew — that the relationship between regulators and the financial institutions they oversee is too cozy to provide the kind of tough oversight that's really needed," Warren said in an interview with NPR.

While the secret recordings, which were captured by former bank examiner for the Federal Reserve Carmen Segarra, do not expose any flagrant wrongdoing by either side, they do reveal an uncomfortable, wholly inappropriate eagerness to please Goldman Sachs. And let's keep in mind Segarra's secret tapes were recorded in 2012, at least four solid years after the financial crisis.

After This American Life and ProPublica jointly released the tapes last week, Warren and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have also called for a federal investigation into the dealings of the New York Federal Reserve.

The New York Fed has since "categorically rejected" the accusations, but Warren tells NPR the public needs more individuals like Segerra who are willing to speak up against institutions deemed "too big to fail."

"We need to look at whether or not we've got the right tools to protect the kind of people who will speak up. But, but what we've got to start with is we've got to expose what happened here, we've got to look at what the available tools are, but we've got to give the message loud and clear to the Fed: Um, this isn't gonna work — you work for the American people, you don't work for the big banks."

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This Is the GOP Campaign Ad Everyone Is Laughing About

| Wed Oct. 1, 2014 3:05 PM EDT

On Wednesday, the College Republican National Committee released a slew of nominally "culturally relevant" campaign ads. Unsurprisingly, they are bad and the internet is having a lot of fun mocking them.

Here is the one they made for the gubernatorial race in Florida:

(They also released versions for races in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania.)

The ads—parodies of "Say Yes To The Dress"—are being roundly mocked on social media. Deservedly so! They are objectively awful. To be honest though, if they were produced by Democrats a lot of liberals would be laughing with them instead of at them. And, look, on the one hand, c'est la vie. That's the way it goes with campaign ads. But on the other hand, it's probably worth keeping in mind because being aware of your own hypocrisy helps build character.

 

This Stunning Drone Footage Reveals Just How Massive Hong Kong's Protests Really Are

| Tue Sep. 30, 2014 12:26 PM EDT

Protests in Hong Kong show no sign of stopping, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators continue to demand greater autonomy from the government in Beijing. This video, featured on Storyful, by Nero Chan (uploaded to his Facebook account on September 29), offers a glimpse into the magnitude of the movement. Tomorrow is National Day, a public holiday across China. Activists say there's a chance the protests could swell even beyond what you can see in this video.

George Zimmerman's Family Describes Living in a Paranoid World of Color-Coded Threats

| Mon Sep. 29, 2014 5:05 PM EDT
George Zimmerman

In an incredibly absorbing article in GQ, the family of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who was acquitted after fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, discusses its attempts to "rebrand" while living in paralyzing fear.

The Zimmermans' stories, which are both simultaneously tragic and bizarre, show a family eager to move on from the April 2012 "incident" in which George killed Trayvon Martin. They're also struggling with debt and paranoia:

They watched the movie Argo to learn how to live like CIA. Code names for everyone. No mail delivered to the house. No visitors. No talking to the few neighbors they had. No long phone conversations—keep it short and vague to outwit surveillance. Never discuss your whereabouts via phone or text. Keep a weapon close by at all times. Robert slept with his gun. Still does.

And in case someone—or multiple someones—decided to mount an attack on the house, the Zimmermans pre-packed their own "go-bags" filled with everything they would need to flee in a rush, as well as what they called "footballs"—like the one President Obama has with the nuclear codes—that contained laptops, cell phones, and other essential electronics.

They also memorized a color-coded threat-ID system. Code blue: Law enforcement at the door. Code brown: Draw your weapons. Code black: Come out guns blazing.

The Zimmermans wonder if a reality show starring George or a sit-down with Fox's Sean Hannity will restore their name. In an upsetting and absurd twist, George's brother Robert, the family's most vocal member, describes hoping to cash-in on their newfound infamy with a show inspired by the Kardashians. He rationalizes: "Like, use the shit you've got."

Read the full feature here.

Watch John Oliver Call Out America for Blindly Supporting Obama's Drone War

| Mon Sep. 29, 2014 12:22 PM EDT

On the latest "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver looked into how Americans have come to widely accept President Obama's growing reliance on drone strikes, while knowing little to nothing about the administration's rules for using them.

"Because our rules for drone strikes are a little like Harvey Keitel's balls: We've all seen them in 'The Piano,' 'Bad Lieutenant, or on SnapChat. And from, from a distance you think, 'Well, I understand the contours of those.' But if you were to really examine them, you'd discover that they're actually lost in a haze of fuzziness and grey areas. Much like the rules for our drone strikes."

The comparison, which Oliver says has contributed to defining Obama's presidency as much as Obamacare and "receiving racist emails from distant relatives," perfectly illustrates just how little both the public and the administration knows exactly who and how many we're going about killing with such strikes ---  strikes that have waged on despite the continued lack of answers Obama seems quite intent on never sufficiently explaining to us.

"That is a little disturbing. Because the question 'how many people have you've killed in drone strikes' is not one of those questions where it's okay to say you don't know. It's not like asking someone 'who was the voice of Disney's Aladdin' or 'what are Skittles are made from.' It's different…And the crazy thing is it's literally always been like this."