Mixed Media

Cheater Punished

| Mon May 11, 2015 5:53 PM EDT

Don't do the crime if you can't...well, maybe just don't do the crime?

The NFL has suspended New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four games for his role in deflating football for the AFC Championship Game, the league said in a statement Monday.

The Patriots will also lose a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017 and have been fined $1 million.

(via ESPN)

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Watch John Oliver Celebrate Mother's Day by Slamming the Hypocrisy of No Paid Maternity Leave

| Mon May 11, 2015 8:52 AM EDT

The United States is one of only two countries in the world that fails to offer mothers paid maternity leave—a shameful distinction we share with Papua New Guinea. As families gathered to celebrate Mother's Day yesterday, John Oliver took to Last Week Tonight to address the issue and show why current federal law allowing just 12 weeks of leave, all of which is unpaid and extremely limited, forces countless new mothers back to work or in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

"This is not how its supposed to work," Oliver said. "Mothers shouldn't have to stitch together time to recover from childbirth the same way that we plan a four-day weekend in Atlantic City."

Much of this problem is two-fold, Oliver explains, with companies refusing to offer paid leave packages and fearmongering lawmakers claiming any federal mandates to do so would only hurt businesses.

"You can't go on and on about how much you love moms but fail to pass legislation that makes life easier for them."

Watch the full report below:

 

Shelby Lynne's Down-Home Country Music Is the Real Deal

| Mon May 11, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Shelby Lynne
I Can't Imagine
Rounder

Shelby Lynne shouldn't be hurried. Her earthy voice works best at a leisurely pace, indicating hard-won lessons of a world-weary heart as well as pleasures of the moment worth savoring. (Not surprisingly, one of her new songs bears the Zen-like title "Be in the Now.") The thoroughly satisfying I Can't Imagine features Lynne's usual brew of down-home country, unadorned R&B, plainspoken folk, and passionate gospel, but what it really sounds like is her own unique self. Like the great Tony Joe White (Lynne's spiritual kin), she's created a fresh and distinctive language out of these familiar sources, spinning tales of longing and fulfillment that never feel less than genuine.

Best Coast's "California Nights" Is an Enticing Combination of Angst and Beat

| Mon May 11, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Best Coast
California Nights
Harvest

Bethany Cosentino, the singer-songwriter half of Best Coast—multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno is her longtime collaborator—excels at existential distress encased in a bright candy shell. California Nights, the duo's fine third album, is a delicious brew of big pop melodies, yearning vocals that wouldn't be out of place in an old-fashioned girl group, and densely textured wall-of-sound production. While Cosentino's lyrics are often disarmingly simple and direct, along the lines of "I love you" and "I miss you," collectively they can hint at deranged obsession, as if a crazed romantic poet had picked up an electric guitar and started a band. Having once sung "Who Have I Become?" she continues her soul-searching ways here on the soaring "So Unaware," asking, "What is life/What is love/What's the meaning of it all?/Do I even care?/Or is it just that I am so unaware?" Add equally restless tunes like "When Will I Change?" and "Sleep Won't Ever Come," and you've got the most enticing combination of angst and beat to be found anywhere.

These Were the Most Popular Baby Names of 2014

| Fri May 8, 2015 3:42 PM EDT

Have you given birth to a human in the last year? If so, you very well may have bestowed onto said baby human one of the following monikers. According to the Social Security Administration, the agency tasked to tracked such data, these were the most popular baby names of 2014:

Social Security Matters

Judging by the list of popular girl names, it's apparent the allure of the Victorian-era is all the rage. Emma, Olivia, Abigail, Emily, Charlotte—Downton USA has basically written itself into production! But the list of popular boy names doesn't appear to fit into such period-defining molds. Can someone please explain this to me? I'm childless and lost.

This Is the Degrading Bullshit Nail Salon Workers Put Up With Every Single Day

| Thu May 7, 2015 3:29 PM EDT

Update, May 11, 2015: Following the Times investigation, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an emergency order to protect nail salon employees from health dangers and wage theft. 

Scoring a cheap manicure or pedicure, particularly in New York, is incredibly easy. After all, nail salons abound on seemingly every other city block and thus keep prices low in order to compete. It all comes at a steep price, however. The New York Times has published an in-depth investigation looking into the disturbing culture of exploitation, racism, and low-wages salon workers endure throughout the New York region. Here are the most shocking bits:

Some workers are paid as little as $1.50 an hour. In Manhattan, where the average price for a manicure is $10.50, salons compensate for such low prices by severely underpaying workers and oftentimes hitting employees with surprise charges just to work there. On slow days, some worker aren't even paid at all.

Among the hidden customs are how new manicurists get started. Most must hand over cash — usually $100 to $200, but sometimes much more — as a training fee. Weeks or months of work in a kind of unpaid apprenticeship follows.

Ms. Ren spent almost three months painting on pedicures and slathering feet with paraffin wax before one afternoon in the late summer when her boss drew her into a waxing room and told her she would finally be paid.

Race often determines how well a worker is paid.

Korean workers routinely earn twice as much as their peers, valued above others by the Korean owners who dominate the industry and who are often shockingly plain-spoken in their disparagement of workers of other backgrounds. Chinese workers occupy the next rung in the hierarchy; Hispanics and other non-Asians are at the bottom.

[...]

Many Korean owners are frank about their prejudices. "Spanish employees" are not as smart as Koreans, or as sanitary, said Mal Sung Noh, 68, who is known as Mary, at the front desk of Rose Nails, a salon she owns on the Upper East Side.

Workers are frequently subjected to physical abuse.

...the minichain of Long Island salons whose workers said they were not only underpaid but also kicked as they sat on pedicure stools, and verbally abused.

Salons rarely go punished because language barriers prove too difficult.

When investigators try to interview them, manicurists are frequently reluctant to cooperate, more so than in any other industry, according a Labor Department official involved who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not permitted to talk with reporters. "It’s really the only industry we see that in,” the person said, explaining that it most likely indicated just how widespread exploitation is in nail salons. "They are totally running scared in this industry."

In all, the story paints a deeply disturbing portrait of income inequality literally an arm's length away. To read the investigation in its entirety, head to the Times.

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You're Really Going to Hate James Franco's Offensive Nostalgia Trip to McDonald's

| Thu May 7, 2015 11:20 AM EDT

In the midst of plummeting sales, pressure to bump wages, and an apparent gastronomic identity crisis, McDonald's needs all the help it can get right now to reclaim its status as a global fast-food powerhouse. Today, the company found a friend in actor James Franco.

The aspiring Renaissance man and actor, who once worked as a McDonald's employee for a total of three months, has penned a bizarre op-ed in the Washington Post to defend the company from its growing chorus of detractors. The piece, titled "McDonald's Was There for Me When No One Else Was," describes his decision to quit UCLA as an undergrad in 1996 in order to pursue an acting career.  While studying at a "hole-in-the-wall" acting school, Franco worked a part-time job at a Los Angeles McDonald's:

When I was hungry for work, they fed the need. I still love the simplicity of the McDonald’s hamburger and its salty fries. After reading "Fast Food Nation," it's hard for me to trust the grade of the meat. But maybe once a year, while on a road trip or out in the middle of nowhere for a movie, I'll stop by a McDonald’s and get a simple cheeseburger: light, and airy, and satisfying.

Franco, who seems to forget that being a drop-out from an elite university set him apart from most hourly workers at McDonald's, goes onto reminisce about his rosy experience: Mixing it up with co-workers and even practicing funny accents. "I refrained from reading on the job, but soon started putting on fake accents with the customers to practice for my scenes in acting class," he recalls. Franco even encountered a homeless family. "They lived out of their car and did crossword puzzles all day," Franco writes. "Sometimes they would order McDonald’s food, but other times they would bring in Chinese or groceries."

Franco also had the thrill of getting hit on by a man who actually cooked those "light, airy, and satisfying" burgers.

He wanted to hook up in the bathroom, but he didn’t speak English, so he had someone translate for him.

To everyone out there fighting for a living wage, this experience could offer some hope. After all, with the right attitude, McDonald's can be a stepping stone on your path to Hollywood stardom, just as it was for James Franco.

This Supercut of Candidates Singing "Let's Get It On" Is Why We Love Britain During Elections

| Wed May 6, 2015 5:36 PM EDT
 

Who could get it on after #GE2015? Watch our #GeneralAffection song to find out.Full election coverage on Sky News, May 7th from 9pm.

Posted by Sky News on Thursday, April 30, 2015

British voters are heading to the polls today for what promises to be a very tight election. Latest polling suggests the two major parties, Labour and the Conservatives, are tied near the finish line. The result is likely to be what's known as a "hung parliament". Both Labour and the Conservatives will need support from smaller parties across the spectrum to form government—among them the Scottish National Party (SNP) on the left, the Liberal Democrats somewhere around the center, and UKIP, on the right. Whomever can stitch together enough seats in parliament to win a majority will ultimately form government. If no group of parties can get to the magic number of 326 seats, Britain might well be heading back to the polls again soon to sort this whole mess out.

Even if you're unfamiliar with British politics, the video above from Sky News gives a nice introduction to the main players—David Cameron (the current Conservative PM), Ed Miliband (the current opposition leader, from the Labour party), and Nicola Sturgeon, from the resurgent SNP among them. All set to Marvin Gaye's classic, "Let's Get It On". Enjoy. (And happy voting, friends across the pond.)

The Woman Behind Texas' Muhammad Cartoon Contest Compares Herself to Rosa Parks

| Tue May 5, 2015 3:59 PM EDT

After two gunmen opened fire at a Muhammad drawing contest in Texas over the weekend, the head of the group that organized the controversial event has appeared on several television programs explaining the legitimacy of the contest.  Today, Pamela Geller's defense reached a new height of tone-deafness when she compared herself to civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked Geller how she felt about criticism from conservatives including Donald Trump, who condemned Sunday's contest as a "taunting" tactic solely used to incite Muslims. Geller dismissed Trump's comments, saying, "He sure flaps his tongue and uses free speech and wishes to silence others. What would he have said about Rosa Parks? Rosa Parks should never have gone to the front of the bus. She’s taunting people."

Shocked, MacCallum responded, "No, no, no. How do you make the Rosa Parks comparison?"

Geller refused to back down, and in fact seemed to be gaining steam, pledging she would not "abridge" her freedom for the sake of "savages"—a description she has used in past anti-Islam campaigns.

Insulting Donald Trump, Muslims, and the memory of Rosa Parks in one brief segment does demonstrate the unusual range of Geller's ability to be downright offensive. Who needs the Southern Poverty Law Center when there's material like this?

 

Jessica Williams Expertly Trolls Gay Marriage Opponents With Tribute to "Hate Class of 2015"

| Tue May 5, 2015 11:30 AM EDT

Though divided in oral arguments, in the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is expected to rule in favor of gay marriage in the landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges. This could signal the death knell for same-sex marriage opponents, who may soon be forced to accept a new gay-friendly law of the land.

Realizing it may be her last chance to rub elbows with the "Hate Class of 2015," The Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams recently met up with opponents outside the Supreme Court to bid a fond farewell—a "wrong side of history" yearbook signing and A-plus trolling included.

Watch below: