HBO

John Oliver and Helen Mirren debunk U.S. torture practices: “The reason so many of us believe that torture works is that it does—on TV”

John Oliver and Helen Mirren debunk U.S. torture practices: "The reason so many of us believe that torture works is that it does—on TV"

John Oliver (Credit: HBO)

SALON

Oliver enlisted the help of Dame Helen Mirren to read some excerpts from the SIC’s public torture report

“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver says that Americans have been “dangerously misinformed” about the U.S.’ torture practices and encouraged everyone to read the “condensed” 500-page report the Senate Intelligence Committee made available to the public at the tail-end of last year.

Oliver said on Sunday’s program that a large majority of Americans still believe that torture is an effective method of combating terrorism. What’s worse, the practices are currently only being restrained by executive powers and could be disregarded in 2016 with a new president at the helm.

The “Last Week Tonight” host went on to compare U.S. torture to the show “24″ and enlisted the help of Dame Helen Mirren to read some excerpts — including one about forced rectal feeding — from the public report: “Majid Khan’s ‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.”

“Torture is one of those things that is advertised as something that works, but doesn’t—like a Ford truck or those weird bottles of Horny Goat Weed available at your local bodega,” Oliver said. “But maybe the reason that so many of us innately believe that torture works is that it does—on TV, all the time. Look at ’24.’ Jack Bauer repeatedly saved American lives while behaving like this.”

Watch the clip below courtesy of HBO below:

Bill Maher: GOP will nominate Scott Walker as worst of ‘are you f*cking kidding me?’ candidates

Bill Maher on 'Real Time' on Sept. 28, 2014.

Vintage Bill Maher on ‘Real Time’ on Sept. 28, 2014 | Screenshot HBO

Raw Story

In an interview that concentrated heavily on 2016′s presidential race, comedian Bill Maher said he was placing his bet on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to get the GOP nod, calling him the worst of a weak field made up of  “are you f*cking kidding me?” candidates.

Speaking with Buzzfeed, the host of HBO’s Real Time, admitted that he would in all likelihood support Hillary Clinton, while dismissing Republicans out of hand.

Maher said that Walker is ideal for Republicans because, “he’s the worst and the Republicans, you know, they are pretty good at nominating the ‘are you f*cking kidding me?’ candidate. And to me, Mr. Walker is the ‘are you f*cking kidding me?’ candidate.”

Maher was less kind to former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, mocking his status as the “moderate” among potential nominees.

“When he was the governor of Florida, he threw an election for his brother, he threw black people off the voter rolls, he crushed the unions, he signed the Stand Your Ground law, he put the feeding tube back into Terri Schiavo,” he said. “This is what passes for a moderate in this party? Yeah, I guess so.”

Maher was more reserved when speaking of libertarian candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky with whom he shares some beliefs, but criticized him for pandering to the GOP base.

“His father made a calculation, ‘Better to be true to yourself, better to be real, better to be honest and say what you really believe and not win then to sell out like these other dopes,’” Maher said. “And Rand Paul looks like he’s not making that calculation, he looks like he’s making the opposite calculation.”

Maher added that in a recent interview with the Kentucky senator, Paul better articulated his positions, but as the campaign has ramped up his rhetoric has dumbed down.

“It’s not like the boy can’t learn. But unfortunately, again, it looks like the lesson he learned from his father is, ‘Say stupid shit to get the nomination because if you don’t, you’ll lose.’”

Bill Maher Torches ‘Blatant Bald-Assed Liar’ Bill O’Reilly (VIDEO)

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HBO Screen Cap

 TPM LiveWire

Maher called him a “blatant bald-assed liar. … These are out and out lies.”

Watch the video below, via HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher.

10 things you need to know today: October 16, 2014

A health care worker who contracted Ebola is rushed to a hospital in Atlanta. 

A health care worker who contracted Ebola is rushed to a hospital in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The Week

Ebola patient’s flight triggers new precautions, Arkansas high court blocks the state’s voter ID law, and more

1. Ebola patient’s flight triggers new precautions
The news that the second Dallas nurse diagnosed with Ebola had been allowed to board a commercial flight despite a low fever triggered new precautions on Wednesday. Health officials began tracking down all 132 people on Monday’s Cleveland-to-Dallas flight with the patient, Amber Vinson, who was being monitored after treating the first Ebola victim on U.S. soil, Thomas Duncan. Frontier Airlines put the crew on paid leave, and two school districts in Ohio and Texas closed schools Thursday because a teacher and students had been on Vinson’s flight. [The Washington Post]

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2. Arkansas high court blocks the state’s voter ID law
Another voter ID law was struck down on Wednesday — this time in Arkansas. The state’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared the law unconstitutional because it restricted voting. The law took effect on Jan. 1 after the state’s GOP-controlled legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto. The constitutionality of such laws, passed by Republicans in several states, remains unresolved. The U.S. Supreme Court recently let North Carolina start enforcing its ID law, but blocked a similar rule in Wisconsin. [The Associated Press]

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3. Leung offers to talk with Hong Kong protesters as tensions rise
Hong Kong police used pepper spray against pro-democracy demonstrators who were trying to block a major road near the office of the Chinese-controlled city’s embattled chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, early Thursday. The clash came as public anger was high following the appearance of a viral video showing police beating a protester this week. Leung sought to defuse tensions by renewing an offer to open talks with protesters next week. [Reuters, Australian Broadcasting Corp.]

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4. Stock volatility rises
Disappointing economic news sent U.S. stocks plummeting on Wednesday — with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping as much as 460 points — before regaining some ground. The Dow closed down 173.45 points, or 1.1 percent. The S&P 500 briefly lost the last of its gains for 2014, and U.S. Treasury yields sank to their lowest point in 16 months as investors sought safe investments. “A lot of people, even the most experienced guys, are dazed by this,” said one equities researcher. [Reuters]

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5. Obama orders more aggressive Ebola response after meeting with health officials
President Obama said after a White House meeting with health officials on Wednesday that he had ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send out a rapid-response team within 24 hours of any new Ebola case. Obama likened the responders to a medical “SWAT team,” saying it was part of a “much more aggressive” effort to handle the threat of Ebola after two nurses in Texas contracted the virus. [ABC News]

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6. HBO prepares to offer its video-streaming service as a stand-alone product
HBO plans next year to sell its popular HBO Go video streaming service as a separate product from its cable channels. The change comes as cable channels adapt to changing viewing habits, with more and more consumers ditching satellite and cable TV and watching their favorite shows online or on mobile devices. Industry analysts said the move would “force a change” in the cable industry, although the impact of HBO’s gamble depends on how prices for video streamers compare to those for cable viewers. [The Associated Press]

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7. Himalayas storm kills 20
At least 20 people were killed in a blizzard and avalanche in Nepal’s Himalayas climbing region, officials in the area said Wednesday. Dozens more climbers were missing. The death toll surpassed that of the last major climbing disaster in the storied mountain range — 16 Sherpas were killed six months ago in the deadliest incident ever on Mount Everest. Authorities believe as many as 200 climbers were climbing in the area when it was hit by the blizzard. [The New York Times]

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8. Court lets work resume on California’s high-speed rail project
California’s highest court cleared the way for work to resume on building the nation’s first bullet train on Wednesday, declining to hear an appeal by opponents of the controversial $68-billion project. California High Speed Rail Authority officials said the decision would allow them to move ahead with work on the first 130-mile section of track in the state’s Central Valley, although they face other legal and financial obstacles. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. Neil Patrick Harris reportedly picked to host the Academy Awards
Neil Patrick Harris has been chosen as the host of the next Oscars ceremony, which is scheduled for Feb. 22, Variety reported Wednesday. Harris has received glowing reviews for past hosting jobs, including last year’s Tony Awards and the Emmy awards in 2009 and 2013. He also has performed in past Academy Awards presentations, but this will be his first appearance as host. Harris also has appeared on the shows as a winner, taking home five Emmys and, this year, a Tony for the lead role in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. [Variety]

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10. Kansas City Royals advance to the World Series
The Kansas City Royals capped a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday to win a spot in the World Series for the first time in 29 years. The Royals clinched the American League championship on two runs they scored in the first inning. Then the Royals, who got into the playoffs as a wild card, relied on their bullpen to hold the Orioles to just one run, sealing the sweep with a 2-1 win. The Royals will host the first two games of the World Series next week against the winner of the National League championship between the Giants and the Cardinals. [Fox Sports]

Maher and Guests Battle Over Whether Obama Governs ‘Out of Fear of Assassination’

Mediaite

During the “Overtime” online edition of HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher posited that PresidentObama moderates his political positions out of fear of being assassinated, leading to a panel-wide battle over whether Americans are “subconsciously racist” against the president.

While lamenting with Oliver Stone about the short political career of John F. Kennedy, Maher suggested that bold leaders like JFK “always seem to, at the end of the day, get cut out of the picture, violently or otherwise. And maybe that is why Barack Obama is more of a centrist than we want him to be?”

“You think that?” Chris Matthews interrupted with a baffled expression. “Just curious that you really think that.”

The president knows, explained Maher, that if he strays “too far to the left,” he would stoke enough anger to be assassinated.

“That’s an extraordinary statement,” Matthews replied. “I’m amazed, I’m impressed you think that his policies are driven by fear of assassination.”

Maher initially denied having said it “in those words,” but ultimately agreed: “I’m sure it’s something he probably thinks about at night.” He added: “I don’t think it’s an insult to say that he might modulate his policies because he’s afraid of all the hate.”

That last remark started the panel down the road of discussing whether Obama is the “great mediator of the country,” and whether Americans have a latent racism towards the president despite his policies mirroring previous white liberal presidents.

Watch here, via HBO

RIP James Gandolfini aka “Tony Soprano”

TODAY Entertainment

Image: James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini is most famous for his role as Tony Soprano, head of the New Jersey crime family portrayed in HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

Actor James Gandolfini, who rose to fame as mob boss Tony Soprano on the hit HBO drama “The Sopranos,” died Wednesday of a possible heart attack, the network has confirmed to NBC News. He was 51.

“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” the network said in a statement. “He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

The actor’s managers also released a statement. “It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome, Italy,” it read. “Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply. He and his family were part of our family for many years and we are all grieving

Gandolfini had appeared in numerous films before landing the role of Soprano, but it was the panic attack-stricken mob boss who would forever define him. He won critical acclaim and three Emmy Awards and three Screen Actors Guild awards for the role, which he played from 1999-2007 on the groundbreaking show.

“I dabbled a little bit in acting in high school, and then I forgot about it completely,” Gandolfini told Vanity Fair in 2012. “And then at about 25 I went to a class. I don’t think anybody in my family thought it was an intelligent choice.”

 

James Gandolfini retrospective slide show (Yahoo News)

 

 

“The American Taliban” – HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’

In my opinion HBO’s The Newsroom rates right up there with The West Wing.

(So that  there’s no confusion, play the Newsroom clip in it’s entirety and  start the West Wing clip at 2:20)

Here’s why…

Catholic League Wants Time Warner To Have ‘A Serious Talk’ With Bill Maher

‘Nuff said…

TPM LiveWire

The Catholic League has had enough of Bill Maher’s shtick.

Maher on Friday closed his weekly HBO program, “Real Time,” with a monologue that was sharply critical of the Catholic Church and the newly elected Pope Francis. It was a pretty typical rant from the anti-religion satirist but William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, believes Maher went too far.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Glenn A. Britt, chairman of HBO’s parent company Time Warner, Donohue said that “Maher’s bigotry” must not go unpunished. Donohue attached a report titled “Bill Maher’s History of Anti-Catholicism, 1998-2013,” which documents 39 jokes made by the comedian that were directed at the Church.

“From the enclosed report, it is evident that Maher’s bigotry is not merely visceral, it is relentless,” Donohue wrote. “The time has come for someone in a position of responsibility to sit down and have a serious talk with this man.”

A self-described agnostic, Maher has long lampooned all religions, as evidenced by his 2008 documentary, “Religulous.”

Read Donohue’s letter here. Watch Maher’s editorial on Catholics and Pope Francis from last Friday, which begins around the :25 mark:

Ed: Warning Bill Maher’s remarks are EXPLICIT.  That’s Bill Maher’s “schtick”…

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 for Dummies

I’ve watched bits and pieces of this series but I was never able to understand much of the plot because it was the second year of the series.  Now, I’ll be able to sort it all out.

Thank you Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast

HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones returns Sunday for a third season. Can’t remember the difference between a wight and a white walker? Jace Lacob’s glossary explains all! Plus, read our advance review of Season 3.

In its riveting second season, Game of Thrones—based on George R.R. Martin’s behemoth A Song of Ice and Fire series and adapted by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss—brought the war for the Iron Throne to a staggering climax with the amazing Battle of the Blackwater, a hugely dramatic set piece that found the naval forces of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) attacking King’s Landing, only to be cast back into the sea, thanks to some ingenuity from Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).

130326-Lacob-Game-of-Thrones-tease

The highly anticipated third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones begins on Sunday at 9 p.m., kicking off another season of treachery, romance, conspiracies, dragons and, um, snowy blue-eyed zombie creatures. If you haven’t read Martin’s hefty novels, the world that the show inhabits can be an intimidating place without the maps, family trees and lineages contained within the novels’ vast appendices. And Season 3 of Game of Thrones is no exception, introducing a slew of new characters, settings and plots, each requiring a whole new knowledge base.

As we did for Season 1 and Season 2, The Daily Beast delves deep into the first four episodes of Game of Thrones Season 3, Martin’s third novel (A Storm of Swords) and beyond to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know, from Astapor to Winterfell. Consider it both a refresher on events from the second season and a constant source of information and background to come back to as you watch the third season.

Continue reading…

New Rules for the New Year

HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher is on hiatus right now, so running across this New York Times op-ed by Maher was like finding an oasis in a desert.   I admit that not all of the following “new rules” are politically correct, but neither is Bill Maher…

The New York Times 

2012: I call it the year in “meh.” Not the worst we’ve ever experienced, but nothing particularly great to say about it either. Like being a socialite, but in Tampa.

I am looking forward to 2013, however, because I love the odd-numbered years — they’re the ones without congressional elections, Olympics, World Cups or weird extra days tacked onto the calendar by so-called scientists. Odd-numbered years are chill. They’re the 3 p.m. of years — that small sliver of time when lunch is digested and it’s too early to think about dinner and you stand at least a fighting chance of getting something done.

In that spirit, here are the New Rules for the new year:

NEW RULE Now that their end-of-the-world prophecy has proved to be complete baloney, the Mayans must be given a job predicting election results for Fox News.

NEW RULE Sometime during the 2013 awards show season, “Gangnam Style” must be given an award for the shortest amount of time between my finding out what something is to my being completely sick of it. Besting the time of 7 hours, 12 minutes, set by “The Macarena” in 1996.

NEW RULE Congress must make it a tradition to drive off the fiscal cliff every year. And I mean really off the cliff, like Toonces the cat drove that car. This way Republicans can learn that lower military spending won’t lead to China invading. And Democrats can learn that no one cares what the Commerce Department does anyway.

NEW RULE No more mixing politics with pizza. The filthy rich founder of Papa John’s, John Schnatter, said he’d cut his employees’ hours to avoid the costs of Obamacare. This is where I’d normally suggest boycotting Papa John’s, but that’s like telling people to boycott sadness. Nobody eats Papa John’s because they like it. They eat it because Domino’s won’t deliver to crack houses.

NEW RULE The winners of next month’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show must later compete against the winners of “Toddlers & Tiaras” — so we can get their handlers in one place, lock the doors and let the kids and dogs run for their lives.

NEW RULE The New Year’s Eve ball drop must be moved to one of the two states that recently legalized pot, so we can hear the crowd sing in unison, “Should old acquaintance be… what are the words again?”

NEW RULE Second-term Obama must have a few laughs by acting out the Tea Party’s worst fears. He must order Air Force One to fly everywhere upside-down like Denzel and replace Bo the White House dog with two pit bulls named “Malcolm” and “X.”

NEW RULE Drugstores, supermarkets, department stores and all other retail establishments must stop asking me to join their “club.” A club is a place to have a few drinks. What you’re offering me is two dollars off a bottle of NyQuil. And that’s nothing like being in a club. Unless I drink the whole bottle at once.

NEW RULE You can’t run for president if you don’t know how old the world is. Quizzed recently, Marco Rubio answered, “I’m not a scientist, man.” As if you have to be Galileo to Google, “How old is the earth?” And when asked his thoughts on evolution, Chris Christie said, “None of your business!” Which is what you say when someone asks you if you made a baby with the maid. Fellas, if you and your party want to be taken seriously, you don’t have to recite the collected works of Stephen Hawking — just stop regurgitating the Facebook page of Sarah Palin.

NEW RULE If we must sit through a 30-second ad to see your Web site, you have to take down all of those banner ads, which no one has clicked on since 1997. Please — I’m trying to watch a video of a nipple slip from last night’s episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Let’s not cheapen it.

Bill Maher is the host of “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO.