7 Talking Points 'Last Week Tonight' Season 3 Should See John Oliver Sinking His Teeth Into
Despite the traditional lull in news during the holiday season, there has been no shortage of complex stories begging for John Oliver's searing wit, erudite explainers, and quality costume treatments. His HBO series, Last Week Tonight, hasn't been afraid to explore controversial or often-ignored topics like government surveillance, sketchy pharmaceutical companies, or corruption within FIFA, serving as a valuable information conduit for news junkies looking for an in-depth, alternative perspective to standard cable news fare. With that in mind, here's my rundown of seven issues John Oliver might cover in the Season 3 premiere of Last Week Tonight that haven't gotten their fair share of screen time in the mainstream media yet.
In the weeks leading up to the Season 2 finale, Oliver took on the Canadian elections, America’s Medicare health care delivery system, rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners into society, fantasy sports and gambling, and went into an in-depth treatise on the inherent uselessness of minting pennies. I will definitely be spending my Valentine’s Day evening curled up on the sofa with a box of bonbons from my new favorite chocolaterie on hand. Quite possibly the best part of the plan is that I don’t have to worry about sharing any of the chocolate.
The Methane Leak In California Worse Than 7 Million Cars Running At Once, Every Day
When Southern California Gas Company neglected to replace old emergency shut-off valves because it was "difficult to find replacement parts," the massive methane leak right outside of Los Angeles resulted in California Gov. Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency on Jan. 6. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that residents in Aliso Canyon have been beset by nosebleeds, headaches, and dizziness since the leak started in October of last year; over 2,000 families have been relocated away from the disaster.
Last Year Was The Warmest On Record, For The Second Year In A Row
2015 is going down in the history books as the second year in a row where global temperature increases broke records, and scientists are predicting that 2016 will be even warmer still. I don't have to tell you that human activity is pretty much all to blame for the steadily increasing temperatures and freakishly weird weather, but the question remains: Is 2016 going to be remembered as the year that humanity came together to save our shared planet, or will it be just another year of inaction and indifference following the COP21 talks in Paris last November?
The Lead Poisoning Crisis Is About To Go National
Erza Klein just tweeted out a map showing data on lead poisoning in children nationwide. The only thing more shocking than the horrific levels of lead poisoning in children throughout the Rust Belt is the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting that in 22 states, including major population centers like California, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and Washington, less than five children were tested for possible lead exposure. In large swaths of Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois, nearly 1 percent of children have been exposed to poisonous levels of lead, which is linked to a variety of social ills, like lowering IQs in children, violent crime, and ADHD.
Why Is An Old White Guy From Vermont Winning The Hearts And Minds Of Millennial Voters?
Sanders is surging in the national polls as Hillary Clinton's mantle of inevitability is wearing arduously thin. According to a USA Today/Rock The Vote poll, among Democratic women ages 18-34, Sanders maintains an impressive 19 point lead over Clinton. Despite the Clinton campaign deploying the likes of Lena Dunham and Katy Perry to create connections with young women through social media and word-of-mouth, it seems like the oldest dude in the presidential race is the one who is winning the hearts and minds of young women, despite the chance to help elect the first female president in 2016. It will be interesting to see how Oliver handles the Democratic race when the show returns to the airwaves, after Iowa and New Hampshire will have had the chance to vote.
Will The United Kingdom Really Leave The European Union?
It was announced today that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will be ditching a visit to Sweden and Denmark on Friday to instead meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels. Up for discussion? Terms of a possible British exit, or Brexit, from the European Union. Despite retaining its own currency instead of using the Euro and freedom from the common immigration policy on the Continent, the U.K. is seeking increased control over welfare and benefits to non-British citizens amid a swelling refugee crisis from war-torn countries in the Middle East. Oliver hasn't been afraid to take on Cameron, or his politics, in the past, so here's hoping he decides to devote a few minutes to the temper tantrum brewing on the other side of the pond.
There Was A Coup In Poland Nobody Seems To Care About
Over the course of the past two seasons, Oliver has used his platform to shed light on international issues that might not always get prime time (or any time) in the media spotlight, covering Indian's general elections, LGBT rights in Uganda, the push for Scottish independence, and, who could forget? — frisky Russian space geckos. But since the Law and Justice Party came to power in November, a sea of sweeping changes to Polish law has left some claiming that a regime change has taken place. President Jarosław Kaczyński has "pursued an uncompromising revolution from above that abandons the institutions of liberal democracy and any ethos of compromise in favor of an unchallenged monopoly of power," according to David Ost in The Nation. Some of the changes include re-politicizing the civil service, giving the government power to spy on the Internet, and instituting party control over state-owned media.
Perhaps most troubling is that the new "strong" state has been making waves internationally, signaling support for a Brexit if the U.K. backs its request for yet another increase in NATO troops. By begging for more troops, Poland is flirting dangerously close with further antagonizing Russia, which just isn't a clever play. Ever.
Iran Can Sell Oil (Legally) Again
One of the unequivocal triumphs for the Obama administration has been the long-awaited rapprochement with Iran. Since international inspectors have verified that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the disarmament treaty, economic sanctions against doing business with the country have been lifted and assets — to the tune of $100 billion dollars — have been unfrozen. The Los Angeles Times reports Iran has already vowed to increase production by 500,000 barrels per day in the coming weeks, and to fully double their current 1.1 million barrel per day capacity by the year's end.
Increasing supply during a time when the price per barrel is hitting historic lows will only further drive down the price of oil, causing countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who depend on high prices to balance budgets, to feel increasingly ill at ease. Of course, some would question why pumping more oil out of the ground is a good idea, period. If anyone would be able to detangle this complex geopolitical story, and do it while keeping us entertained and engaged, Oliver is the one for the job.
Season 3 of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver premieres on HBO on Feb. 14 at 11 p.m. ET