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Kickass News

Hosted by Hollywood producer and political media strategist Ben Mathis, KickAss News is a twice weekly podcast that features the most interesting personalities and thought leaders in politics, entertainment, tech, business, science, and more. Enjoy the podcast? Then please support the show and help keep us on the air by making a donation to our GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/kickassnews. Another way you can support the show is to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review on iTunes to help keep us ranking strong on the top podcasts charts. For more information visit www.kickassnews.com. Thanks for listening!
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Now displaying: August, 2019
Aug 29, 2019

In 2018 Senator Jeff Merkley posted a viral video that triggered worldwide outrage at the forced separation of migrant children from their parents.  Now over a year later, he claims that there are still families who haven’t been reunited and that family separations are the result of a deliberate effort by the Trump Administration to deter immigrants by inflicting maximum pain.  Senator Merkley makes the case that Trump’s zero tolerance policy toward illegal immigration is violating both US and international laws, and he reveals what happened when he confronted his old Senate colleague Jeff Sessions about this issue.  He recalls his travel through war-torn Central America in the 80’s and actually claims that those countries are much worse off today.  Plus he shares heart-breaking stories from refugees who risked everything to escape worst imaginable kind of evil at the hands of gangs and drug cartels.

Order Senator Jeff Merkley's book America Is Better Than This: Trump's War Against Migrant Families on Amazon, Audible, or wherever books are sold.  Follow Senator Merkley on Twitter at @SenJeffMerkley.  This episode is sponsored by Anchor.  Anchor is a Spotify-owned company that makes it easy for anyone to make a podcast, for free. Get started at www.anchor.fm/kickassnews.  We're also sponsored by AncestryDNA.  Go to www.ancestry.com/kick today for 20% off your AncestryDNA kit. 

Aug 26, 2019

Adventurer and explorer Josh Gates has spent his career crossing the globe to investigate the world’s most intriguing mysteries as host of Expedition Unknown on Discovery Network.  In the age of Google Maps, he says there are still unexplored parts of the world full of wonders to be uncovered.  The self-described “opened-minded skeptic” talks his obsession with Yeti and why these "mystery primates" appear again and again in cultures all around the world.  He reveals how Expedition Unknown helped recover Judy Garland’s stolen ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, new forensic evidence they found in the case of D.B. Cooper, and recent developments that have lead him to revisit several topics in the new season.  Josh recalls some of his craziest adventures in Season 7 such as braving the Siberian winter to look into the bizarre Dyatlov Pass incident and scouring the ancient caves of Israel and Jordan for the lost Dead Sea Scrolls.  He walks me through how he decides which legends to chase, which ones are too dangerous, how to handle a shakedown by local authorities in a strange country, and the most awkward of conversations - how to divvy up a treasure!

Expedition Unknown airs Wednesdays at 9PM Eastern on Discovery Network.  Keep up with Josh at www.joshuagates.com or on Twitter at @JoshuaGates.  This episode is sponsored by Capella University, MyBookie, and White Castle.

Aug 22, 2019

This is a rebroadcast of an interview with former Secretary of State George Shultz that originally aired January 19, 2018.  Secretary Shultz recalls his close friendship with President Ronald Reagan, the moment he realized that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was someone the U.S. could do business with, and Reagan's Pershing missile moment as a masterclass in peace through strength.  He suggests that President Trump may soon need to have a "Pershing moment" of his own, reveals what he learned in a meeting years ago with a young Vladimir Putin, and weighs in as an economist on the Trump tax reform act.  Plus George Shultz discusses why Ronald Reagan never bluffed, why foreign policy is a lot like gardening, and why the prospect of nuclear war still keeps him up at night.

George Shultz is a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and you can read some of his articles at www.hoover.org.  

Aug 19, 2019

Former deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center Philip Mudd talks about the radical transformation that the intelligence community underwent in the first 90 days after 9/11, why CIA was never intended to be in the business of housing and interrogating prisoners, and how the CIA reached the decision to outsource the job to America’s allies at so-called black sites in what came to be known as "the Program."  He discusses some of the 13 enhanced interrogation methods that were approved by the U.S. Justice Department, how they delineated between aggressive interrogation and torture, and which techniques worked and which ones did not.  He says CIA operators express few regrets about what they did in "the Program," and many still feel they were thrown under the bus by members of Congress and also by former President Barack Obama.  

Order Philip Mudd's book Black Site: The CIA in the Post-9/11 World on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold and keep up with Philip at www.PhilMudd.com.  This episode is sponsored by Capella University, White Castle, and PuroTrader.  

Aug 15, 2019

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary begins as a profile on a uniquely deranged magician, who built a career out of shock and deception in the 1980s, but it quickly becomes the bizarre story about the unravelling of his documentarian Ben Berman.  Johnathan Szeles and Ben Berman join me at the world famous Magic Castle to talk about the crazy experience of making this film. Johnathan discusses the heart condition that lead to his retirement in 2014, what his doctors say 5 years after giving him a year to live, and why Johnathan believes the secret to his survival is either stem cells, meth, or both! Ben talks about having to relinquish some control as a director and follow the Amazing Johnathan wherever this wild ride took him including having to contend with a second crew filming a totally different documentary about Amazing Johnathan.  Plus the psychology of magic, the gamesmanship of elaborate pranks, why David Copperfield and Chris Angel hate each others’ guts, and Johnathan knows a lot about faking your own death!

The Amazing Johnathan Documentary is available on Hulu and in select theaters beginning Friday, August 16.  Keep up with the Amazing Jonathan at theamazingjohnathan.com or on Twitter at @TheAmazingJ, and follow Ben Berman on Twitter at @LipsBerman.  This episode is sponsored by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Aug 12, 2019

Long before Star Trek, a very young George Takei was one of 145,000 Japanese Americans held in internment camps during World War II, and now he returns to this formative experience in his life
as a historical consultant and star in the second season of AMC's horror anthology series The Terror: Infamy.  He talks about the painful experience of having his whole family uprooted by their own government, the eerie sense of déjà vu that he got when he first arrived on the set of The Terror: Infamy, and how he served as a link to the past for the other actors on the show.  He recalls being forced to live in a horse stall at a California race track for two months and then getting shipped across the country to an internment camp in the swamps of Arkansas, but that it all just seemed like a great adventure to an innocent boy who was oblivious discrimination and injustice.  George explains why he takes issue with the term "Japanese internment camps," why his parents were nearly deported over a citizenship questionnaire, and why he fears that history might be repeating itself under President Donald Trump.  Plus he reveals how an early experience in the camps partly inspired him to go into acting, and we talk a little Star Trek.

The Terror: Infamy premieres on Monday, August 12 at 9/8 Central on AMC.  Order George Takei’s new graphic novel They Called Us Enemy on Amazon or wherever books are sold and follow him on Twitter at @GeorgeTakei.  This episode is sponsored by Bank of America’s The Academy for Consumer and Small Business, Kronos HR Solutions, and BetterHelp.

Aug 8, 2019

Actor Wyatt Russell is the star of the most original show on television AMC's Lodge 49.  We discuss the allure of ancient fraternal orders, the importance of embracing everyday "magic," and getting curious about the places and the people we all too often drive past.  He talks about how the show speaks to the isolation of modern social media culture and our longing for fellowship.  Wyatt reminisces about previous career as a professional hockey player and the injury that sidelined him from hockey, but opened the door to a career in film and television.  He recalls getting his first big break just when he was ready to give up on acting, following in the steps of his famous parents Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, and what they taught him about keeping celebrity in perspective.

Season 2 of Lodge 49 premieres on Monday, August 12 at 10/9C on AMC.  Visit www.amc.com for more information..  This episode is sponsored by Bank of America’s The Academy for Consumer and Small Business.  

Aug 5, 2019

Terry McAuliffe was Governor of Virginia at the time of the infamous Unite the Right rally that left three dead and many injured in Charlottesville, VA.  He offers a behind-the-scenes account of this infamous chapter in our history and shows how we can prevent other Charlottesvilles from happening in the future.  He shares his biggest worries in the weeks leading up to the infamous Unite the Right rally, why local authorities didn’t take his concerns nearly seriously enough, and why he believes that the ACLU shares some of the blame for failing to prevent the violence.  He opens up about the tragic loss his own family suffered on that fateful day and voices his anger at the out-of-state agitators who gave Virginia a bad name.  He discusses his phone call with President Trump on the day of the rally and his outrage when the President later made a wildly offensive public statement on the issue.  Terry McAuliffe also talks about running for Governor and recalls his efforts to bring Virginia into the 21st Century.  Then the former chairman of DNC weighs in on the Democratic debates and what he thinks Democrats are looking for in 2020.

Order Terry McAuliffe's book Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism on Amazon, Audible or wherever books are sold.  Follow him on Twitter at @TerryMcAuliffe.  This episode is sponsored by Capella University, The Life Is Good Ping Podcast, and Magoosh online test prep.  

Aug 1, 2019

Walton Goggins and Jim Gaffigan talk about getting over their fear of snakes to portray Pentecostal snake handlers in their new film Them That Follow.  They discuss the beliefs behind the religion, why members of these Pentecostal sect live in fear of the law, and why they took particular care not to reinforce negative stereotypes about the people of rural Appalachia.  We talk about what attracts Walton to religious roles from The Apostle to Them That Follow, and how he manages to move so effortlessly between drama and comedy.  Then Jim Gaffigan discusses his own transition from comedy to drama, how his acting and standup inform each other, and what it’s been like hit the film festival circuit.  He goes into how his experience as a devout Catholic informed his portrayal in the film, his upcoming standup special for Amazon, and how his wife Jeannie’s recovery from a brain tumor has inspired him to get more personal in his act.

Them That Follow opens in theaters this Friday, August 2.  Also look for Walton Goggins in HBO’s new limited series The Righteous Gemstones August 18 and Jim’s new comedy special Quality Time on Amazon Prime Video beginning August 16.  This episode is sponsored by Anchor.  Anchor is a Spotify-owned company that makes it easy for anyone to make a podcast, for free. Get started at www.anchor.fm/kickassnews.  We're also sponsored by BetterHelp Online Counseling and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.

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