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John Oliver digs into the low-cost, child labor hypocrisy in the fashion industry.

On the latest episode of "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver takes a look at the fashion industry's repeated promises to stop using child labor.

John Oliver digs into the low-cost, child labor hypocrisy in the fashion industry.


On "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver took a look at the long history of child labor in the fashion industry.

The use of sweatshops and child labor in clothes manufacturing has long been out of style.

As illustrated in this political cartoon from 1870, it's been associated with nasty, dehumanizing working conditions, health risks, and exploitation.


Je suis 19th century political commentary.

It's a modern problem made worse by plunging prices in the fashion industry.

Sure, companies do what they can to say they're against the use of child labor, but the current deal-driven state of the fashion industry makes it so there's really no alternative.

I mean, how else do you think the $15 dress came into existence?

It used to be that the use of child labor was enough to really rattle a company. Take for example, Kathie Lee Gifford.

In the mid-'90s, it came out that Gifford's clothing line was being produced in Honduras by 13- and 14-year-olds.

As one might expect, Kathie Lee became the target of protests.

She even testified on the issue in front of Congress.

Within a couple of years, Gifford was out the door at "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee," and was never heard from again...

So long!

...unless you count the millions of people who tune in to see her on "Today."

Ah, yeah that. Okay, so maybe the sweatshop scandal didn't destroy her career after all.

In fact, on "Today" she's done segments showcasing companies that have taken heat for child labor practices.

See? It all comes full circle.

On "Last Week Tonight," host John Oliver skewered the fashion industry for failing to live up to promises that they'd avoid sweatshop labor.

Take Gap, for example.

In 1995, it came out that Gap was using child labor to manufacture their clothes.

They promised to make changes.


In 2000, they had a similar situation in Cambodia, and yes, they promised to fix the problem.

And in 2007, they were hit with yet another child labor scandal, and yes, again, they promised to make changes.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and it's pretty clear we're willing to accept child labor so long as it results in affordable fashion.

There are still lots of people ready to push back on companies that use child labor, but most of us seem content to sit on the sidelines and rake in the deals.

Some people take their demands to the streets.

And protest by becoming human billboards.

But most of us?

Companies need to be held accountable. It's no longer acceptable for them to just claim ignorance on the issue.

If you're a company like Gap, Forever 21, or H&M, and you don't know exactly which factory is producing your clothes, it's probably bad news.

If it seems to good to be true, it probably is — this goes double for $4 T-shirts, $12 blazers, and other deals.

The best thing you can do as a consumer is stay up to date on which companies are using child labor, and when you find one that does, take your business elsewhere.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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