Turns Out Your Herbal Supplements May Not Contain Any Herbs At All

Plus, more political figures are speaking up on vaccinations, a terrible new ISIS video is released, and a To Kill A Mockingbird sequel will be published at last.
Amanda Lauren
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Plus, more political figures are speaking up on vaccinations, a terrible new ISIS video is released, and a To Kill A Mockingbird sequel will be published at last.

To vax or not to vax, that is the question, and in today’s xoNews, I have an answer -- or rather four answers -- from some of the most important people running the country. In other heath related news, the New York State attorney general’s office conducted a study on herbal supplements sold at major chains and the findings might surprise you. Also, good news for Harper Lee fans, and a fun way to kick off Valentine's weekend, or at least get your caffeine on!

Have you too wasted money on herbal supplements only to later discover it was mostly asparagus? Discuss in the comments or tweet me your opinion directly @AmandaLauren.

Vaccination Nation

On Sunday, the CDC confirmed there are currently 102 cases of measles in the US and warned that because there is large number of unvaccinated people, the country is at risk for a measles outbreak.

In an interview with NBC News, which aired Sunday and Monday, President Obama (whose daughters are vaccinated) gave his stance on this controversial issue.

I understand that there are families that in some cases are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We've looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren't reasons to not. I just want people to know the facts and science and the information. And the fact is that a major success of our civilization is our ability to prevent disease that in the past have devastated folks. And measles is preventable. You should get your kids vaccinated — it’s good for them. We should be able to get back to the point where measles effectively is not existing in this country.

On Monday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie also shared his opinion on vaccinations.

[My wife] Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.

After Christie’s statement, there was some confusion regarding his use of the word “balance” and his office released an official statement to clarify.

The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated. At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate.

Rand Paul, who you might not know is actually a Duke University-educated eye doctor, also made several statements this week -- he thinks vaccines should be voluntary. He told Laura Ingraham on her radio show:

I’m not antivaccine at all, but particularly, most of them ought to be voluntary. What happens if you have somebody not wanting to take the smallpox vaccine and it ruins it for everybody else? I think there are times in which there can be some rules, but for the first part it ought to be voluntary.

But after getting in some hot water, Paul went on CNBC to explain his original statement,

The thing is I think vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that we have. I’m a big fan and a great fan of the history of the development of the smallpox vaccine, for example. But you know, for most of our history, they have been voluntary. So I don’t think I’m arguing for anything out of the ordinary. We are arguing for what most of our history has had.

He also added,

I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they are a good thing, but I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health.

Finally, Hillary Clinton also released her own statement on Twitter in less than 140 characters,

The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and ‪#vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. ‪#GrandmothersKnowBest

NYS Attorney General Finds Many Herbal Supplements Don’t Even Contain Herbs

Ever feel like those herbal supplements don’t do what the label claims and are a total waste of money? It turns out you’re probably not wrong. The New York state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office, conducted an investigation going to four national retailers -- Walgreens, Walmart, GNC and Target -- and discovered that four out of five of the products sold didn’t contain any of the herbs listed on the labels.

So what did they find instead? Asparagus, powdered rice, houseplants, and some other substances that could be potentially dangerous to people with allergies.

For example, one supplement sold at Walgreens, which claimed to promote “physical endurance and vitality,” contained only rice and garlic powder. At Walmart, investigators found that a ginkgo biloba supplement, which claimed to be gluten and wheat free, contained -- you guessed it -- wheat. It also contained powdered radish and houseplants.

Half of the herbal products found at Target tested negative for the herbs on their labels. But, they did contain powdered rice, beans, wild carrots and peas, which while are ineffective aren’t dangerous (basically things you’d find in an uncreative vegetarian dinner). But, the unlabeled fillers, including soybean and peanuts found could potentially be deadly for people with allergies.

ISIS Burns A Jordanian Pilot Alive and Releases The Video

On Tuesday, ISIS released a video in which they burned a Jordanian pilot alive. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, 26 was captured by ISIS on December 24 when his plane crashed during a bombing mission in Syria.

In the first half of the 22 minute video al-Kaseasbeh is being interviewed with a bruise under his left eye. Then it cuts to him standing in a cage with an orange jumpsuit, which appears to be doused a liquid that is likely, a fire accelerant. A masked militant is seen outside of the cage and lights a trail.

Last week, the Jordanian pilot was at the center of a possible hostage swap. ISIS wanted Jordan to release Sajida al-Rishawi, a female terrorist who had a large role in the 2005 attacks in Amman. ISIS also agreed to release Japanese hostage Kenji Goto as part of the agreement, but the Jordanian government was still trying to verify that al-Kaseasbeh was alive when the video was released. Authorities do not know when the video was made and it could have even been a month ago. Security officials are saying that Sajida al-Rishawi will be executed on Wednesday.


· To kick off Valentines weekend (yep, it’s on a Saturday this year), Starbucks and Match are teaming up to host the World’s Largest Starbucks date. From 2:00pm to close, Starbucks is going to offer a special $5 pairings menu like the Caffé Verona Coffee Press for Two with a Double Chocolate Chunk Brownie and a Tall Flat White with a Chocolate Croissant. Even if you’re single, the deal alone should be reason enough to stop by Starbucks. The stores are also going to up the atmosphere with romantic tunes and photo props. Match is using this event to kickoff their new Meet At Starbucks feature, which guarantees if your date is bad, at least the coffee will still be good.

· To Kill A Mockingbird fans will be thrilled to know that 55 years later, the sequel Go Set a Watchman, will be released on July 14. The book was actually written before Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, but is essentially a sequel. As a first time writer, Lee’s editor really liked the book, but encouraged her to delve more into Scout’s childhood, which ended up becoming her famed novel. The book will be released as Lee first wrote it in the 50s and not revised.

· Chip Wilson, the founder of  love it or hate it brand Lululemon Athletica, is stepping down from the board of the company. In 2013, Wilson stepped down as chairman of the board after customers discovered their leggings were way too sheer. Wilson responded by going on Bloomberg television and saying “Some women’s bodies don’t work for the pants. It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time.” Wilson said he is stepping down to focus on a new clothing line founded by his wife and son called Kit & Ace, which features machine washable cashmere.