VICE explores today's most pressing issues, from civil unrest and hotbeds of terrorism, to unchecked government corruption and looming environmental catastrophes.
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When the Earth Melts
Correspondent: Ben Anderson
With climate change warming the Arctic at an alarming rate, the frozen earth that covers almost a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere's landmass is beginning to thaw. There are more greenhouse gases trapped in these deep layers of permafrost than all human fossil fuel emissions released since 1850 combined. Now that trapped carbon is escaping into the atmosphere. If this thaw continues unchecked, scientists warn we could awaken "a sleeping giant" of climate change. VICE travels across the Arctic to see the devastating impact of thawing permafrost, and the astonishing solution that might keep it frozen.
Correspondent: Gianna Toboni
2016 was the deadliest year yet for refugees making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in the hopes of reaching Europe. And as borders tighten across an increasingly nationalist Europe, the prospects of building a new life are growing darker for the more than 180,000 refugees who arrived in Italy alone this past year. From an emerging underground railroad at the Italian border to the demolition of France's largest refugee settlement, VICE follows the journey of these refugees left in limbo.
College athletics have seen explosive revenue growth in the last decade, fueled by media contracts and corporate sponsors. In order to enter this system, the NCAA requires players to forego profits, and instead offers them scholarships and access to state-of-the-art facilities. But with college sports now a multi-billion-dollar industry, the question being asked in federal court remains whether that compensation is enough. Gianna Toboni travels the U.S. college sports landscape, meeting athletic directors, coaches, sports marketers and the players themselves to see the role money plays in amateur athletics today.
There are thousands of types of bananas but Americans have eyes for only one kind - the very marketable yellow Cavendish, which accounts for 95% of global banana exports. But this multi-billion dollar industry is under threat. A fungus called Panama Disease is rapidly infecting portions of the world's Cavendish crops and could spell disaster for the monoculture-dependent worldwide banana trade. VICE heads to the heart of banana country in Latin American and the Philippines to see the devastating effects of the disease and to investigate what the loss of the banana would really mean besides a less colorful lunchbox.
The Taliban now control more territory than they have at any point since they were overthrown in 2001. Yet the war in Afghanistan barely gets mentioned today, even as civilian and security deaths continue to rise. Ben Anderson returns to the conflict he's covered for ten years, re-uniting with several Afghans - an Army Major, a Policeman who dismantles IEDs and a family who were forced to fight to defend their home - for a shocking report that questions what America's longest war has actually accomplished.
Looming breakthroughs in genomics, pharmaceuticals and stem cell research bring humanity to a second longevity explosion; robotics and the computers that power them are poised for a leap forward with the emergence of artificial intelligence.
The number of women incarcerated in the U.S. has increased 700% since 1980, overwhelming prisons and jails originally designed for men. The majority are nonviolent offenders and mothers serving out sentences in facilities often unprepared to address their most basic needs. Isobel Yeung spends time in prisons across the country, discovering what it means to be an American woman behind bars.
Taking Back Iraq
The city of Mosul has been central in the war to defeat Islamic State. In 2014, Iraqi troops surrendered Iraq's second largest city to Islamic State, who in turn declared an Islamic caliphate and used the city as a base for operations in the region. In October 2016, a U.S. supported coalition of Iraqi and Kurdish troops announced a long-awaited offensive to retake the city. VICE embedded with Iraqi forces on the road to Mosul as they began their assault on Islamic State's last stronghold in Iraq.
Iraq has one of the youngest populations of any country in the world. The majority of people living there today have grown up in the shadow of the 2003 invasion, knowing nothing but war and chaos. With Islamic State seemingly on the verge of defeat in the country, the question of what happens next is far from certain. VICE travels to Iraq to see what the future looks like through the eyes of the youth.
The Politics of Terror
While Donald Trump's election in the U.S. came as a surprise to many, his victory is part of a global trend. In the wake of terror attacks and the migrant crisis, a new wave of populist candidates are cropping up across Europe, and the fate of the EU hangs in the balance. VICE examines the rise of Europe's far right -- and the hyper-charged climate fueling nationalist ideologies across the continent.
End of the EU?
Silvio Berlusconi was in many ways Europe's original populist, shaping the mold for today's right-wing European leaders. VICE travels to the home of the former Italian Prime Minister to discuss why this message resonates across the continent, how the Left fails to grasp populist anger, and the need for a unified response to rebuild Syria.
The firearms industry experienced unprecedented growth in the last decade. Fear of government regulation drove much of that growth as President Obama repeatedly tried to pass gun control laws in the aftermath of numerous mass shootings. Now, with the political landscape fundamentally changed, the industry and gun rights advocates are looking for new ways to expand upon their 2nd amendment rights and the bottom line - with some surprising results. VICE takes a closer look at the future of firearms in America.
When factions of the Turkish military attempted to stage a coup last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government reacted with a forceful crackdown. More than 100,000 people have been detained or dismissed, including civil servants, teachers and journalists. Isobel Yeung travels to Turkey as the country heads to the polls in a nationwide referendum that grants Erdogan unprecedented power.
Last year, thousands of Native Americans and environmental activists from across the country converged at Standing Rock in an effort to block construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. By winter, a lean-to encampment had grown into a massive protest site the size of a small town, and clashes between protestors and local police and corporate security flared. In December, VICE traveled to the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota, following the story over subsequent months as the Trump administration moved quickly to resume work on the pipeline, and examining how resource extraction has affected Native American communities.
Today, one in 68 children will be diagnosed with the developmental condition autism, a number that has more than doubled in the last two decades. VICE's Gianna Toboni explores the transformative work being done at the forefront of autism research, meets families trying out some of the newest treatments and discovers a growing self-advocacy movement in the autism community that wants to refocus the science.
Press freedom around the world has reached its lowest point in more than a decade, with many authoritarian governments imprisoning journalists in a fight to control their countries' narratives. One of the deadliest places to be a journalist is the Philippines, where the new president has openly threatened the media and silenced his critics. Correspondent Gianna Toboni heads to Manila to see the dangerous work of local journalists reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs. Back in the U.S., legendary journalist Carl Bernstein discusses the state of our own media and the importance of a free press in holding the powerful accountable.
In early 2017 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced moves that would turn the world's most oil-rich nation from a democracy into a dictatorship. This sparked a crisis, igniting longstanding anger over inequality, misrule, hunger and crime. VICE founder Suroosh Alvi and correspondent Ben Anderson traveled to Venezuela as Maduro seized the country's political institutions with an alleged "sham election" and violently suppressed growing opposition to his rule.
Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, but the billions of dollars it generates have not trickled down to the majority of the population. This disparity has led to rampant oil theft and large-scale attacks on oil infrastructure by locals, who vow to fight until the government allows them to profit through oil jobs and urban development. For a time, the government listened to this plea and paid militants through an amnesty program that curbed the violence. But in 2016, a new administration terminated those contracts and suspended the payouts, leading to a resurgence of militancy and oil theft. Correspondent Gianna Toboni heads to the heart of Nigeria's oil production to witness firsthand the fight of the Niger Delta youth.
Nowhere in America can the coal industry's hurt be seen and felt more than in Appalachia. The region's economy revolves around coal, and more miners are losing their jobs each year. The controversial industry became a focal point of the 2016 election, when President Trump made the return of coal jobs a central campaign promise, but the economics behind this suffering industry extend beyond policy and regulations. VICE's Isobel Yeung goes to the heart of coal country to see what it will take to save Appalachia.
The outbreak of an infectious disease sparks worldwide panic nearly every year, and as humans cluster themselves in denser cities and further encroach on wildlife harboring disease, the chance of a devastating global pandemic only intensifies. However, scientists are finding that diligent surveillance of these threats could help keep the next nightmare illness at bay. VICE founder Suroosh Alvi went to Uganda to see how vulnerable humans are to a new pandemic and explore the options for staving it off.