VICE Media wrapped a long run of installments back in October, Twenty-nine in fact, in the Friday night at 11:00pm slot after REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER. If you haven’t followed the reports like I have then you missed a lot of coverage from around the world. This post highlights each edition and the correspondent reporting. I think you’ll be able to reinforce the notion that the world is raw, intense and dramatic. We already covered the first halfso here is the back half of VICE Season Five.
S5:Ep16 – “Cyber Supremacy & Japan Rising” debuted on 06.23. “Cyber Supremacy”: U.S. intelligence agencies accuse Russia of hacking the 2016 presidential election. A trove of NSA documents posted to WikiLeaks results in a global cyber-attack. The confidential information of millions of private citizens circulates on the Dark Web. As independent and state-sponsored hackers wreak havoc, one nation – Israel – is revolutionizing its military and leading the way in cyber security. Ben Ferguson travels to Tel Aviv to find out how Israel is on its way to becoming the world’s top cyber superpower. “Japan Rising”: After World War II, Japan disbanded its military and adopted a policy of pacifism. But with China’s increasing expansionism, North Korea’s continued belligerence and a tide of nationalist sentiment sweeping the globe, a right-wing movement in Japan aims to revive and strengthen the country’s military might for the first time in 70 years. VICE sends Gianna Toboni to Tokyo to see the consequences.
S5:Ep17 – “Public Defenders” and “El Rostro” debuted on 06.30. “Public Defenders”: Public defenders are facing soaring caseloads and flatlining budgets, and with 80% of all criminal defendants in the U.S. unable to afford a lawyer, the system is collapsing. With the constitutional right to fair representation in a court of law in jeopardy, Cord Jefferson heads to one of the worst-hit states to see how overworked and underpaid public defenders are coping with the broken legal system. “El Rostro”: Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, indigenous tribes are doing everything they can to save their home from exploitation. VICE travels to where multinational companies have been extracting lucrative natural resources to see how these activities are decimating the land. With the Harakmbut people as his guide, Ben Anderson goes into the forest to explore sacred landmarks they hope will prevent companies from destroying the land for a profit.
S5:Ep18 – “Power to the President” debuted 07.14. When factions of the Turkish military attempted to stage a coup in 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’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 Erdoğan unprecedented power.
S5:Ep19 -“Crude Reality” and “Between Oil and Water” debuted 07.28. Six years after winning independence, South Sudan is already on the brink of collapse. Despite its vast oil reserves and more than $10 billion in aid from the U.S., the country has been driven into famine and a devastating ethnic war. Isobel Yeung explores how corruption at the top is threatening to tear the world’s newest country apart. “Between Oil and Water”: In 2016, 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. 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.
S5:Ep20 – “Autism Under the Lens” debuted 08.04. 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.
S5:Ep21 – “Show of Force” and “Return to Somalia” debuted 08.11: North Korea is locked in a dangerous game of brinksmanship. The isolated country has tested more than a dozen ballistic missiles this year (2017) and continues to develop its nuclear weapons program. With global tensions reaching a fever pitch, VICE traveled to the Hermit Kingdom during the annual Day of the Sun celebrations on April 15. As North Koreans observed the 105th birthday of their country’s founder, Kim Il-sung, correspondent Charlet Duboc sought to learn firsthand how its citizens are reacting to the escalating crisis. “Return to Somalia”: After more than 25 years of civil war, a large number of Somali diaspora, raised and educated in the West, are returning to rebuild their homeland. However, an increase in al-Shabaab attacks is threatening their hopes and efforts for a peaceful country. Correspondent Gianna Toboni heads to Mogadishu to witness the fight to save Somalia.
S5:Ep22 -“Controlling the Narrative” and “Power to Congo” debuted 08.18. 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 in 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. “Power to Congo”: The war in Congo is the deadliest since World War II, killing more than five million people. But throughout the conflict, a remarkable group of rangers has remained, fighting to protect Congo’s gorillas and other wildlife and natural resources. In a stunning turnaround, these rangers are saving endangered species and Congo’s bio-diverse forest, and even transforming the local economy, cutting off revenue streams to the various rebel groups operating there. Correspondent Ben Anderson, who trained and patrolled with the rangers more than ten years ago, returns to see the remarkable progress they’re making.
S5:Ep23 – “Dawn of a Dictator” debuted 08.26. In early 2017 Venezuelan President Nicolás 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.
S5:Ep24 – “Dirty Oil” and “Rebuilding Our Reefs” debuted 09.08. “Dirty Oil”: 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. “Rebuilding Our Reefs”: The world has lost 50% of its coral reefs over the last 30 years, and there’s a consensus among marine biologists that climate change will continue to make things worse. Coral reefs are the foundation of some of the most productive ecosystems on earth, providing food, resources and coastal protection for more than 500 million people. If nothing is done to stop their deterioration, more than 90% of the world’s reefs could be gone by 2050. Correspondent Ben Anderson travels across the world’s oceans to see what a few small teams of scientists are doing to keep these vital structures alive.
S5:Ep25 – “Dark Web” and “Future of Appalachia” debuted 09.15. “Dark Web”: Child sex abuse and child pornography have always been society’s darkest secrets, and the growth of the internet has only made things worse. The proliferation of explicit images, live-streaming of sex shows and online chat rooms has enabled those with salacious intent to destroy the lives of children around the world. The tide of explicit material is overwhelming, but a group of law enforcement agencies and NGOs is fighting back. VICE embeds with the officers trying to shed light on the dark corners of the web. “Future of Appalachia”: 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.
S5:Ep26 – “Divide and Conquer” and “Crackdown in Honduras” debuted on 09. 22 “Divide and Conquer”: The maps that group voters together for statehouse and congressional races are the building blocks of representative democracy. Today, however, those maps are manipulated more than ever in favor of one political party, thanks to gerrymandering that is still technically legal. That could change this fall as the question of its constitutionality heads to the Supreme Court. Correspondent Gianna Toboni traveled to North Carolina to see the effects of gerrymandering on American democracy. “Crackdown in Honduras”: Originating on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980s, gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18 were introduced to Central America in a wave of deportations that began 20 years ago. Back in their home countries, these gang members found a power vacuum and grew in strength, as nations without an effective judicial system, such as Honduras, struggled to contain their activities. But recently, violent crime has started to decrease. VICE visits the Honduran prison system and watches as the government tries to bring peace to the country.
S5:Ep27 – “Russian Hacking” and “Contagion” debuted 09.29. “Russian Hacking”: Since the 2016 election, hacking has become synonymous with one country: Russia. From the DNC to global ransomware attacks to attempts to penetrate U.S. nuclear plants, analysts have found Russian fingerprints on some of the biggest digital breaches in the world. While the U.S. scrambles to defend itself against these cyber-crimes, the hacker ecosystem in Russia continues to grow. VICE traveled to Moscow to find out why these hackers are so effective. “Contagion”: 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.
S5:Ep28 – “‘Post-Truth’ News” and “Microbiome” debuted 10.06. “‘Post-Truth’ News”: The U.S. is more divided across party lines than ever before in recent history, and nowhere is this division more visible than in the media. With President Trump waging a war on mainstream news outlets and the rise of hyper-partisan sites spreading misinformation, trust in the traditional press has fallen to a record low of 32%. Correspondent Isobel Yeung looks at what’s driving the media’s battle over facts and the polarization of the American public in the Trump era. “Microbiome”: Powerful antibiotics and widespread sanitation practices have expanded lifespans across the industrialized world, but at a cost. Microbiome, or the trillions of microbes collectively working in the body to help regulate the immune system and food digestion, has lost much of its health-promoting bacteria thanks to modern lifestyles and sanitation practices. Scientists across the world are now looking to the planet’s few remaining pre-industrialized societies to see what industrialized guts have lost, and in doing so, could fundamentally change the way they think about germs. Correspondent Thomas Morton heads to the Central African Republic to see the emerging field of microbiome science.
S5:Ep29 (Season Finale) – “After ISIS” and “Cubs of the Caliphate” debuted 10.13. “After ISIS”: The fight to retake Mosul, the biggest city in ISIS’ so-called caliphate, lasted more than ten months and was the biggest urban battle since World War II. As civilians of Mosul endured the impossible choice of hiding in their homes or fleeing and running the risk of being killed by ISIS, the war raged on, destroying everything in its path. With unparalleled access, VICE followed the Iraqi army as it fought the terrorist group, room to room, house to house and street to street, often fighting for days on end and suffering horrendous casualties on a slow crawl to liberation. “Cubs of the Caliphate”: Now that most of Iraq has been liberated from ISIS control, the daunting task of what to do with civilians who lived under their brutal regime remains. Nowhere is this issue more complicated than in the case of children, particularly those who were recruited to fight with the Islamic State. Correspondent Isobel Yeung meets Iraqi youth who both lived and trained under ISIS as they try to rebuild their lives while facing an uncertain future.
Big twenty-nine installments and a special report were a lot to take in one season. This writer enjoyed it and wished for the ability to keep up and reporting weekly was doable. Instead, you get posts like these. I hope those you like VICE and its style will find this useful enough in seeking out those episodes of interest on HBONow/Go. No official word yet on VICE Season 6, but I already know I’ll be watching. If you’re not watching VICE, you should be. Peace.