VICE – “We the People” / “Countdown To Extinction”


Overview: A recent study funded by the Department of Homeland Security listed domestic right-wing groups as two of the top three greatest terrorist threats in America. Nestled within our own borders, these citizens, many of whom are highly trained veterans, are on a mission to protect and defend the rights of the Constitution. After the election of President Obama, the number of these groups skyrocketed by over 800 percent- reaching an all-time high in 2012 with over 1,300. In an effort to understand this phenomenon better, VICE investigates these so-called patriots, training and taking up arms along the border.VICE_GiannaToboni-300x187

During the last six decades, the boom of industrial fishing has nearly wiped out the top level of the marine food chain, depleting about 90 percent of the world’s large predatory fish. While big fishing operations continue to prosper as they go deeper into the ocean, small-scale coastal fishermen must seek out new fishing practices to survive. Some have even gone so far as to use dynamite on coral reefs to catch a few fish while wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Oceans play a critical role in feeding the world’s population, with three billion people depending on fish as a major protein source. How much damage has been done? VICE goes to the Mozambique Channel and the Gulf of Mexico to get an idea of how much we’ve over-fished our oceans, and what we can now do to reverse that trend.

Expectations: I am interested in this episode for a few reasons. One, in my part of the country we have what we’d call ‘rednecks.’ These folk are defined as good ole boys with a right-wing slant to the mindset and a love for the NRA. But they seem more of the tVICE_IsobelYeung-300x204amer Jeff Foxworthy type and not the extreme militants that this episode focuses on. My redneck notions are not as potent as the ones theses militias hold. They prove an interesting bunch all the same. My second reason is my love of the oceans and all they hold, especially and maybe ashamedly, after this episode airs, seafood. Yeah, I care for that sort of thing. I’m sure what is reported here will not make me feel all that proud of our use (or misuse) of the biomass in our waters.  

So I am intrigued by the topic of each segment this week and I can add to that I’m interested in the correspondents voicing the reports. This episode offers two new reporters to VICE on HBO. First is Gianni Toboni followed by Isobel Yeung. I’ll include my thoughts about them in a bit. To get us rolling here is the preview:

Gut Reaction: This series is proving a bit inconsistent at times. One week we have a plethora of video clips to draw from and include in a post and the next week we get little or nothing. The latter is the case with this one. This week there is only one small sneak peek for each segment and only one Debrief. We take what we can get and always incorporate them in some way for our reviews.

“We The People” by correspondent Gianni Toboni. So, okay I confess the local yokels around here are not as organized, vocal and adamant as the ones depicted in this report; at least not the ones I know. The militia or “patriot groups” shown here are perched on the extreme right on the political scale. And as the correspondent proved they are a steadfast, passionate and dangerous bunch. I wouldn’t necessarily say they are a scary pack of wolves, as they can sit down calmly and talk about their agenda, as seen, either one-on-one or on the radio. Their hope to keep close and maintain the tenets of our Constitutional Rights are noble. The way the world has been going lately however, that rebellion seems more and more likely to come to a head.

One battleground may just be our southern border. One statement that I ponder upon is the one that stated the government has declared that ISIS likely has members within our borders yet our current president has allowed that border to be a bit more easily traveled; that, by the way, is my phrasing. A bad standoff just might happen there one day. Speaking of a standoff I didn’t recall the BLM standoff talked about at all; quite interesting I must say.VICE_WeThePeope-300x225

Lastly let me single out Gianni Toboni. She is a prolific video journalist having done stints with, Al Jazeera America, Katie Couric and ABC News. I liked her delivery and her presence on the scene. She fed a question or two and let the people of the piece have their platform. She never showed opinion, disbelief, shock or disgust; she totally lets the viewer form their own opinions. Her approach is more traditional than some correspondents VICE has used onscreen. Both are acceptable to me, but she came across quite effectively for me this time out.

“Countdown To Extinction” by correspondent Isobel Yeung. I left this segment feeling the destructive, wasteful, greedy ways of the human animal. VICE is great at making me feel that way. Not only are we upsetting the natural rate of marine life repopulating the oceans with the overfishing, but the greediness, as this segment shows, is hurting the indigenous peoples from making the simple catches to feed their families. It is all big business. It is a large ecosystem’s decline in order for a superior species to thrive; “survival of the fittest” at work.

The only catch is, of course, is that the superior species cannot maintain the current course of action at the rate it is before devastating the marine species in danger. Some say we already have done so beyond repair. Thank goodness we have an example of how it could be turned around. The portion of the report on the “Catch Share program” in place in the U. S. allows the red snapper fish to propagate at a balance that still allows harvesting. The chance of the world seeing the logic in monitoring your catches to prevent overfishing seems highly unlikely, though conservation efforts for all kinds of species are maintained in this manner. It proves just a small win in the efforts to prevent the destruction of our world.         

VICE_CatchShare-300x215Isobel Yeung filed the report and she was through in looking at the food chain from the poor fisherman to the gluttonous industries to the hunt for marine species themselves. She is, no stranger to this type of story. One of her most popular pieces for is a report about the eating of dogs in Asian countries. She is of British, Chinese descent and knows her way around the culinary and journalistic businesses. My only complaint about her report was in her delivery. Her Brit accent is okay, but she speaks in two different rates. On camera she had a slower nicer pace, but her voice-over narration was at a much faster speed making her a bit harder to understand at those times.  


In Conclusion: Some simple truths can be stated in the end. To hold fast to your rights is one thing, to accept the stance of vigilante justice as one of them does not seem like the best solution to anything. I believe it was Khrushchev, the Cold War, Soviet ruler, who said that America would crush itself from within. As one of the top three threats in the country, the “patriot groups” look like the ones who could do just that. 

Here are a couple more simple truths to add to the list. We don’t really need to eat shark fin soup. Humans are hard on their environment and are quite dumb in seeing their affect. The Catch Share practice couldn’t work globally because the fishing gluttons of the Orient would just gobble up any one area’s quota for themselves in one trip and still leave the family’s fisherman with an empty plate.      

 Time for the Debrief and we only get one this week. Here is Gianni Toboni following up with answers to a few specific questions.


I don’t want to sound sexist is any way, but, hey it was a good thing that Gianni went down to hang out with the guys. They were probably more likely to open up to a woman in their midst, right? It is also comforting to know that they truly don’t want another civil war to happen. They want a right wing run government top to bottom back in power so all their beliefs will once again be enforced.

Next Week: On March 27 Episode # 04 of the season shows us the cocaine trail via North Africa and the baby farms of India. Here is a preview. Peace.  


Find Episode # 24 here.


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