VICE is unlike any TV news program you’ve ever seen, and it’s not even remotely like anything you’ll see on the 24/7 cable news channels. Its area of interest is the world — the entire world, not just the suburb beyond where you live — and the emphasis is on international news.
'Assassination Nation' - The Philippines are the most dangerous place in the world to run for office, as politicians are routinely killed by their rivals. In 2009, a convoy of 57 of Governor Esmael Mangudadatu's supporters, friends and family were ambushed and killed as they drove to file his papers to run for office. Correspondent Ryan Duffy rides with the governor-and his heavily armed convoy-as he attempts to file his papers to run again. Duffy explores the gun crazy attitudes prevalent in the Philippines, where some areas boast a 70 percent gun ownership rate, and visits with underground gun makers and a terrorist training camp, which consists almost entirely of children.
'The Killer Kids of the Taliban' - In Afghanistan, the Taliban has ramped up its use of children in suicide bombing terrorist attacks. Ranging from teenagers to children as young as six years old, they are routinely manipulated and lied to as they are sent to blow up their targets. VICE co-founder Shane Smith travels to Kabul to speak with children who have been arrested before detonating themselves. He finds they're often ignorant of the actual teachings of the Koran, but have been misled by terror-preaching imams. In a visit with a high-ranking Taliban official, the former commander is cagey when asked about the subject of suicide bombing, but feels its use is justified in a time of war. When Smith visits the family of victims of one of the worst attacks in Kabul's history, they demand to know why.
'Escape from North Korea' - Thousands of North Koreans cross the border into China illegally every year. Living in perpetual fear of being discovered, with all odds against them, defectors still do everything they can to leave. If arrested in communist Laos, they may be sent back to North Korea to face prison camp or worse. The risks of escaping the North and heading to the South are so great that fewer than 25,000 North Koreans have ever made the journey successfully. VICE joins a South Korean pastor who has developed a modern-day underground railroad to move defectors from China to freedom and eventual citizenship in South Korea.
'World’s Most Dangerous Border' - The most dangerous place in the world is Kashmir's line of control, which partially occupies the Indian state and separates India from Pakistan. Observers in both India and Pakistan believe the decades-old conflict between the two nations could potentially lead to the end of the world as we know it. VICE travels across Pakistan to the contested line of control in Kashmir, pointing out how close a nuclear apocalypse is yet again.
'Gun School' - With an average of 83 people dying in gun-related violence every day in the U.S., the debate over firearms continues to heat up. VICE visits the New Life Baptist Church & Academy in Albuquerque, NM, where Pastor Larry Allen preaches guns and teaches guns. His school is fully armed with an ex-police security team, and his young students are taught gun drills and tactics to disarm attackers.
'Toxic Iraq' - After ravaging Iraq over the past decade, the U.S. is finally exiting the country, leaving behind a toxic cesspool of military waste. Since the assaults on Fallujah in 2004, the city has seen an astronomical rise in birth defects and abnormalities, which some have linked to the American military's suspected use of depleted-uranium rounds munitions during the war. We go back to Iraq - but this time, with a Geiger counter in hand.
'Chinese Cockblock' - China’s “one child” policy and a cultural preference for male babies, has created a market where marrying-age men outnumber women by the millions.
'European Meltdown' - With their economy in the toilet and no jobs to be had, Europe’s youth are taking to the streets to demand radical changes.
'Mormon Lost Boys' - In today's Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) Church, many young men have been thrown out of their homes because of an edict allowing polygamist church elders to monopolize all the eligible young girls. These "lost boys," few of whom have even an 8th-grade education, must adjust to a drastically different America than the one they grew up in. We travel to Colorado Springs to meet some of these young men and listen to their harrowing stories.
'The Fat Farms of Mauritania' - Ironically, in one of the world's poorest countries, obesity is a sign of beauty and wealth. In the West African country of Mauritania, parents send their daughters to rural fattening camps, where they are force-fed over 15,000 calories a day in camel milk, figs, oiled breadcrumbs and couscous. VICE sends its skinniest correspondent to one of these camps to examine the impact of force-feeding on young women in a society that loves them so plump.
Mumbai Slumscraper: Nowhere in the world is the collision of caste and future more apparent than in Mumbai, where more than half its residents live in slums sprawled in the shadow of billion-dollar, single-family skyscrapers. VICE travels to Mumbai's Dharavi slum, where over a million people live in abject poverty while billion-dollar single-family skyscrapers are being built on top of them.
'China’s Ghost Towns' - Fifteen years ago, China changed its policy so people could buy their own homes. Real-estate investments boomed, and new cities began popping up each year, many inspired by western design and mimicking iconic locales like Paris and lower Manhattan. The problem is: people don’t live here. One ghost city in Inner Mongolia, built to house one million people, is now an empty shell of unoccupied skyscrapers and abandoned construction sites. VICE checks out this and other urban failures to figure out how China’s preoccupation with growing its GNP turned “supply and demand” into “build now, sell later.”
'Egypt on the Brink' - Over two years ago, Arab Spring climaxed in the overthrow of President Mubarek in Egypt. But for many Egyptians, the situation has actually gotten worse, as has the man who replaced Mubarek: Mohamed Morsi, elected under the radical Muslim Brotherhood banner. VICE visits the embattled streets of Cairo, where opposition to Morsi has resulted in renewed mass protests and violence in Tahrir Square. Among those we meet: members of the Black Bloc, youthful revolutionaries who disguise themselves with hoods and scarfs while vowing to oust Morsi and destroy the Muslim Brotherhood.
'Tobaccoland' - The dangers of smoking are no secret in the U.S., but in Indonesia, the tobacco industry is virtually unregulated. The result? Over two-thirds of all men are smokers, and it is commonplace for children as young as six to take up the habit. Tobacco is a $100 billion industry here, with TV and print ads everywhere. Investigating this phenomenon in Malang, VICE visits a clinic that promises cures to a plethora of modern ailments through tobacco and smoking – with our intrepid correspondent getting the full smoke-therapy treatment.
'Underground Heroin Clinic' - Heroin is the most addictive drug on earth, and some people will do anything to kick the habit. Enter Ibogaine – a drug made out of the African iboga root, whose intense, hallucinogenic properties make it a Type-A felony drug. But many swear it's the most effective way to kick heroin addiction – especially when combined with a voodoo-type ritual that involves face paint and chanting. VICE follows the journey of a heroin addict who travels to Mexico, where Ibogaine is legal, to try to finally quit.
'Senegalese Laamb Wrestling' - The most popular sport in the West African country of Senegal isn’t soccer – it’s laamb, combining Greco-Roman wrestling moves with eclectic pre-fight rituals and dances. Laamb’s appeal has skyrocketed as the nation’s economy has plunged (the average income for Senegalese workers is about $3 a day), and top stars are of the Michael Jordan magnitude. In a jarring contrast of color and size, VICE visits Bombardier, a laamb star who’s a hero in his hometown of Mbao, to learn about the physical and spiritual sides of the sport – and to train for our intrepid correspondent’s debut in the ring.
'The World Is Sinking' - The global sea level rose by 22 cms in the past 100 years – and is expected to rise even faster in the years to come. Naysayers who insist that global warming is just a mirage can look no further than Venice, where the famous St. Mark’s Square is underwater a third of the year, or the Maldives, the island nation which is in jeopardy of sinking into the Indian Ocean. Shane Smith travels from Europe to the Maldives to New York (site of massive flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy) to measure what we might expect if climate change and rising sea levels continue unabated.
'Chiraq' - The lethal combination of gangs and guns has turned Chicago into a war zone. To see why the Windy City, now dubbed "Chiraq," had the country’s highest homicide rate in 2012, VICE visits Chicago's most dangerous areas, where handguns are plentiful and the police and community leaders are fighting a losing battle against gang violence. In the neighborhood of Englewood, we patrol with police, visit with religious leaders, and hang out with members of gangs – soldiers in a turf war that has spread into new communities as projects are destroyed and residents are forced to move elsewhere.
'Nigeria’s Oil Pirates' - High unemployment, political corruption, and the unequal sharing of oil resources have turned today’s Niger Delta into a hell on earth. Oil theft has become big business in Nigeria, costing oil companies more than $7 billion per year while polluting coastal farmlands and fisheries – and wrecking the lives and livelihoods of local residents. VICE travels to Africa’s oil-producing region to meet with oil thieves who refine and sell oil in West Africa, and follows one farmer’s attempt to sue a foreign oil company for poisoning his family’s land.
'Basketball Diplomacy' - U.S. relations with North Korea have been strained to the breaking point by the country’s disturbing nuclear-weapons threats, backed by “supreme leader” Kim Jong-un’s anti-American rhetoric. Fortunately, Kim shares one of his late father’s passions: American basketball. With that in mind, and through official and backdoor channels, VICE organized an unlikely, highly publicized trip to North Korea, hoping to thaw out relations through some hoops diplomacy. With NBA great Dennis Rodman and a trio of exuberant Harlem Globetrotters in tow, VICE traveled to the capital of Pyongyang for a surreal tour of the city, a basketball clinic with under-18 players, an exhibition game witnessed by Kim and 10,000 adoring fans, and - most surprising - a first-ever meeting between the baby-faced leader and an American delegation.