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.
'The Afghan Money Pit' - The U.S. has spent nearly $100 billion on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, the most spent on any country in history. But John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, has found that much of that money has been wasted and misused, and has even fallen into the hands of the Taliban. Shane Smith heads to Afghanistan for a tour of American taxpayer dollars gone down the drain.
'The Pacification of Rio' - Rio de Janeiro is working hard to remedy its reputation as a drug and murder capital in time for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. The Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE) has been charged with pacifying the slums (favelas), but BOPE's military occupation of increasing numbers of favelas has been criticized as heavy-handed. Some corrupt members of the BOPE, together with ex-police, have formed militia gangs of their own and are controlling many favelas by sinister means, openly extorting, torturing, killing and making criminals disappear. Still, there are hundreds of favelas, untouched by pacification, that remain under the control of drug gangs who act with complete impunity. Ben Anderson looks behind the picturesque façade of Rio's marketing campaign to reveal the dark underbelly of the city.
'Greenland is Melting' - Greenland recorded its highest temperatures ever in 2013. Though some say that's not cause for concern, the equivalent of three Chesapeake Bays'-worth of water melts off the island every year, affecting sea levels around the world. Shane Smith embarks on an expedition to Greenland with climate scientist Jason Box to discover the reasons for the melting, and how the resulting sea level rise will mean devastation sooner than expected.
'Bonded Labor' - Millions of men, women and children work as bonded laborers in Pakistan's brick kilns. This abusive practice is facilitated by the devastating disenfranchisement of workers and by the pervasive corruption of the brick kiln industry and Pakistani law enforcement. Fazeelat Aslam goes to the brick kilns to see the conditions and learn how certain organizations are fighting back by rescuing the workers from this modern-day slavery.
'American Scrap' - Ailing American manufacturing cities like Detroit and Cleveland are experiencing a boom in a new trend known as scrapping. David Choe looks into the life cycle of scrap metal, from the people that risk their lives to find it, to the yards that buy the metal, all the way to the Chinese traders who funnel it back home.
'Children of the Drones' - Suroosh Alvi investigates the effects of drone strikes in Pakistan, where extremism and militancy are only growing in the wake of Obama's drone campaign.
'A Syria of Their Own' - Thomas Morton goes to the frontline of the battle for a Kurdish state to follow the story of Syria's forgotten ethnic group, the Kurds.
'White Gold' - Rhino horn has been coveted in Eastern medicine for centuries. Vikram Gandhi traces the trade from Southern Africa to Vietnam to understand this illicit phenomenon which has been on the rise.
'Terrorist University' - Dagestan is Russia's hotbed for Muslim extremism; Shane Smith heads there to follow in the footsteps of Boston Marathon Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev who spent six months there.
'Armageddon Now' - Thomas Morton looks at the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the surprising Evangelical support for the Jewish State.
'Rocky Mountain High' - The legalization of marijuana in the United States is now a reality. Businessmen, and even lawmakers are trying to capitalize on the potential success of the end of marijuana prohibition. David Choe looks at the rising entrepreneurs and businesses of this ever-growing trade.
'North Korean Defectors' - Last season, VICE on HBO followed the lives of the North Korean defectors on their perilous journey escaping the Hermit Kingdom. Vikram Gandhi follows the paths of these defectors and their new lives in the highly modernized society of South Korea.
'The Pink Gang Rebellion' - The brutal details of a 2012 gang rape on a Delhi bus focused international attention on India’s rampant rape issue. Inept law enforcement, the social stigma associated with rape, and a patriarchal social structure have allowed sexual assaults to plague Indian women. But one woman, Sampat Pal, has galvanized a group of rural women into the Gulabi Gang, or Pink Gang, to combat the injustice of sexual assault. Gelareh Kiazand heads to rural Indian to investigate the issue and embed with this revolutionary gang.
'Genetic Passport' - From 1949 to 1989, the Soviet Union, determined to prepare for nuclear warfare, detonated more than 450 nuclear bombs in an area of Kazakhstan known as the Semipalatinsk Test Site. For hundreds of thousands of Kazakhs, radiation not only surrounded them, but became part of their DNA. Thomas Morton goes to Kazakhstan to learn more about this controversial initiative.
‘The Resource Curse’ - Vikram Gandhi heads to Papua New Guinea to investigate the impact of Exxon Mobil on the small Melanesian country, where the American corporation is developing a $19 billion liquid natural gas project expected to start production in late 2014.
‘Deliver Us From Drought’ – Thomas Morton heads to Texas to witness the climate catastrophe, and discover firsthand the local response.
'Crude Awakening' - Shane Smith heads to Louisiana to report on the lasting effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, where four years later, mass quantities of oil still wash ashore.
'The Enemy of My Enemy' - Ben Anderson goes deep into Houthi-controlled territory to learn about the group that’s fighting, and beating, Al Qaeda in the east, Saudi Arabia in the north, and Yemen’s central government in the south.
‘Playing with Nuclear Fire’ - In March 2011, the Tohoku earthquake in Japan created a tsunami that killed some 16,000 people and caused an estimated $210 billion worth of damage, including crippling the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant resulting in massive emissions of radioactive materials. Vikram Gandhi heads to Japan to investigate what's really going on at ground zero of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
‘No Man Left Behind’ - For many U.S. veterans returning from Iran and Afghanistan, the transition to civilian life is too often marred by mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ryan Duffy meets with veterans struggling with mental illness and addiction to find out how the men and women who risked their lives on the battlefield are now falling through the cracks back at home.
‘Heroin Warfare’ - Since the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, heroin production in the region has skyrocketed, making the country the number-one producer in the world by a large margin. Suroosh Alvi got a rare look inside Iran to meet the suffering heroin addicts, and to see how the country is coping with the illegal drug trade.
‘The Coldest War’ - With the polar ice caps shrinking due to global warming, new trade routes are being exposed, along with billions of dollars' worth of natural-resource reserves. This is prime real estate and the five nations bordering the Arctic are readying themselves to fight for it. David Choe headed north to witness NATO forces participating in the largest polar military exercise in history.
‘Surveillance City’ – Vikram Gandhi heads to Camden, New Jersey where a police surveillance system is transforming law enforcement in the city.
‘The Forgotten War’ – Ben Anderson heads to refugee camps in Chad and Sudan to meet victims of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s brutal genocide. Little has been done about the problem in the past decade and now rebel groups are poised for a civil war.