VICE News

Subscribe to VICE News feed
Updated: 3 days 15 hours ago

Black women die from cervical cancer at twice the rate of white women, study says

5 hours 32 min ago

Black women die of cervical cancer at far higher rates than previously thought, according to a study published Monday in the journal Cancer. In fact, they die from it at more than twice the rate of white women.

Researchers found that, when controlling for women who’ve had hysterectomies — in other words, excluding from the study women whose risk of cervical cancer has effectively been eliminated — death rates from cervical cancer rise for both white and black women, but far more dramatically for black women. Rates of death measured between 2000 and 2012 jumped from 3.2 per 100,000 white women and 5.7 per 100,000 black women, to 4.7 and 10.1, respectively.

“The rate of death [of black women] is still twice that for white women,” the authors wrote. “This is a public health disparity that cannot be ignored.”

According to the paper, the inclusion of women who’ve had hysterectomies in the data affects the rate of death for black women more because they have a higher rate of hysterectomies.

Though cervical cancer death rates have been declining, each year more than 12,000 women are diagnosed with the disease in the U.S., and 4,000 die.

Here’s what you need to know about the Syria peace talks led by Russia, Turkey, and Iran

5 hours 33 min ago

Russia, Turkey, and Iran on Tuesday backed the participation of rebel groups at U.N.-led Syrian peace talks to be held in Geneva next month and will seek to maintain the fragile cease-fire in place throughout much of Syria. Rebel leaders, however, are not happy with the results of the tense negotiations, which they say feature Iran in an outsized role against a weakened Turkey.

Russian-led efforts to resolve the six-year civil war in Syria, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions more, come on the heels of a ceasefire agreement brokered with Turkey’s help shortly after Bashar Assad’s decisive win in the key city of Aleppo, which all but assured the Syrian dictator’s presence in any Syrian solution.

In a joint statement following the two-day talks in Astana, the three countries acknowledged “an urgent necessity to step up efforts to jumpstart the negotiation process” with opposition rebels scheduled to take place under U.N. oversight in Geneva next month.

Where the peace talks stand

The result of two days of contentious negotiations in the remote Kazakhstan capital Astana have resulted in the promise by Russia, Iran, and Turkey to establish a trilateral commission to monitor and enforce the current cease-fire in Syria, which went into effect last month. The final document, however, was not signed by representatives of either the Syrian government or the rebel forces.

In a statement read out at the end of the two-day meeting, Kazakhstan’s foreign minister, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, said the three countries will use their “influence” to strengthen the truce — though he failed to give any details of just how this will work.

Bashar al-Ja’afari, Syria’s U.N. ambassador, who led the government delegation, said the talks had been a success and said the cease-fire had been consolidated for “a specific period of time,” though he didn’t elaborate on the truce’s terms.

The talks came about as the result of a cease-fire brokered by Turkey and Russia last month, with Iran — a key ally to Assad — brought on board as a third guarantor of the cease-fire. Iran’s inclusion angered rebel groups, and immediately after meetings finished, rebel representatives made clear they would not negotiate with Tehran, declaring it has “no say on Syria’s future.”

BREAKING: Rebels say in #Astana they will not negotiate with Iran, Tehran has no say on Syria's future. More soon on https://t.co/hGzrK2N8WC pic.twitter.com/L8iTGsSskQ

— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) January 24, 2017

Why the Syrian rebels are balking

The rebels have accused Turkey of being weak during negotiations, adding that they would not endorse the statement read in Astana on Tuesday. One rebel leader, who declined to identify himself, told Reuters: “Iran is spearheading in a number of areas military offensives and leading to forcible displacements of thousands of Syrians and causing bloodletting. This communique legitimizes this role.”

The cease-fire does not include Islamic State or Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, the group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front and previously linked to al Qaida. Tuesday’s joint statement called on rebel groups to distance themselves from JFS, a move that has gained fresh urgency after the group launched an attack on Tuesday against the Free Syrian Army in Idlib province. 

The talks were the first face-to-face meeting between representatives of Assad’s government and Syrian opposition forces since the civil war broke out in 2011. However, initial hope for a positive outcome was dashed when talks quickly descended into name-calling on Day One.

On Monday, as all sides sat at a large circular table in the Rixos Hotel in Astana, Mohammad al-Alloush, political leader of one of the rebel groups known as the Army of Islam, used the platform to call the government “a bloody despotic regime.” In response, the government’s al-Ja’afari accused rebels of making intentionally provocative statements and labelled them “armed terrorist groups.”

As the face-to-face talks broke down, diplomats found themselves shuttling back and forth between the two groups, in an effort to rescue some progress from the vaunted two-day meeting. U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, originally in Astana in the capacity of an observer, worked behind the scenes to create the semblance of a workable outcome.

The agreement in Astana may now pave the way for wider U.N.-led talks in Geneva scheduled to take place on Feb. 8, when the political future of Syria will be discussed.

UK Supreme Court rules Parliament gets a vote on Brexit

7 hours 52 min ago

Britain’s highest court ruled Tuesday that the government cannot formally trigger Brexit proceedings by itself, and must gain the consent of parliament before it begins the process of removing the U.K. from the European Union.

As was widely anticipated, the Supreme Court rejected the government’s argument that Prime Minister Theresa May could use her executive powers to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon – which will formally start negotiations with the EU on extricating Britain from the bloc – and ruled that an Act of Parliament would be required instead. An Act of Parliament requires the approval of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The decision, which sets clear limits on the government’s executive powers, was cheered by many as a victory for parliamentary sovereignty, and seen as a further obstacle for the government’s Brexit ambitions. But while it will compel the government to swiftly introduce emergency legislation to gain parliamentary approval for Brexit, it is unlikely to seriously derail its timetable for the process, much less the outcome itself.

A spokesman for May insisted the government’s plan to trigger Article 50 by the end of March would not be affected by the decision. Hours later, Brexit Secretary David Davis told parliament that the government would introduce legislation “within days” to trigger the process.

The 11-judge panel voted 8-3 in favor of the case brought by businesswoman Gina Miller and hairdresser Deir dos Santos in their legal challenge to the government’s plans. The case, lodged shortly after the June referendum, resulted in a High Court ruling in November that the government needed Parliament’s approval. The government then lodged a fast-track appeal for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.

Miller, who has been the subject of death threats and harassment for bringing the case, welcomed the decision as having created “legal certainty, based on our democratic process, and provided the legal foundations for the Government to trigger Article 50 in line with our constitution.”

“This ruling today means the MPs we have elected will rightfully have the opportunity to bring their invaluable experience and expertise to bear in helping the Government select the best course in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations,” she said in a statement.

Britain’s attorney general, Jeremy Wright, told reporters after the decision that while the government was disappointed, it accepted the court’s ruling.

An anti-EU protestor outside the Supreme Court - photo by Tim Hume

A group of pro-EU protesters outside the Supreme Court in London celebrated the decision. “I believe in parliamentary sovereignty and I’m glad that the judges have vindicated the principle that Parliament make decisions of the magnitude that the country faces,” Richard Kirker told VICE News, adding that he still hoped Brexit could be stopped.

“The prime minister did not have a mandate to steamroll a Brexit through Parliament. The terms of our disengagement must be debated fully after proper scrutiny by parliamentarians, 70 percent of them who stood on a pro-EU platform.”

Edward Spinks, a London theater technician, said he was “not willing to accept Brexit yet” and hoped the ruling would clear the way for Britain to “reassess its position.”

“I think we may well be able to put Article 50 on hold, on chill, for some time until maybe it becomes less legally binding,” he said.

But such hopes are likely to be in vain. The president of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, stressed that the verdict had nothing to do with whether the U.K. should leave the EU.

And although the majority of British MPs were in favor remaining in the EU, there is little apparent political will to attempt to stall the triggering of Article 50, a move which would defy the wishes of the 52 percent of voters who backed Brexit in the referendum.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that his party respected “the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50.” He said his party would use the parliamentary vote to attempt to influence the law, to prevent the government from “using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain-basement tax haven.”

Corbyn has previously spoken of his fears that the government, which has all but confirmed that it seeks a so-called “hard Brexit,” will try to reshape Britain’s economy as a low-corporate tax environment in an attempt to compete with the EU after it leaves.

The court also ruled that there was no need for Parliament to wait for approval from devolved assemblies in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland before invoking Article 50. A majority of voters in Northern Ireland and Scotland had voted in last year’s referendum to remain in the European Union, and the prospect of Scottish voters losing EU membership against their wishes has fueled renewed talk of independence north of the border.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said after the Supreme Court ruling that it was becoming “ever clearer” that Scotland needed to rethink its place within the United Kingdom.

“It is becoming clearer by the day that Scotland’s voice is simply not being heard or listened to within the U.K.,” she said in a statement. “The claims about Scotland being an equal partner are being exposed as nothing more than empty rhetoric.”

In a 2014 referendum, 55 percent of Scottish voters voted against Scotland’s independence from the U.K.

Dutch Prime Minister releases an open letter wooing right-wing voters

9 hours 53 min ago

On Monday morning, many Dutch citizens opened their newspapers to find a full page advertisement from their Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Against a black backdrop, half of his bespectacled face stares out from the page, flanked by a ‘letter to the Netherlands’ in white print.

The most striking part of the letter criticizes those who refuse to integrate and adopt Dutch values. “We feel uncomfortable when people abuse our freedom to spoil things, when they have come to our country for that very freedom,” Rutte wrote, just weeks before the country’s general election on March 15. “Behave normally, or go away.”

Although his message seemed to address immigrants, its real target is voters who have been leaving his Liberal Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) party in droves. In recent years, the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV) a one-man party headed by Geert Wilders has taken a commanding lead in Dutch politics.

Wilders is a former VVD politician with persuasive, divisive rhetoric and a striking blonde hairdo similar to that of U.S. President Donald Trump. His political platform consists of one A4 sheet of paper and focuses on de-islamizing the country, getting rid of immigrants and leaving the European Union (EU).

Wilders was quick to respond to the prime minister’s message on Monday. On Twitter he condemned Rutte as “the man of open borders, asylum tsunami, mass immigration, Islamisation, lies and deceit.” Later he posted a video online in which he said Rutte should be the one to go, as he had welcomed many migrants to the Netherlands. In the video, Wilders addresses Rutte: “Stop lying to your own country – there is nobody who still believes you.”

Rutte, first elected in 2010, is looking to win a third term as the country’s Prime Minister. As Wilders rises in the polls, the PM has shifted to the right and started to adopt similar rhetoric. Monday’s advertisement was just the latest incident.

Last summer, Rutte used an appearance on a popular television program to say that Turkish people who bothered a reporter during a demonstration in Rotterdam against the coup in Turkey should “fuck off’ back to Turkey. That began a campaign that has largely focused on immigration rather than traditional issues such as the economy.

Although his party leads in the polls, Wilders is unlikely to be the next Prime Minister. In order to rule, Dutch parties need to form a governing coalition, consisting of at least 70 seats, just under half of the 150 deputies. Wilders’ PVV is slated to win 33 seats. Rutte’s VVD is predicted to win 24.

Initially, Rutte did not rule out entering into a coalition with Wilders, but he has since changed his mind, hoping to further undercut PVV support. “The chance of the VVD working together with the PVV is zero,” he said on Jan. 15. Despite this, a majority of voters believe that Mr. Rutte will go back on his word after the elections if it makes political sense to do so.

Left wing parties are also already hatching plans for their own coalition, which would be led by Jesse Klaver, the 30-year-old leader of the Green Left (GroenLinks) party, currently slated to win 16 seats. Klaver also lashed out at Rutte, saying his message on what was normal in the Netherlands was “unbelievable.” On Facebook he wrote: “400.000 children in poverty is not normal. People who cannot afford the high costs for health care is not normal. Racism is not normal.”

What exactly was ‘normal’ was a question left hanging in the air. Even the prime minister felt the need to further clarify his views during a live chat on Facebook on Monday evening. One viewer asked whether he was normal if he stopped watching the series Lost two episodes before the show’s finale. That was not what he meant, Rutte explained. “Normal are the things which we are used to in this country – like shaking hands.”

He gave the example of the “bizarre verdict” against bus company Qbuzz, which was censured for turning down an immigrant who applied for a job as a bus driver because the man refused to shake hands with women.

“That’s precisely why I and many other people are rebelling. Because the norm here is that you shake hands with each other.”

“If you live in a country where you get so annoyed with how we deal each other, you have a choice. Get out! You don’t have to be here!” Rutte told daily paper Algemeen Dagblad. Only the looming elections will tell whether such tough talk from a man famous for his compromising stance will convince voters.

Fernande van Tets is a Dutch journalist living in Amsterdam.

Trump’s executive orders have had more bark than bite so far

January 23, 2017 - 4:15pm

President Donald Trump began his presidency with a series of executive orders and memoranda taking aim at Obamacare, trade deals, federal workers, and abortion. And on Monday, the White House indicated that many more executive orders were coming this week and beyond.

Over the past several decades, the issuing of executive orders has become the standard opening act of a presidency; by bypassing the typically slow-moving checks and balances of congressional approval, an incoming chief executive can affect policy and appear decisive with the stroke of a pen.

On Monday, for instance, Trump signed an executive order reinstating a policy prohibiting any U.S. nongovernmental organization (NGO) that performs or provides information about abortions abroad from receiving federal funding (a stance known as the Mexico City Policy). He signed another that freezes hiring among the federal workforce excluding the military, a move meant to spur gradual but meaningful change in the makeup of the federal bureaucracy. That action echoed the hiring freeze Ronald Reagan instituted on his inauguration day in 1981.

Executive orders, however, can also amount to nothing more than symbolic pageantry.

“A president can just call people and tell them to do something and it often means the same thing as an executive order,” explained Eric Posner, constitutional law professor of the University of Chicago. Since the goal of some executive orders is good publicity, they “can be complete fluff,” he added.

Such fluff includes the creation of presidential commissions and forums that produce little-read reports, and orders that seek to accomplish things beyond the power of the president to actually accomplish. President Barack Obama issued an executive order during his first days as president that sought to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay within a year. Eight years later, the infamous prison is still open in part because Obama did not have the power to close it without the approval of Congress.

These kinds of limitations will also apply to Trump’s recent slate of orders. His first, issued on Inauguration Day, focused on Obamacare but repeatedly included the caveat “to the maximum extent permitted by law.” The order may have been an important signal of the administration’s determination to repeal the law, but the immediate policy impact is minimal; a change of regulations must go through an internal review process, and a change of the law requires new legislation from Congress.

On Monday Trump signed a formal withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an order that was unnecessary since the United States had never formally joined the TPP anyway. That order was more symbol than policy tool; White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced Monday that it represented “a new era of trade policy” that went beyond the TPP.

Executive orders give Trump, like previous presidents, extraordinary abilities related to war and immigration. Franklin Roosevelt used an executive order to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II, and Abraham Lincoln relied on similar powers to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. More recently, Obama took executive actions to allow some undocumented immigrants to stay in the country while prioritizing the deportation of others.

Political opponents do have recourse against executive orders in the courts. Conservatives challenged Obama’s immigration orders, and last summer the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Obama had exceeded his executive authority.

Democrats have already shown a willingness to challenge Trump in court on conflict of interest questions and will likely relish any opportunity to challenge his substantive executive orders. Thus far, however, Trump’s orders have been more symbolic than transformative.

Top Trump advisor sent to meet Justin Trudeau

January 23, 2017 - 12:44pm

One of President Donald Trump’s top advisors met with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and federal cabinet members in Calgary on Monday, and sent a message of reassurance over the future of NAFTA.

Stephen Schwarzman, who leads Trump’s strategic and policy forum, told reporters that Canada shouldn’t worry about Trump’s protectionist rhetoric when it comes to Canada-U.S. relations.

“There may be some modifications but basically, things should go well for Canada in terms of any discussions with the United States,” he said. “Trade between the U.S. and Canada is really very much in balance and is a model for the way that trade relations should be.”

Trudeau and his cabinet are in Calgary for a retreat dominated by talks of how trade relations will look once NAFTA is renegotiated. Any clarity on what that might mean is still months away.

It was originally reported by Reuters and CBC News Monday morning that Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner would also make an appearance in Calgary. However a Trudeau spokesperson later said in a statement that “no other officials from the U.S. administration, beyond Mr. Schwarzman, will be present here at the retreat.”

Huh; top Trump aide Kushner is now not coming to Canada, says government official. Planned trip fell through for logistical reasons #cdnpoli

— David Ljunggren (@reutersLjungg) January 23, 2017

Schwarzman’s visit comes amid other reports that Canadian officials fear a visit to Canada by Trump himself would spark mass protests.

Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer has said that the president and Trudeau had spoken on the phone on Saturday and that the two leaders planned to meet in person within the next month.

Trudeau’s office has already reportedly held a dozen of meetings on everything from trade to national security with key Trump operatives, including White House chief of staff Steve Bannon. NAFTA has been of particular concern, since Trump has promised to renegotiate the 23-year-old trade pact between his country, Canada, and Mexico.

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, told reporters on Sunday evening the worry is that Canada will become “collateral damage” as it seeks to redraft trade deals. On Monday, Trump signed an executive order confirming his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive 12-country deal that includes Canada.  

In his view, the new U.S. government isn’t particularly concerned with Canada-US relations.

“They’re principally focused on the countries that have large trade deficits with them,” MacNaughton said Sunday of the way Trump officials are approaching NAFTA renegotiations. “I don’t think Canada’s the focus at all.”

“That’s what we’ve got to worry about is that we’re collateral damage,” he said. “And so part of this is just making sure that they understand how important Canada is to their economy.”

A statement on the White House website says that unless Canada and Mexico negotiates the trade deal in a way that “gives American workers a fair deal, then the president will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA.” However, it could be months before negotiations even begin, as hearings to confirm Trump’s trade representative pick haven’t even been set.

Last week, Canada’s trade minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told reporters he was optimistic the TPP could survive without the U.S.

Dubai’s firefighters now have jetpacks

January 23, 2017 - 11:37am

Dubai — home to indoor waterparks, the world’s tallest skyscraper, and the largest indoor mall — just added a new tool to its fire department: jetpacks.

Announced on the Dubai Civil Defence Facebook page, the “Dolphin” jetpacks will be used to help with ship fires and other disasters near bodies of water.

 

 

People arrested during Inauguration Day protests could go to prison for 10 years over felony rioting charges

January 23, 2017 - 10:36am

More than 200 people arrested in connection with an outburst of violence during protests against Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration Friday are now facing rioting charges, which carry a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in jail or a fine of up to $250,000, federal prosecutors said Saturday. Some of the protesters facing such charges filed a class action lawsuit, however, alleging that they were unfairly arrested in what their lawyers described as mass, indiscriminate arrests by D.C. police.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Approximately 230 people were arrested in Washington, D.C., on Friday following protests that took place before, during, and after Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. The bulk of those arrested will be charged with felony rioting, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
  • One group of 10 protesters already appeared in court, on Saturday, with their lawyer entering not guilty pleas. They were all released on the condition they did not get rearrested in the District of Columbia. Most of those arrested will be released without bail to return to court next month.
  • Some protesters have filed a lawsuit claiming the D.C. police “indiscriminately and repeatedly” used excessive force, deployed flash-bang grenades and used chemical irritants against people who were not involved in the riots at all.

Limo ablaze here in DC. pic.twitter.com/FOiew1Zgzb

— James Cook (@BBCJamesCook) January 20, 2017

  • Though largely peaceful, some anti-Trump protests on Friday veered into violence with rioters setting fire to a limousine and others flinging rocks at police and local business. 
  • One group of protestors, dressed in black and wearing masks, armed themselves with crowbars and rocks, and smashed the windows of businesses in downtown Washington, including Starbucks, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and McDonald’s.
  • Another protester was caught on camera punching white supremacist Richard Spencer in the face. The video of the incident was quickly transformed into an internet meme. 

The internet is turning neo-Nazi Richard Spencer into the thing he fears most — a meme https://t.co/TLaDnxFqO9 pic.twitter.com/pVsTqPW5xx

— The Verge (@verge) January 23, 2017

  • The bulk of the incidents took place before Trump’s inauguration, at 10:30 a.m. local time, when a crowd of around 500 people on 13th Street destroyed property, according to Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham. “The charge is rioting,” Newsham said. “Our intention going into this event was to make zero arrests, and unfortunately they forced our hand.” 

Limo on fire on K Street #Inauguration @vicenews pic.twitter.com/rZt6HHAHa3

— Tess Owen (@misstessowen) January 20, 2017

  • Riot police fought back using pepper spray, chemical irritants, and flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowds. In total, six police officers received minor injuries during the riots, with three of them hit in the head with flying objects.
  • Larry King didn’t escape the wrath of rioters, tweeting that the windows of his SUV were smashed while he was in the studio.

Protestors in DC smashed the windows of my hired SUV & many other cars. I was working in-studio & am ok, but my driver is a bit rattled.

— Larry King (@kingsthings) January 20, 2017

The Women’s March turnout is at 3.2 million and counting

January 23, 2017 - 10:32am

3.2 million.

That’s the estimated number of people who participated in women’s marches in more than 300 cities and towns across the United States on Saturday, according to FiveThirtyEight, which compiled data from crowd scientists, city officials, local law enforcement, and public transportation systems.

That figure is expected to go up, as it does not yet include data from around 200 towns and cities believed to have hosted marches across the country .

Women, gender nonconformists and men took to streets across the country, one day after Donald Trump was inaugurated the 45th president of the United States, in support of women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, civil rights, and many other things they feel are threatened by the incoming administration.

Washington, D.C., reportedly had the highest turnout, with 485,000 protesters, a number so large it overwhelmed the official march route, packed the National Mall and other avenues as the mass slowly moved from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. D.C. was followed by Los Angeles, with 450,000, and then New York, with 400,000 protesters.

Crowd scientists contacted by the New York Times estimated that more than 470,000 people were at the women’s march on or in the vicinity of the National Mall at approximately 2 p.m. Saturday. Organizers in Washington estimated that half a million had turned out, more than double the 200,000 they had anticipated, according the Associated Press.

With attendance estimates still trickling in, it isn’t yet clear whether the women’s march attendance can compete with other huge events in U.S. history. In 1982, for example, a protest against nuclear weapons drew 1 million to New York’s Central Park. In 1993, between 800,000 and 1 million people marched on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall in support of LGBT rights.

Aerial photos showed the nation’s capitals flooded by a sea of individuals topped with pink “pussy power” hats — which became the protest’s symbolic accessory through a grassroots movement of knitters, inspired by a comment Trump made in the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape in which he brags about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

The majority of marches across the United States took place in states that Democratic contender Hillary Clinton won. The organizers did not explicitly say that the marches were intended as a statement of opposition to Trump, despite the fact that they were planned for the day after inauguration and even though protesters on the day touted a strong anti-Trump message.

“If the marches were a reminder of the depth of opposition to Trump,” FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote, “they also reflected Democrats’ need to expand the breadth of their coalition if they are to make a comeback in 2018 and 2020.”

However, some of the companion women’s marches took place in “red states” that Trump won. Thousands rallied at the state courthouse in Indianapolis, in downtown St. Louis, and in Topeka, Kansas.

Women’s marches were also held in cities across the world, including London, Nairobi, Sydney, Mexico City, Athens, Moscow, Tokyo, and Antarctica, to name just a few.

 

How therapeutic farms are helping Americans with mental illnesses

January 23, 2017 - 10:09am

This segment originally aired Jan. 13, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

A farm in Mesopotamia, Ohio — one of just six therapeutic farms in the United States — is treating people with mental illness.

In 1955, 560,000 patients lived full time in state psychiatric facilities. Today, just 45,000 do. Psychiatric hospitals were shuttered, in part, because of widespread reports of patient abuse. Now, many of the country’s mentally ill are on the streets or in prison.

Private insurance companies, however, prefer to cover hospital stays. Despite its effectiveness, Hopewell can’t keep its beds full because so few people can afford to pay out-of-pocket.

Unlike routine hospital treatments, which focus on medication and short-term stabilization, Hopewell’s residents stay for an average of 180 days. And they relapse less frequently. In addition to medication, residents diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, among other mental illness, work on the farm, gaining social skills they wouldn’t practice in a more traditional setting.

“You not just get the medication stabilized, but you learn how to take care of yourself here,” Hopewell chief psychiatrist Dr. Martha Schinagle told VICE News correspondent Mac McClelland. “Work is a really important part of our lives, something that provides structure and meaning. You get up because you have not just an obligation to go to work but because it’s important to you.”

 

The lessons of the Women’s March

January 23, 2017 - 9:26am

What do we do with these inexact, overwhelming numbers: 3.3 million nationwide, 500,000 in New York City, 500,000 in Washington, D.C., 250,000 in Chicago, 750,000 in Los Angeles, and 22 on Scotland’s Isle of Eigg (population 81)? They do not matter in the context of how many people, by comparison, showed up to Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, nor should they be seen as an unerring harbinger for the resistance to come. The numbers, underscored by the stirring aerial images of crowds across the globe, might have cowed a more reasonable president and forced him to reckon with the damage his rhetoric has already done and the force with which people — his people — might resist, but Trump has yet to show the capacity to be swayed by criticism or even suggestion (although, when the president tweeted his now-perfunctory dismissal of his critics by wondering why the marchers hadn’t voted, he didn’t seem to doubt that there were a lot of them). The millions who marched shared no clear mandate or goal; there were no widely broadcast calls for impeachment or resignation.

All that may come in the near future, but what happened in cities around the world on Saturday wasn’t about change as much as it was about catharsis and the reminder that millions of people still want to live in a society governed by civility and equality. This reminder, I believe, was as much for those who marched as it was for Trump and his supporters. In New York, where I spent Saturday afternoon watching tens of thousands of people march by the Pershing Viaduct that leans up against the southern facade of Grand Central Station, the numbers seemed to be more about dissent through mass-scale affirmation than sending a message, whatever that may have been, to Trump.

This was no small feat, but one that presumably could have happened before Saturday. There were small protests the night after Trump’s election as well as pockets of violent resistance in Washington, D.C., on the day of the inauguration. These actions were dismissed, not only by the president’s tweets but also by the majority of the media. The timing of this march — the day after everything became official — should have actually muted the turnout because it removed the possibility, however faint, that an overwhelming response might help hasten the removal of the president-elect. It also seems a bit too rote to give “the internet” the credit because while the march’s myriad organizers got the word out through interviews with traditional journalistic outlets and a social media blitz that frankly didn’t feel as expansive as it could have been, all protests are now organized through the internet.

The success of the the Women’s March came, instead, from its simple framing as, well, a women’s march. The name, which was arrived upon after much negotiation and hand-wringing, provoked but did not alienate its core constituency. It built a sense of tribalism that obscured, albeit temporarily, the rifts between schools of feminists (even those that were going on within the ranks of the march’s organizers) and created a momentum that built quickly and blindly throughout the weeks leading up to the inauguration. Enthusiasm, as expressed through motifs like pink pussycat hats and photos of bus and train tickets to D.C., replaced politics. What mattered more was whether you were going to D.C.,, and if you couldn’t, where you could go instead.

Earlier this month, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait tweeted, “I think many men assume the ‘Women’s March’ is supposed to be for women only, which is why it was a bad name for the main anti-Trump march.” Chait’s tweet was met with widespread derision because it seemed to signal a belief that a massive protest could only be framed through the existing pathways of power — namely, through white men who were opening their arms for everyone else to gather. But Chait was wrong on another level: Outrage is almost always personal, and huge turnouts only really happen when the majority, namely white men and women, can identify with what they feel is a virtuous, specific cause.

At the Philando Castile protests in St. Paul last summer, I watched an older white couple talking to a young, Latina organizer and explaining that they had come out because they had imagined how they would have felt if someone who had worked at their children’s school had been shot dead during a traffic stop. They said they had heard Castile was a nice man and as the young organizer explained to them why it shouldn’t matter if Castile was nice by their standards, a look of sad confusion fell over their faces. The organizer, of course, was right, but the conversion she desired seemed, at least to me, impossible because it would have required that old couple to ignore how Castile’s death made them feel about their own lives. This sort of empathy, perhaps, should not be seen as radical, but the truth is that people rarely come out to protests unless they can imagine a threat to their own way of life.

Saturday’s picket signs — how many thousands have we seen now through social media? — reflected this personal bent. (A friend who marched in New York called it “the world’s first whatever you want it to be march”) But because the focus was pulled back so far, the tiered solidarity the organizers envisioned, in which the concerns of all women would be heard and white women would act as allies and acknowledge their privilege, was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm over the numbers. On Saturday night, as people were sharing their photos online, I saw the image of a black woman holding up a sign that asked white women if they would be at the next Black Lives Matter march. Those essential questions of what solidarity might look like over the next four years and whether there might be a way to hold a mass protest without placing the demands of white women front and center, were not asked on Saturday, except in the most perfunctory ways.

Chait wasn’t the only one who was wrong about the Women’s March. After seeing the mass protests in Korea firsthand, in which millions of protesters gathered for six straight weeks to demand the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye, I wrote that I did not think a comparably massive action was possible in the United States. The infrastructures of U.S. cities, specifically New York and Washington, D.C., couldn’t sustain a turnout in the hundreds of thousands, much less millions. The pain points, which mostly had to do with travel and the layouts of American cities, would prevent any massive gathering. A march in Washington, for example, shouldn’t have been able to contain hundreds of thousands of protesters because the roads into the National Mall and the Capital can’t handle that much volume. In New York, large marches almost immediately get barricaded and split up, especially when they take place in midtown Manhattan.

As it turns out, it didn’t matter that the hundreds of thousands who went to D.C. couldn’t march or gather in one cohesive unit. Nor did it matter much that the streets of midtown Manhattan were thronged with immobilized protesters who stood in place for hours on end. Some muscle was being flexed, torn, and then built back into something stronger. The numbers, in their self-evident way, expanded the imagination of what might be possible.

Trump may or may not release his tax returns, so now WikiLeaks is after them

January 23, 2017 - 8:27am

Updated 1/23/17: Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday that the president wouldn’t release his tax returns — but now she’s walking that back. Conway tweeted Monday that Trump would release his tax returns after the IRS audit (repeatedly mentioned during the campaign, though there’s no evidence an audit is underway) is completed. 

Just three days after Trump was sworn in as president, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has announced that the real estate businessman will not be releasing his tax returns. In an ABC interview Sunday, Conway said: “People didn’t care … They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans … are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.”

This latest announcement seems to have angered WikiLeaks. The whistleblowing site is now calling on people to help it publish the U.S. president’s tax returns. And a new ABC News poll shows that 74 percent of Americans want Trump to release those record

WikiLeaks was largely viewed as an ally of Trump during his presidential run, given its publication of leaked Democratic emails which were hugely damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied this, saying: “This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election. The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility toward whistleblowers.”

However, on Sunday, when the White House made the announcement that it would not be releasing Trump’s tax returns — breaking with 40 years of precedent but not the law — the group made it clear that they found this unacceptable.

Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway stated today that Trump will not release his tax returns. Send them to: https://t.co/cLRcuIiQXz so we can.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 22, 2017

WikiLeaks went on to compare Trump’s decision to keep his tax affairs private to Clinton failing to release the details of three paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs — which the whistleblowing organization went on to release last October.

Trump's breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 22, 2017

Trump has promised on a number of occasions that he will release his tax returns once an audit is finished, but there is no conclusive proof that an audit is even taking place.

In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2016

Conway’s statement on Sunday that “people don’t care” about seeing the president’s tax returns clashes with the results of several recent polls on the matter. Just last week a Washington Post-ABC poll indicated that 74 percent of people would like Trump to release them, while a CNN poll in October showed a similar result – 73 percent of voters wanted to see returns.

WikiLeaks has now added its backing to the hundreds of thousands calling on Donald Trump to release his tax returns, with a petition asking him to do so reaching the required 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Reaction to the WikiLeaks call for whistleblowers to leak Trump’s returns has been mixed. Some have slammed the group, saying the president is entitled to privacy:

@wikileaks President Trump was a private citizen of the U.S. with rights to privacy! Wikileaks should understand and respect said privacy!

— TJSLATS (@s_hand3485) January 22, 2017

Others have expressed surprise at this demand from Wikileaks:

@wikileaks Nice try, but it's too late to backpedal. You'll forever be tied to Trump's election.

— KoolaidUSA (@KoolaidUSA) January 22, 2017

While many are asking why WikiLeaks is only now calling for Trump to release his taxes, Assange told HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher“ in August that the group was “working on” Trump’s tax returns. However, the group subsequently tweeted that this was a joke and it was simply trying to encourage whistleblowers.

Trump continues to face questions about his business dealings and how they will impact his presidency. Despite a high-profile announcement explaining that his sons would take control of his business interests, there is still no evidence that Trump has resigned from any of his companies.

Readers can also leak to VICE News via securedrop.

U.K. government under pressure over nuclear missile test misfire

January 23, 2017 - 5:55am

The U.K. government is under pressure to answer questions about an alleged cover-up of a failed Trident missile test that happened just one month before parliament voted for a £40 billion ($50 billion) renewal of the nuclear deterrent.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • A report in the Sunday Times details a failed test of the Trident missile system that took place in June 2016. The test was of an unarmed Trident II D5 missile – fired from the HMS Vengeance located 5,600 miles off the coast of Florida – and intended to hit a sea target off the coast of Africa. A senior naval source told the paper that the missile “veered off in the wrong direction toward America.”
  • Downing Street and the Ministry of Defense issued a joint statement confirming the test took place but notably failing to deny the claims made in the Sunday Times report. “In June the Royal Navy conducted a routine, unarmed Trident missile test launch from HMS Vengeance, as part of an operation designed to certify the submarine and its crew.”
  • The timing of the test failure is critical. It occurred just one month before the Commons voted by 472 to 117 to back a £40 billion renewal of Trident. This raises serious questions as to whether Theresa May — who took over as prime minister in the meantime — knew about the test failure before she gave a speech in the Commons seeking support for Trident.
  • May was asked four times in an interview on Sunday if she had known about the failure of the test before she gave that speech. She avoided answering the question, simply saying she had “absolute faith” in the system.

Did you know?
Andrew Marr asks Theresa May four times about a reported Trident misfire in June.
More: https://t.co/DUSWiynpNq pic.twitter.com/jdUgL7teXp

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 22, 2017

  • Downing Street later said that the prime minister was informed of the failed test when she took office:

Downing St says Theresa May was briefed on trident test when she became pm; saying it was a successful test to certify sub and crew

— Tom Bateman (@tombateman) January 23, 2017

  • Greg Clark, the business secretary, told the Today program that the government never talks about nuclear tests — successful or not — but as the BBC’s political editor points out, this has not always been the case:

Not sure govts suggestion that they never talk about nuke tests will wash given they send out press releases about successful ones …..

— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) January 23, 2017

  • The opposition Labour party has called for answers about the possible cover-up surrounding the misfire. Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who voted against any Trident renewal in July, called the failed test “a catastrophic error” and has called for a “serious discussion” about the issue. His party colleague and shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it was “extremely worrying” that Parliament had not been told about the test, while Labour’s shadow defense secretary Nia Griffith has called on May to give a “full explanation” to MPs.
  • Others are suggesting the fault lies with the previous administration. Conservative MP Julian Lewis, who chairs the the Commons defense committee, placed the blame squarely on former Prime Minister David Cameron:

“In fairness to the present prime minister, one has to accept that she has been dealt a rotten hand because this matter, the decision to cover it up, if there was such a decision, as appears to be the case, was taken in the dying days of the Cameron administrations when spin doctors were the rule in Number 10 Downing Street,” Lewis told the BBC’s “Today” program on Monday.

  • The Scottish National Party, which voted en masse against the Trident renewal due to its base being located in Scotland, has called for “full disclosure” of who knew about the misfire and when they knew.

This is a hugely serious issue. There should be full disclosure of what happened, who knew what/when, and why House of Commons wasn't told. https://t.co/vHjJn3dKRD

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 22, 2017

  • Kate Hudson from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament criticized the U.K. government, despite no warhead being used during the test: “This is a very serious failure of the Trident system and there’s absolutely no doubt this would have impacted on the debate in Parliament on Trident replacement. The government’s motivation for holding back this vital information is therefore clear.”

Trump, Clinton, and Sanders still owe thousands to cities they campaigned in

January 22, 2017 - 10:45am

This segment originally aired Jan. 13, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

When political candidates blow through town, they leave more than a trail of big promises and broken placards. They also leave behind a pile of debt.

Between them, the Trump, Clinton, and Sanders campaigns still owe towns and cities at least $678,000 for security and other costs incurred during the 2016 cycle. And many municipalities aren’t happy about getting stiffed.

“You know, it’s unfortunate that we’re stuck absorbing these costs,” said Tucson, Arizona city attorney Mike Rankin, who originally threatened to sue but decided to back down. City officials claim the Trump and Sanders’ campaigns combined owe over $126,000.

This vigilante dad is trying to end heroin overdoses by intimidating drug dealers

January 22, 2017 - 10:42am

This segment originally aired Jan. 13, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

New Jersey police pulled John Cramsey over outside the Holland Tunnel last June. Inside his truck, they found a cache of weapons. Cramsey told the cops that he was an anti-heroin activist on his way to Brooklyn to save a young girl from a drug den.

“I buried my baby girl back in February, 20 years old,” Cramsey said while speaking to a group of teens in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “We’re burying you kids way too quick. You have to save your generation before we lose them.”

After his daughter’s death of a heroin overdose, Cramsey sought revenge against all heroin dealers. He began posting pictures of himself in tactical gear alongside intimidating messages on Facebook.

His critics contend that Cramsey is no hero and, at most, drives addicts to rehab facilities. Still, he  says he’ll continue with his campaign against drug dealers.

“Don’t worry about the blue and red lights after you. Worry about us angry dads,” Cramsey said.

See what the Women’s March looked like across the world

January 21, 2017 - 5:40pm

While protesters hit the streets of Washington, D.C., for the main Women’s March on Saturday, sister marches were taking place all over the globe. Here’s a look at some of the more than 600 protests that drew thousands in support of a range of rights that may be threatened by Donald Trump’s presidency.

Read more about the marches.
Read about their global reach.
And see a selection of the best signs.

“We don’t want to go backwards”: the voices of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

January 21, 2017 - 5:17pm

“We don’t want to go backwards.” That was a common sentiment shared by people of all ages who joined the horde of pink-hatted individuals flooding the streets of Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Saturday. Across the globe, in more than 600 cities, millions of protestors marched in a stinging rebuke to President Donald Trump.

Early estimates indicate that the Women’s March on Washington may have drawn as many as half a million people, just one day after Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Estimates and Metro ridership data suggest the turnout for Saturday’s protest was higher than for Trump’s inauguration.

The people VICE News spoke to expressed concern for the future of women’s rights, and a range of other rights — LGBT, undocumented immigrants, and broader civil rights — in the new administration.

Here are some of the voices from the event:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canadians say they’re getting denied entry at the U.S. border for wanting to protest Donald Trump

January 21, 2017 - 3:02pm

There’s a growing chorus of Canadians claiming they have been detained and turned away at the U.S. border for trying to attend the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington.

Sasha Dyck, a 34-year-old from Montreal, told reporters yesterday that he and five other Canadians and two French nationals were denied entry at the St. Bernard de Lacolle border crossing into New York on Friday after explaining their protest plans to the American border guards.

He claims the group was told to go to secondary screening where they spent hours being searched, fingerprinted, and were told to unlock their cell phones for inspection.

“I hope it doesn’t represent a closing down or a firming up of the border, or of mentalities south of the border,” said Dyck, who added that he had no trouble getting through the border for Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Dyck, who also holds American citizenship but didn’t have that passport, said the border officials did not provide a reason for denying the group entry, something they don’t usually do anyway, as they have total discretion over who they deny or let in.

Thousands of other Canadians traveling by buses and planes did, however, successfully make it through to join the hundreds of thousands in Washington rallying for women’s rights.

CBC also heard from two other Montrealers who say they were also denied entry at the St. Bernard de Lacolle checkpoint on Thursday after a border guard asked what they were up to. “The first thing he asked us point blank is, ‘Are you anti- or pro-Trump?’” McGill University student Joseph Decunha told the news outlet.

“According to the agent, my traveling to the United States for the purpose of protesting didn’t constitute a valid reason to cross,” he continued. “It’s concerning to see that at a border crossing you’re being screened for what your political beliefs are.”

Also on Thursday, U.K. national Joe Kroese said he and a group of three American and Canadian friends were also detained at the same crossing after telling the guard they had tentative plans to attend the Women’s March. Kroese, 23, told the Guardian on Saturday the border guard said they weren’t allowed through because the march was a “potentially violent rally.”

A couple from Sudbury, Ontario told the CBC they were allowed through the Niagara Falls border on Thursday, but only after being subjected to hours of questioning about their motives. “We were told essentially that, as Canadians, we had no right to go and participate in this march,” said Amber Gazdic. “[They said] it’s none of our business, and Canada has its own problems we should address.”

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News, but has released statements saying they cannot comment on specific cases for privacy reasons, and that visitors to the U.S. must always “state the true purpose of your travel.”

In a statement to Reuters, a spokesman for Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said that U.S. authorities are entitled to search the cell phones of Canadians trying to cross the border.

“When entering another country, including Canada, it has always been the case that goods accompanying a traveler may be searched to verify admissibility,” said Scott Bardsley, the minister’s press secretary. “Every country is sovereign and able to make its own rules to admit people and goods to manage its immigration framework, health and safety.”

It’s unclear what, if any, new Trump administration policies will impact relations with Canada. He has vowed to overhaul major trade agreements among the U.S., Canada and Mexico. His inauguration speech on Friday was isolationist in tone and promised to put “America first.”

The language of Trump’s inaugural address paints a dark picture of America

January 21, 2017 - 11:16am

In his inaugural address Donald Trump promised to make America great again, but he also used some very stark, dire language to describe the current state of the country. Here is a selection of the some of the strongest rhetoric he used:

Millions mobilize around the world for the Women’s March

January 21, 2017 - 8:51am

Hundreds of thousands of people descended on Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, one day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, marking one of the largest mass mobilizations after an inauguration in recent history. And more than 100 solidarity marches and protests are taking place around the world, including an estimated gathering of 100,000 protestors in London. All told, an estimated 3-4 million people participated in the protests worldwide.

Estimates and D.C. Metro ridership data put attendance at more than 500,000 people, suggesting Saturday’s protest saw a significantly larger turnout than Trump’s inauguration the day before.

The Women’s March started as a decentralized movement organized primarily online in response to the election of Trump, but it quickly mushroomed into a massive mobilization. The march is not explicitly anti-Trump. Instead, it’s intended “to send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” according to the mission statement online. The organizers of the march emphasized that any and all “defenders of human rights” are welcome to attend.

On stage in D.C., iconic feminist leader Gloria Steinem opened the march with strong words for President Trump and described the events as the beginning of a movement.  “When we elect a possible president, we too often go home. We’ve elected an impossible president and we’re never going home. We’re staying together and we’re taking over,” Steinem said.

“This is the upside of the downside. This is an outpouring of energy and true democracy like I have never seen in my very long life,” she added.

In addition to the overarching feminist theme, the event attracted activists in favor of a wide range of causes. People at the march showed their support for the environment, LGBT rights, anti-gun violence, immigrant rights, and criminal justice reform.

Since its grassroots beginnings, the Women’s March has since attracted the support of some prominent organizations and female leaders. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the ACLU are sponsors. Civil rights and feminist icons Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem are honorary co-chairs. Democrats Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand plan to attend the march in their home cities of Boston and New York, respectively.

The march is expected to be bigger than the inauguration itself. Less than 400 buses received permits for Friday’s ceremony, compared to the 1,200 permits given by the city for the Women’s March the following day. 

The hashtag #WhyIMarch has helped to spread the word about the march and increase its visibility in the weeks leading up to it.

I'm marching to ensure we don't roll back the clock on women's rights and to empower women & girls to speak out & be heard. #WhyIMarch

— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 17, 2017

 

Cincinnati, OH @MomsDemand headed to DC to fight for the safety of our families with hope in our hearts! #WomensMarch #WhyIMarch pic.twitter.com/A8m5AQS3al

— michele mueller (@hilarybama) January 20, 2017

Sending love to my undocumented sisters and brothers. I will fight with you and for you. #HereToStay #WhyIMarch

— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 20, 2017

Pages