California Democrats Won’t Admit The Party Is In Chaos (HBO)

The California Democratic Party has been in a state of chaos since the 2016 election and has become the crucible of the anti-Trump resistance. It’s the most Democratic state in the union and is considered a bellwether for the future of liberal politics — that is to say, what happens in California will likely spread to the rest of the party. This makes the position of Party Chair one of the most important leadership roles in the state.

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Why The Breakfast Club Is A Required Stop For Presidential Candidates (HBO)

If you’re a Democrat running for president, chances are you want stop by The Breakfast Club, the syndicated morning radio show produced by New York City hip hop station Power 105.1 FM.

The three Breakfast Club hosts — Angela Yee, DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God — have hosted long, free-wheeling interviews with 2020 candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg and more. On Thursday, their guest was Elizabeth Warren.

Warren’s interview has already gone viral with a clip of Charlemagne accusing her of being “the original Rachel Dolezal.” Viral clips are the best-known result of a Breakfast Club interview, but they do the show a disservice — it’s really a loose, revealing interview that you won’t see on any Sunday morning TV politics show.

VICE News went behind the scenes with The Breakfast Club as they prepared for the Warren interview and grilled her.

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A.I. Still Needs Humans — Especially in China (HBO)

Seemingly “intelligent” devices like self-driving trucks aren’t actually all that intelligent. In order to avoid plowing into other cars or making illegal lane changes, they need a lot of help.

In China, that help is increasingly coming from rooms full of college students.

Li Zhenwei is a data labeler. His job, which didn’t even exist a few years ago, involves sitting at a computer, clicking frame-by-frame through endless hours of dashcam footage, and drawing lines over each photo to help the computer recognize lane markers.

“Every good-looking field has people working behind the scenes,” says Li. “I’d prefer to be an anonymous hero.”

Li, and many of his classmates at a local vocational school, are benefiting from the Chinese government’s push to move away from an economy based on heavy industry, and toward one focused on high tech.

Li doesn’t have a degree in computer science. So for him, this is a new opportunity to get a foot in the door of a booming tech industry.

But there’s no telling how long this boom will last.

VICE News went to Zibo, China, to find out what it’s like to work in a factory that doesn’t make physical objects, but instead pumps out data.

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What Robert Mueller’s Press Conference Means For Congress (HBO)

For the last two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has allowed his work to speak for him. On Wednesday, when he finally stepped to the podium to speak to the American public, he suggested that neither Congress nor Attorney General William Barr had read that work closely enough.

Mueller used his first and only press conference on the subject to highlight the passages of his book-length report that have been fiercely debated in the five weeks since its release. Namely: Charging Trump with obstruction of justice was never on the table — despite what Barr said — and now, any further action is up to Congress.

In a brief, understated appearance, Mueller gave voice to his 448-page report, emphasizing that he would have cleared Trump if the facts had allowed him to do so. He also made clear the limits of his power as a prosecutor, pointing out that the Constitution lays out another mechanism for holding presidents accountable — impeachment — without explicitly using the i-word.

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Andrew Yang Wants To Give You $1,000 A Month (HBO)

Andrew Yang is a tech entrepreneur, the founder of Venture for America, and a long shot Democratic candidate for president. While he has hundreds of policy positions, he’s focused on the challenges of automation, and is staking his presidential bid on one big idea: Universal Basic Income (UBI).

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The Brexit Mistakes That Led to Theresa May’s Resignation (HBO)

After almost three years of waiting for their country to leave the EU, British voters finally saw some action. Prime Minister Theresa May resigned as leader of the Conservative Party last week.

Her resignation has been inevitable since May failed to get Parliament to accept a deal and was forced to delay Brexit. Still, there’s no clear frontrunner to fill the power vacuum that will emerge as she steps down, and whoever takes over will inherit the problems that took May down.

One thing, however, is clear: In the next few months, her successor will clarify whether Theresa May single-handedly and spectacularly failed at her only job or whether delivering Brexit is a suicide mission for any politician.

More than a few conservative hardliners are banking on the first hypothesis — that May’s string of bad decisions were the problem. They’re pushing to see Boris Johnson, the figurehead of the 2016 leave campaign, take over and finish what he started.

Whoever ends up in the unenviable position will first have to handle the fallout from the European Parliament elections. Polls show the Conservative Party finishing in a humiliating fifth place. And with Nigel Farage and his newly-formed Brexit Party raging toward victory, the humiliations are likely to continue well after the results are in.

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Meet The Democratic Candidate Who’s Running On Climate Change (HBO)

For Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, the Democratic campaign trail is best described as a mix of serious climate policy discussion — and dad jokes. Sometimes it’s both.

“When there is increased flooding due to climate change, that’s a problem. But when it shuts down a brewery — that’s a national crisis,” Inslee told Tim Baldwin, the owner of Front Street Brewery, in Davenport, Iowa. The Brewery was damaged during a devastating flood at the end of April.

Joke aside, Inslee’s campaign strategy essentially boils down to branding himself as the climate change candidate. And for Inslee, that makes sense. He says he cares about climate change, and he’s got the receipts to prove it.

In 2007, Inslee published a book called “Apollo’s Fire,” which discussed a plan that’s similar to the Green New Deal, the current economic strategy backed by most Democrats to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Ten years later, Inslee co-founded the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of American governors who want to stick to the Paris Agreement goals. As governor of Washington, Inslee failed to pass a carbon tax in 2018, but this year, he signed a green energy bill — and even a human composting bill. And now he’s released the most extensive climate plan of any of the current Democratic candidates.

VICE News spent two days on the campaign trail with Inslee as he spoke to victims of the flood in Iowa and travelled to Washington, D.C., to announce his climate-focused jobs plan at a wastewater treatment plant.

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What It Takes To Make A Hollywood Mockbuster (HBO)

On Friday Disney releases the live-action remake of its 1992 animated classic, Aladdin.

But two weeks ago, Asylum Pictures, a small, low budget studio released its own feature film – Adventures of Aladdin. That’s not a coincidence. That’s Asylum’s business model.

The business model for “mockbusters” is simple: make shoestring imitation movies that confuse viewers looking for genuine Hollywood blockbusters.

Asylum Pictures, a small, low-budget studio is in the business of making knock-off movies, or mockbusters. We go to the set of their version of “Aladdin”

“Our films tend to be… shitty, mostly. You know, not to be taken too seriously. You watch it. You have a good time. You never have to think about it again”

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Why India’s Middle Class Loves Prime Minister Modi (HBO)

After six weeks of voting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won polls and will return to power with an even bigger majority than he won five years ago.

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The Democrats Who Want To Overturn Roe vs. Wade (HBO)

Protests hosted by Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and other groups take place at local state houses nationwide today. This comes as Louisiana is about to pass a so-called fetal “heartbeat bill”. The difference between this bill and other recently passed laws restricting access to abortion is it was sponsored by a Democratic Senator and will be signed by a Democratic governor. Meanwhile, more progressive elements are trying to run anti-abortion politicians out of the party entirely. VICE News talks with the executive director of Democrats For Life of America.

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What It’s Like at an Alabama Clinic Still Performing Abortions (HBO)

The day after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, signed a bill that put her state on the path to banning almost all abortions, a 20-year-old woman from Tennessee walked into an abortion clinic with an ex-boyfriend and underwent the procedure.

“I’m a single mom of three kids,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, after having an abortion. “I have nothing to offer this child. You know, like, I’m already spread thin. I have my other three to take care of.”

She was one of about 20 women who had the procedure that day at the Alabama Women’s Center. Because there, it was business as usual. The ban — which is certain to be challenged in court — won’t go into effect for several months. Meanwhile, abortion is still legal in the state.

Dalton Johnson co-founded the Alabama Women’s Center in 2001, and since then, the center has had to adapt and sue over multiple new laws and ordinances designed to shut its doors.

“It’s been one thing after another. You know, I kind of feel almost at home in the federal courthouse,” Johnson said. “It’s been admitting privileges. It’s been the zoning.”

“The anti-choice group sued the City of Huntsville for issuing my business license, and so that was a whole battle that we had to fight and pay for out of pocket. And, of course, we prevailed in that one. The building codes,” she added. “And probably some more I just can’t even think of.”

So for Johnson, the latest law isn’t much of a surprise. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t emotionally affecting the staff at the clinic, as they answered phones and cared for patients.

“As I was leaving the house this morning, I started to feel like these butterflies in my stomach. The fear was coming over me,” said Makeda Harris, the center’s receptionist. Most days, she’s the first face a patient would see at the clinic.

Outside the clinic, protesters line up every day holding signs and imploring the women who walk inside to choose life. Many of them are regulars, and the staff knows them by name. A mother and daughter prayed outside Thursday after one woman, shielded by the bright umbrellas of the escorts who volunteer in the parking lot, walked in.

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We Went Inside The Chinese Telecom Giant That Trump Just Banned (HBO)

On Wednesday, President Trump issued a long awaited executive order aimed at a company that has been in the crosshairs of the U.S intelligence community for years: Chinese telecom giant Huawei. It’s unclear just how damaging the order will be to Huawei’s business internationally, but it stops the company from expanding its 5G networking technology into the states. The order comes as the U.S. is currently accusing Huawei of intellectual property theft, corporate espionage, and a conspiracy to violate sanctions with Iran.

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Documentary focuses on foster care system

The co-directors of the new HBO documentary “Foster” say the U.S. foster care system is “misunderstood” — and they’re hoping to change that. (May 17)

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Women in Georgia Are Battling the New Restrictive Abortion Laws (HBO)

Progressives are rallying to protest the restrictive abortion laws recently passed in Georgia and other states in the South. VICE News visits presidential hopeful Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s roundtable discussion in Atlanta.

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Migrants at the Border Feel They Have No Choice But to Enter the U.S. Illegally (HBO)

EL PASO, Texas — In the two hours before sunset on a recent afternoon, Border Patrol agents working the line between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso saw more than 100 migrants step over the Rio Grande and into the United States.

They were nearly all families traveling together from Central America seeking asylum, and they crossed in groups ranging from six people to 40. When they spotted Border Patrol vehicles, they calmly walked over to turn themselves in — the first step to requesting asylum for those who enter the country illegally.

Carlos, a migrant from Honduras who crossed the border carrying a pale and coughing toddler, said he had initially planned to cross legally through an official port of entry. But out of the tens of thousands of people waiting, the U.S. allows in only a small percentage of asylum seekers on any given day.

“The truth is that my son couldn’t wait,” said Carlos. “He is very sick.”

The number of people found crossing the border illegally has shot up dramatically since the beginning of the year. In April, according to data released last week by CBP, the number nearly hit 100,000 — the highest it’s been in 12 years.

That’s as clear an indication as possible that the Trump administration’s strategy to deter Central American asylum seekers — which includes metering at ports of entry, expanded detention, and forcing families back to Mexico to wait out their asylum cases — has failed. VICE News went to the border to find out why.

This segment originally aired May 15, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

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Anthony Scaramucci’s Return To Credibility (HBO)

This week, the Sin City calendar included the 10th Annual Skybridge Alternatives Conference, known as SALT.

It’s your standard rich-meet-powerful confab, the kind of thing you’d find in Davos or Aspen. With one notable exception: this one is run by Anthony Scaramucci.

Skybridge is The Mooch’s investment company. At its height, say in 2017, SALT was pretty mega: former heads of state and a-list entertainers appeared on stage. But then Scaramucci’s fortunes changed in July 2017 when he took a job as President Trump’s White House Communications Director. That resulted in one of the all-time great Washington faceplants. Eleven days into the job, Scaramucci was fired, and his brand was beclowned.

The Mooch was alone. There was no SALT conference in 2018.

But a year is a long time, and the finance world has once again opened its arms to Scaramucci. SALT 2019 lacked some of the star power of previous years, but the Mooch did get some heavy-hitters: former White House chief of staff John Kelly was the keynote guest. Other panels included Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions.

Some Democrats showed up, too — former Obama advisers Valerie Jarrett and Susan Rice were here. Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard stopped by, too.

At the center of it all was a man who many people in politics left for dead. But at SALT at least, The Mooch is very much alive.

“My issues with the president are not what he’s doing. He’s got some very very good policies actually working for average people,” Scaramucci told VICE News. “My issue with the president is how he’s doing it. It’s not what he’s doing.”​​

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The People Living In Tent Cities After Hurricane Michael Feel Abandoned By Trump (HBO)

After hurricane Michael, thousands of people were displaced and to this day, unable to return to their homes. A woman has turned her home into a tent city where people who lost it all can come and live in a safe space.

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How Denver Decriminalized Magic Mushrooms (HBO)

Denver became the first city in the country to decriminalize the use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms, after a ballot initiative squeaked through with 50.6% of the vote, according to election officials. The unofficial final results — which are not expected to change when overseas votes are counted — was a stunning turn of events, after the measure trailed in the polls all day, and seemed doomed to fail.

Magic mushrooms are not legal in Denver; the initiative merely directs the police to consider enforcement of existing laws as the lowest priority going forward. It also prohibits law enforcement officials from using any resources to prosecute those cases.

There was no polling on citywide views of psilocybin decriminalization, and in the weeks leading up to the vote, the measure largely flew under the radar. Although top city officials, including the mayor and district attorney, came out against the proposal, none bothered to organize any sort of opposition, and most residents focused their energy on the other items on the ballot, including a close race for mayor and another ballot initiative that would permit camping on city property. That measure failed by a wide margin.

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Sudan Is Holding Sit-Ins In Hopes Of Removing Military From Power (HBO)

Omar Ismail sang a revolutionary song as he frisked people before letting them pass a barricade of bricks and twisted metal in the capital city of Khartoum last week. It was past 10 o’clock at night, but people still streamed toward the massive sit-in outside the country’s military headquarters, where thousands of protesters calling for a new government have been camped since April 6.

Ismail confiscated any potential weapons and checked identification cards. If any government officials aligned with the previous regime of President Omar al-Bashir, security forces, or members of Islamist student groups tried to enter, he would arrest them, he said.

“The law here is our law,” said Ismail, 21, who before the revolution studied software engineering at a local university. “The law here is freedom.”

The sit-in, a sprawling collection of tents, stages, kitchens, and checkpoints that stretches for nearly a mile on the streets of Khartoum, has become the heart of an unprecedented uprising seeking to remake one of the world’s most oppressed countries.

What started in December as a bread riot in a small industrial town outside Khartoum, snowballed into a nationwide movement — and one of the world’s largest and most impressive nonviolent mass actions in recent memory. It reached its zenith on April 11, when Sudan’s Islamist dictator, Omar al-Bashir, failed to break up the sit-in and was forced from power in a military coup. Al-Bashir had ruled Sudan since seizing power in 1989, and his reign was marked by civil war, accusations of genocide in the country’s Darfur region, a collapsed economy, and the secession of the nation’s southern half.

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What Congress Can Do When A President Ignores Its Subpoenas (HBO)

Tensions between the White House and Congressional Democrats hit a new high yesterday, after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the IRS would not turn over Donald Trump’s tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who requested them last month.

A 1924 law requires the IRS to obey the request, but Mnuchin said he was turning it down because it wasn’t being made a legitimate legislative purpose.

This isn’t a one-off. Instead, it’s part of a bigger pattern of Trump rejecting congressional oversight of all kinds. Today, for instance, the White House said it had instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a congressional subpoena for documents related to the Mueller Report. And in just the past week, Attorney General William Barr refused to show up to testify at the House Judiciary Committee in a dispute over who would get to question him, and ignored a subpoena requiring him to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report.

Congressional Democrats are fulminating in response. But the tools they have to compel the president to cooperate with their investigations are, in practice, pretty limited. They can:

1) Vote for contempt-of-Congress charges against Trump officials who ignore subpoenas. Criminal contempt charges can result in jail time. But the catch is that any such charge has to be referred to a US Attorney for prosecution. And since US Attorneys work for Trump’s Justice Department, there’s almost no chance that those charges will ever be prosecuted.

2) File suit against the administration in court, which could result in a court order requiring the administration to obey the subpoena. But that process is a long and drawn-out one, and there’s no guarantee, in the end, that the administration would even follow the court order.

3) Take the direct route, and order the sergeant-at-arms to arrest recalcitrant Trump officials. This sounds bizarre, but the Supreme Court has held that Congress has the authority to use its own police to enforce its dictates. The problem is that the last time Congress did this was back in 1935, and trying to arrest someone like the Secretary of the Treasury would leave the Democrats in completely uncharted waters.

Which means what we’re likely to get is what we’ve been getting: Democrats complaining and Trump stonewalling.

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Julián Castro Thinks His Path To The Nomination Is Through Nevada And Texas (HBO)

While many of the 2020 Democratic contenders are camped out in Iowa or New Hampshire, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro is in Nevada. It’s his seventh visit to the Silver State since announcing his presidential exploratory committee.

“I see this state as just crucial to victory,” Castro said. “Out of the first four early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, I’ve always received the best response here in Nevada.”

Castro contends that he has a unique path to victory: an early win or strong showing in Nevada, followed by the same in California and Texas, both Super Tuesday states. It’s a path that plays on Castro’s supposed strengths.

The former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas argues that those Western and Southwestern states share a similar sensibility. Plus, as the only Latino vying for president, Castro believes he can mobilize the large Latino electorates in each of those states, and then do the same in the general election.

“I have no doubt that in 2020 the Latino turnout rate is going to go up because people are not just thinking about Donald Trump as a theoretical anymore,” Castro said. “They know how bad he’s been as president.”

On Friday, Castro announced he’s reached the Democratic National Committee’s debate threshold of 65 thousand individual donors, along with the other criteria. So his fundraising may have accelerated since his first quarter numbers (he only raised $1.1 million) but the latest polls still show him in the single digits.

Castro seems unfazed by those early indicators. “What can I do except go and work hard and do what a lot of families out there do every day which is to scrap and to continue to work,” Castro said.

VICE News followed Castro during two days of campaigning in Nevada.

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The Mormon Church Is Accused of Using a Victims’ Hotline to Hide Sexual Abuse Claims (HBO)

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Why Do Iowa Democrats Love Joe Biden So Much? (HBO)

Joe Biden arrived in Iowa for his first campaign swing Tuesday. It was a long time coming for Iowa Democrats, who have consistently put him at the top of the early polls.

“Elecatability” is the magic word that fuels a lot of this support. Biden, Iowans say, is best positioned to defeat President Trump and therefore is the safe bet.

Democrats in Iowa are still feeling PTSD over the 2016 election. They thought they would win, they were sure they were. But then Trump pulled off the upset, leaving some to question if anything other than an older white guy with working class white cred can take Democrats back to the White House.

Vice News talked to voters at Biden’s first Iowa campaign stops about why some of them are turning away from the new faces in the Democratic Party diverse field and towards a guy America has known for a long, long time.

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France’s Yellow Vest Protestors Took To The Streets For May Day (HBO)

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for May Day, in solidarity with millions around the world who marched for worker’s rights. While the French protest every year, these protests were remarkably violent as police fired tear gas at crowds in attempts to control factions bent on rioting, detaining more than 250 protestors by the end of the day.

This was the first May Day rally for members of France’s “Yellow Vest” movement, which began protesting 24 weeks ago against what they see as President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business policies favoring the elite.

The group has proven to be one of the biggest challenges to Macron’s presidency and has already forced the President to make concessions related to taxation, pension reform and the closures of schools and hospitals. By turning up today, the Yellow Vests aligned themselves with a centuries-old movement that’s traditionally seen as pro-union and pro-left.

“Today is May Day. It has nothing to do with a Yellow Vest action. It’s a workers’ celebration,” Jérôme Rodrigues, an unofficial leader of the Yellow Vest’s told VICE News. “Within the Yellow Vest march, you have workers who have gathered here to reinforce their demands, and show that they are workers too.”

Rodrigues joined the Yellow Vests in it’s earlier stages, and in a January rally, lost an eye after being hit with what he believes to be a police-fired projectile. Videos capturing the moment propelled him to the forefront of the movement.

“The problem is that we have a president in France right now who not only doesn’t listen to us, but also mutilates us,” Rodrigues told VICE News. “So why wage a revolution? Because the climate of violence was brought on by the government.”

Turning out today was important for Rodrigues and the Yellow Vests because they’ve been losing momentum as of late. He hopes that the Yellow Vests’ presence at the May Day pro-labour rally will help bolster support for their cause in the future.

“All this diversity— That’s how we win. OK?” Rodrigues told VICE News. “Today, we see that we ignored that [in the past], and that we have recovered something fundamental in France. It’s called fraternity.”

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The Poway Synagogue Shooting Is Dividing The American Jewish Community (HBO)

Last Saturday, a 19 year-old white supremacist walked into a synagogue and started shooting.

On Monday, Laurie Gilbert-Kaye was laid to rest, as her family, and an entire community, looked on.

In some ways, this attack has inspired members of the Jewish community to come together as they mourn. But it also seems to be causing division, as people argue over who is to blame for the rise in antisemitism.

To liberals, much of the blame lies with President Trump’s wink-wink relationship with the alt-right. But for those on the right, especially in the largely conservative community of Poway, the left’s criticism of Israel is a big part of the problem.

One of the focal points of this debate has been Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has recently been accused of antisemitism for her remarks about Israel.

This quickly became a wider political debate outside of the Jewish community – a day after the shooting, members of Congress, including Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Chip Roy essentially blamed the attack on Omar.

But leftists have accused the right of using the tragedy as a way to silence critics of Israel.

VICE News visited Poway to hear more about how politics are affecting how a community deals with tragedy.

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