Meet the Conservatives Lobbying Lawmakers to Act on Climate Change

Last month, conservatives from around the country gathered in DC for the first ever Conservative Climate Lobby Day. They represent a growing number of conservatives who worry that the Republican party is losing ground on the issue of climate change.

One of the participants, 22-year-old Jacob Abel, told VICE News that the party might lose young people like himself if it doesn’t lead more on climate policy.

“I think that’s why they’re starting to move on it more now because they see the writing on the wall. This is an important issue for people who are my age. They want to see climate change addressed. They want conservative Republican solutions for it. So if they don’t adjust to it, I think they will lose voters.”

Abel and about seventy other conservative lobbyists spent two days in DC- one for training, one for lobbying – to push Republican lawmakers on the Energy and Carbon Dividend Act. It would place a carbon fee on emissions to be paid out by companies. And that money would be given back to citizens as a dividend check to American households. The bill has some sweeteners for conservatives too, like halting certain greenhouse gas regulations in the Clean Air Act.

Their lobbying didn’t result in congressional action on the bill, which still only has one republican co-sponsor. The lobbyists even found resistance with certain Republican members who are considered the party leaders on the issue.

Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, a state ravaged by receding coastline, is the ranking member on the House Select Committee for the Climate Crisis. VICE News spoke with him in his office on Capitol Hill to hear his approach to tackling climate change and how that differs from what the conservatives lobbyists are proposing.

To Graves, much of the problem is a messaging issue that the public has not been made aware of the successful climate initiatives already underway.

“We need to do a better job educating people about the extraordinary progress that we’ve made.”

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Coronavirus Has Put These People Out of Work

VICE News spoke with an actor, a teacher, a food worker who cannot do their jobs in self-quarantine, one of whom was laid off amidst coronavirus cuts. We look at the ways these individuals have managed to cope and get creative in their new lives.
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How Hospitals Could Decide Who Gets a Ventilator During the Coronavirus Pandemic

VICE News spoke with Dr. Tia Powell, a physician and bioethicist who helped write the guidelines.

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Inside Mexico’s Warring Cartels and the Millions of People They’ve Displaced

For decades, the Mexican government has struggled to figure out what to do about warring cartels. And that’s led to a massive and mostly ignored crisis: Entire towns are being displaced by violence, leaving ghost towns behind.

The problem is so severe — and stubborn — that a recent study concluded that just between 2011 and 2017 as many as 8 million people were displaced within the country because of violence stemming from the constant battle for territory. But there are virtually no laws, programs, public policy or official government initiatives to help those displaced. And, because people flee their homes individually or in families — not in caravans — the problem has largely stayed out of the public eye.

Meanwhile, armed groups have been moving in, making many of the neighborhoods their own.

For the past year, VICE News’ Roberto Ferdman has been following the story of hundreds of displaced families, and the violent war that has destroyed their towns.

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Biden: Bernie Is Lying About My Position on Social Security

Former Vice President Joe Biden has taken flack in recent weeks for saying when he was a senator that he’d negotiate with Republicans on entitlements in order to balance the budget.

On Monday, Biden tried to make clear that would never happen if he becomes president.

“There will be no compromise on cutting Medicare & Social Security, period. That’s a promise,” Biden said at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum, the nation’s oldest minority-focused presidential forum, this year presented by VICE News.

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Democrats in Congress Are Calling Out the Gop for Defending Trump at All Costs

One day before the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump, VICE News asked Democrats about the partisan nature of the vote.

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VICE Investigates: A New Series From VICE News On Hulu (Trailer)

Your world, reconsidered. This is VICE Investigates, a bold new documentary series from VICE News, only on Hulu. Watch the first three episodes on November 1.

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‘Joker’ Doesn’t Have any Incels, But It Does Have Weird Trump References

‘Joker’ has inspired a lot of debate. Many early reviewers thought it was a great film, but worried that it could inspire violence from ‘incels’ – angry young men who resent women who reject them. VICE News’ Dexter Thomas watched the movie, and doesn’t quite agree.

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GOP Activists Just Formed a Dark Money Group to Go to War With Big Tech

When political opposites like Senator Josh Hawley and Bernie Sanders are both railing against the power of Big Tech, there may be real bipartisan momentum toward reining in the giants of the tech industry. Now, amid the calls for new regulations on privacy, antitrust issues, and alleged political bias, two experienced conservative operatives have formed an advocacy group to challenge Big Tech.

The organization, called the Internet Accountability Project, is the brainchild of Mike Davis, who helped lead last year’s fight to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

As a 501(c)(4), the IAP is a “dark-money” group, meaning it isn’t required to disclose who’s funding it. Davis wouldn’t tell VICE News, beyond describing its funders as a “coalition of populist organizations and individuals who are working on this project.” Its strategic partners include several right-leaning organizations, including Publius Lex, a conservative legal nonprofit, and the Media Research Center, which describes its aim as “neutralizing leftist bias in the news media and popular culture.”

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Bart Baker Quit YouTube — Now He’s Trying To Get Big on the Chinese Internet

Bart Baker, former YouTube celebrity, starts off most mornings by screaming in mangled Chinese.

For the past few years, Bart’s bread and butter was edgy parody music videos, mocking stars like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Good videos easily racked in tens of millions of views; a million views was a dud.

But when YouTube started de-prioritizing vulgar videos in order to keep family-friendly advertisers happy, Bart’s income took a massive plunge.

So when he got a mysterious email from a company promising to catapult him to stardom in China, he figured he’d give it a shot. A few videos later, he had millions of followers, in a country he’d never even visited.

Now, Bart’s days start with live chat and song sessions with his millions of Chinese followers on Kwai, a Chinese social media app. Then, his Chinese manager sends him a Chinese song, which Bart translates into English, with the help of Google Translate. Hours later, Bart’s English version of the track is burning up the top ranks in Douyin (China’s version of TikTok).

Bart sees immense potential in the Chinese market, and has already announced that he is quitting YouTube. Meanwhile, his Chinese manager is concerned that Bart’s American persona could be trouble in China, if it isn’t properly handled.

VICE News met with Bart Baker in Los Angeles, and his manager in Shanghai, to see if Bart’s path might be a way forward for other struggling YouTubers.

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Gamers Have Had It with Being Scapegoated for Gun Violence

VICE News spoke with members of the gaming community who are tired and frustrated with being the distraction for politicians who would rather focus on anything other than gun policy.

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They Come For Us At Night: China’s Vanishing Muslims (Full Report)

China’s Uighur minority live a dystopian nightmare of constant surveillance and brutal policing. At least one million of them are believed to be living in what the U.N. described as a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy,” while many Uighur children are taken to state-run orphanages where they’re indoctrinated into Chinese customs.

The Uighurs’ plight has largely been kept hidden from the world, thanks to China’s aggressive attempts to suppress the story at all costs.

VICE News’ Isobel Yeung posed as a tourist to gain unprecedented access to China’s western Xinjiang region, which has been nearly unreachable by journalists.

She and our crew experienced China’s Orwellian surveillance and harassment first-hand during their time in Xinjiang, and captured chilling hidden-camera footage of eight Uighur men detained by police in the middle of the night. We spoke with members of the Uighur community about their experience in these camps, and about China’s attempts to silence their history and lifestyle under the cover of darkness.

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They Come For Us At Night: China’s Vanishing Muslims

VICE News’ Isobel Yeung goes undercover in a special report that reveals how China is oppressing the Muslim minority Uihgur people in horrific conditions.

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This Sports Network Is Trying to Uncover the Next Superstars Through Viral Videos

Overtime is a digital media network best known for their viral videos of rising basketball players like Zion Williamson, Zaire Wade, and Bronny James.

To date, the company has raised $35 million, including investments from NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, and former commissioner, David Stern.

Overtime doesn’t track scores or stats. Instead, they focus on building the personal brands of promising players – ones with as much personality as skills on the court.

VICE News followed Overtime in action while covering one of their biggest finds: Jada Williams, a 14-year-old from Blue Springs, Missouri with impressive shooting accuracy and ruthless, ankle-breaking handles.

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Louisiana Is Getting an Unlimited Supply of a $24K Hep C Cure (HBO)

Louisiana has struck a deal to improve access to a Hepatitis C cure so expensive that some people only acquire the drug once they already have liver damage.

Gilead Sciences, the owner of Hepatitis C cure Epclusa, will now provide an unlimited supply of the generic version of the drug to people covered by Medicaid and in Louisiana’s state prisons. Asegua, a subsidiary of Gilead making the generic, will supply the drugs.

The list price of Epclusa is $74,760; the generic is priced at $24,000. Medicaid receives a discount price, but in many states, including Louisiana, Medicaid only approves the treatment after Hepatitis C causes severe liver damage because of its astronomical cost.

Under the deal, dubbed the “Netflix model,” Louisiana will pay for the Hep C cure up to a negotiated spending cap in exchange for an unlimited supply of the drug over five years. The state will then receive a rebate from Gilead for all its expenses above that cap.

The Louisiana Department of Health first chose Gilead as a partner for the deal back in March, after three drug companies submitted proposals to the state. Since then, negotiations stalled, to the point that the agreement nearly fell through entirely. But this week, the deal closed, Louisiana Secretary of Health Rebekah Gee confirmed to VICE News.

Gee said she hoped to not spend more than $30 million — the cost of treating only 326 people last year, according to the state’s Department of Health. The pricing cap won’t be announced until next week, but Gee told VICE News that Gilead agreed to a higher amount than that. Louisiana will hold an official signing on the deal next week, according to Gee.

“We need to get our money’s worth,” Gee said. “Our goal is 10,000 [treated people] next year, but we’ll have to hit a lot less than that to make it work.”

Gee estimated that around 40,000 people in Louisiana suffer from Hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease spread through blood. It’s the most widespread infectious disease in the U.S. The CDC estimates 2.4 million people in the U.S. were living with Hep C in 2016, the latest year with data available.

Louisiana hopes to use the deal to attempt to eliminate the disease entirely.

As Hep C most commonly spreads through shared needles, the opioid epidemic has only made its prevalence worse. The CDC estimates that 41,200 people were infected in 2016.

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4 dead, 8 hurt in church van crash in Virginia

Four people were killed and eight hurt in a crash in Virginia involving a church van. News outlets report the van carrying 11 people was turning into a church parking lot Tuesday night when a pickup truck hit it. The van flipped several times. (May 29)

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Emergency rush hour landing on Florida highway

A small airplane made an emergency landing on a Florida highway ramp during rush hour and crashed into a car. News outlets report the plane landed on an Interstate 4 on-ramp just north of Orlando. Nobody was hurt. (May 17)

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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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Life After Release From ICE Detention (HBO)

With thousands of Central American migrants turning themselves in to Border Patrol to ask for asylum each day, the U.S. is running out of space to hold them. So starting this winter ICE has been releasing them from detention into communities on the border.

Dropped into a country they know nothing about, often with no resources, their fate is left in the hands of good samaritans, nonprofits, churches, and even helpful bus station employees.

VICE News followed Brenda Del Carmen, a young mother who had never before left the Honduran village where she was born, in the days after she was released. With her four-month-old infant in tow, she tried to make her way from El Paso to Chicago, where her husband and five-year-old daughter had gone two months earlier. Like many others in their small farming community, their coffee crops had fallen sick that year.

“Honduras is really poor right now,” she said. “There is no hope.”

Facing destitution, the family gathered funds to pay a coyote to bring them to the U.S. Brenda traveled for a week with her infant Kimberly, presented herself to Border Patrol, and after a week in ICE custody, was released. She then spent more than 24 hours straight traveling through Texas, Arkansas, and Illinois to reach her family.

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The Teens Running Former Sen. Mike Gravel’s Presidential Campaign (HBO)

What happens when you mix the online snark and progressive idealism of the podcast-listening teen and the dgaf attitude of a 88 year-old lefty?

You get the Mike Gravel For President campaign.

A group of massively online college and high school students heard about Gravel a little while ago on Chapo Trap House, the podcast of record for the Bernie set. Gravel got famous in 1971 when, as senator from Alaska, he read the Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, effectively declassifying them. Then he dropped off the radar for a long while until 2008, when he ran a quixotic bid for president. He didn’t get very far, but he got far enough to create a few viral moments on the debate stage. Gravel was the anti-war conscience in the primary.

That’s the role the college and high school students want Gravel to play in the 2020 Democratic primary too. Most of them are supporters of Bernie Sanders, but they think getting Gravel on the debate stage again could help Sanders by giving him an ally and help push the entire party to the left.

So the teens talked Gravel into running again. But this time, Gravel doesn’t really want to leave his California home. He’s given the kids control of his online identity, and they’ve used it to raise thousands of dollars — and attack just about every other Democratic candidate.

VICE News met up with Gravel as he hosted the teens in real life for the first time.

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What Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary Thinks About Trump’s Immigration Policy (HBO)

President Barack Obama’s former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson would prefer not to be the frequent recipient of President Trump’s praise. But despite his party allegiance and previous employer, the president, his son, and the White House’s official Twitter feed have all recently praised Johnson for telling multiple interviewers that America’s southern border is “truly in a crisis.”
When VICE News’s Michael Moynihan sat down with Johnson to discuss Trump, the politics of immigration, and his tenure overseeing border enforcement, he was quick to point out that the president and his surrogates truncated his quote, leaving out his criticism of administration policies.
“I said that 4000 arrests on our southern border — one hundred thousand in a month — is truly a crisis,” Johnson told VICE News. “I then went on to, in the same interview, prescribe all the things I think should be done to deal with the crisis and what we seem to be doing wrong. The one sentence ‘it is truly a crisis’ went viral.”
Johnson, who began his career in politics interning for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a centrist Democrat, acknowledges that his party is lurching to the left — and that the Obama administration’s aggressive immigration policies would get a tougher reception these days.

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Democrats In Washington Try To Change The Subject From Mueller (HBO)

On Tuesday, Democrats continued to call for the release of the full report into President Trump’s administration by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

But, in much louder voices, they tried to talk about other things instead, like healthcare and the Green New Deal.

The reason is obvious — the initial findings from the Mueller report, as communicated by Attorney General William Barr, were embarrassing for a party that had whipped itself into a lather about what the Mueller findings might mean for the president.

But the weird thing is, Democratic voters in the primary states were not as excited for the Mueller report as Democrats in Washington were. Voters are thinking about the next two years, the Democratic primary and the race against Trump after that, and the ones VICE News spoke with this weekend would rather their candidates talk about something else.

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Hillary Clinton on 2020: ‘I’m not running’

Hillary Clinton says she won’t run for president in 2020, but vows she’s “not going anywhere.” Clinton ruled out another campaign during an interview posted Monday by TV station News 12 Westchester. However, she said she’ll keep speaking out. (March 5)

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Students Uninvite Gov. Ralph Northam From The First Stop On His Apology Tour (HBO)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam hoped that today would kickoff his statewide apology tour. But last night, his first attempt to atone for the yearbook photo of a klansman and man in blackface, and for wearing blackface to moonwalk as Michael Jackson, fell apart.

The governor doesn’t deny moonwalking, but he does deny he’s in the photo on his yearbook page.

The governor planned to appear at historically black Virginia Union University for an event honoring the Richmond 34 civil rights activists. While some of the honorees were happy to let their ceremony serve as a place for the Governor to begin learning and apologizing for his racist act, the current VUU student body felt blindsided.

VUU’s Student Government Association President, Jamon Phenix, penned a letter addressed to Governor Northam demanding he back out of the event, explaining that the students “feel as though your presence takes away from the historical significance of our commemoration.”

Phenix says he invites the Governor to return to campus later this year. When asked why he would delay the chance to reconcile, Phenix told VICE News that the Governor’s mere presence at the event, without the opportunity for students to ask questions or have a discussion, didn’t add value. “There was no real reconciliation. If he was to attend, he would not be on the platform and he would not have said anything. Where’s the reconciliation inside of just a presence?”

Elizabeth Johnson Rice, one of the Richmond 34, disagreed. In 1960, she and her peers entered Thalhimers department store, sat down at a whites-only counter, and were arrested and charged with trespassing. As alarmed as she was that Northam had dressed in blackface, she believes firmly in second chances. “Northam may have trespassed against the black community,” she conceded. “But the word is forgiveness. And that’s, that’s what my heart said that he deserves.”

VICE News met with current and former VUU students in Richmond, VA. Though Governor Northam wasn’t in the room, the question of whether or not he was worthy of reconciliation certainly was.

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