Inside Maximum Security Prison: Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation (Part 1)

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America is locking up more people than any other nation on earth. Home to just 5 percent of the world’s total population, the United States houses more than 20 percent of the world’s prisoners. In the last three decades, fueled in large part by a national drug policy and legislation like three strikes laws, America has imprisoned more people in local jails, federal penitentiaries, and private correctional facilities than Stalin put in the Gulags. New court rulings have declared overcrowded prisons to be unconstitutional, and the sheer cost of incarceration is forcing prisons to let prisoners back out on the streets.

VICE News was granted rare access to go inside one of the most maximum-security prisons in the country, a place that’s on the frontline of what could be a sea change in prison policy. Salinas Valley State Prison is home to America’s most powerful prison gangs including the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Mafia. It’s a place that’s projected to have more than 700 assaults this year. In an institution that houses the worst of the worst, we see how one maverick warden is trying to turn the system around by rehabilitating murderers before they get returned to the streets.

Inside Maximum Security: Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation (Part 1):
The Grip of the Gangs: Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation (Part 2):
Goodbye to the Mafia: Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation (Part 3):
A Thousand Lifers: Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation (Part 4):
Getting Out: Murder, Mayhem, and Meditation (Part 5):

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Mexico’s Immigrant Oasis: Last Stop Before the Border

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The town of Altar, Sonora, is the last stop for thousands of migrants who plan to illegally cross the border that separates Mexico and the United States in search of a better life. Here, the economy revolves around migration. Along its streets we can find everything from special slippers to avoid detection by motion sensors installed in the Arizona desert, camouflage clothing to avoid being spotted by Border Patrol agents, backpacks, gloves, and even contraceptives for the women — as it is estimated that 80 percent of them will be raped during their journey.

We wanted to know how difficult this crossing is for the migrants. It involves walking across the desert for days on end, abuse at the hands of human traffickers, and being hunted by Border Patrol agents. VICE news visited the Sasabe desert, between Sonora and Arizona, which registers temperatures of up to 120 degrees during the day and drops below 30 degrees at night. In this hellhole, the migrants may run into Father Prisciliano Peraza, a cowboy who apart from delivering mass, also travels through the desert in his pickup truck, dropping off supplies to those attempting to cross the border — to help them avoid meeting their death during the attempt.

Undocumented Immigrant Remains Found in South Texas ‘Mass Graves’:

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Corruption, Cocaine and Murder in Trinidad

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Around midnight on May 3, Dana Seetahal, a prominent attorney and former senator in Trinidad and Tobago, had just left a casino in the capital of Port of Spain when her vehicle was stopped by another car blocking the road. A van pulled up alongside and let loose a burst of gunfire, killing her in a well orchestrated hit.

Her murder was one of approximately 170 that have occurred in the Caribbean nation so far this year, putting it on course for one of the highest murder rates in the world. The country saw only 93 murders in 1999. Last year, there were 407.

VICE News visited the slums of Port of Spain and spoke with police, activists, community leaders, and gangsters to understand the country’s decade-plus spike in killings. Many of the murders are attributed to ruthless and politically connected street gangs who control territories that are sometimes no larger than a city block. The gangs fight over lucrative government contracts meant to provide social services and combat unemployment.

But gang violence is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. Trinidad has become an important stop for drugs headed to West Africa and the United States. Many observers point to “the big fish” — the nameless political and business elites who are behind drug trafficking and the culture of endemic corruption and murder that come with it. They are accused of turning a country rich in oil and gas deposits into their own personal narco-state, fostering impunity through a web of bribes and murders. Unlike the profits from the energy industry, however, this phenomenon trickles all the way down to the street level.

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VICE News Daily: Beyond The Headlines – April 17, 2014.

The VICE News Capsule is a daily roundup that looks beyond the headlines. Today: an Al Qaeda leader threatens the US in a new video, doctors in Syria are battling a flesh-eating disease, diplomats descend on Geneva for Ukraine talks, and protests over coastal developments in Dakar.

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Al Qaeda Leader Threatens the US in New Video
The leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch has threatened to attack the United States in a new video showing what could be the group’s largest gathering ever.

Doctors Battling Flesh Eating Disease
As if they didn’t already have enough to deal with, doctors in Syria are now battling a flesh-eating disease that has infected over 300 people in a single province.

Diplomats Descend on Geneva for Ukraine Talks
High-level diplomats from Russia, the US and Europe have arrived in Geneva for talks aimed at solving the Ukraine’s political crisis.

Protests Over Coastal Developments in Dakar
A protest against a new beachfront development turned violent in Senegal’s capital Dakar, after police fired tear gas to control crowds and arrested 24 people.

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Kerry Goes Full Retard: “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext […]”

The US Secretary of State spoke today of the unacceptability of invading a sovereign country on phony pretexts in order to assert one’s own interests in the 21st century. But no, he was not speaking about the United States, as one might have thought.

“You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” John Kerry said during an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. “This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behaviour in the 21st century.”

Kerry has also threatened to isolate Russia economically and politically and warned of potential asset freezes and visa bans, adding to media and political hype that followed Russia authorization of sending a stabilization force in Crimea on official request from the authorities.

“There could be certainly disruption of any of the normal trade routine, there could be business drawback on investment in the country,” he said. “There could even be ultimately asset freezes, visa bans.”

Although Kerry was never challenged by the interviewer to comment in terms of that statement on Washington’s own constant threats to use force and military invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan, those who watched the interview immediately smelled the hypocrisy.

“Since when does the United States government genuinely subscribe and defend the concept of sovereignty and territorial integrity? They certainly are not doing that at the moment in Syria,” Marcus Papadopoulos, commentator for ‘Politics First’ told RT. “They certainly did not do that when they attacked Libya. They certainly didn’t do that when they invaded Iraq. They certainly didn’t do that when they attacked Serbia over Kosovo and then later on recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. The United States government merely pays lip service to sovereignty and territorial integrity, it picks and choses.”

Since the crisis in Ukraine escalated to a point where the lives of the Russian speaking population of Ukraine has become threatened, Kerry’s reaction comes, some believe, as the most ridiculous thus far, taking into account US own history of military actions all over the globe.


US Judge Rules NSA Phone Surveillance Program is Legal

A United States federal judge said Friday that the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone data collection program doesn’t violate the law.

That ruling came courtesy of US District Judge William Pauley, who decided in favor of the NSA early Friday in a case filed this past June by the American Civil Liberties Union against Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.


Jesse Ventura: Every baby born in US already $50,000 in debt

A man of many titles, Jesse Ventura is a politician, actor, author, US navy veteran and a former professional wrestler. He does not associate himself with either side of the political establishment. Jesse Ventura won the seat of 38th Governor of Minnesota as an independent candidate. He believes the same luck may push him to the top of American politics – to become president of the United States.


We Should be more Vigilant about US Military Adventures and Private Mercenaries

The normalization of violence by the United States in places like Syria or Iraq translates into a normalized violence that exists in the United States, independent geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser told RT.


Netsky – When Darkness Falls (feat. Bridgette Amofah) (Official Video)

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Huge love to all of you who made it to the recent Netsky live shows in Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, France and beyond. This video is for you!

Video by Piano Hill Productions

Video by Ben Carter & Josh Penny
Produced by Dan Maas

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“Firestorms” over Washington DC: N. Korean propaganda video threatens US attack

North Korea has produced a new propaganda video portraying a simulated attack on the White House and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC.

The four-minute video, entitled “Firestorms will rain on the Headquarters of War”, was posted Monday on the YouTube channel of the North Korea’s semi-official central news agency Uriminzokkiri.

A series of shots depicting North Korean soldiers, artillery fire, and military hardware culminate in an image of crosshairs zooming in on the White House. The scene quickly cuts over to images of computer rendered explosions bursting around the dome of the US Capitol building.

“There is no limit to the range of our strategic rockets,” the narrator warns.

The video’s release comes amidst rising tensions between Pyongyang and Washington after the UN Security Council voted to impose harsher restrictions following the North’s third underground nuclear test in February.

On Monday, the US said that every military resource at its disposal, including its nuclear arsenal, would be available to South Korea in the event of a confrontation with the North.

“We remain steadfast to our commitment to extended deterrence offered by the US nuclear umbrella,” US Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pledged after talks with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin in Seoul.

“We’ll ensure all of our resources will be available to our alliance.”

Earlier this month, Pyongyang threatened all-out nuclear war with the US and South Korea after the two countries began joint military drills on the Korean Peninsula. The North also nullified the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, claiming the drills were preparations for an invasion.

On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States plans to deploy 14 additional interceptors along its West Coast in response to what he had previously characterized as North Korea’s “irresponsible and reckless provocations.”

This is not the first time a North Korean Propaganda video has depicted a military strike on the United States.

In February, Uriminzokkiri circulated an internet video showing a skyline resembling New York, up in flames.

“The North’s high-level nuclear test aimed at US invaders is a nuclear deterrent to safeguard our sovereignty,” one caption in the video read.

While an editorial published on the Uriminzokkiri website in February claimed North Korea was in possession of nuclear-equipped long-range missiles capable of hitting the US mainland, nuclear specialists say there is no evidence Pyongyang can construct a warhead small enough to mount on a missile.