One Year After Deadly Shooting in El Paso, Coronavirus Makes Mourning Even Harder

Vice News was in El Paso one year after the deadly Walmart shooting.

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A Year After a Deadly Shooting in El Paso, Coronavirus Makes Mourning Even Harder

Vice News was in El Paso one year after the deadly Walmart shooting.

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New Zealand’s Migrant Workers Are Trapped in a Luxury Resort During Coronavirus

A severe economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has left thousands of migrant workers jobless in New Zealand. The luxury resort of Queentown in the country’s South Island is worst affected, with as many as 6,500 people in need of emergency assistance.

Colombian Juliana Castaneda was laid off from a backpackers hostel in Queenstown as tourist numbers plummeted. There are currently no direct flights to her homeland, and she couldn’t afford a ticket anyway. “I feel really stuck here,” she told VICE News.

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George Floyd’s Brother Talks to Us About the Protests Around His Brother’s Death

On Tuesday, George Floyd was buried in Houston after being killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. The next day, George’s brother Philonise Floyd testified before the House Judiciary committee about a sweeping piece of legislation that Democrats have crafted on justice and police reform. Vice News spoke exclusively with Floyd and his attorney Ben Crump during a break in their testimony on Wednesday.

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Rep. Bobby Rush Thinks Police Departments Are Worse Now Than in His Black Panther Days

“The police department is probably more vicious now than even in the ‘60s,” Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) told VICE News in an interview. There’s more of an institutional protection: The F.O.P., the Fraternal Order of Police, and other organized reactionary right-wing structures protecting the police departments.”

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Black Cops Are Caught in the Middle During George Floyd Protests

Chaunté Ford did not want to go to work the day following George Floyd’s death at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers. As massive demonstrations continue in the Twin Cities following the death of Floyd, protesters are often met by force from the police, leaving the city to feel divided between protesters demanding justice for black lives on one side, and the cops on the other.

Black police officers, like Ford, can find themselves caught in the middle. “Remember, this uniform comes off, and then, I’m just like you,” she told VICE News.

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Philando Castile’s Mother Speaks Out on The Death of George Floyd

Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, a black man killed by a Minnesota police officer during a routine traffic stop in 2016, said the tragic death of George Floyd has reopened a tender wound. ⁣⁣

“I cried for that man just like I cried for my son,” she told VICE News.

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Philando Castile’s Mother Speaks Out on The Death of George Floyd

Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, a black man killed by a Minnesota police officer during a routine traffic stop in 2016, said the tragic death of George Floyd has reopened a tender wound. ⁣⁣

“I cried for that man just like I cried for my son,” she told VICE News.

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The Minneapolis Family Protecting Their Property From Looters — and Police

This family started the night thinking they’d need to defend their store from those looking to destroy it, and ended up retreating inside to hide from armed cops firing projectiles at will. They let VICE News in.

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Porn Is Thriving During Coronavirus

COVID-19 has created a massive gap in demand and supply for porn. On one hand, porn consumption has gone through the roof, as sites like Pornhub have posted huge spikes in site traffic. But on the other, studio shoots have completely stopped. In phone interviews, porn companies Bangbros and Naughty America told VICE News that they had a few months of content stocked up. After that, however, they’ll have to get creative.

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Niger’s Giraffes Came Back From Extinction. Now They’re Poaching People’s Food

In the last three decades, 40 percent of the world’s giraffe population has died. But Niger, the third poorest country in the world, has remarkably reversed the trend — giving a second chance to Africa’s most threatened giraffe subspecies.

The West African giraffe once inhabited an area from the coast in Senegal to Lake Chad, deep in North Africa’s interior. But by 1996, drought, poaching, and habitat loss from growing human and livestock populations brought the population crashing down to near 50; the last giraffes were in southern Niger.

International NGO’s pressed Niger to save the giraffe — which adopted a conservation strategy, put in strict laws to preserve habitat, and placed big penalties for poaching. The new rules, in addition to the fact that no natural predators live near the current reserve, have helped the population grow by a factor of 12 — to more than 600 giraffes today.

But successful conservation has come with a new set of challenges.

Nearby the Kouré Giraffe Zone, local subsistence farmers are angry that giraffes are wreaking havoc on their farms. The reserve simply isn’t large enough to contain, or feed, the fast-growing population.

So ecotourism guides like Adamou Djogo, who help manage the reserve, also set up town halls for villagers once a month. He hears out their concerns, and in turn, hopes to help them understand why the giraffes are important for Niger’s development in the long run.

“People will are quick to say, the giraffes are doing this or that. Right away they think about the problems, but they don’t think about the advantages.” Djogo told VICE News. “We know that the giraffe is our national heritage — and even a global one.”

Last December, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, along with Niger’s government — relocated eight giraffes to the larger Gadabedji reserve. They hope to establish a new population so that these giraffes can find a new home to thrive.

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You Can Fence With Lightsabers in France

About a year ago, the French Fencing Federation (FFF) was facing an existential challenge: the number of young people interested in traditional fencing was declining, and French kids were more interested in staring at their screens than showing up to like parry a la 16th century dukes.

That’s why the FFF made a very controversial decision: to elevate lightsaber fencing — up to that point a cosplay-esque pursuit of Star Wars enthusiasts — to the same status as Olympic-level fencing.

“We already do artistic fencing,” FFF President Isabelle Lamour told VICE News. “It’s historic. So if we can have ancient fencing, why not have futuristic fencing?”

The rule change seemed innocent enough, but considering the three weapons used in traditional fencing haven’t changed in about 200 years, it’s no surprise that adding lightsabers to the mix really ruffled a lot of feathers.

“Disney is not really welcome, I’m sorry,” traditional fencer Alban Garrouste told VICE News, referring to Lucasfilms’ parent company. “Fencing is a huge part of the French identity, so I think we should stick to [its] values and historical origins.”

For now, France is going it alone, with no other countries inquiring if they can import the rules to their own national fencing organizations, according to Lamour. But she noted that youth participation in the sport has definitely gone up.

“We’ve got everything to gain,” she said. “It doesn’t take anything away from participants in traditional fencing. It puts our discipline in the spotlight.”

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Prisoners Describe the Deadly Coronavirus Outbreak at Oakdale Federal Prison

Alfred Reece says the outbreak began when his teacher got sick.

A 60-year-old former accountant serving an 8-year sentence for convictions related to income tax fraud, Reece volunteers in a GED class for prisoners at FCI Oakdale I, a low-security federal prison in rural Louisiana.

From there, according to Reece and other prisoners who spoke with VICE News, the coronavirus spread quickly among inmates and staff. At least seven inmates have died at FCI Oakdale I, including Patrick Jones, a 49-year-old who Reece tutored in the GED class.

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Sweden Is Ushering in a New Digital Future

Walk through Sweden’s bustling capital and you’ll find abandoned cash machines, card-only parking meters and market vendors who only accept mobile payments. “Ninety-seven percent of the transactions are done without bills,” Anders Ygeman, Sweden’s Minister for Energy and Digital Development told VICE News.

Known globally for its welfare system, the Scandinavian country of 10 million has been embracing new technologies for decades – from tax subsidies for home computers in the 90’s, to mobile technology infrastructure. The country is nearing complete digitization of both public and private sectors, and has now its sight set on artificial intelligence all with the goal of making life more convenient, efficient and equitable for its citizens.

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The Law Banning Congressional Insider Trading Isn’t Enough to Stop It

WASHINGTON — The law banning members of Congress from insider trading should be upgraded in light of the frantic stock trading on Capitol Hill during the coronavirus pandemic, the bill’s author, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), told VICE News.

Members of Congress should be banned from owning individual stocks altogether, and the sharing of “political intelligence” with outsiders should have to be disclosed, Gillibrand said.

Her remarks follow waves of outrage over members of Congress selling millions worth of shares before the market tanked over fears of coronavirus. In some cases, those sales came after closed-door briefings about the virus.

Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) have taken the brunt of public criticism, although several other members of Congress also bought and sold stocks between January and March of this year. The Department of Justice is reportedly investigating the trades, and has reached out to Sen. Burr.

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Yes, the Federal Government Can Force You Into Quarantine

For many Americans stuck at home due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the idea of being quarantined now feels strangely normal. But just a few months ago, the thought was unbelievable.

Jarred Evans, an American professional football player, was playing in a league in China when COVID-19 first broke out in Wuhan. In January, he and other Americans were flown to a military base in California, where they were forced to quarantine for weeks. Turns out, they were the first Americans to be forcibly quarantined by the federal government in more than fifty years.

“It would either be that or I guess in jail,” Evans told VICE News.

Although President Trump has not taken the step of issuing a nationwide quarantine order, the federal government does have the authority to do so. It rarely flexes the power, choosing to delegate the responsibility to state and local authorities. People subject to quarantines can challenge them in court. And in the past, many have won.

In this time of a global pandemic, VICE News looks back at government attempts to impose orders of isolation and quarantine to find instances when it was successful — and when it failed.

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The U.S. Does Not Have Coronavirus Under Control — Just Ask the Surgeon General

Surgeon General Jerome Adams told VICE News on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic is still not under control, but that he remains “very hopeful” that the collective actions of Americans are flattening the curve of the outbreak.

“As far as under control, I would say no, and I won’t say we have it under control until we start to see death rates go down, hospitalizations go down and when cases start to go down,” he said outside of the Health and Human Services building in Washington, DC.

The nation’s top doctor expressed concern that not everyone is taking Center for Disease Control guidelines seriously, reiterating again that people need to wash hands, stay six feet apart, and avoid nonessential travel.

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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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Why Congress Can’t Agree on a Roughly $2 Trillion Coronavirus Bill

As the Senate negotiates a third coronavirus stimulus package of roughly $2 trillion, Vice News spoke to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, about why Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on how to move forward during the COVID-19 crisis

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Can We Trust Russia’s Low Coronavirus Infection Rate?

MOSCOW – The fight against coronavirus has stopped performances by the world famous Bolshoi Theater company, something that even World War II couldn’t do.

It’s part of Russia’s efforts to contain an outbreak which President Putin claims as “a whole is under control.”

For weeks, Russia only reported a handful of infections. Then on Monday, that number went from 63 to 93. The next day it was 114, and the day after 147.

The government jumped into action— closing the border to foreigners, banning gatherings of more than 50, and forcing residents returning from abroad to self-isolate. Muscovites responded by stockpiling, emptying supermarket shelves and wearing face masks.

But for some experts this response might be coming too late. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Head of an independent doctors union, Doctors Alliance told VICE News, “Across the country, there are a huge amount of patients with pneumonia … we cannot ignore the coincidence and link these pneumonia cases with Coronavirus. In my opinion, there are tens of thousands of cases that we don’t know about.”

She’s not the only one who is worried that the rate of infection in a country of 146 million people, that borders China on one side and Europe on the other, seems suspiciously low. Especially because most people who arrived from abroad haven’t been tested.

Although Putin claims Russia has curtailed the spread of the epidemic he’s called for an increase in the production of tests and more supplies of medicine and equipment. The government has gone so far as to order prisoners to start making face masks.

But for Vasilyeva, the national response isn’t going far enough: “Russia is absolutely not ready for the epidemic. I am more than sure that even serious cases and deaths will be simply hidden from the population.”

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Here’s How Florida Is Trying to Prevent the next School Shooting

In the last two years, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has arrested dozens of children for making threats of violence in schools. Some were as young as 11 years old, and many were charged with felonies. “There’s nothing wrong with going for a ride in the back of a police car and understanding what you did is wrong,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood told VICE News.

Volusia County’s zero-tolerance policy is emblematic of the law-and-order approach Florida has adopted to prevent school shootings. The Republican-controlled legislature received extensive media coverage for its willingness to enact gun control measures after the shooting. But the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act included many more provisions, including a mandate to have an armed guard in every school.

Juvenile justice advocates have criticized the bill for emphasizing physical security at the expense of mental health. The ACLU of Florida points out that the state allocates more than twice as much money per student for the former than the latter.

“When law enforcement comes into schools, especially under-resourced schools, there’s no one else to call when a kid is in a fight or having a meltdown,” said Michelle Morton of the ACLU of Florida. “And the only tools they have are handcuffs, pepper spray, tasers, and guns.”

In the first of three installments of UNSAFE: Learning from America’s School Shootings, VICE News Tonight visits Florida two years after Parkland to examine the state’s approach to preventing school shootings.

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America’s EMT Shortage Has Communities Relying on Unpaid Volunteers

If you call 911 with a medical emergency in Oceana, West Virginia, chances are Nick Lawrence is the guy who’ll show up. He’s one of a handful of volunteer EMTs in Wyoming County who answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Obviously, we’re not in it for the money, because there’s no money. There’s absolutely zero benefits whatsoever,” Lawrence told VICE News.

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Listen To Trump Tell Lev Parnas to ‘Get Rid Of’ the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine

President Trump has claimed he doesn’t know Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. But that’s certainly not the impression that emerges from the full recording of a dinner with Trump, Parnas and others, according to a recording shared with VICE News on Saturday by Parnas’ lawyer Joe Bondy.

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These Climate Strike Kids Will Restore Your Hope In Humanity

Students around the world skipped school on Friday to be part of what was likely the biggest climate protests ever. Kids told VICE News their thoughts on what old folks should have done better.

“I’m really more just disappointed in my parents’ generation,” said Anaiah Thomas, 17 who had the words “zero hour” painted in red on her left cheek, and held a multicolored sign reading “river to river, we change the course.”

“People have known about the climate issue, scientists have been talking about it,” she said. “So now I’m just like, we need to be here, we need to be screaming so that maybe people will just listen this time.”

Zachary Yarnell, 11, had used a pencil to draw a picture of the earth in a toaster on the sign safety-pinned to his backpack.

“I wish they cleaned up after themselves before and this would never happen,” he said.

But Yarnell does have hope, and a plan. “I want to protest, I want to stop polluting, and I want to make the Earth a better place,” he said.

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