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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Los Desaparecidos: Cómo Una Familia Encontró a su Padre 30 Años Después de Que Las FARC lo Asesinó

Más de 80,000 personas desaparecieron en Colombia cuando el gobierno, los paramilitares y la guerrilla se enfrentaron en un conflicto armado que se extendió por décadas. Vice News se reúne con las personas que intentan dar cuenta de esas personas y sigue una familia que solo ahora descubrió lo que le sucedió a su padre.

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Joe Walsh Acted Like Trump For Years. Now He’s Trying To Take Him Down.

Former Tea Party Congressman turned right-wing radio host Joe Walsh voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and credits himself with helping put him in office. Now, he’s running against the president for the GOP nomination.

“I apologize because I helped put an unfit con man in the White House,” Walsh, 57, told VICE News.

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A Democrat Went to a Trump Rally to Try and Understand MAGA-Lovers

President Donald Trump threw himself another big rally Thursday night, this time in Manchester, New Hampshire, a state he nearly clinched in 2016.

We invited Lucas Meyer, the president of the Young Democrats of New Hampshire, to attend the rally with VICE News and talk to Trump’s fanatical supporters about why they love him so much. He agreed to attend because it’s “instructive to experience.”

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This 14-Year-Old Climate Activist Is Giving Up School to Save the World

Alexandria Villaseñor is standing in front of the U.S. Capitol and posting Instagram stories like any other teenager.

“Is there any good music that goes with climate action?” the 14-year-old asks a group of activists.

A couple of suggestions later, a song that’s more than twice her age blasts from her phone speakers on abbreviated loop: “It’s the end of the world as we know it… It’s the end of the world as we know it…”

And Alexandria doesn’t feel fine. Over the next few hours, she’ll have meetings with both of New York’s senators to ask them to do what they can to ensure her generation doesn’t experience the actual end of the world because of climate change.

“I notice a lot of politicians are looking at what is politically possible,” she told VICE News in an interview. “But I did think with some politicians I talk to that we’re on the same page on how urgent this is.”

Around the globe, young people like Alexandria see the climate crisis as the existential threat to their generation. They’ve skipped school in more than 130 countries to demand policy changes, following the lead of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old from Sweden who is currently sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the United Nations climate talks in September.

As one of the movement’s American organizers, Alexandria has also become a prominent young critic of world leaders’ inaction. Even though nearly 200 countries pledged in the Paris Agreement to keep global temperatures from hitting catastrophic levels, laws and norms aren’t changing quickly enough, and global greenhouse gas emissions are still going up.

When her classmates go back to middle school this fall, Alexandria won’t be joining them. Instead, she’ll take on eighth grade via independent study so that she can lead her global youth network, Earth Uprising, and continue her activism at full blast.

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How Democrats Can Take Back Michigan in 2020

Both nights of the Democratic debates in Detroit posed a fundamental question for the Democratic Party: How far left is too far left to beat President Trump? That’s especially relevant in the upper Midwest, where Trump managed to flip Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in 2016.

Congressman Dan Kildee understands how to win in a red state. The Democrat represents nearby Flint, Michigan — a Democratic stronghold that Trump chipped away at in 2016, winning 42.59% of the vote versus Mitt Romney’s 35.24% in Genesee County. The water crisis made national news and hit residents of all races. In the past few months, the town has become a must-stop for presidential candidates like Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who have all made visits in just the past few weeks.

Kildee came to Detroit to hear which of them has a plan that might galvanize voters in Flint and across Michigan. He told VICE News ahead of the Wednesday evening debate that candidates need to speak directly to voters’ anxieties.

“I think there’s a misperception about what’s happening in the economy. You know, we hear all this stuff about the economy is great, unemployment’s low, the Dow is at whatever. People are still afraid. They’re nervous about the job they might have now, but they don’t think they make enough money to support their families,” he said.

Kildee bluntly assessed that Michiganders “can see through bullshit really easily.”
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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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Why Hong Kong Is Rising Up (HBO)

For the second time in four days, Hong Kong was brought to a standstill by mass protests over a controversial extradition bill that threatens to chip away at the city’s diminishing semi-independence from China.

The demonstrations earned protesters a brief victory: the delay of a second reading of the bill. But tensions soon boiled over, when police fired rubber bullets and teargas to clear protesters from the streets, injuring dozens and further stoking outrage between the city’s pro-Beijing government and its residents.

Wednesday night’s events follow one of the biggest public protests in Hong Kong’s history, when more than one million people, about one-seventh of the population, swarmed the city’s streets on Sunday.

Read: Hong Kong protesters tell us why this might be their “last chance” to defy Beijing

At the center of the public’s fury is a proposed law that would allow China to extradite people from Hong Kong to the mainland. The bill has come to symbolize growing fear that the region, long-viewed as a separate entity from mainland China, is losing its autonomy under Beijing’s encroaching authoritarianism. They have reason to be concerned.

When the UK handed the island back to China in 1997, Hong Kong was promised freedoms of speech, press and assembly under its Basic Law — which effectively serves as the islands constitution and differentiates it from the mainland. But in recent years, Beijing has begun to impose its will on Hong Kong, slowly eroding those freedoms in a bid to bring the region more firmly under its control.

“I reminisce about the period of British rule. I was born and brought up in Hong Kong” Wong Fung Yiu, a 63 year old retiree at Sunday’s march told VICE News. “Human rights were better back in that time, compared to what we have nowadays. I have no trust in Mainland China.”

Despite the delays, Carrie Lam, the island’s pro-Beijing Chief Executive, has vowed to push the bill through the government saying further delays would only cause more “anxiety and divisiveness in society.”

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American and German Veterans Reveal The True Horrors Of D-Day (HBO)

George Ciampa had never left the United States before being drafted into the army to fight Nazi Germany in 1944. But at 18-years-old, he was on the shores of Normandy in France, collecting the dead.

Paul Golz was a reluctant 19-year-old with the German army, sent to Normandy to try and block the Allied invasion. He was tasked with carrying ammunition for a machine gun crew.

Seventy-five years later, both men mark the living memory of one of the most significant moments of the 20th century. And as world leaders gathered in Normandy Thursday to mark the enduring legacy of D-Day, these men, both now in their 90s, recounted what it was like.

“The government didn’t want bodies lying around for other troops coming in to see,” Ciampa told VICE News from his home in Palm Springs. “We gathered them as quickly as we could.”

Before he could bury the dead, Ciampa had to survive landing at Utah Beach.

“You’re seeing guys getting hit. You’re seeing bodies,” he said. “I was scared to death, tell you the truth.”

Golz was 14 years old when he heard the German army had marched into Poland. By 19 he’d been drafted into that same army.

“I saw the American wounded,” he told VICE News from the village of Königswinter in Germany. “The German wounded, I didn’t really notice them until I heard them scream: ‘Comrade, help me.’ That’s when I understood ‘the hero’s’ death. Nobody wants to die a hero’s death. Those are all young kids who want to live.”

Ciampa and Golz represent the thinning ranks of soldiers from both sides of the war that are still alive to tell the story of the largest military invasion in history. They hope their legacy lives beyond their generation.

“I do think that we have to tell these stories,” said Golz. “These young people, who haven’t experienced it, they have to realize that because of this successful invasion, we have had 70 years of peace. They should always preserve that, preserve the democracy that we gained because of it.”

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What It’s Like To Chase A UFO (HBO)

WINDHAM, N.H. — In 2004, David Fravor, then a Lt. Commander and aviator in the U.S. Navy, saw something in the skies he’d never seen before. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he decided to follow it in his F/A-18 Super Hornet, and became convinced that the object’s maneuvering could not be explained by the existing capabilities of modern aircraft.

“It was far beyond the technology that we have,” he told VICE News.

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Rep. Eric Swalwell Is Doing Everything He Can to Stay in the 2020 Race

Eric Swalwell appears on television a lot- enough that people in Iowa tell him that as he’s getting coffee in cafes in Dubuque.

The California congressman has been one of the most vocal members of the House Intelligence Committee about holding the president and his administration accountable in the Russia investigations.

Now, Swalwell’s trying to use that notoriety in a bid for president. But in a field of 21 Democrats, he’s learning that being a cable news darling isn’t enough. He’s currently polling at just 1% but he says he’s getting comfortable sticking out his hand to say he’s running for president.

“It’s very, I would say intimidating to say you’re running for president,” he said in a car ride between events in eastern Iowa at the beginning of the month.

“Every chance I get, I’m gonna introduce myself like I’m not starting, you know, as Vice President Biden here,” he added of his chances of making it all the way.

VICE News spent 48 hours with Swalwell in Iowa, where he’s trying to prove he can appeal to a broad demographic of Americans. He’s the son of a sheriff, but Swalwell is making gun control and reform his signature issue, even hosting one of his campaign launch events in Parkland, Florida.

At a Bellevue house party on Friday, Swalwell told a gathering of the Jackson County Democrats about his experience in Congress trying to work on the divisive issue.

“I came to Congress right after Sandy Hook happened,” he said. “I had hoped that I could be a part of a Congress that would actually do something about what had happened. Nothing.”

But as he campaigns, Swalwell is also trying to assure voters that his coastal progressive views don’t blind him to the needs of Trump voters. Swalwell says that his life experiences- born in Iowa, educated in the south, and representing a diverse district in California -gives him credibility with all voters.

“My parents they’re both Republicans. I was reaching across the dinner table before I ever had to reach across the aisle to work with the Republicans,” he told a group of about 20 people at the Uptown Cafe in Jefferson, Iowa. He joked that he goes on Fox News so that his parents will see him on TV.

When asked by Vice News why he’s running in such a crowded field, Swalwell more or less described a fading American dream as his motivation.

“I see a lot of people who work really hard just like my parents did but they don’t see it adding up to what it added up for my parents which was their son was the first in the family to go to college. Instead, they’re just running in place. They’re living paycheck to paycheck. They see a Washington and gridlock and not doing anything about it.”

Jose Ibarra, a city councilman in Storm Lake, Iowa, hosted Swalwell for a “fight night” party at his parents’ house on Saturday evening. Swalwell arrived with a case of beer and tucked into tacos and chips before making his case to a small- but more diverse group than is typical- about why they should support him for president.

Ibarra said he thinks any Democrat has a chance right now of beating Trump- and included Swalwell in that category.

“I mean we look at the Democrats right and they’re actually very educated. They know how to communicate with people. They know what’s wrong with the country,” Ibarra told VICE News in the backyard. “They know that we’re divided. Donald Trump has really done nothing for them, for the small guys. So I believe that if any Democrat can connect with the 99 percent. And make it into a point that he’s going to bring the country back together I think that anybody can beat Donald Trump.”

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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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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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Dems In Congress Can’t Decide If They Should Impeach Trump (HBO)

To impeach, or not to impeach?

Elizabeth Warren broke the ice for the 2020 field on Friday afternoon when she called for Trump’s impeachment in a Twitter thread.

And during a town hall on Monday night, two top-tier candidates – Senator Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg- joined the call to bounce Trump from office.

“I think he’s made it pretty clear that he deserves impeachment,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s surging in polls right now.

But Mayor Pete and senators don’t make that decision- at least for Warren and Harris, not yet.

The people who will really decide this are the Democrats in the House of Representatives. And right now, they’re struggling with the question that Democrats always seems to be struggling with: what’s more important—principles or politics?

Speaker Pelosi seems to be trying to strike a balance: move forward slowly, play down the impeachment talk, and characterize your investigations as regular old fact-finding. She held an all-caucus call on Monday to rally her base, and in a readout provided by a person on the call she called on Democrats to “save our democracy.”

“Whether it’s articles of impeachment or investigations, it’s the same obtaining of facts. We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.”

A lot of House Dems seem to be following that lead for now. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon represents a mostly blue-collar district west of Philly. She’s a freshman elected last fall on the anti-Trump wave. She’s also the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee—the committee that is normally tasked with an impeachment investigation.

When asked bluntly if she would impeach the president today, Scanlon said no.

“I wouldn’t right now. I think we have a lot of work to do to get there. It’s not something you jump into. There’s so many important avenues of investigation that we’re not finished with,” she said in her district office on Wednesday morning.

The office says that in the last week, they’ve received 178 letters or emails asking for impeachment; 85 letters or emails saying that oversight should happen first; and 124 people have asked for the Mueller report to fully released to the public.

One constituent call that Vice News was allowed to listen to on Wednesday featured a woman struggling with the impeachment decision- but for different reasons. But she urged members of Congress to “get to the bottom of this” Mueller report.

“I’m not sure about impeachment. I’d love it but Pence is evil. I’m concerned about him being president. At least Trump is dumb,” she explained to a Scanlon staffer.

But for the Congresswoman Scanlon this isn’t a question about Trump being dumb or not. It’s a question of how congress should do its job. Is the moral high ground to impeach Trump?

“I think acting as a check and balance on an administration that’s out of control in a lot of ways is the moral high ground. It’s why a lot of us ran and that’s why a lot of us were elected,” Scanlon told VICE News. That’s the question that Scanlon thinks faces each member of Congress: “When you look at all of the evidence does it lead you to conclude that for the good of our country. Impeachment is what we have to do that. That it’s an executive who cannot function.”

Scanlon thinks that if impeachment were to happen in the House, that Republicans may be on board.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Mueller Report (HBO)

President Trump proclaimed victory even before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report was released Thursday, tweeting a photoshopped image of his silhouette beside Game of Thrones style text that menacingly read: “No Collusion. No Obstruction. For the haters and the radical left democrats — ‘Game Over.’”

But Mueller’s report doesn’t clear the president, by any stretch. While it wipes away any criminal entanglements over collusion with Russia, it rolls out page after page of damning episodes in which Trump appeared to obstruct justice — or attempted to.

Mueller lists, at great length, Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation. At one point, he writes that Trump’s attempts to influence the probe failed “largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his request.”

“In layperson’s terms, he tried to obstruct justice,” Mary McCord, the former high-ranking DOJ official who helped oversee the department’s investigation of foreign interference in the 2016 election before Mueller was appointed, told VICE News. “I don’t know how you could walk away from this thinking that this isn’t a person who tried to obstruct justice.”

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William Barr’s Been Accused Of Presidential Cover-Up Before (HBO)

Weeks before former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s criminal trial over his role in the 1980’s Iran-Contra scandal, then-Attorney General William Barr dropped a bomb on the prosecution.

“People in the Iran-Contra affair have been treated very unfairly,” Barr told USA Today in December 1992, blasting the charges as illegitimate. “People in this Iran-Contra matter have been prosecuted for the kind of conduct that would not have been considered criminal or prosecutable by the Justice Department.”

Weinberger faced charges of lying to Congress, brought by a special prosecutor, then known as an “independent counsel,” who accused him of withholding 1,700 pages of notes about high-level meetings that allegedly held “evidence of a conspiracy.”

Barr’s broadside alarmed the lead prosecutor handling the case against Weinberger, James J. Brosnahan, who warned the judge that Barr may have just unduly biased his jury pool. Later that month, when the White House pardoned six top Iran-Contra defendants on Christmas Eve 1992 at Barr’s urging, Brosnahan believed he’d just witnessed the completion of a successful cover-up.

Three decades on, Brosnahan fears Barr has returned to his old job to run the same scheme again.

“If you want a presidential cover-up, Barr is your guy,” Brosnahan, now 85, told VICE News. “And I think we’ve already seen that.”

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What Happens Next For Julian Assange (HBO)

Julian Assange’s lawyers are digging in for a furious, last-ditch effort to block his extradition to the U.S., following his dramatic arrest Thursday morning. The WikiLeaks founder was dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had been living since 2012.

Assange is now facing up to five years in American prison for allegedly conspiring to hack into a classified Pentagon computer system in 2010. A 2018 indictment, unsealed by the Department of Justice on Thursday, charges him with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and alleges that he tried to help former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning gain access to the government computer system in March 2010.

Given Assange’s contentious history with Washington, the initial indictment may be an attempt to bring Assange to the U.S. before targeting him with additional charges, former federal prosecutors told VICE News. His longstanding confrontation with the U.S. government now appears destined to play out in courtrooms in London and Alexandria, Virginia.

“Once the Justice Department gets him over here, they have a lot more leverage over Mr. Assange — and the tables are turned,” said Renato Mariotti, a former U.S. prosecutor based in Chicago. “You don’t need to be a legal analyst to see why the Justice Department would probably like to charge him with all sorts of things.”

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