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Donald Trump Promised His Reddit AMA Would Be Great — It Wasn't

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 7:15pm

After dominating Wednesday's political news cycle with his direct appeal to Russia to intervene in the US presidential race, Donald Trump held a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) that he promised would be great.

"This is going to be SO huge and I'm looking forward to answering your questions," Trump wrote in a post before the AMA started. "I'm doing this in flight to visit the great people of Toledo, OH, so Internet connection might be spotty I promise you, I'll answer all the questions I can."

Unfortunately for excited redditors, that amounted to eight questions.

The AMA was scheduled to start at 7pm ET, but Trump didn't answer his first question until 15 minutes later. And whether or not it was because of that spotty connection, his answers lacked the rhetorical flair and gusto that he often displays on Twitter.

Trump supporters submitted hundreds of questions on topics ranging from marijuana policy to immigration to space travel. Trump responded mostly with one or two sentences that did not delve into policy specifics.

When asked how he planned to get money out of politics, Trump wrote, "Keeping Crooked Hillary Clinton out of the White House!"

In response to a "self-employed young American" who wanted to know what the candidate would do about the high cost of health insurance, Trump said, "One of the first things I will do is to repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. I will put forward an amazing new plan, which will include many reforms, such as letting people buy insurance across state lines, increasing choice and competition, and bargaining for better, cheaper drug prices."

And in choosing to answer a question about the amount of time that has elapsed since Clinton last held a press conference, Trump said, "Crooked Hillary Clinton will not do press conferences because she cannot explain her illegally deleted 33,000 emails, or her disaster in Libya, or her role pushing TPP (which she would 100% approve if she got the chance), or her support for a 550% increase in Syrian refugees, etc."

It's not unusual for politicians and candidates to do AMAs President Barack Obama did one during his 2012 reelection campaign but Trump is something of a Reddit phenomenon. The subreddit r/The_Donald, which hosted the AMA, has racked up as many as 52 million page views a month, becoming a hub for some of Trump's most ardent supporters during the campaign.

"First Reddit ignored our sub," the moderators of the r/The_Donald page wrote in a post announcing the AMA. "Then Reddit laughed at our sub. Then Reddit fought our sub with Hillary's paid haters. And now we are winning with our God Emperor, the Nimble Navigator, Mr. Donald J. Trump!"

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928

How China’s State Media Covers The Problems With American Democracy

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 7:03pm

Wang Guan is the chief political correspondent for the American division of China Central Television, China's main state-run TV network. At the Democratic National Convention, VICE News correspondent Isobel Yeung spoke with Wang about state censorship, the Chinese disdain for Hillary Clinton and their take on Donald Trump.

Flint's mayor will bring the water crisis to prime time at the DNC

Watch live as President Obama speaks tonight at the DNC

Flint's Mayor Will Bring The Water Crisis To Prime Time At The DNC

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 5:05pm

It's been six months since Hillary Clinton took a moment during a televised Democratic primary debate to highlight a growing public health crisis that was only just starting to grab national attention the citywide lead contamination of the water system in Flint, Michigan.

Since then, public attention has shifted away from the crisis, which was sparked by the city's decision to switch away from Detroit's water system to use the Flint River instead. But Flint's mayor Karen Weaver will aim to bring her city back into the national spotlight on Wednesday, when she speaks at the Democratic National Convention as part of a prime-time lineup of speakers that includes President Barack Obama. She will use her time, she said, to remind Americans that the crisis in her city is not over.

"One of the things we want people to know is that we still have a water crisis going on in the city of Flint. Things are better but we're not where we need to be," she told VICE News ahead of her speech. "We're still on bottled and filtered water, and we're on year three."

Weaver took office in November last year, two months after local doctors uncovered high blood-lead levels in children, validating public concern about problems with water quality after the switch. Corrosive river water pumped out of the treatment plant leached lead from the city's aging pipes as it passed through the water system and flowed from people's taps, putting thousands of people at risk for lead poisoning.

As state officials were beginning to acknowledge that there was in fact a serious problem, one of Weaver's first acts in office was to declare a city emergency, before pushing the county and state to do the same. She was at the helm in January as national and state response teams went door to door distributing bottled water and filters to Flint's more than 30,000 residences. By March she had kicked off a program to replace the lead service lines that distribute water.

Watch VICE News' On The Line: Kayla Ruble Discusses the Flint Water Emergency:

When Hillary Clinton focused on Flint during the January debate, just one day after the federal government declared a state of emergency, she became the first presidential candidate to do so.

"I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what's happening in Flint, Michigan, and I think every single American should be outraged," Clinton said then.

Clinton then built out a volunteer operation in the city, with supporters passing out bottles of water instead of the usual campaign material. Ahead of the March primary in Michigan, Clinton announced an employment program that would fund water crisis-related jobs for local residents.

The efforts seemingly paid off. While Clinton lost the state primary to Bernie Sanders, she won Flint, with 65 percent of the vote.

Related:Flint Sees the National Political Spotlight Two Years After Its Water Was Poisoned

"," she said. "I think she's going to... put the spotlight on Flint and that's just what we have to have."

Watch Live As President Obama Speaks Tonight At The DNC

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 4:27pm

How does a sitting president pull off a speech at a convention where his party, its nominee, and many of its constituents oppose his legacy project? Barack Obama will have the chance to square that circle on Wednesday night as the DNC's keynote speaker at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Eight years after winning his own victory against Hillary Clinton, Obama takes stage to make the case for this year's Democratic nominee. His job, like most incumbents popular in their own party, will be to draw a line of continuity between himself and Clinton.

But Obama faces one major obstacle: Clinton, her Republican challenger Donald Trump, and many Democrats vocally oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a massive free trade deal that was one of the signature projects of the president's second term.

Related: The DNC's pro-Bernie protesters won't go away

"We have got to make sure TPP does not get to the floor of the Congress in the lame duck session," Senator Bernie Sanders thundered on Tuesday, on the very same stage Obama will take tonight. Sanders and others say that the deal pits Americans against workers in low-wage countries, sapping what's left of industrial jobs and the basis of the middle and working classes.

Obama has been fending off this criticism for months. "The prescription of withdrawing from trade deals and focusing solely on your local market, that's the wrong medicine," he said last month. "You are right to be concerned about the trends, but what you're prescribing will not work."

So just as Bill Clinton's speech on Tuesday largely avoided any discussion of his legacy on policy where divisions within the party are deep Obama will likely focus on Clinton's personal character, her experience, her historical role as the first female nominee, and their time together in his administration, when Clinton served as secretary of state.

Related: The best moments from Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention

"I don't think there's ever been so qualified to hold this office," he said in his video in June rolling out an endorsement. "She's got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done."

As for going negative on her rival: Obama hasn't hesitated to attack Trump so far, moving from initial veiled critiques to calling him out by name last week for the mogul's remarks on NATO.

With Trump's history "birtherism" and questioning Obama's own American citizenship, the president may not mind squeezing in a few minutes on the GOP nominee.

Other speakers on Wednesday will include Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Jesse Jackson.

Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews

Watch: America's powerful female politicians tell us how they broke the glass ceiling

Watching the press at the DNC

Columbia Journalism Review - July 27, 2016 - 4:08pm
hifting from the RNC in Cleveland to the DNC in Philadelphia, the press working to cover the Democrats inside the convention hall have to battle for less space, bigger crowds, and a security perimeter so wide, it nearly extends to New Jersey. Absent are the well-marked delegate areas, the ability to move freely up and down the aisles, the sanctuary...

Thousands Of Venezuelans Take To The Streets Pushing For Vote To Oust President

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 2:45pm

Venezuela's political opposition took to the streets on Wednesday to pressure the country's electoral authorities into moving forward a process aimed at forcing a referendum on whether President Nicols Maduro should stay in office.

Protesters marched in cities around the country. In the capital, Caracas, they faced rows of soldiers and police officers who blocked access to the National Electoral Council's headquarters. Authorities also shut down eight subway stations near the areas where protesters were expected.

"The fear that Nicols Maduro has of his own people is showcased by the military display," leading opposition leader Henrique Capriles tweeted about the protest.

The electoral council missed its own deadline of Tuesday for evaluating the legitimacy of the 400,000 signatures the opposition collected in the first stage of its efforts to force the plebiscite. Instead, the council released a statement saying it would be meeting to discuss the signatures on Monday.

The statement also denied it was dragging its feet, and criticized the opposition's call for protests that it said risked degenerating into violence that could work against the possibility of securing a referendum.

"We call for all signs of violence to be avoided," the council said. "We remind people, just as we did last June, that any aggression or alteration of public order will force the suspension of electoral activities until order and tranquility have been restored."

Related: Venezuela's government says petition to recall unpopular President Maduro is tarnished by fraud

Assuming the council does validate enough of the signatures to close the first stage of the process to force a referendum, it would then theoretically announce the dates during which promoters of the idea would be required to collect four million signatures.

The tension over timing reflects the fact that while a referendum held after January 2017 could push President Maduro out of office, he would be replaced by his vice president to see out his term. Losing the vote before the end of the year would require the electoral authorities to call a general election.

Maduro recently insisted that there is now no longer enough time to organize a referendum for this year. Diosdado Cabello, the former head of the National Assembly and close ally of the president, rammed home the message on Tuesday.

"There's simply no way of holding a referendum this year," he told supporters at a meeting of the food distribution network in the state of Trujillo. "And, by the way things look, we won't have it in 2017 either."

Related: There's no sign of an end to Venezuela's food crisis

This week, the leadership of the ruling Socialist Party filed a formal accusation before the electoral authorities alleging that the opposition coalition used fraud while gathering signatures in favor of the referendum.

A June opinion poll by Venebarmetro concluded that 73 percent of Venezuelans disapprove of Maduro's administration, and 64 percent of them would be willing to vote in favor of removing him.

The controversy over the referendum comes as Venezuela's economic crisis deepens.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund estimated the country will end the year with 700 percent inflation. Meanwhile, gross domestic product is expected to contract by 8 percent, and shortages of food are triggering riots across the country.

A significant number of Venezuelans view crossing the country's closed border with Colombia as their only hope of obtaining basic goods and medication. This Tuesday Guyanese authorities announced the arrest of 14 Venezuelans who illegally entered the country reportedly in search of food.

Related: Venezuela's falling apart and the president is sending troops to 'protect' the people

Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews

People Are Freaking Out Over ‘birth Tourism’ In Canada

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 2:44pm

There's panic once again in British Columbia over a rise in "birth tourism" in the province, as locals accuse Chinese mothers of delivering their babies on Canadian soil in order to get citizenship.

The issue routinely makes news in the western province every few months, and now a new petition, filed in Parliament, is calling on the Canadian government to stop granting citizenship to so-called "anchor babies" unless one of their parents holds Canadian citizenship.

But as more foreigners continue to flock to British Columbia to settle or invest in real estate to the point where the government has imposed a new tax for homebuyers without Canadian citizenship there has been increasing media coverage over whether some are taking advantage of the system so that their children can benefit from social programs.

The number of Chinese residents in Vancouver has grown to more than 18 percent over the last 20 years. With that increase came an influx of wealthy Chinese investors which, in turn, came with endless speculation in the press about their motives and intentions.

However, immigration and citizenship experts say the issue of birth tourism is way overblown, and that it would do more harm than good to overhaul the way people become Canadians.

"Eliminating citizenship by birth on Canadian soil would be a hysterical response to a handful of cases that, in statistical terms, amount to a rounding error," reads a 2014 press release from the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), which has repeatedly tried to quash the notion that Canada's citizenship laws are being taken advantage of by throngs of non-Canadians.

Related: The Precarious Lives of Undocumented Parents Whose Kids Are Born in Canada

The problem of birth tourism across Canada is negligible at best, Josh Paterson, the executive director of BCCLA told VICE News by phone.

"The fact that someone giving birth here is a foreign national does not mean it's birth tourism. And there's very little evidence to show this is a problem requiring action," said Paterson. "Changing our laws would be far-reaching and far costlier than whatever costs are being incurred by people without citizenship having babies."

On Wednesday, the Vancouver Sun published a story about internal government documents that reveal investigators with the BC health ministry are aware of 26 private residences in the province where foreign pregnant women can stay before and after giving birth. According to the documents, these so-called "baby houses" offer hospitality services to women with temporary and permanent residency status.

The report also pointed to Chinese brokerage firms and databases that promote birth tourism in BC to Chinese nationals, including one agent in Shenzhen who hosts a website listing hospitals in the province with Mandarin-speaking doctors on site.

Postmedia reported earlier this year that 295 of the 1,938 babies born at the hospital in Richmond over the last year were born to Chinese mothers, a number that has increased significantly since 2011, although it's unclear how much it's gone up. Health authorities in Canada do not typically record the nationalities of patients. According to a news release from Citizenship and Immigration Canada in 2014, there were fewer than 500 reported cases of a child being born in Canada to parents who were neither a citizen or permanent resident.

In June, a woman from Richmond, about 30 minutes outside Vancouver, started an online parliamentary petition calling for the government to ban birth tourism. It's been endorsed by Richmond's Conservative member of parliament Alice Wong, and has 5,800 signatures so far. Canada and the US are the only countries in the G7 that automatically grant citizenship to children born there, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

"The practice of 'Birth Tourism' can be very costly to taxpayers since it is used to ensure that after the child reaches 18 years of age Canada's education system can be used at a publicly subsidised cost ... thus taking advantage of Canada's public health system and social security programmes," states the petition, authored by Kerry Starchuk, who's also been railing against Chinese-only signs in the area.

Related: Migrants continue two-week long hunger strike in Canadian jails

Starchuk says she lives next to one of these so-called birthing houses, and often sees pregnant Chinese women walking around her neighborhood. The city of Richmond is home to many Chinese newcomers.

"I want neighbors, I don't want people that are coming and going that have no connection here," Starchuk told the Vancouver Sun earlier this month. "I don't have a problem with a baby, but I have a problem with the long term consequences.

"If you're coming here to have a baby and the baby is going to be here to use a lot of services, and there's no commitment until the kid gets older, then there is more take than there is give," she added.

This BC woman

Michelle da Silva (@michdas) July 10, 2016

But Paterson explained that that having a Canadian-born child does not guarantee that the child's parents will have the right to stay in Canada or access social services here.

"If you have a situation where citizenship is not automatic by birth, you're going to run into situations, more to marginalized Canadians, where children wind up not having citizenship and finding out when they're adults that because of the status of their parents, that they wind up not having the citizenship of the country they've grown up in," he said.

Previous governments have tried and failed to stem birth tourism in Canada. Previous Conservative immigration ministers Chris Alexander and Jason Kenney tried to ban the practice, but faced opposition from provinces that said the problem was not big enough to warrant an overhaul of the immigration regime.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland echoed Paterson in an interview, saying that any measure to curb the small number of birth tourists would cost billions of dollars, and require the creation of an invasive database, the equivalent of a gun registry, that would register the immigration status of the parents of every child born here.

"All of this to try to reduce a couple hundred or a few hundred citizenship births," Kurland said. "Until I see evidence of what the problems are, I don't get it."

Follow Rachel Browne on Twitter: @rp_browne

Michelle Obama's 'pitch-perfect' speech gives media the freedom to gush

Columbia Journalism Review - July 27, 2016 - 1:54pm
Donald Trump has relied on an unusually nasty rhetorical style to steamroll opponents and even some potential allies this election season. He assailed war hero and fellow Republican John McCain, mocked Republican candidate Ted Cruz’s wife, made fun of disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, and regularly calls Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” on Twitter. Despite Trump’s mudslinging style, one...

Police Body Camera Shows Pokemon Go Player Mistaken For Bank Robber

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 1:17pm

An Iowa State University football player was playing Pokemon Go in the park near his home when he turned around to see four police officers pointing their guns at him. The Iowa City Police Department released the body camera footage Wednesday, showing another case of a phenomenon that is not uncommon: Pokemon Go players having run-ins with police.

Faith Ekakitie, like millions of others, is pursuing the humble goal of catching them all. Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, fitting the exact description of a bank robbery suspect police believed was in the vicinity. In a period where police violence against black people is on the rise, Ekakitie, who is black, said in a Facebook post he was thankful the situation did not end with him getting hurt.

"I am thankful to be alive, and I do now realize, that it very well could have been me, a friend of mine, my brother, your cousin, your nephew etc," Ekakitie wrote. "Misunderstandings happen all the time and just like that things can go south very quickly."

After police in Iowa City lowered the weapons they had pointed at Ekakitie, the interaction was polite, and followed procedure. He was searched, patted down, and released within five minutes.

Pokemon Go is the latest installment of the widely popular Pokemon franchise, using augmented reality to make the world seem full of Pokemon. Using GPS tracking and Google Maps technology, players must walk throughout town to find the creatures, battle other users, and find supplies to help them level up. The game has caused a massive traffic jam in Central Park, and led users who were searching for the virtual creatures to find dead bodies instead, which has happened in San Diego, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.

In Baltimore, a driver crashed into a police cruiser while trying to catch Pokemon behind the wheel. In Ohio, numerous people were given citations for trespassing. In Indonesia, a French man was arrested for trespassing on a military base. In Tampa Bay, police tried to clear 150 people out of a park that had closed hours earlier, and had to tase a player who refused to leave.

In addition to police detaining Pokemon trainers, they have also had to protect players from angry people trying to attack them for looking for the creatures in their neighborhood.

Compared to the 75 million people who have downloaded Pokemon Go since its July 5 release, these incidents are far and few between. Yet, some are highlighting the dangers of playing the game as a black man, specifically when it comes to looking suspicious in the eyes of police.

Ekakitie ended his Facebook post emphasizing any game that requires you to go into the real world means you have to confront real world problems.

"I would like the thank the Iowa City Police department for handling a sensitive situation very professionally," he wrote. "I would also urge people to be more aware of their surroundings because clearly I wasn't."

You can follow Adam Hamze on Twitter:@adamhamz

America’s Powerful Female Politicians Tell Us How They Broke The Glass Ceiling

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 12:50pm

As Hillary Clinton becomes the first female Democrat to accept the US presidential nomination, some of the most well-known women in Washington tell us what it was like to rise through the political ranks.

We speak to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Read "Democrats make history by officially nominating Hillary Clinton"

Watch "The best moments from Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention"

Welcome To The Youth Murder Capital Of California

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 12:05pm

Cesar Hernandez Ortiz wore a green button-up shirt and black pants. His eyes were closed, and his arms were folded below his chest. On a nearby wall, an effigy of Jesus Christ looked down upon his coffin.

On Mother's Day of this year, the 22-year-old had been standing outside a Salinas, California apartment building when a man approached, shot Ortiz multiple times in the torso, and fled. Ortiz died before he reached the hospital.

Debbie Aguilar prayed as she knelt beside Ortiz's coffin. She hadn't known him, but she is familiar with what it feels like to lose a loved one to gun violence; her 18-year-old son laid in a coffin here in Alta Vista Mortuary after he was shot and killed in 2002.

"It's the worst thing in the world," said Aguilar, who now runs a nonprofit for women who've lost men to gang violence in Salinas. "You have to walk away. You think, Take me or else I'm going to jump in the hole with them."

Ortiz's death is one of 16 shooting homicides being investigated by the Salinas Police Department this year. Twelve of the victims have been 24 years old or younger. Last year, Salinas endured its highest number of gun homicides in history: 103 shooting victims, 31 of whom were killed, and almost half of whom were 24 years old or younger.

They're relatively small numbers when compared to metropolitan areas like Chicago or Los Angeles, with millions of people, but huge numbers for a city of just 157,000. The Violence Policy Center (VPC) has ranked Monterey County (Salinas is the county seat) the youth homicide capital of California for four out of the past five years the VPC defines youths as anyone between the ages of 10 and 24 using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, and the California Department of Public Health. The county has also taken the top spot in annual gang-related youth homicides every year since 2011, when the report was first published.

"There's no question that Salinas's gang problem is on the 'high end' compared to most other cities in California," said Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin, who told local media that his department believes there is an "unlimited supply of firearms" circulating in the city.

Salinas police officer Jackie Bohn looks out her window at a van sporting a motto of the Norteo gang: "Moments of pleasure, years of pain." (Photo by Johnny Magdaleno/VICE News)

Last year, Salinas had a total gun homicide rate of 19.7 shooting deaths per 100,000 people more than seven times higher than the national rate. It's a hair under the rate in Oakland, which, according to FBI statistics, is the third most violent big city in America.

"These kids are growing up in a battleground area," Aguilar said of Salinas. "They're going to their friends' funerals, then the next generation is going to their funerals."

And the murderers aren't being brought to justice. Salinas's homicide solve rate of 24 percent is less than half that of California as a whole and well below the national average of 64.5 percent. As in other cities, Salinas residents in neighborhoods most affected by gang violence are reluctant to cooperate with murder investigations due to a fear of gang retaliation.

Teresa Hernandez's 14-year-old son, Alonso, was shot and killed while walking home from school in 2010. A few years later, a woman approached Hernandez at a grocery store and said she knew who pulled the trigger but had been too afraid to contact police, fearing gangs would attack her family.

"I can understand, in a way," Hernandez says now. "They all grew up in the same circle.... But your fear holds you back, and nothing gets better."

Her son's murder remains unsolved.

"Even if they did trust the police department, they feel there's no way the police can guarantee them anonymity," said Jos Arreola, director of the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, an anti-youth violence initiative in Salinas. He said the fear is legitimate because "there's clearly a willingness on the part of these actors to take someone's life if they betray them."

Related: Oakland went through three police chiefs in nine days amid sex and text scandals

In April, 17-year-old Felipe Rocha Sandoval was shot multiple times point-blank in front of his apartment. People connected to his family, along with Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter, a former cop, all said they believe Sandoval was targeted because he'd witnessed the killing of a 16-year-old two days earlier.

The Salinas Police Department solicits tips through anonymous hotlines and via text in an effort to protect and reassure witnesses, whether they fear being outed as snitches, or are wary of being asked questions about their immigration status as undocumented workers from Mexico who work the fields of Salinas Valley. Additionally, police, activists, and residents all say that families with ties to Mexico have long been wary of the Salinas authorities due to Mexico's notoriously corrupt cops.

Three-fourths of Salinas residents are Hispanic, but only one-third of its sworn officers are. This disparity was brought to the fore in 2014, when Salinas police shot and killed four Hispanic men in separate encounters. Two of the men were allegedly threatening cops and civilians with garden shears and knives, one drew a fake gun on police officers as he held up a restaurant, and another charged cops with his fingers held out in the shape of a pistol. All of them had blood alcohol levels that were more than double the legal limit, or had methamphetamine or other drugs in their system. The mother of one of the victims said that her son was schizophrenic, but police say there was no evidence of that.

Teresa Hernandez, Angela Dorado, Debbie Aguilar, and Debbie Sorto hold photos of loved ones killed in shootings. (Photo by Johnny Magdaleno/VICE News)

The Monterey County District Attorney cleared the officers of wrongdoing, but protests led McMillin to request a review from the US Department of Justice (DOJ). In a report released this past March, the DOJ found that Salinas officers weren't sufficiently trained to handle people with mental health issues or to de-escalate encounters. The report also questioned the police department's ability to hold officers accountable, and described its relationship with the community as "significantly frayed."

McMillin acknowledged that last piece of criticism in a written response to the DOJ report, but he and Gunter denied the first major assertion, pointing to crisis intervention training that cops receive from the city's health department.

McMillin also said his department has long struggled with what he called "a crisis of under-staffing." Without more officers, he said, the force can't afford to have cops focus on outreach or forge personal connections with the neighborhoods they patrol.

"Our officers have little to no time to spend on pausing to talk with residents, go to community meetings, to do what it takes to build deeper, more trusting relationships in the community," McMillin said. "We agree, and have long believed, such relationships are critically important."

Salinas, like the country as a whole, has fewer police today than it did in years past; the city currently has 137 sworn officers 50 fewer than in 2008.

"Since the recession, our department has been so decimated that we literally cannot bring what we know will work to scale," McMillin told VICE News, referring to initiatives like the gang suppression unit, which the department had to eliminate last year. "We're so reactive right now, we don't have the personnel to do comprehensive gang investigations or to embed in communities."

During a ride-along with Officer Jackie Bohn on a sunny Wednesday in March, a total of 12 officers were on patrol, including two who had been called in on their day off. A home burglary call was made at 7:30am that morning, but an officer wasn't able to get to the house until 8:44am.

"That burglary that happened at that house might have been the worst thing that's ever happened to have gone up, so we believe we're potentially getting to some of the young people."

Salinas saw record numbers of homicides and gun homicides last year, but the number of people under the age of 25 killed by guns dropped by more than a third compared to 2012 and 2013.

When the city voted for a 1-cent sales tax hike in 2014, it promised to bring in an estimated $300 million over the next 15 years to help fund everything from public works projects to after-school programs. But Juan Gomez, co-founder of local Hispanic youth advocacy group MILPA, points out that more than 50 percent of that money is slated for the police force, which plans to put more cops in Salinas schools. He says more community initiatives and social services are what are really needed to protect the city's youth.

"If there is something crazy going on, of course, call the cops, because folks need to be safe," he said. "But if a kid is not safe at school, they don't need to go to a police officer. They need to go to a counselor."

On a recent Saturday, Aguilar gathered with a group of other women and children in Closter Park, which itself has seen several shootings and homicides. The women carried framed photos of the family members they lost to gun violence, some as young as 14.

Related: Cheap oil is shutting down California recycling centers

Debbie Sorto described how she constantly wonders if the people she sees on the street were behind her grandson's and nephew's murders. Angela Dorado recounted how her 6-year-old daughter has been waking up screaming in the middle of the night since Dorado's 34-year-old husband was shot and killed while planting flowers in the yard.

And Melissa Garner related that her 25-year-old son, Paul Morales Jr., was the first person killed in Salinas last year.

"Witnesses need to come forward," Garner said. "Mothers need to talk to their children: 'What are you doing? Who are you hanging out with?' People need to step in."

Follow Johnny Magdaleno on Twitter: @johnny_mgdlno

The DNC's Pro-Bernie Protesters Won't Go Away

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 11:50am

As Hillary Clinton officially secured the Democratic nomination for president on Tuesday, her party faced an insurgency from a small group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders. After the Vermont senator announced Clinton's nomination, his supporters walked out of the roll call vote at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center and staged a sit-in at a nearby media tent.

"I'm protesting the fact that the Democratic party is not democratic," said Trinity Ledesma, a devout Sanders supporter from Washington in Philadelphia to serve as an alternate for her state's delegate.

Most commentators in the media appeared baffled and called the rowdy delegates delusional, spoiled, uneducated and perhaps just flat out sexist, despite the fact that the delegation includes a number of women.

Didn't Hillary Clinton win the most delegates, fair and square? Didn't their own candidate just endorse her? Didn't his campaign win a meaningful battle over the Democratic platform and future election rules? What do these people want?

Related: Sanders booed by supporters after telling them to vote for Clinton

The answer, according to the delegates, goes beyond Sanders simply losing the nomination.

"There's a feeling that Bernie supporters and activists have worked their ass off for a year and they're exasperated that the system is a bit rigged the DNC, the scheduling of the debates, and the collusion behind the scenes," said Jeff Cohen, spokesperson for the Bernie Delegate Network.

To a Sanders delegate, the last few days have been one punch in the gut after another. First, Clinton picked Senator Tim Kaine, a pro-TPP lawmaker who as governor of Virginia praised anti-union right-to-work laws. Next, a massive leak revealed that DNC officials openly favored Clinton to be the party's nominee. Finally, right after a chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned, she scored a job as honorary chair of Clinton's campaign.

While Clinton delegates have been celebrating, the "Bernie or bust" contingent has been reading each new headline with contempt.

"This isn't just for the few of us here, it's for everybody in the nation and they just don't see it," said Ledesma. "They just love their party here and it's just a coronation of their queen. That's not democratic."

A Colorado delegate, Caitlin Glidewell, who's in school to be a sign language interpreter, brought up the superdelegate system, which particularly rankles Sanders supporters. "The only reason it was so close in Colorado was because of superdelegates that did not vote the way their constituents wanted them to, and that is the case in many many states," she said.

"We are a Bernie state and we are all very disappointed with the way our superdelegates voted," Glidewell added. "We feel cheated by them, we feel they should not be speaking for any of us."

Cohen said that according to the Bernie Delegate Network's internal surveys, only a small minority of these delegates are of the "Bernie or Bust" variety, planning to stay home or vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein now that Clinton has wrapped up the contest.

He stressed that even those who plan to vote for Clinton are taking part in these demonstrations.

Related: Sanders quiets 'Bernie or Bust' contingent with plea for unity

"I think even the angrier delegates know that they've won things, but then the VP pick and hiring of Wasserman Schultz was a slap in the face," Cohen said. Despite winning what Sanders called "the most progressive party platform in history," delegates know that the platform can be and often is ignored.

Sanders supporters wanted Clinton to select a VP who would push her to honor those progressive commitments. Cohen rattled off a list including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, or Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison.

"I think the sense is, we're now in the streets again. We're telling the Democratic Party establishment that we're here, get used to it," Cohen said. "The progressive movement is here, it's young, and it's going to be watching for broken promises from day one."

"We hope it's you and not Trump," he said, "but there's no honeymoon."

Liz Fields contributed reporting from Philadelphia

Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews

Two Brazilian Fighter Jets Collide During A Security Exercise For The Olympics

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 11:40am

Two Brazilian fighter jets collided off the coast of Rio de Janeiro while on a training exercise designed to hone protection for the city's upcoming Olympic Games.

The Brazilian navy issued a statement after the collision on Tuesday saying that one of the pilots managed to land his plane safely, but the other crashed into the sea.

A massive search began for the second pilot and continued through the night and into Wednesday morning.

The navy statement said both the planes involved in the collision about 60 miles out to sea were AF-1B Skyhawks in the middle of "attack training" that also involved a frigate.

Brazilian media published a still image of the nose of the discarded plane sticking out of the water, reminiscent of the tip of an iceberg. Although there was no recording of the crash itself, a video showed a helicopter circling above a beach before landing while a pilot waited below.

The accident does not help Brazil's repeated insistence that it can guarantee the safety of the visiting athletes, dignitaries, and tourists already converging on Rio.

This is only the latest in a series of incidents damaging the reputation of the Games ahead of the August 5 opening ceremony.

Concerns about security were underlined last week when Brazilian police arrested a cell of alleged Islamic State sympathizers who police said were organizing a terrorist attack.

Homicides are currently up in Rio this year. Some 85,000 police officers and soldiers are due to provide security for the Games.

Police announced earlier this week that they had confiscated nearly a 100 baggies of cocaine branded with the multi-colored Olympic rings, as well as a warning to "use away from kids."

Several countries most prominently Australia complained publicly about unhygenic and unsafe conditions at the Olympic Village. Rio's mayor responded that he should put a kangaroo in front of the Australian building to "make them feel at home." When the Australians finally moved in on Tuesday they brought their own kangaroo, though a spokesman claimed it was not intended to be a taunt.

All this comes at a time when the nation struggles through a deep political crisis.

A massive anti-corruption investigation known as Lavo Jato, or Car Wash, has brought down leading figures from all Brazil's major political parties for alleged involvement in kickbacks from the state-run oil company Petrobras. The Brazilian senate temporarily suspended President Dilma Rousseff in May while she faces an impeachment trial in the senate for alleged creative accounting.

Rousseff, whose impeachment trial is set to begin during the Games, fired off a series of tweets on Wednesday morning confirming reports that she would not be attending the opening ceremony. "I will not participate as a spectator of an act in which I was a protagonist" she said in one of her messages. Rousseff had been invited but not to the VIP balcony where President Michel Temer her former vice president who has taken over her job will be sitting. If the negative press continues, perhaps she wouldn't want to be there either.

Related:Athletes are pissed about clogged toilets at Rio's Olympic Village

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz

Islamic State Claims Bombing That Killed Nearly 50 People In Syria's Kurdish Region

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 11:35am

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for two massive bombings that killed nearly nearly 50 people and wounded dozens more in northeast Syria Wednesday, according to Syrian state television.

The attack, which consisted of a motorcycle and truck bombing, took place in the Kurdish city of Qamishli near the Turkish border early Wednesday morning. Syrian state media put the official death toll at 44 people but the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated it at 48.

The death toll is expected to rise significantly after more people are uncovered from the rubble, an eyewitness told the BBC.

This photo captures the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Al-Qamishli today.

Trump Condones Russian Hacking — If It Means Clinton's Emails Are Exposed

VICE News - July 27, 2016 - 11:35am

In a clear sign that Donald Trump doesn't intend on toning down his off-the-cuff style in the general election, the Republican nominee put out a call to Moscow on Wednesday morning, asking Russian hackers to find and release more of Hillary Clinton's emails.

At a press conference in Doral, Florida, reporters repeatedly asked Trump about his possible connections to the Russian government. The questions followed a growing consensus that Russian hackers were behind a trove of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee.

Trump brought up "Russia and the hacking" while fielding questions, then referenced messages that Clinton deleted while she was secretary of state. Those messages have become a source of controversy amid the release of Clinton's emails in response to a VICE News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

"By the way if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails, I hope they do," he began.

Related: The hackers that broke into the Democratic Party may show that Russia is really good at cyberspying

"They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted, because you'd see some beauties there," Trump said. "So let's see."

Trump then made a direct call to the Kremlin to take action.

"It would be interesting to see, I will tell you this: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 33,000 emails that are missing, I think you will rewarded mightily by our press," Trump wrapped up. "Let's see if that happens."

Trump later doubled-down on his remarks, tweeting, "If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!"

In recent days, many media reports have highlighted connections between the presidential contender and the less savory aspects of the Russian state.

Trump tried to fire back at that idea in an interview on Wednesday, telling CBS Miami: "I mean I have nothing to do with Russia," and insisting that he's never met Vladimir Putin despite a brag he once made during a primary debate.

"I got to know him very well because we were both on '60 Minutes,' we were stablemates, and we did very well that night," Trump said onstage at a Fox/Wall Street Journal debate in November. (Trump and Putin were never actually physically together on the show; they appeared on the same night, but Putin was in Russia.)

Related: Russia says accusations it hacked the Democrats are paranoia

Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, also weighed in on Russia and Clinton's emails on Wednesday.

"The FBI will get to the bottom of who is behind the hacking," Pence said in a statement. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences."

He then accused Democrats of "singularly focusing on who might be behind it and not addressing the basic fact that they've been exposed as a party who not only rigs the government, but rigs elections while literally accepting cash for federal appointments is outrageous."

"The American people now have absolute and further proof of the corruption that exists around Hillary Clinton. It should disqualify her from office, if the media did their job," Pence said.

Did Sanders have the right priorities on social media before Clinton clinched?

Columbia Journalism Review - July 27, 2016 - 10:50am
Bernie Sanders rode a wave of populist support that nearly upended former shoo-in Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. Are there lessons to learn from his campaign’s social-media strategy that explain why the Bernie movement gained so much traction but ultimately came up short?  A review of hundreds of the candidates’ messages on Twitter and Facebook—using data* from...

Donald Trump to Russia: Please Hack Hillary!

Mother Jones - July 27, 2016 - 10:35am

Donald Trump encouraged Russian hackers to find Hillary Clinton's deleted emails during a bizarre press conference on Wednesday in Miami.

"Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to fid the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said, referring to the emails that were not handed over to investigators from Hillary Clinton's private email server. "I think you'll be rewarded mightily by our press."

.@RealDonaldTrump on @HillaryClinton's emails: Russia, 'I hope you find the 33,000 emails that are missing.' pic.twitter.com/zlOhFme3X1

— POLITICO (@politico) July 27, 2016

The call for foreign hackers to take down his opponent was only one of the many strange moments in the press conference. Other highlights included:

  • Trump claiming "I don't know anything about him" when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the growing amount of evidence that the DNC hack was carried about by Russia. Trump has in fact praised Putin for years and said in November of Putin that "I got to know him very well."
  • A repeat of the claim that American Muslims don't report terror plots to authorities. FBI Director James Comey said last month after the terrorist attack in Orlando that "some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim."
  • Trump appeared to confuse Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate, with former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean.
  • He said that he wouldn't go to France, which has been the target of several recent terror attacks. "France isn't France anymore," he said, likely referring to the number of immigrants who now live in France. The French Embassy declined to comment.

*This is a developing story.

Trump asks Russia For Help Beating Hillary Clinton

Mother Jones - July 27, 2016 - 10:20am

Donald Trump reaches out to his buddy Vladimir Putin for help:

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you find the 33,000 emails that are missing. I think you'll be rewarded mightily by our press!" WTF WTF

— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 27, 2016

Trump just asked Putin to help him beat Clinton

We have fallen through the looking glass

— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) July 27, 2016

What the fuck? WHAT IN THE FUCKING FUCK??!! https://t.co/jGErUfMj9y

— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) July 27, 2016

Setting aside every other level of craziness here, “Russia, if you’re listening”—that clip will be in an ad.

— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) July 27, 2016

I didn't think Trump could get any more pro-Putin but now he is saying he might lift sanctions & recognize Crimea annexation. Unbelievable.

— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) July 27, 2016

Quite a Trump news conference:
-I want to work with Russia
-Russia, please, please find Hillary’s missing emails
-I wouldn’t go to France

— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) July 27, 2016

Just another day in Trumpland.

There's Little Support for ISIS in the Arab World

Mother Jones - July 27, 2016 - 10:13am

A trio of researchers set out to measure the support for ISIS in five Arab states:

The findings were stark: not many Arabs sympathize with the Islamic State. The percent agreeing with the Islamic State’s goals range from 0.4 percent in Jordan to 6.4 percent in the Palestinian territories. The percent agreeing with the Islamic State’s use of violence range from 0.4 percent in Morocco to 5.4 percent in the Palestinian territories. The percent agreeing that the Islamic State’s tactics are compatible with Islam range from 1.0 percent in Jordan to 8.9 percent n the Palestinian territories.

That's surprisingly—and gratifyingly—low. Good news.


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