A selection of stories I produced for VICE News Tonight on HBO since the show’s inception.
Alex Jones is one of America’s best-known and most influential conspiracy theorists. Jones’ radio program and online television network reach millions, with frothing rants claiming the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and that 9/11 was an inside job. With the election of Donald Trump, whose candidacy he vigorously championed, Jones’ fringe movement has shouted its way into the mainstream. Watch on VICE News.
On election day, Californians will vote on a controversial ballot measure that could require the use of condoms in any porn film made in the state, levying stiff fines on those in violation of the law–and potentially forcing producers of hardcore adult content out of the state. But it also deputizes ordinary citizens to police the industry, with a provision “to enable whistleblowers and private citizens to enforce the Act when the state fails to do so.” Watch on VICE News.
President Obama has commuted the sentences of 153 prisoners and pardoned 78 more. It’s the biggest act of presidential clemency on a single day—ever. And it’s only a drop in the bucket. The US is home to about 5 percent of the world’s population, and more than 20 percent of the world’s prisoners. Harsh sentencing laws, like mandatory minimums, often give a judge no choice but to hand down lengthy sentences, including life in prison. VICE News met one woman who walked free after more than 20 years. Watch on VICE News.
California legalized marijuana for recreational use. The passage of Proposition 64 means the state is now poised to become the world’s largest legal weed marketplace. VICE News travelled to The Golden State to see who wins and who loses in the new business. Watch on VICE News.
The number of Chinese students enrolling at American secondary schools is on the rise, and if the success of the Wisconsin International Academy is any indication, it will grow exponentially in the years ahead. VICE News visited the hotel-turned-academy in Milwaukee that’s now home to 170 Chinese teenagers. Students eat, sleep, and study here. For them, the academy is home. Watch on VICE News.
Melissa Cross is a classically trained singer and actress. But it’s her work with metal bands that’s the reason for her success, and her nom de guerre: the “Queen of Scream.” The 60-year-old has worked with some of the biggest names in hardcore, from Slipknot to Slayer and Megadeth. As America’s heavy bands hit the road this summer, Cross is in demand–and takes VICE News backstage at the Vans Warped Tour. Watch on VICE News.
On Election Day, a record four states will vote on gun initiatives. Gun control advocates haven’t had much luck getting legislation through Congress or state legislatures, so they’re turning to the initiative process in hopes letting the voter, not politicians, decide policy. Among them is ballot initiative 1491 in Washington state that would allow family members or police to get a court order to prevent a person from getting a gun who might be a danger to themselves or to others. Watch on VICE News.
A quarter of all registered voters in the U.S. live in areas that use vulnerable voting machines, according to Reuters. “America unfortunately is painting a bull’s-eye on its election system by continuing to use these antiquated touch-screen voting machines that have been shown for years to suffer from so many difficult vulnerabilities,” University of Michigan computer science professor J. Alex Halderman told VICE News. Watch on VICE News.
The FCC will vote on a proposal that would begin the process of killing net neutrality. Since the vote was proposed in late April, over 1.6 million comments have flooded the FCC’s website, the majority from people in favor of keeping net neutrality. But the new Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai doesn’t appear to be listening.