Correspondent

Last fall, black dust began to blow through residential neighborhoods on the southeast side of Chicago. Only it wasn't really dust; it was a fine black residue that clung to everything it touched, including noses and throats. Residents eventually learned that it was an oil byproduct called petroleum coke — petcoke for short — and it was being stored in massive uncovered piles at facilities owned by the Koch brothers. VICE News's Danny Gold traveled to Chicago to see what happens when clouds of toxic oil dust blow through the Windy City.

 

Correspondent

On the Sea Islands along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, a painful chapter of American history is playing out again. These islands are home to the Gullah or Geechee people, the descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to work at the plantations that once ran down the southern Atlantic coast. After the Civil War, many former slaves on the Sea Islands bought portions of the land where their descendants have lived and farmed for generations. That property, much of it undeveloped waterfront land, is now some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

But the Gullah are now discovering that land ownership on the Sea Islands isn’t quite what it seemed. Local landowners are struggling to hold on to their ancestral land as resort developers with deep pockets exploit obscure legal loopholes to force the property into court-mandated auctions. These tactics have successfully fueled a tourism boom that now attracts more than 2 million visitors a year. Gullah communities have all but disappeared, replaced by upscale resorts and opulent gated developments that new locals — golfers, tourists, and mostly white retirees — fondly call “plantations.”

Faced with an epic case of déjà vu, the Gullah are scrambling for solutions as their livelihood and culture vanish, one waterfront mansion at a time.

 

Correspondent

Two years on, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, some with homes that remain completely demolished. 

Many of these residents continue to wait on funding for construction from NYC Build it Back, the program launched by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allocate the nearly $2 billion in received federal aid. Until recently, the program had exhibited unmanageable bureaucratic problems — as of January this year, there had been no construction under the program.

VICE News spoke with those still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and investigated what’s being done to bolster New York’s coastal communities and protect the population from future storms.

 

Producer and Correspondent

Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is well past the notoriety it had in the 1980s and 1990s, when the area was neglected and crack dealers violently ruled the streets. Back then, two men began providing much needed help to their underserved community. The Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corp was founded in 1988 by Captain James "Rocky" Robinson, an EMS tech, and Specialist Joe Perez. Rocky is still at the helm today, 26 years later, training a new generation to follow in his footsteps. With the community now much safer and better served, he has changed the BSVAC's original mission of saving lives to changing lives — helping young men and women who may not have any other options receive free training and eventually find jobs in the medical field. 

 

Producer and Correspondent

Karsten Clennel is the last of a dying breed. A freelance journalist who works the overnight shift, he prowls the streets hunting for good stories. Every night, KC heads off at 9pm with no real plan. He simply listens to various law enforcement scanners, hoping something newsworthy comes across.