Fault Lines

Oct 21 2020 24 mins 14.5k

A weekly programme examining the US and its role in the world by asking tough questions and holding the powerful to account.

The Impossible Choice: America's Paid Leave Crisis | Fault Lines
Mar 18 2020 25 mins  
The coronavirus pandemic has upended lives around the world. In the United States, it has exposed the fact that this is one of the only developed countries in the world without paid sick leave. And it is one of the only countries in the world that does not guarantee any paid time off for new mothers. Fault Lines has travelled across the US to report on the country's paid leave crisis. We heard from families directly affected by a lack of paid leave: Ali and Derek Dodd, a couple in Oklahoma who tragically lost their infant son in a daycare accident, who advocate for paid family leave for parents; Leah Clay, a single mother in the state of Georgia who ended up on public assistance after taking unpaid leave from her job as a breastfeeding counsellor to care for her baby; and Jacqui Silvani, a mother in New Hampshire who lost her teaching job while taking unpaid leave to care for her toddler undergoing cancer treatment. These cases highlight the stakes for millions of Americans who find themselves having to choose between their jobs or caring for themselves or their families. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 113 million Americans without paid family and medical leave - whether it is time to recover from childbirth and care for a newborn, take care of a sick family member, or recover from an illness themselves. The last comprehensive federal legislation passed on the issue was in 1993 under former President Bill Clinton - the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - which only guarantees unpaid job-protected leave. But about 40 percent of Americans do not meet the criteria required by FMLA, and because it is unpaid, even people who do qualify often cannot afford to take it. This has all led to a caregiving crisis in the US and the consequences can be dire. Without paid family and medical leave, many American workers face extreme financial hardship. They are often forced out of their jobs and into public assistance. Women in particular - who take on the bulk of caregiving responsibilities - are disproportionately affected. This is especially true for women of colour. The lack of adequate paid leave for new mothers, for example, can have harmful effects on the mother and the baby. So why is there still no nationwide policy in place, and what does this mean for millions of American workers? Fault Lines investigates.

Amazon Burning: Death and Destruction in Brazil's Rainforest | Fault Lines
Nov 27 2019 28 mins  
Brazil saw a dramatic increase in the number of fires in the Amazon with more than 80,000 fires so far this year alone. This past summer, the world watched in horror as images of flames engulfing swathes of land in the world's largest rainforest came out, leading to global calls for boycotts over President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the crisis. The fires have come as deforestation has risen over the past years and is increasing even more as the Brazilian government weakens environmental regulations. New data recently released by the government shows that deforestation is at the highest point in a decade under Bolsonaro, with an area ten times the size of New York City deforested since the beginning of the year. "The message that arrives on the ground is now everything is possible; we can keep on invading public land, we can keep on deforesting because it'll be forgiven," says Brenda Brito, researcher at Imazon, an NGO dedicated to conserving the Amazon rainforest. Valuable trees are cut down first, the land is cleared with fire, and then the land can be used for cattle or soy, two of Brazil's key exports - or often, illegal mining. But even as deforestation worsens, the Brazilian government has weakened its environmental protection agencies. That has put pressure on communities already at risk trying to fight the destruction of the rainforest. Beyond the headlines of the fires, there is a violence that comes with the destruction taking place in Brazil. "We are receiving threats because we are trying to protect the forest. It is not only the trees that are coming to an end, But people are dying, giving up their own lives because of the trees," says small farmer Maria Marcia de Melo. Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a land defender, as the profits of deforestation combined with local corruption have led to a high rate of impunity. In the past decade, over 300 people have been killed in the Brazilian Amazon over land conflicts. "These are very specific killings. Its the killing of the person who is standing up and defending the forest. That killing sends a message to everyone in the community - that if you do anything, that's going to happen to you. So the impact of the killings is enormous," says Cesar Munoz, Human Rights Watch. At stake are both the world’s largest rainforest as well as the lives of indigenous communities and small farmers trying to protect their lands. Fault Lines travels to Brazil to look at what is at the heart of the Amazon burning and to meet the people defending the land. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Licence to Hate: White Supremacy in the US | Fault Lines
Nov 20 2019 25 mins  
In less than a year, the United States has seen two of the deadliest white supremacist attacks in its recent history. In October 2018, a white supremacist gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The perpetrator murdered 11 worshippers in what became the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. Just nine months later, a white supremacist opened fire at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring dozens. Among the victims were new parents, grandparents, people from three different countries, a US Army veteran, and a 15-year-old high school student. The attack was the deadliest in a growing string of violence fuelled by white supremacist ideology - a pattern that has ignited outrage and enflamed tensions across the US "These aren't just one-off events. They are part of a rising wave of action," explains Dr Kathleen Belew, a historian who researches the white power movement. "That's important not only to understand the meaning of each of these acts of violence, but to connect them together as part of a movement." In the wake of the El Paso attack, national attention turned to the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration and right-wing media, including Fox News. The alleged shooter published a hate-filled manifesto online that not only referenced other recent white supremacist mass murders, but also echoed the incendiary language of President Donald Trump and Fox News pundits, like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. "They're almost his words," says one survivor of the El Paso attack, Marcela Martinez, about the parallels between Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and the alleged shooter's manifesto. "What he says about the Texas invasion of Hispanics and that Hispanics were taking over the jobs and were taking over everything." In License to Hate, Fault Lines travels to El Paso, Texas and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to meet the communities targeted in the two deadliest white supremacist attacks of the past year. Through expert interviews, we examine the white supremacist ideology that connects these attacks and how racist discourse has seeped into the mainstream. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

The Abortion Bans | Fault Lines
Nov 13 2019 25 mins  
In 2019, nine US states passed laws effectively banning abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy, before many women even know they're pregnant. Fault Lines travelled to Alabama and Georgia, two states that passed the most extreme bans, to meet bill architects and lawmakers, clinics and patients on the front lines, and reproductive justice advocates fighting the bans in court. These new laws are part of a strategy to instigate a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion in 1973. Behind them is an emboldened anti-abortion movement that seeks to ban the procedure by granting legal rights to the unborn: fetuses, embryos, even fertilised eggs. Already 'fetal personhood' has been used to justify hundreds of criminal and civil cases against women. They've been charged with a variety of crimes related to their pregnancies, including murder. We meet one Alabama mum who was held in jail after she used marijuana while pregnant to control her epilepsy seizures. Abortion rights advocates fear that these new bans could open a Pandora’s Box for pregnant women, stripping them of basic rights, not just to abortion, but to medical decision-making and bodily autonomy. Fault Lines examines early abortion bans passed in the US, how women are resisting, and whether the laws will stand. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Sick Inside: Death and Neglect in US Jails | Fault Lines
Nov 06 2019 25 mins  
Jail deaths have surged in almost two dozen US states over the last decade. There have been steady increases in mortality rates involving complications from existing medical conditions. Jailers often have few resources to treat medical or psychological conditions. So, counties are increasingly hiring for-profit healthcare contractors to fill the medical needs of their inmates. Contractors like Corizon and NaphCare say they offer premium healthcare but critics allege that these companies cut corners to turn a profit, and point to their records. "When you combine the profit motive with a literally captive market of unpopular people, it's a recipe for bad outcomes and, often, lethal outcomes," David Fathi of the ACLU National Prison Project says. Corizon has nearly 200,000 inmates under its care and has been sued more than a thousand times over its quality of care. In Sick Inside, Fault Lines speaks to the parents of Madaline Pitkin, a woman who died of dehydration in an Oregon jail under the care of Corizon in 2014. In an exclusive interview, a former Corizon employee who worked in that jail, talked about the company's practices that led her to resign. "I was concerned for my medical license," former Corizon employee Cris Rettler told Fault Lines. "There were several times when we had some pretty near misses." After Madaline's death, the jail hired another company called NaphCare. We investigate NaphCare's history of negligence in Nevada by speaking with a woman whose husband died of complications with diabetes while in NaphCare's care in 2018. In both jails, we talk to the sheriffs and ask why they continue to hire these companies. According to campaign finance records, both sheriffs have taken thousands of dollars in political contributions from NaphCare. Fault Lines investigates the $12bn industry of correctional healthcare and asks what is lost when a county hires a for-profit medical company to care for its prisoners. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

The Cost of Living: What's behind high prescription drug prices in the US? | Fault Lines
Oct 30 2019 25 mins  
In the United States, many people have to choose between financial insecurity or saving their own lives. The cost of nearly every major brand name drug is on the rise and as a result, millions of Americans are having trouble paying for their prescription medication. This includes Type 1 diabetics, for whom insulin is a life-saving drug. "For somebody like me it's like the oxygen you breathe. It is like the oxygen you and I breathe, except for me, I have to pay $340 a vial for that oxygen," says Quinn Nystrom, from T1International, a global advocacy organisation for diabetics. Nystrom is one of at least 1.2 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease that has no cure. Between 2012 and 2016 alone, the price of insulin nearly doubled, forcing many Americans to search for other routes to access it. We follow a caravan of Type 1 diabetics as they cross the border into Canada, where insulin is about one-tenth of the cost of the drug in the US. "It's not just a bunch of people whining and crying about the price of insulin. There is a true impact," says Nicole Smith-Holt, whose son died less than a month after ageing off her health insurance, because, she believes, he couldn't afford to pay for his insulin and started rationing the drug. "My family was destroyed by this. I lost my child. I will never have my son back ... Ultimately, the system failed Alec." We made multiple interview requests to the top three insulin manufacturers, but none of them agreed to an interview. Sanofi sent a statement and included a congressional testimony by its External Affairs Executive Vice president. We also meet Jackie Trapp who has a rare form of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma, which doesn't respond to traditional cancer treatments. Instead, she has to take a speciality drug to keep her cancer stable. Despite having insurance and taking advantage of multiple assistance programmes this vital drug costs her between $15,000 and $22,000 a year. "Drugs don't work if we can't afford to take them," Trapp says. Fault Lines investigates what's behind the skyrocketing costs of prescription medication, and how the hefty price tag is costing lives. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

In Bad Faith: Child Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church | Fault Lines
Oct 23 2019 26 mins  
In a series of exclusive interviews with Fault Lines, several men across New York City come forward with painful memories of abuse by a Catholic priest. They say that Father John Paddack - who was ordained in 1984 and had been ministering in New York until he was suspended in July - molested them during confession and counselling sessions in different Catholic schools across the city. The men allege years of abuse by Paddack, sparking the latest revelations in a decades-old scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church to its foundation. And they say that, in the intervening decades, Paddack remained in ministry - working in close proximity to children. The church should "stop hiding", says Joseph Caramanno, one of the men who says he was abused by Paddack while in high school, and one of the first to open a public case against the priest. "They are allowing these predator priests to frolic around aimlessly on the streets of New York, with open access, under the shield of a collar," he says. Another victim, Gabriel* - now a father of two - says he was molested by Paddack as a 12-year-old Catholic school student. "That destroyed my youth," he says about the abuse. "That could have killed me, honestly." For many years, these men shared their stories privately, among close confidants. But when New York's restrictive statute of limitations law for victims of child sex abuse was amended in 2019, they went public with their claims. The men are suing the Catholic Church, and calling on the city's most powerful cleric - Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York - to remove Father Paddack from ministry. "The archdiocese has known about the allegations against Monsignor Paddack for years, more than six years. Those allegations have been kept quiet by the archdiocese," says Mike Reck, one of the lawyers for the victims. Cardinal Dolan, meanwhile, has told the 2.5 million Catholics under his watch to rest assured, claiming there are no active priests facing credible abuse allegations in his archdiocese. Clergy abuse, he said, was largely a problem of the past. However, our investigation into Father Paddack revealed a different story, one that raises questions about New York's Catholic hierarchy, and whether its leader has put the prestige of the church above the survival of its victims. For this investigation, Fault Lines spoke to five of the men who accuse Father Paddack of abuse; allegations that form a pattern starting from the early 1980s until the early 2000s, the victims' lawyers say. *Not his real name - More from Fault Lines on: YouTube - http://aje.io/faultlinesYT Facebook - https://facebook.com/AJFaultLines Twitter - https://twitter.com/AJFaultLines Website - http://aljazeera.com/faultlines/ - - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

System Failure: The Boeing Crashes | Fault Lines
Oct 16 2019 24 mins  
When a commercial airplane crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, global aviation authorities were shocked. The aircraft was a 737 MAX, one of the newest models of US manufacturer Boeing. And then when a second MAX dropped out of the sky in Ethiopia in March 2019, investigators said they believed that software on the airplane played a role in both crashes. With 346 people dead and the MAX now grounded, aviation authorities around the globe have asked what went wrong, how the US certified the aircraft in 2017 and how oversight failed. Families and investigators are still searching for answers. A former Boeing engineer who worked on the plane, and asked to remain anonymous, recalls that the design and testing of the 737 MAX took place amid immense commercial pressure. "Cost pressure and time. Time pressure was the biggest impact, biggest driver ... [There was] immense pressure on getting the airplane to market as soon as possible," he told Fault Lines. "On the 737 MAX there was constant pressure to not change anything. From a cost perspective, change costs money. The business side drives the culture." Captain Dennis Tajer from the Allied Pilots Association believes "the system failed". "The system is Boeing, the FAA, other oversight areas from within those groups," he says. "What's the measure on that judgment? These crashes. It's that simple: the system failed. It failed our passengers, it failed the globe." Fault Lines traces what led to the two plane crashes and asks if US aviation regulators have allowed the industry too much control over safety. - More from Fault Lines on: YouTube - http://aje.io/faultlinesYT Facebook - https://facebook.com/AJFaultLines Twitter - https://twitter.com/AJFaultLines Website - http://aljazeera.com/faultlines/ - - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

The Viral Threat: Measles and Misinformation | Fault Lines
May 22 2019 25 mins  
The United States is in the midst of containing the largest number of measles cases in 25 years. Measles, a vaccine-preventable disease, was eliminated from the US in 2000, but the spread of online misinformation about vaccines has led to a public health crisis that has resulted in more than 800 cases in at least 20 states. Vaccine sceptics represent only a tiny minority of the population, but their digital advocacy has evolved into the "anti-vaccine" movement - a well-organised online network with significant offline implications for public health and politics. These groups promote medically inaccurate information about vaccines and their viral content has dominated US's most powerful online platforms, including Facebook, Google, Amazon and YouTube. Ill-equipped to respond to the social media savvy anti-vax movement, the US medical community must now confront both the contagion of online misinformation and the real-world viral spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. In this episode, Fault Lines travelled to Washington state, as it was in the midst of containing an outbreak, to speak with public health officials and community members battling on the front lines of the measles crises while waging online "info-wars" against the anti-vaccine movement's misinformation. Fault Lines then went inside the US's anti-vaccine movement, interviewing key leaders about their online strategy and offline political goals, as well as the threat that fear and misinformation can pose to public health in the US.

Church of Trump | Fault Lines
Oct 31 2018 25 mins  
The US has just gone through its most contentious Supreme Court nomination in decades. America watched as Brett Kavanaugh ascended to the highest court in the country, despite a serious allegation of sexual assault from his high school days. As the Senate reviewed his nomination, protesters took to the streets, and the events once again broke open the country's political and cultural divides. One group had backed Kavanaugh's nomination from the beginning: The religious right in the US, which is a strategic, highly organised minority that has found itself more powerful than ever under President Donald Trump. In his first two years of office, Trump has electrified this segment of the Republican base by advancing the movement's opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights. President Trump has appointed more judges on federal appeals courts than any of his recent predecessors. In the wake of the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, America's so-called "values voters" are heading to the midterm election polls with the wind in their sails - and a sophisticated legislative and judicial ground-game to build on their momentum. Fault Lines goes inside the US religious right to explore the grassroots strategy and the powerful institutions fuelling its resurgence. The investigation reveals the movement's secretive state-level legislative strategy, known as Project Blitz, as well as the Republican party's plan to stack the federal judiciary with conservative judges. Ultimately, Fault Lines explores what's driving this movement's support for President Trump and what their success could mean for the future of the country.

Between War and Trump's Ban: An Update | Fault Lines
Oct 24 2018 25 mins  
In March 2018, as the US Supreme Court was preparing to rule on Donald Trump’s travel ban, Fault Lines traveled to Djibouti, to meet some of the Yemeni families finding themselves stuck between a war and the ban. Many had applied for visas to the US, and traveled there in hopes of being cleared to join their families -- only to be told their applications had been rejected. Even Yemenis whose parents or spouses were US citizens -- who should have qualified for waivers under new State Department rules, were told they’d been rejected without reason or explanation. Among them was an American citizen named Najeeb, who’d spent months in Djibouti trying to secure visas for his family, including his eldest daughter Shaima, who was born with cerebral palsy. After we interviewed him, the case was cited in Supreme Court arguments against the travel ban -- but that wasn’t enough to overturn it. In June 2018, the court upheld the ban in a 5-4 decision, closing the door to countless Yemenis trying to reunite with family in the United States. Fault Lines reports on how Najeeb and others are coping, as the war in Yemen continues to get worse. More from Fault Lines on: YouTube - http://aje.io/faultlinesYT Facebook - https://facebook.com/AJFaultLines Twitter - https://twitter.com/AJFaultLines Website - http://aljazeera.com/faultlines/ - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Donald Trump: All the President's Profits | Fault Lines
Oct 17 2018 26 mins  
As a candidate, Donald Trump railed against corruption on the campaign trail. And he used the perception of many Americans that their political system is rigged against them to win the White House. But as president, Trump has mixed private business and public duties in unprecedented ways. Previous US presidents put their financial assets into a blind trust and sold their businesses before inauguration, to avoid the possibility of conflicts of interest. But Trump refused to divest from the more than 500 companies he owns under the umbrella of the Trump Organization. Instead, he put them into a trust and handed over day-to-day management to his sons. "When Donald Trump said he was giving up running the businesses and putting it into a trust, I literally erupted in laughter. Donald Trump doesn't run any businesses, he is not a competent businessman. He leaves it up to other people. And furthermore, the trust that Donald set up, the sons have said they tell dad what's going on in the business," says David Cay Johnston, editor of DC Report and author of The Making of Donald Trump and It's Even Worse Than You Think. "He can reach in and withdraw money at any time. Whether or not he has done so, we don't know. But this is not anything at all like a blind trust. This is like what you expect to see in a family business posing as a country," he adds. The overlap between Trump's business activities and his role as president has given rise to allegations that he is leveraging his office for personal gain. These charges are laid out in a series of lawsuits, which allege that Trump is violating the Emoluments Clauses of the US Constitution, by accepting payments or benefits from foreign states as well as federal and state governments. The attorney general for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, calls the Emoluments Clauses the United States' "oldest anti-corruption law." With the attorney general of Maryland, Racine has brought a lawsuit (known as D.C. and Maryland v. Trump) focused on the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and the payments or benefits from foreign and domestic governments the president may be receiving there. Fault Lines examines how the president's business dealings may have put him in conflict with the US constitution. And in a fractious mid-term election season, we ask constitutional law scholars and international corruption experts why it matters for democracy in the US.

Adoption Inc: The Baby Business | Fault Lines
Oct 10 2018 25 mins  
The only place Florence and Jennifer see their children now is in photos. Five years ago, they sent them to stay with their sister Mariam. But when they returned to collect them their children had disappeared. Mariam claimed she had put them in a boarding school after she had been approached by an agent who promised the children a free education. But that promise turned out to be a conduit for international adoption - and by the time the sisters even suspected something was wrong, their children were no longer theirs. The children had been taken to the United States - legally adopted without their mothers' knowledge. Jennifer and Florence are among numerous families in Uganda whose children have been lost to international adoption - an industry that isn't being driven by a supply of orphans in need of homes but by demand from the US. [They said] "Barbara, we need more children, we need children, we have families waiting here, we need children," recalls Barbara Ndibalakera, who worked for an American adoption agency. Her job was to find children to be adopted. "I used to tell them 'these children are not in a market, they are not for sale'." More than 1,600 Ugandan children have been adopted to the US since 1999. But how many of them were actually orphans and how many had parents who wanted them? And who is responsible? Fault Lines teamed up with the Investigative Fund to explore the market in Uganda's children and how the spike in US families seeking to adopt from abroad has paved the way for exploitation and fraud. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

No Shelter: Family Separation at the Border | Fault Lines
Sep 11 2018 26 mins  
In May, the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance” immigration policy, resulting in the separation of thousands of families who crossed the US border from Mexico -- with no clear plan to reunite them. In hundreds of cases, parents were deported without their children back to the same country, and the same violence, they were fleeing. In Honduras, we tracked down two fathers who were deported without their children, and told us they were denied the right to claim asylum. Family separation is just one way the Trump administration is narrowing the path to asylum. The Trump administration is also making it harder for people to seek asylum by stationing border agents in the middle of bridges connecting the U.S. and Mexico and turning asylum seekers away. In early August, on the bridge connecting Ciudad Juarez, Mexico with El Paso, Texas, the team witnessed two teenage siblings from Guatemala being turned away as they tried to claim asylum and told there was no space for them. Half an hour later, as border agents noticed the crew filming, they allowed the siblings in. Fault Lines also investigated alleged coercive tactics by immigration officials. Parents being held in New Mexico spoke exclusively to Fault Lines, saying that they were reunited with their children - only to be separated a few hours later by immigration officials. They said they were placed in detention again after they refused to sign a form that would have waived their children’s claim to asylum. “They were pressuring us,” a father said from detention. As the Trump administration continues to pursue an immigration policy that makes it more difficult for some to claim asylum in the U.S., families impacted by “zero tolerance” are left to deal with the emotional trauma of their separation -- and a loss of hope that they will be able to escape the violence they fled in the first place.

American Sheriff: When Power Goes Unchecked | Fault Lines
May 09 2018 26 mins  
In large parts of the US, sheriffs are the only form of law enforcement and do everything from running the jails to patrolling the streets. Sheriffs and their deputies account for one-quarter of all sworn law enforcement officers in the US. But unlike police or the FBI who have clear oversight and a chain of command holding them accountable, sheriffs are elected in often highly partisan elections. Many sheriffs don't have term limits and once they are elected, there are very few checks on their power. They can only be removed when the public votes against them. "They have this huge amount of autonomy, huge amount of independence, huge amount of authority. They make decisions that really dramatically affect people's lives, including life and death questions. That always breeds problems when you have a lot of authority and not a lot of accountability," says Mirya Holman, professor of political science at Tulane University. Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is the longest serving sheriff in Massachusetts and is known for his tough-on-crime approach. But in recent years he has made news for the high suicide rate in his jails. "Jail should never be a country club. And anyone who has spent time at our facilities will tell you that they are the furthest thing from a country club. And we know our approach is working," says Hodgson. Fault Lines travelled to two very different places, Bristol County, Massachusetts and New Iberia Louisiana, to investigate what can happen when the power of a sheriff goes unchecked. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Puerto Rico: Shelter After the Storm | Fault Lines
May 02 2018 25 mins  
For decades, Puerto Rico's status as a US territory has been a source of political, social, and economic conflict on the island. The 3.5 million American citizens who reside there have no voting representation in Congress. Now Puerto Rico is fighting for its survival in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in September 2017. Maria was the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 90 years. More than 1,000 people died from the storm and its aftermath. It cut a path straight across the island, destroyed 70,000 homes and left at least 250,000 homes badly damaged. Krystal Torres and her daughters lost everything in the storm. Their house - like tens of thousands of others - was flattened, so they have had to rent a room in a neighbour's house. "It fell apart completely. Everything was lost ... every time I look at the spot where my house was - many nights I have stopped there to cry," Krystal says. She wants to "continue buying things, little by little, until we can at least rebuild the floor." Rebuilding housing is projected to be the most expensive part of reconstruction, mounting more costs on top of an already staggering debt crisis. What's more, roughly half of Puerto Rican housing is considered "informal" - homes built without a permit, and often not to code. These low-income communities were the hardest hit by the storm. The main challenges to rebuild are the level of investment, political will, and the significant time needed to formalise and improve infrastructure in these neighbourhoods - a task that has been neglected for generations. "The members of Congress do not think of Puerto Rico as a part of their constituency and responsibility, and that is what is underneath this crisis," says Ana Maria Archila from the Center for Popular Democracy. "It is a crisis of democracy as much as it's a climate crisis, as much as it's an economic crisis." With the next Atlantic Hurricane season due to start again soon, the island's most vulnerable communities - still recovering from the storm of the century - feel they are on their own. Fault Lines went to investigate how Puerto Ricans are coping six months after Hurricane Maria and why some of the island's poorest residents are being denied federal aid to rebuild. More from Fault Lines on: YouTube - http://aje.io/faultlinesYT Facebook - https://facebook.com/AJFaultLines Twitter - https://twitter.com/AJFaultLines Website - http://aljazeera.com/faultlines/ - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Fire and Fury: Trump's North Korea Crisis - Fault Lines
Apr 18 2018 26 mins  
As Donald Trump prepared to take office, his predecessor Barack Obama warned that North Korea would be the greatest challenge of his presidency. But rather than proceed with caution, President Trump responded to a series of intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests with bellicose rhetoric, warning North Korea's threats would "be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." By the end of 2017, US fears of a conflict with North Korea that might escalate into a nuclear war had never been higher. Then in March, the White House surprised everyone, by announcing out of nowhere that Trump would hold face-to-face talks with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un. The high-stakes summit is slated to take place in May or June, but the outcome remains hard to predict. North Korea's isolation makes it difficult to read. And over the past year, the Trump administration's messaging toward North Korea has been as inconsistent as it has been provocative. "Past administrations didn't always get it right, and Lord knows the Obama administration made many mistakes. But we really worked hard to try to coordinate our message," says director of the Nuclear Crisis Group, Jon Wolfsthal. "Here it seems this administration, even a year in, has trouble coordinating the most basic strategy for communications. Are we open to dialogue or not? Are we prepared to negotiate or not? Are there preconditions for our discussions with North Korea or not?" Over the course of three eventful months, Fault Lines spoke with a range of Washington insiders in an effort to understand Donald Trump's North Korea strategy. They include former US government officials, policy-makers and intelligence analysts who combined have spent more than 100 years working on North Korea. The result is a portrait of an impulsive brand of leadership in which personality confounds policy, with far-reaching consequences for North Korea, US allies in East Asia, and the United States. More from Fault Lines on: YouTube - http://aje.io/faultlinesYT Facebook - https://facebook.com/AJFaultLines Twitter - https://twitter.com/AJFaultLines Website - http://aljazeera.com/faultlines/ - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

Trump's War on Gangs | Fault Lines
Apr 11 2018 24 mins  
US President Donald Trump's administration has declared war on the MS-13 gang. The "war on gangs" is a large-scale effort taking place in major cities across the US, with profound impacts on the communities being targeted. Long Island, New York and surrounding areas have been hit especially hard. In the past year, the US government has arrested hundreds of people in this region as part of the crackdown on MS-13. Many of the arrests have taken place in immigrant neighbourhoods, targeting residents from Central America. MS-13 was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s by migrants who fled civil unrest in El Salvador. Since then - and largely due to US deportation policies - the gang has spread to El Salvador and other parts of Central America, as well as several cities across the US. The gang has also become more visible in recent years in the US, gaining national notoriety after a string of murders in Long Island and the Washington, DC, region. In Long Island's Suffolk County, MS-13 was linked to at least 17 killings in 2016 and 2017. On a visit to the county last year, Donald Trump used those murders to announce a federal crackdown on the gang, and also call for stronger immigration policies. He claimed MS-13 violence was the result of "weak borders", suggesting gang members had been allowed to sneak into the US as unaccompanied minors - a term given to children who cross the US border alone - often to escape gang violence in their home countries. "You don't blanket an entire community and project this issue onto every young person, tying it in to immigration status and the unaccompanied minors. You don't talk about those things in tandem," says Sergio Argueta, founder of STRONG Youth, a local gang prevention programme. In May 2017, local police in the region partnered with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to target, arrest and deport MS-13 members as part of a joint operation known as "Operation Matador". Since then, the US government says it has arrested at least 239 people linked to MS-13. It is unclear how many of those remain detained or have been deported. "They were disappearing into the immigration detention system, and it often took parents days or weeks to even figure out where they were, much less to get them released and brought back home," says lawyer Paige Austin. Austin was one of the lawyers that worked on a lawsuit regarding the haphazard detainment of unaccompanied minors in the Long Island area last year. So is the so-called war on gangs really about MS-13? Correspondent Natasha del Toro and the Fault Lines team travelled to Long Island to meet some of the hidden victims of the crackdown - exploring how, in many cases, unaccompanied minors have been targeted and detained, without sufficient evidence to tie them to MS-13. We also examine the relationship between ICE and local police, and how that partnership has spread fear in immigrant communities - leaving young, Central American teenagers in particular feeling trapped between a gang and the US government. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

This is Antifa: Behind the mask of the US anti-fascist movement - Fault Lines
Apr 04 2018 25 mins  
Ever since the video of a black-clad anarchist punching white supremacist leader Richard Spencer went viral on the day of Donald Trump's inauguration, the loosely-knit anti-fascist movement known as Antifa has gained new popularity and scrutiny in the United States. Antifa is a fringe movement, a loose collection of organisations and ideas with no party line and no formal leadership, but their fight against the far right has found centre stage in the polarised climate of Trump's America. "When the fascists stick their head out of the ground, and say, 'we're going to be here on this day, to march in support of our white greatness', that's gross. And that's when people organise, get together, and bash the fash," says a medic who tends to the wounded at street protests. The first year of Trump's presidency saw an increase in hate crimes and racist violence, and Antifa has often responded to that threat with violence of their own. The rise of violent conflict across the country "is not surprising when we have a president who openly talks about beating people up and is fanning the flames of hatred and division," says Jesse Arreguin, the mayor of Berkeley, California. His city has seen a number of clashes between Antifa and right wing activists. Fault Lines travelled to Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle, to get a rare glimpse behind the mask of Antifa - whose activists are determined to fight the rise of white supremacist groups in the US by any means. And while Antifa's unique brand of resistance has lent the movement new fame, their high-profile acts of political violence and controversial street tactics to counter hate crimes present strategic dilemmas for the left. "Punching people in the face or advocating censorship or the abolition of free speech is a very dangerous road to begin to walk down," says Chris Hedges, who has written multiple essays criticising Antifa and believes that the real fight is not with fringe groups but with corporate and government forces. "It's always the left that pays." "We have very dark, sinister, totalitarian forces that are snuffing out the last vestiges of American democracy. And we better revolt, we better respond. Carrying out these kinds of street confrontations, plays right into the hands of these centres of power," says Hedges. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/

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