VICE (2013) s05e25 Episode Script

Dark Web & Future of Appalachia

1 SHANE SMITH: This week on Vice: combating crime on the Web.
(KIDS GIGGLING) SHIHAB-ELDIN: You've been in less than a minute and you have four private messages.
SMITH: And then, the fight for jobs in coal country.
We're a couple of miles deep into the mountain.
This is the most terrifying place to be if you're claustrophobic.
MAN: This community is founded on coal.
There's nothing else.
(THEME MUSIC PLAYING) YEUNG: Go, go, go! REFUGEE: We are not animals! Never in human history has there been such universal access to information.
Now, this has been the result of the spread of the Internet around the world.
But this increased connectivity also has a dark side, allowing global criminal economies to flourish online.
We embedded with the agents from the Department of Homeland Security, as they scramble to combat this burgeoning sector of the Internet.
AHMED SHIHAB-ELDIN: We're at an undisclosed location where an undercover agent with HSI has been tracking a woman in the Philippines, who has been exploiting children, including her own daughter, to perform sex acts online.
The undercover agent, who we'll call Mike, is posing as a pedophile who wants to buy an online sex show featuring young children.
"Please, all girls are here now.
" Doggie style, spread legs SHIHAB-ELDIN: The suspected pimp is located in the Philippines, so Mike is sharing this evidence in real time with anti-trafficking agents in Manila who are gearing up to raid the location.
(HORNS HONK) (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) SHIHAB-ELDIN: The woman puts the children on camera, giving Mike the evidence he needs to launch the operation.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: So, the youngest is five, and the oldest is 13, and there's seven of them.
(IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) - (CHILDREN SOBBING) - Mommy! (IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (SOBBING CONTINUES) (CHILDREN SPEAKING INDISTINCTLY) How are you feeling? SHIHAB-ELDIN: The global production of child pornography has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and the number of images and videos being distributed online is skyrocketing.
One of the biggest markets for this illicit material is the US.
So, each pin represents a individual IP address where child pornography files are being shared within the last hour.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: So this is right now? This is right now, and this will keep going.
- It's not stopping? - No, and it won't.
It will literally cover the whole country eventually.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Analysts here comb through vast quantities of sexual abuse imagery, looking for clues to identify perpetrators and victims.
In 2015, they analyzed more than 7,500 terabytes of data, or the equivalent of almost 100 years of video.
Division Chief Mike Prado acknowledged his team is facing an uphill battle.
The enormity of the problem is undebatable.
Back in the late '90s, when the Internet really became ubiquitous across the United States, um, we saw a major increase in child exploitation material being traded and trafficked.
Unfortunately, as we continue to see the use of the Internet grow in developing countries, we've seen that problem continue to exponentially grow.
What kind of resources does it take to do this? We're seeing increases on average of about 20 to 30 percent every year, each year, in the amount of data that our forensic examiners have to go through.
So, I mean, it is a full-time, 24-hours-a-day operation, going through this material.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Stopping the spread of these digital images is crucial, because a recent government study showed that more than half of the individuals who admitted to watching child porn, also admitted to physically abusing a child.
Back in the Philippines, HSI Special Agent Mike, was investigating a case that followed this type of escalation.
So, this guy, how long have you been talking to him? SHIHAB-ELDIN: We followed Mike to a restaurant, where he'd arranged to meet his target, known as Kim.
Although he's never met Kim, he's seen plenty of pictures of the girls he was selling.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Once the deal was made, Kim expected an easy payday for bringing underage girls to a sex party at Mike's rented condo.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Which is what? SHIHAB-ELDIN: One strike team was staged in an apartment down the hall, while another set up in the condo's master bedroom to record the evidence.
(LAUGHING) SHIHAB-ELDIN: As soon as Kim takes the money, the strike team can move in.
Go, go, go! Go! MAN: Hey! (GIRLS CRYING) SHIHAB-ELDIN: Kim's crimes now carry a mandatory life sentence in the Philippines.
But as we learned the next day, Kim wasn't willing to pay that price.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: What happened yesterday? Unfortunately, um he committed suicide.
While in custody, Kim hung himself with the cord of an electric fan.
Apprehending a single predator is difficult enough, but it doesn't compare to the challenge of rehabilitating the tens of thousands of Filipino children who are abused each year.
It's up to nonprofits, like the Preda Foundation, to help them begin the long road to recovery.
(SCREAMING, SOBBING) (IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (SOBBING CONTINUES) SHIHAB-ELDIN: Counselor Eresa Venson can personally attest that this therapy works.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: While places like Preda do their best, they simply can't cope with the sheer volume of children showing up at their doors.
And as Internet access spreads further into poor communities across the Philippines, the reports of abuse have grown exponentially to almost 50,000 cases in 2015.
The difficult part of this job is that we can't do more, that there is only so many hours in a day.
There's only so many agents and detectives and police officers that have the ability, the time, the resources to devote to this problem, because we know, at the end of the day, when we go home, that this material is continuing to be produced.
There's no doubt that more can and should be done across the board.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: While authorities struggle to contain the spread of child porn, a radical experiment is underway, that might turn the tide in the fight against online predators.
(GIRL'S VOICE) SHIHAB-ELDIN: Sweetie, an avatar of an 11-year-old Filipino girl, was created by a Dutch NGO called Terre Des Hommes as a digital solution to a digital problem.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: One of Sweetie's operators agreed to show us just how effective she is at identifying predators.
(COMPUTER CHIMES) SHIHAB-ELDIN: You've been in less than a minute and you have four private messages.
"What about your pussy?" How many people are in this chat? SHIHAB-ELDIN: Sweetie is the brainchild of Hans Guijt, one of the directors at Terre Des Hommes.
The moment you go online and pretend to be a 10- or 11-year-old child from the Philippines, they just jump on you.
And they're so eager that actually they volunteer all sorts of information which you can use to identify the perpetrators.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: During a 10-week test, Sweetie's four operators were able to identify over 1,000 men from 71 countries.
GUIJT: They did an incredible job, but they only covered 19 chat rooms on the Internet.
So, 19 chat rooms is nothing.
We need to scale up.
You can no longer work with human operators.
You need to look for an alternative, and the alternative is artificial intelligence, the application of chatbots, and that's exactly what we're doing.
SHIHAB-ELDIN: Sweetie 2.
0 will have sophisticated new avatars based on motion capture technology, and will be fully automated so that a virtual army of Sweetie-bots can patrol the Web, identifying potential predators on an industrial scale.
GUIJT: Instead of conducting three of four chats with individuals, we'll have hundreds of conversations simultaneously.
One of our objectives is to make sure that law enforcement will take over this work.
We have to do something about it.
And the only way to do something about it is to look on the Internet, and find out who is sitting on the other side of the webcam.
The coal industry became one of the focal points of the 2016 election, with President Trump making the return of coal mining a central campaign promise.
We're going to save the coal industry! We're going to save that coal industry! Believe me, we're gonna save it.
SMITH: But in the span of just one year, three of America's largest coal companies filed for bankruptcy and dozens of mines closed, leaving the sector reeling.
So we sent Isobel Yeung to the heart of coal country to see what it will take to revitalize this controversial industry in America.
(COAL CART CLATTERING) We are heading right into the belly of a coal mine in Eastern Kentucky where they're extracting what looks like a hell of a lot of coal.
(HORN HONKS) We're a couple of miles deep into the mountain.
I'll tell you, this is the most terrifying place to be if you're claustrophobic.
Each side you can see these deep, kind of, caves.
They've all been blocked off, sealed off.
That's where they've already extracted all the coal they can.
So we're having to go deeper and deeper into the mountain.
(LOUD THUD) (MACHINERY WHIRRING) There used to be about 900 or so people working on this site at any given time.
Now there's about 200.
YEUNG: Advances in technology have revolutionized coal mining.
But this machinery, paired with the rise of cheap natural gas, has led to a huge decline in coal jobs.
This has miners like Bridgett Cowden worried about their future.
Coal has been in my family for centuries.
You know, grandpas, great-grandpas.
I remember when I was little bitty, my papaw would come in and he'd be all black.
And I'd get in his little bucket pretending that I was in the coal mines.
And that was when I was five, six year old.
But here, right now, you're lucky to get a job.
I've been in quite a few mines, just in Perry County that shut down because they just, they couldn't afford it.
You must have seen a lot of people get laid off.
Yeah, a lot of good friends got laid off, you know, and it's hard.
You just, you thank the Lord every day for a job.
Are you hopeful that Trump's gonna turn things around? I'm hoping.
He promised he was going to do what he could, and Hillary I was for Hillary, I'm just gonna be honest, at first, until she said that she wasn't for coal, and that was it for me.
I didn't have nothing else.
I was gonna vote for Trump.
Do you think a lot of people felt the same way about that? In coal mines, yes, they did.
YEUNG: For the first half of the 20th century, coal was America's primary source of energy, and a lucrative industry.
But over the last three decades, coal jobs have declined 70 percent, and economists like Dr.
Erik Brynjolfsson doubt that they'll ever return.
There's no way it's economically viable to restart most of the coal mines.
It's simply a fact that coal has become uncompetitive versus natural gas, and increasingly, solar, hydro, wind power.
So hard-minded capitalists are looking at that and saying this is not an industry that we want to invest in, and there's no point in trying to reverse that tide.
What's the significance of Appalachia and the coal country as a whole, when it comes to the US economy at-large? I think Appalachia is symptomatic of the biggest economic challenge that our society faces today.
The powerful forces of technology are fundamentally transforming our economy.
Cars are beginning to drive themselves.
Machines are diagnosing diseases.
This is a whole new ball game, and it's having fundamental effects on the nature of the workforce.
Sadly, I think most of the US economy is not very well prepared.
YEUNG: Coal has not only been central to Appalachia's economy, but also to its history and culture.
State Representative Chris Harris took us on a tour of his constituency, starting with a recently closed mine.
Most of the communities in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, were built on those people who came here to work in the mines.
There was a tremendous recruitment effort at Ellis Island to bring people to the Appalachian region to work in the coal mines, because they could offer you a home to live in.
They could educate your kids and give you a job.
And those are things that people really wanted when they came to this country, looking for the American Dream.
People here aren't they're not in love with coal.
They're in love with the American Dream, and it's being taken away from us.
YEUNG: Since the entire local community relies on coal, the ripple effects of its decline are being felt far beyond the mines.
Terri Blake and her husband have owned this once-thriving hardware store for the last 28 years.
This is what we've done all of our life.
How's business? Keeps getting worse over the last three years.
To the point where you wonder if you're gonna be able to hold on another month.
How well was business doing a few years ago, - and how bad are things now? - I'm off at least 35 percent.
That's basically to say, if you was doing a hundred thousand a month, I'm down to 65 thousand a month.
There is no profit left after that.
So, I mean, it just trickles all the way down from the top.
The coal mine shuts down, you know, it shuts something else down, then it shuts something else down, and that's where we're at now.
There's no money left.
The individuals that's living here have even had to take over the lighting system here in Warfield, just to have lights at nighttime.
So, individuals have to pay for the streetlights? Well, yeah.
Because we have no money coming into our town anymore that paid for the streetlights.
Coal is our industry here.
This is how we make our living.
When coal hurts, we all hurt.
YEUNG: And while the market continues to work against coal, the people who are hit hardest are often families who can't afford to leave.
Virginia Williams and her family have struggled to make ends meet after her husband was laid off from the mines.
I found a job at 7-Eleven.
With the both of us working now, makes up his one income.
We've been getting creative a long time.
So, it's like, spaghetti, you know, you can get the dollar-can.
But, uh, you make it do.
Some days, it's a lot of potatoes.
(BEEPS) VIRGINIA: Well, the Food City card saved, uh It saved you $2.
08 today.
That's a good deal.
I worked in the mines for 12 years.
I was one of the unfortunate ones that got laid off.
YEUNG: John has spent the last three years in and out of work.
For the past two months, he's been working as a contractor for a fraction of the pay.
YEUNG: Is it steady work you have now? Yes, it is.
The pay is not as good as what the mine's was.
You had to take a pay cut? About $17 an hour difference.
YEUNG: That means at least $35,000 less per year for a family of eight, which has left John holding onto hope that coal jobs will return.
This is the last hat that I wore.
Uh, I wore it underground.
This is probably the same one I would wear if I went back.
YEUNG: What do you think it is about working in coal mines that people from outside of this region misunderstand? That we can afford to not have it.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm all for being green, I'm all for solar power, wind power, you know, all that.
But this community and this area, is founded on coal.
There's nothing else.
And for it to not be here is disastrous for this area.
YEUNG: But it doesn't have to be.
It now falls on the next generation to consider a future without coal.
I'm hoping that with technologies advancing and different things like that, we can establish our own sort of, uh industry, so to speak, here, and maybe help bring it back.
That's kind of the plan and kind of the hope, you know? - That's the dream? - That's the goal.
YEUNG: The Williams kids are enrolled at Belfry High School.
In spite of significant losses in enrollment and federal funding, the school is working to provide their students with opportunities outside the coal mines.
How do you guys feel about coal? I mean, growing up with it and seeing the decline of it over the last few years? One of our advantages is disillusionment.
You know, we've always kind of known what's at stake.
And we've always kind of known that you need to do good in school and you need to go to college, because it's not gonna be there.
Everyone knows how hard it is right now.
All of a sudden, people have had to shift their life views from saying, "I'm gonna be a manual laborer," to, "I'm gonna go for a larger education.
" And a lot of people are scared about that.
You think the value of an education has increased? - Because of - As the need has increased, the value has increased.
That's why they've tried to start new initiatives, you know, start from scratch.
One of those things is technology.
YEUNG: With no reliable future in coal for graduating students, the school has tried to add more classes in technology and business that can potentially create new industries in the region.
So, what is this you're doing here? Well, what we're doing is we're 3D printing custom foot orthotics for different foot disorders like flatfoot.
What we intend to do is get the prescriptions from the podiatrists and fill the prescriptions with a scanner.
We intend to, uh, make a business out of this.
YEUNG: What do you think the solutions are when it comes to fixing the future for Appalachia? We need to embrace this change and not try to freeze the past.
There's no better time in history to be someone with an idea that can be encapsulated in a digital form and replicated, but that requires a revolution in our educational system to transition people there.
YEUNG: While an investment in education could help save Appalachia's future generations, its current workforce is hoping that a revolution in entrepreneurship and technology in the region could capitalize on the thousands of people struggling for jobs today.
Hillbillies coding is like the Jamaican bobsled team.
It just, it resonates in people's imagination.
Bit Source founders Rusty Justice and Lynn Parrish believe cultivating a tech industry in Appalachia, can diversify the economy and create new jobs.
From an outside perspective, it's not an obvious fit to go from working in a coal mine to coding.
How easy is it to train people who have worked in coal mines to code? A lot easier than you might think.
YEUNG: How does this work compare to your previous work? You know, something that you have to understand is that mining is a high-tech industry.
So, it's not it's not a radical transition.
But, you know, it's also a scary transition, you know, to go, at my age It's a culture shock.
YEUNG: While Bit Source only employs about ten former miners, it does show the region is eager to expand programs in new industries.
We had the idea, then we thought, "Well, maybe we can find, you know, 50 folks that will apply.
This is just a theory.
" So, we advertised, and we had 950 applicants for ten jobs.
- Wow.
- Which speaks to the magnitude of the problem.
YEUNG: Emerging start-ups like this rely on federal funding through programs like the Appalachian Regional Commission.
But President Trump has already proposed to slash these efforts from his next budget, leaving it to the people of Appalachia to move the economy forwards.
BRYNJOLFSSON: The strategy of trying to go backwards into the past has never worked for the United States.
The successful strategy has always been to embrace the future, embrace new industries.
America has been the greatest economy in the world, and we have the potential to continue to be the greatest economy, but it really depends entirely on our choices.