VICE (2013) s06e14 Episode Script

Opioid Generation & Hindustan

1 SHANE SMITH: This week on Vice: the children of America's opioid crisis.
MARYCLAIRE AKERS: Here we have great-grandparents raising children because there's no one to take care of the kids.
(CRYING) More and more babies are being born in withdrawal from opioids.
SHANE: And then Hindu nationalism in India.
(MAN SHOUTS) KRISHNA: I'm about to meet up with a group of self-fashioned cow protectors as they patrol the streets to try to stop illegal cow smugglers.
When you see someone slaughtering a cow, what do you feel? (SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (THEME MUSIC PLAYING) (CROWD SHOUTING) They're saying that right now, it's time for change, (SHOUTING) Two years ago in Season Four, we reported on the rise of the opioid epidemic.
which today has grown into one of the worst health crises in US history.
It's sad when you can drive around the city and you remember places by who overdosed and died.
The CDC estimates that in 2016 alone, over 42,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses, prompting the Trump administration to declare a public health emergency.
We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.
We can do it.
But there is also a parallel urgent situation emerging that we hear little about: the children neglected and even abandoned by addicted parents.
So, we sent Isobel Yeung to West Virginia, ground zero of the opioid epidemic, to report on this tragic collateral crisis.
(POLICE SIREN BLARING) DISPATCH (OVER RADIO): Be advised, self-fire detainee in the area, of, um, 1014 Elm Street.
MAN (OVER RADIO): Copy.
An overdose at Walnut.
What was the cross street? Lemme look at her.
Oh, she's overdosing.
Yeah, that's what we said.
We're trying to help.
Can you breathe? Can you hear me, honey? - Yeah.
- Yeah, she was Get that get that ice off of her.
That constricts their veins, buddy, Makes it harder for the medics.
You bring Narcan! I got gloves! There you go, honey, breathe.
- Recognize her? - If she pukes, just hold her back.
- How long has she been here? - WOMAN: Literally five minutes.
Five to five to seven minutes.
OFFICER THOMAS: I literally saw her at Emmanuel Baptist 15 minutes ago, so it can't be that long.
Give about half of it.
Tesia, can you hear me? Come on, Tesia, wake up! - There she goes.
- There she is, yeah.
- (COUGHING) - There you go.
Okay, all right.
Lean up.
Just lean up.
Don't want you to choke.
Hey, talk to me a second.
- Hey.
What's going on? - I got your hair.
Have seizures? Okay.
All right.
Does heroin or anything like that make you sick? THOMAS: I'm not trying to get you in trouble, but I need to know, what did you take? We already know that you took heroin.
We know you took heroin, but how much did you take? Did you take white, brown, what? I don't know.
She already had it in a rig, and then she jumped on me.
So she gave you the heroin - Then she beat you up? - TESIA: Yeah.
That makes no sense.
Tesia, you got to get it together, honey.
(INDISTINCT CHATTER) Just came across this woman on the way to another scene.
These cops are saying that they're here constantly, saving people's lives.
It seemed like you knew what you were doing there.
- You helped her out.
- Any any anytime I can help someone out, because there was a time that someone was helping me out.
The way I've gotten it, I've narrowed it down to literally two overdoses a month.
At the rate I'm going, I may not see 32.
Do you have kids? Do you have any family? Yes, I do.
And it's affected them tremendously, because I'm not the father that I once was.
Can I say something without being disrespectful to you? I've been sitting over here, listening to you talk.
I'll help you any way I can.
These guys will help you any way they can.
You know that.
Get back with your kids, man.
Come on.
- Good luck, man.
- All right.
(CHILD CRIES) ISOBEL: The frightening rate of overdoses and addiction is having a disturbing effect on children across the country.
The opioid crisis has created an avalanche of neglected children.
We see a large number of infants being born addicted to opioids.
More and more children are being removed from homes due to their parents' opioid addiction.
ISOBEL: There are over two million people addicted to opioids nationwide.
And in West Virginia, addiction has led to the highest rates of overdose deaths in the country, leaving grave concerns for the next generation.
We've managed to track down Tesia who is the lady that we saw overdosing.
We're driving right now just outside of Charleston, to her mother's house, where she's staying.
How many times have you overdosed in the last couple of months? That was actually the only time.
It makes me feel, you know, really bad, 'cause I'd hate for my daughter to have to hear about her mom dying from an overdose.
You can't bring up a daughter around that lifestyle.
It's not fair to her.
When my daughter was born, I didn't know much about how to raise a baby or anything.
Um I was just so depressed and angry with myself (SNIFFLES) so I turned to the only thing that I really had which was, uh, drugs.
What's at stake? I mean, what happens if you don't get clean? I feel like not only will I end up losing my daughter for good, I'll probably end up losing myself for good, too.
The deeper and deeper you go into this, the harder it is to climb back out.
ISOBEL: Tesia is one of a growing number of parents who lost custody of their children due to substance abuse.
And around West Virginia, almost everyone we met was affected in some way by opioids, including Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.
(BIG BAND MUSIC PLAYING) DANNY: Charleston, West Virginia, baby.
Oh yeah, that's it.
Kick it, baby.
- (MUSIC CONTINUES) - (CROWD WHOOPING) Mmm.
We have a couple of callers that have called in.
Isobel is with me.
She's with the show Vice.
Now, let me tell you what we're doing in the studio today.
We're talking about opioid crisis, and we all have our own nuanced solutions to this.
So, we have a regional jail out here that ought to be doubled in size, if it has to be some kind of forced recovery process.
And however long they have to stay out there they have to stay out there.
James, you have a problem you want to share with us? that affected a member of your family? (JAMES SPEAKS ON PHONE) Do you not think that it's that it might be better if family members stay together through this, or you think that it's total separation is the best way forward? (JAMES SPEAKS) And, Steve, go ahead.
(STEVE SPEAKS ON PHONE) - Good.
- Hi, Steve.
DANNY: I think jail works as an immediate solution, because number one, you'll save the addict's life.
Number two, you'll get them away from all the people that they're affecting in a negative way.
And obviously you're speaking from personal experience, because you've locked your own son up in jail before.
I think I had him arrested two or three times, NEWSWOMAN: The son of Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, has been in the news for years, battling a drug addiction.
DANNY: I spent a lot of money trying to fix him.
To think that I'm not compassionate, I mean, doesn't understand my history, and it also doesn't understand the the history of people that have been through this, that have just said, "Enough.
" ISOBEL: Across West Virginia, courts are seeing a growing number of criminal and child custody cases as a result of opioid-addicted parents.
We spoke with Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Maryclaire Akers, who has recently seen her work increasingly involve children impacted by the crisis.
What proportion of the cases that you take on - are opioid related? - Phew! Ninety percent or higher.
In 2008, we took 285 children out of their homes.
In 2016, we 656 children.
That's just in our county.
How is the foster care system coping with the influx of children who were impacted by the opioid crisis? That system is overwhelmed and broken.
We have great-grandparents raising children because their children and their children's children have gotten addicted and there's no one to take care of the kids.
ISOBEL: As a direct result of children being removed from addicted family members, the West Virginia foster care system has grown from around 4,000 kids in 2015 to nearly 7,000 today.
Children like Zachery, Eliana, and Asia, whose mother and grandmother struggled with addiction, were bounced around the foster system before being adopted by their great-aunt, Donna.
DONNA: You can do it.
Don't be a chicken.
They could just tell you stories that children shouldn't even know anything about.
They just tell it like they're talking about "What's for dinner?" You gonna teach me some skills? (LAUGHING) I can't teach you nothing, really.
You will not be intimidated, will you? ELIANA: We never got really got to know our real mom, you know? We went in and out of CPS a lot.
and I forgot where we went, but she was very mean and abusive.
- She'd hit us with a yardstick.
- Yeah.
We'd have to stand up on the wall like that.
Like you were getting searched - at an airport or something.
- Yeah.
And she'd make us stay like that for at least 15 minutes at a time.
So how many different foster families have you guys been with? - A lot.
A bunch.
- Yeah.
Some of 'em we can't even remember - Yeah.
- but we know we've been there.
Then we go to counseling for the stuff and we have depression and anxiety anxiety and stuff.
Whenever I'm in really big spaces, I feel like the world's gonna tip upside down I'm gonna fall and I get really dizzy.
I would never wish what we went through on anybody.
ISOBEL: But those even younger have fallen victim to the crisis, with some children exposed to opioids before they even leave the womb.
- (BABY FUSSING) - WOMAN: I know.
PAT BOSWELL: Okay, I'm taking her temperature.
We're here at Cabell Huntington Hospital where we're seeing one of the most devastating impacts of the opioid crisis here in West Virginia.
- (CRIES) - ISOBEL: Is that is that shaking? PAT: We would call this disturbed tremors, that's just one of their withdrawal symptoms.
ISOBEL: More and more babies like Malaysia are being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.
At just four weeks old, Malaysia's given twice-daily doses of methadone and clonidine to help her cope with her withdrawal symptoms.
How long does it typically take to stop a baby having withdrawal symptoms? Up to six months, sometimes even up to a year.
ISOBEL: I can't even imagine what you go through and what you see on a daily basis, and how hard it must be.
Most days you go home okay.
A few days you don't.
ISOBEL: Across the country, every 15 minutes a child is now born in withdrawal from parental opioid use, leading to a jump in child welfare cases that's forced federal lawmakers to finally take notice.
In just the time we're sitting here, eight infants will be born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and 10 people will die from an opioid-related overdose.
Congress has to continue its bipartisan work to combat this crisis by addressing both the root causes and the ripple effects of the opioid epidemic.
Failure is not an option.
Addiction is not our future.
ISOBEL: In 2018, the Trump administration will spend a record $4.
6 billion towards combating the epidemic.
But in 2015 alone, the national cost of the crisis was estimated to be more than $500 billion.
So, with little hope for comprehensive federal action, a West Virginia lawyer is taking up the fight on his own.
He's been hired to lead a national opioid prescription litigation by hundreds of affected counties that could pay out billions of dollars.
We have abandoned hope from the state, abandoned hope from the federal government.
We're no longer waiting for help.
I intend to put on a case of wrongful conduct and ask for a jury or a judge to make the distributors abate the epidemic.
What actually is the job of distributors? They have one very important role.
They have to monitor and detect suspicious orders, orders of unusual size, unusual frequency, or a deviation from a normal pattern.
So, when you think about the penetration of these drugs into our community, it really blew everybody's mind.
Over a six-year window, 780 million prescription opiates were delivered into West Virginia.
Now, we only have a population of less than two million.
This choke point in the chain of distribution utterly failed us for the past 20 years.
It suddenly made sense why we could no longer arrest our way out of the problem.
We're expecting these people who go into jail to come out and stay dry when they're in the middle of a monsoon.
And unfortunately, the epidemic is not just about the illness of those that are addicted, it's about the fallout with the children, in our community, in our court system, in our jails, in our schools.
Because we have a lost generation.
Over the last decade, we have seen a huge rise in nationalism around the globe.
(PEOPLE CHANTING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGES) - White lives matter! - But nowhere has it so thoroughly dominated politics, as in India, where Prime Minister Modi's ruling party, the BJP, is accused of deepening the divide between the majority Hindi population and Muslim and Christian communities.
Krishna Andavolu traveled to India to see this political and religious strife firsthand.
(BIRDS CHIRPING) (MOOING) So it's before the sun rises, early in the morning, and this is when these cows pee.
These guys are here with buckets, trying to catch that piss, 'cause they think these cows are very holy - and that the urine itself contains - (MOOS, PLOPS) medicinal qualities.
- He's going.
- (INDIAN MUSIC PLAYS) KRISHNA: Cows are so sacred in India, that their urine and feces are key ingredients in a multi-billion dollar industry of holistic products.
So, this is cow urine? - Distilled urine.
(MAN SPEAKS) Aha.
(MAN SPEAKS) So what's what's this? - Incense? - Yes.
What is it made out of? - This is cow dung? (LAUGHS) - Of course.
- (MAN SPEAKS) - KRISHNA: Uh-huh.
- Sure, in like the most organic way possible.
- Organic.
KRISHNA: Do you think that the cows are holy? (MAN SPEAKS) When you say "Indians," you mean "Hindus"? - (MAN SPEAKS) - Yeah.
KRISHNA: There are nearly one billion Hindus in India.
and as tension rise between them and minority populations, it's the cow which has become the center of an at times violent movement.
I'm a couple of hours outside of Delhi in small town called Meerut, and I'm about to meet up with a group of self-fashioned cow protectors.
I'm gonna ride along with them as they patrol the streets to try to stop illegal cow smugglers.
MAN: Come.
KRISHNA: Why is it so important for you as a Hindu to protect these cows? (SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (MAN SHOUTS) KRISHNA: A police officer has just arrived.
This group of cow protectors is setting up kind of a checkpoint here.
This.
This.
- (MEN SPEAK FOREIGN LANGUAGE) - RAJU: Ah! - (MAN SPEAKS) - (RAJU SPEAKS) - (MAN SPEAKS) - (RAJU SPEAKS) - MAN: Whoa! - KRISHNA: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! - (MEN SHOUTING) - KRISHNA: Here we go.
Informal checkpoints guarded by local Hindu citizens have been springing up across the country, and from what we saw, appear to exist with full cooperation of local authorities.
(SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (OFFICER SPEAKS) KRISHNA: The problem is what happens after they catch people who they think intend to slaughter cows.
The 20-year-old youth was lynched by a mob for his alleged role in cattle smuggling.
NEWSWOMAN 2: There's another lynching in Charka.
One person has been lynched over possession of beef.
KRISHNA: The victims of these reported cases are predominantly Muslim, who suffer everything from beatings to murder.
(MEN SHOUTING) When you see someone slaughtering a cow what do you feel? - (MAN SHOUTS) - (MEN SHOUT) KRISHNA: In many parts of the country, just the suspicion of eating beef can get you killed.
A 50-year-old man was beaten to death after rumors spread in the area that the family had eaten beef.
KRISHNA: In the case of Mohammad Akhlaq, a farmer who was killed by a Hindu mob in 2015, not only did police investigate his murder, but also his alleged beef consumption.
We spoke to Mohammad Akhlaq's brother about what happened.
(SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) The mob, they were Hindus? KRISHNA: One report found that 97% of all cow vigilante murders in the last decade have taken place after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in 2014.
To understand what's different about this recent spate of violence, we spoke to Dr.
Shashi Tharoor, a Hindu historian and author who served who served as the United Nations' Under-Secretary General and who is now an opposition member of India's Parliament.
India has had communal or religious violence throughout its history.
Is it worse now? There have been periodic eruptions, and certainly the worst was the partition of India in 1947, when the British carved Pakistan out of the stooped shoulders of India, and that witnessed a genocide and led to about a million people dying.
Obviously there's been nothing else like that since, but what was very important was that the state stood behind the secular principle that everybody's equal and that religion will not determine your rights in this country.
But, for the first time, we have a government which comes from an ideological background that actually calls into question their commitment to the equality principle of the constitution.
KRISHNA: That party is the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.
a right-wing party with close ties to Hindu nationalism.
Calling out the BJP's religious extremism has made Dr.
Tharoor a political target.
He's now caught up in a national scandal of his own.
MAN: We completely reject the charge against Shri Shashi Tharoor This is coming from the factory of lies of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
KRISHNA: As secularism wanes, many BJP leaders aren't shy about sharing their Hindu nationalist beliefs.
(SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (CROWD CHEERING) KRISHNA: And no BJP politician has been more brazen than Yogi Adityanath, an Islamaphobic Hindu monk who won election to lead India's most populous state.
(SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) There is this perception that the Muslims came, they conquered our heroes, and they ruled over us.
There is a perception on the part of many that it's time for the Hindus to win the big battles against Muslims.
They've actually started rewriting some textbooks so that the battles that were lost by Hindu heroes - are now described as victories instead of defeats.
- Mm-hmm.
The BJP's leaders consider every Muslim ruler in India to be foreign, even though they ceased to be foreign the moment they came to this country, married Indians, and assimilated here.
So, to call these people foreigners is bigotry, plain and simple.
KRISHNA: Not only does the BJP command a majority in the national parliament and in critical state governments, their political dominance is bolstered by an organization of Hindu foot soldiers, the RSS.
- (DRUMS PLAYING) - (MEN CHANTING) KRISHNA: This is the annual meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS.
They sort of look like a military organization, but they're not.
The political wing of the RSS right now dominates Indian politics.
The RSS was formed in 1925 - (MAN SINGING) - by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar with the purpose of creating a Hindu unity.
Early leaders such as M.
S.
Golwalkar admired Adolph Hitler and the Nazi movement for steps taken to ensure, quote, "the purity of their race and its culture.
" (SINGING CONTINUES) (SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) KRISHNA: With as many as six million members across the country, the RSS is said to be the largest voluntary paramilitary organization in the world, though their leadership denies this categorization.
The ruling party, the BJP, was formed from the RSS.
Three of the highest-ranking officers of the BJP, including the prime minister, were former members of the RSS.
So, the ideology behind this organization, it's reason for existing, the idea that Mother India is a Hindu nation is baked into the very concept of what the BJP is trying to do as a political party.
(MEN SHOUTING) KRISHNA: As Hindus supremacy becomes institutionalized from the ground up, critics of the BJP and its Hindu agenda are being silenced.
We spoke to Aakar Patel, a journalist and the head of Amnesty International India.
Is there freedom of press in India? Yes and no.
We are free to write and say what we want as long as the government likes it.
If it doesn't like it, it will come and vandalize your newspaper, it could put you in jail, it could send its goons to beat you up.
and very little would follow in terms of the process of law.
KRISHNA: Gauri Lankesh, a newspaper publisher who was highly critical of the BJP and Hindu nationalism was murdered by motorcycle-riding assailants outside her home in Bangalore, just a couple of weeks prior to this interview.
Why do you think she was killed? We've had similar murders of people who have resisted Hindutva.
I would say that is what got her into trouble.
The problem in India is not, at the moment, politics.
It's just authoritarian violence, a sort of fascism, really.
(SHOUTING) (DRUMS PLAYING) - Do you think that India is a Hindu nation? - (MEN SPEAK) (MEN SHOUTING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) KRISHNA: To see what the BJP plans to do to stop the violence, we spoke to Ram Madhav, a high-ranking BJP official.
The messaging that the BJP is unabashedly a Hindu party, has that helped push the agenda, push the popularity forward? The Muslim minority in this country are oftentimes harassed beaten up, and in some cases killed under the aegis of protecting cows, protecting culture, and protecting Hinduism.
If you're a party of inclusion, why is Yogi Adityanath one of your main spokespeople? (SPEAKS FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (CROWD CHEERS) I have objections to him saying that if one Hindu is killed, a hundred Muslims should be killed.
The appearance of the BJP being a Hindu nationalist party, the idea that cow protectors, vigilante groups are killing people, the idea that textbooks are being changed all of these things to an outside observer reeks of authoritarianism, even fascism.
- No, no, I am seeing it with my eyes - No, no.
I'm hearing with my ears, and I'm on the streets all day.
(DRUMS PLAYING) (SHOUTS) Sadly, it is a sort of cultural backlash we're seeing in countries around the world.
"Make America Great Again" is very much like what BJP is trying to do in India.
It's making Hindu India great again.
You've got the same phenomenon with the Hungarian Right, the Jobbik movement.
You've got the same with Marine Le Pen in France in the National Front.
You've got the Brexit vote, which is in very many respects an anti-immigrant vote.
So, it's all saying, "Let's push out the foreigners, let's push out all the people that are not like us, and let's return to a purer version of what our countries were all about, because those were the good old days.
" Sounds like fascism.
I'm afraid, in many respects that's precisely what it reminds some of us of.
I mean, frankly, I never thought we'd see a time when people could say, "Gosh, in India, it's safer to be a cow than a Muslim.
" (BELL RINGS) SHASHI: We must win back this battle, because it's a battle for India's soul.