VICE – Fighting Chances

This week on “Vice,” we send Thomas
to square off against the toughest fighters
in West Africa. ♪ OK. My fight’s
about to start. I just saw the guy. [Blows whistle] [Cheering] SHANE: Then we find out
how climate change is transforming our planet. MAN: It’s very hard to
reverse climate change, especially issues
like sea level rising. SHANE: The water is coming
in quite rapidly. Shit. ♪ [Speaking
foreign language] SHANE: The world is changing. Now, no one knows
where it’s going. But we’ll be there,
uncovering the news… This is World War III. culture, and politics that expose the absurdity
of the modern condition. RYAN:
That little child
has a huge gun. This scene isn’t
really kosher by
American standards. I was interviewing
suicide bombers,
and they were kids. SHANE: This is the world
through our eyes. MAN: We win or we die! This is the world of “Vice.” ♪ Hi. I’m Shane Smith,
and we’re here in the “Vice offices
in Brooklyn, New York. For our first story tonight,
we go to Senegal in West Africa. There are only a few
countries in the world
where soccer isn’t king. One is here in America
because we have baseball,
football, and basketball, and another is Senegal
in West Africa because they have
a type of voodoo,
no-holds-barred fighting called laamb wrestling. Now, with unemployment
in Senegal running
at nearly 50%, what started as a way
for poor villagers to blow off steam
at harvest time has turned into one
of the only ways
they can survive. ♪ ♪ Yeah, two, yeah. 3. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ha ha ha! Yeah. One. Oh, my God. Yeah, yeah. Two. [Groaning] Ha ha! Ohh. Hi. It’s Thomas. I’m at a Senegalese
muscle beach here in Dakar. This dude’s lifting
a 70-kilo dumbbell
made of car parts, and I’m about
to do the same because I’ve got to train
for a fight on Saturday. They wrestle
in a traditional style
called laamb here, which is kind of like MMA
but with a lot more Sufi mysticism involved. Can I go in real quick? OK. Got to get my
weight up a little. Oh! Oh, oh, oh! Laamb is Senegal’s
national sport and its top wrestlers
Deion Sanders-level superstars. Over the last 20 years,
laamb has exploded into a multi-million dollar
industry with corporate sponsorship,
omnipresent advertising, and wrestler salaries
in the millions. [Shouting foreign language] Sports journalist
Malick Thendoum is pretty much the Howard Cosell
of Laamb wrestling. This in a country where
the average income is $3 day if you can find a job,
which you cannot. The rise in popularity
of laamb wrestling actually coincided
with the downfall of the Senegalese economy. It’s the last, like,
you know, hoop dream of all these kids who can’t
find work otherwise. [Cheering] THOMAS: So Dakar is obviously
the capital of laamb wrestling. One of the major figures,
though, is this guy Bombardier, who is from
a fishing village in Mbour. He is actually
a former fisherman himself. We’re going to go up to Mbour– It’s about an hour
north of here– and see if we can’t learn
how to fight and then maybe have a match. You know, just real quick. There’s wrestling camps
all over Senegal to take advantage
of the sport’s
sudden popularity, but only a few are presided
over by an enormous megastar like Bombardier. Physically enormous, we mean. The guy is basically
a building. ♪ We’re getting fitted
for our gamba right now. It’s the traditional
wrestling garment. [Speaking
foreign language] THOMAS, VOICE-OVER:
The wrestling itself is your
basic Greco-Roman grappling with occasional punches. You try to throw
your opponent to the ground, and if anything but your knees
and elbows touch dirt, you lose. What really makes laamb
laamb though is all the crazy ceremonial
business surrounding the fights. Wrestlers enter the ring
up to an hour before their match to fire up the crowd with
traditional good luck spells and coordinated
dance routines. The first step on my road
to laambdom was crafting my own signature dance
from a set of stock moves. ♪ THOMAS: Next came
the actual wrestling. Yeah? OK.
Well, I’m about to fight. ♪ Ugh! Aah! OK. OK. Ohh! Ohh! Ehh! Ehh! What’s up, dude? Oh, I don’t know how
I feel about this. THOMAS, VOICE-OVER:
I thought maybe I’d
let the little guy win to make his father happy. Then I realized
he was winning. Getting even one of his
tiny feet off the ground was like trying
to uproot a tree trunk. Oh! Hey! This kid’s
really good. Ha ha ha! Ohh! Ha ha ha! Holy shit. Like most things
in West Africa, the most important aspect of
laamb wrestling is witchcraft. Each laamb wrestler has
his own Marabout, who helps him
prepare for his fight
on the spiritual plane. Bonjour. [Rooster crowing] ♪ THOMAS, VOICE-OVER:
The Marabout’s rites are
tailored to give wrestlers strength and confidence
in the ring… and to guard against
any spell or evil eyes the opponents
may throw at you. This is all accomplished
by bathing yourself in various types
of tree water. Bombardier’s Marabout also
gave me 4 bottles of to-go baths to use
right before the fight. So This is
my fight kit. All right. ♪ THOMAS: Bombardier rose
to glory by beating undefeated champion Mike Tyson, the Senegalese Mike Tyson. There’s a Senegalese
Mike Tyson. [Announce speaking
foreign language] Like most Mbouri kids,
Bombardier worked on a fishing boat
before he became a superstar, and it goes without saying
they still love him down at the docks. If the hometown hero worship
seems tinged with a little desperation,
it’s because Bombardier isn’t just the biggest local kid
to make it off the docks, he’s pretty much the only one. We’re in the fish market
in Mbour. This is one
of the departure points for the Senegalese boatpeople, basically kids
who couldn’t find work here, went to Spain to try
to make a living. They have a saying
in Wolof that’s actually “Barcelona ba-sook,”
which means Barcelona or death. Which is kind of
funnily ironic because about 95% of those
who got on boats here died. [Cheering] [Chattering in foreign language] While the likes
of Bombardier and Mike Tyson wrestle to sold-out
stadium crowds, most laamb matches
are still neighborhood affairs, held wherever
young wrestlers can find enough space for a ring. To test my training,
Bombardier organized a laamb tournament in his old
Mbour stomping grounds. As night fell
and the drum circles started trying to play
over each other, hundreds of local kids
assembled around a well-lit but particularly
litter-strewn parking lot. For several hours,
the combatants walked
around the ring, dousing themselves
in voodoo water, drawing pentagrams
in the dirt, and then rubbing
the excess pentagram dirt
across their wet bodies, while traditional Senegalese
griots warmed up the crowd. Then a lion came out
and did the national anthem, and Bombardier led
an inaugural chorus line with his wrestling students. ♪ After one last
Marabout bath, it was my time to shine. [Blows whistle] ♪ [Whistle blows] [Blows whistle] [Cheering] [Cheering and applause] ♪ Oh, that’s cold. Yeah, I’m feeling
fucking good right now. THOMAS, VOICE-OVER:
I know, right? I can’t believe
I won either. I spent the following
two hours trying to get Bombardier and his guys to
admit they fixed the fight, but they all insisted
I legitimately bested
my opponent and that my Marabout was
probably better than his was. Laamb is obviously
not going to make every young Senegalese kid
a Mike Tyson.level star, Senegalese Mike Tyson
or otherwise, but this is a full-blown
national phenomenon. The laamb explosion is
bringing in billions
of dollars of outside money and becoming
its own commercial industry, which, in a country with
nearly 50% unemployment,
ain’t too shabby. Still can’t believe
I fucking won. ♪ The past decade was the hottest
in recorded history. This has resulted
in sea level rise, floods, and chaotic storm events. For many countries
around the world, this has dire implications
because huge amounts of the global population live
at or around sea level, and according to the latest
scientific data, the problem might
actually be worse than we previously thought. ♪ We’re here
in Piazza San Marco in Venice, and it’s obviously flooded. There are seagulls
swimming by. Why? Because
the world is sinking. According to the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, the global sea level
has risen 22 centimeters
in the last 100 years and is expected to rise anywhere from one to two meters
in the next hundred. This means that cities like
Venice are in real trouble. Shit! Ha ha! It’s about 11:00,
high tide’s at noon. The waters, as you can see,
are already coming in. It’s coming in quite rapidly. The tourist stalls, which sell
Venice T-shirts and stuff, now sell temporary booties
because flooding in Venice is the new normal. ♪ No, no. Wow. They’re closed, which I can understand
considering their bar is about 4 inches underwater. It’s so prevalent
the flooding here that they’ve just built walkways, and everyone’s just going
about their business as if this is the new normal. How many times a year
is this area flooding, a roundabout number? SHANE, VOICE-OVER: If Venice is
now spending 1/3 of the year underwater and sea levels
are continuing to rise, it means that not only Venice
is facing a huge problem but that many other
cities at sea level around the world will,
to varying degrees, have these same problems to deal
with in the near future. Now to try to understand
the scope of these problems, we contacted Sir Robert Watson, a leading
environmental scientist who was once
the senior scientific advisor to the World Bank. WATSON: We’re clearly seeing
changes in temperature. We’re clearly seeing changes
in precipitation patterns with more floods
and more droughts. We are seeing
sea level rise. Once you get to
half a meter, one meter, 1 1/2 meters, then these
are quite serious effects for many parts of the world,
potentially displacing large numbers of people
in coastal areas, low-lying deltaic areas,
small island states, et cetera. Small island states are
really quite threatened. SHANE: One small island state
that is particularly threatened is the Maldives, a far-flung
nation that is composed of 1,192 islands spread out across the southern
Indian Ocean. The Maldives is one
of the lowest lying countries on Earth, never rising more
than 8 feet above sea level, and because of its problems
with climate change, the Maldives has become
the poster child for the climate reform movement because what’s happening
today in the Maldives is in the mail
for the rest of the world as sea levels continue to rise. MAN: You know, Manhattan
is as low as Malé. If you cannot defend
the Maldives from climate change and sea level rise,
you will not be able
to defend New York, and you will not be able
to defend your homes either. SHANE: Mohamed Nasheed is
the ex-president of the country, who’s also been called
the Mandela of the Maldives due to his many stints of being
imprisoned and tortured while campaigning
for democracy in his country, and after finally winning
the presidency in 2008, he immediately began
a global campaign
for climate reform. Famously he carried out one
of his first cabinet meetings underwater in an effort to
bring global awareness to the fact that his country
is disappearing into the ocean. SHANE: President Nasheed
traveled around the world seeking to ratify agreements
that would slow down the effects of climate change. His message was simple–
“What’s happening to us now is going to happen
to you later.” In 2009, he personally
addressed the United Nations and delivered a very,
very drastic message. [Shouting] SHANE: Now because of his
environmental campaigning and his radical reform ideas,
Nasheed was the victim of a military coup in 2012
that ousted him from office, and despite being
continually under threat by the police and military,
he’s persisted in delivering his message of democracy
and climate reform, traveling on a growing flotilla
of fishing boats that sails from island to island,
gaining public support for his environmental platform. SHANE: So you’re basically
living climate change… Yes. in your environment daily
here in the Maldives. Yes, yes. Right. SHANE, VOICE-OVER:
We met up with his flotilla and followed President Nasheed
on his tour, preaching for the return
of democracy and the continued perils
of climate change. ♪ And as the flotilla passed
an island, President Nasheed stopped
the boat to explain what is happening
to his country. SHANE: Yes. Right. You’re looking for
new places for your country to go if, in fact,
it sinks. You’ve famously done things
like looking for land for your people in Australia
or Sri Lanka or India because you don’t want to
become climate refugees,
I believe. What happens when
bigger countries have the same problems
and they can’t go anywhere? Right, right. So if we don’t do something
to stop climate change, what happens? WATSON: I think there’s
over a hundred cities with a population
of over a million people currently today
in coastal areas. Every one of those
will have to think how would they
protect themselves? You can build infrastructure
to protect yourself from sea level rise, Or you can retreat,
and you can move inland. However, can one imagine
moving New York City? Can you imagine
moving Washington, D.C.? And the answer is no. You would still clearly
want to protect them. Humans can adapt to change. The challenge is how do you
adapt to rapid change? ♪ Hurricane Sandy, which was
only a tropical storm when it hit New York,
that clearly was a wakeup call that one of the most important
areas, economic areas, of the U.S.A.,
one of the most populated areas was quite vulnerable
to a single storm. SHANE: Over there
is New Jersey, that’s the Hudson River, and this is about 3 feet
of water on my street, Desbrosses
in New York City. It goes all the way down,
all the way into Tribeca, and all the way
to West Broadway. Lower Manhattan is
completely underwater. ♪ Hurricane Sandy hit New York
with a 13-foot surge that flooded large parts
of the city, causing loss of life and over
$50 billion worth of damage. After the storm hit, we met
with the Deputy Mayor of New York Cas Holloway
to discuss the problems that the city now faces
due to climate change. SHANE: Right after Sandy,
Governor Cuomo went
on record saying, “I believe this is
going to happen again. Climate change is here”. What is the city’s
position on that? What’s your
position on that? If you’re asking
the city’s position on whether
climate change is here
or is a real concern, the answer to both
those questions is yes. We certainly
agree with that. Look at the reality
of the weather patterns and the damage
that it has caused. We’re certainly going
to see more intense
storms that cause flooding and cause surge
and sea level rise. We have 529 miles
of coastline
in New York City. Sandy really brought
into sharp focus, hey, it is irresponsible
for public officials to simply say,
“Well, climate change
isn’t happening.” No, we have to say,
“This phenomenon
is happening. We need to deal
with it.” SHANE: Now not all public
officials share New York’s
concern about this issue. In fact, many members
of the federal government deny that, A, climate change is
our fault and therefore, B, that there’s anything
we can do about it. Carbon dioxide is
not a harmful gas. It is a harmless gas. The science just simply
doesn’t back up the issue
of global warming. I mean, yes, does
the climate change? Of course it does. It’s changed
for thousands of years. The fact that all this is
happening due to manmade gases, I really believe is
the greatest hoax ever perpetrated
on the American people. WATSON: There are always
deniers or people that are not willing to accept the latest
scientific information. More than half the American
population doesn’t believe in evolution of which there is
superb scientific evidence ever since Darwin. SHANE: In an effort to explain
why so many in America continue to deny this crisis, we met with writer
and investigative journalist
Professor Christian Parenti on Far Rockaway Beach, one of the hardest hit areas
in New York, to hear his thoughts
on climate denial. SHANE: We’ve been all
around the world talking
to world leaders. We’ve been seeing
the effects, we can see it here
in New York. Why in America do so
many people insist it’s
not happening? There’s been
a really concerted effort to invest in messaging
that denies science. ♪ The fossil fuel industry is
the most powerful industry
in world history. They have enormous
amounts of sunk capital– pipelines,
these refineries. The idea of moving off
of fossil fuels on to clean energy is
a very serious threat. Koch industries is one
of the largest privately held
companies in the U.S. It’s a major petrochemical,
oil refining, oil services firm. They’re elite,
right-wing political activists. This is not
a secret conspiracy. They’re very open
about it… Sure. Right. and they invest heavily
in the political process. This outfit called
the Donors Fund has ponied up close to
$100 million to fund climate denial… Right. fund bloggers, media, to deny a very, very broad
scientific consensus. Yeah. They are defending
their economic position very openly by investing
in messaging. We are not in global warming. It’s a theory,
it’s not a fact. It’s never been proven. The science is not settled.
Get off of it. SHANE: Now it’s important
to remember that America is the largest
energy consumer in the world. We also are the largest
polluter per capita, we consume the most oil,
and are the only country in the Western world
not to have ratified
the Kyoto Protocol. Clearly America has
a huge negative impact on the global environment. However on the positive side,
it also has the power to affect climate change
by altering its current
consumption patterns, which it has to do because if it doesn’t,
we are all in serious trouble. ♪ WATSON: It’s very hard
to reverse climate change, especially issues
like sea level rise. Once you set it in motion,
it is just not reversible. The time to act was yesterday, and the question is,
“How quickly will the world “wake up to the fact
that we have to do
things differently?” [Speaking
foreign language] ♪

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