1. NEW YORK CITY: Whiz Kids
Kids say the darnedest things. They also say some of the most surprisingly insightful and twisted things if you ask them the right questions. Whiz Kidz is Motherboard's new kids show for adults, asking tykes seven to ten years old questions about future-facing topics such as cyborgs, space travel, the internet, and cell phone etiquette. Filmed in our Brooklyn studio against a green screen, we let the squirts run their imaginations wild so that we grownups can envisage the future through their wonderful and sometimes dystopian little eyes. According to one of our whiz kidz, "Earth in fifty years will be made of red oceans, the houses will be floating on clouds, and we'll be flying around on jetpacks to get to the grocery store."
Tune in later this month on Motherboard.
2. ESTONIA: Estonia Boots Up
Since Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine, nearby Baltic states have been on high alert for fear that they, too, will be invaded. Estonia, the smallest country in the region, spent $147 million on military equipment last year—the most in the country's history. The nation also has a growing militia, known as the Estonian Defense League, made up of 16,000 volunteers. Membership in the militia has risen by 10 percent since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. There's a growing concern in Estonia that Russia will breach their borders to the east. Recently, VICE News reporter Jake Hanrahan went on a combat-training exercise with 800 members of the Estonian Defense League to find out how they're preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.
See the latest installment of The Russians Are Coming on VICE News.
3. ISTANBUL: Valley of the Islamic Dolls
Plumped lips and boob jobs aren't exactly synonymous with Islam, but in the weird world of cult leader Adnan Oktar, they're a major facet of his interpretation of the Qur'an. Oktar started his ministry during Turkey's hyper-secular 1970s, when he began preaching creationism on university campuses. But his cult gained lasting notoriety for its obsession with beauty, or at least blond hair and fake tits. Today, his female followers are called his "kittens": a cadre of wealthy and Botoxed Istanbul socialites. Together, they are presenting what they call the new face of Islam on their TV network. But despite their outward-facing media, the cult remains secretive, and rumors of sex scandals are always in the foreground. Broadly takes a closer look at Oktar's airbrushed world.
Check out the doc on Broadly
4. KRAKOW: Techno Rave Cave
This October, the Unsound music festival hosted a slew of performances in offbeat venues across Krakow—an abandoned tobacco factory, an old Communist Party hotel—but the highlight was a mysterious concert held in the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine—700 years old, 185 miles long, and nearly 1,100 feet deep—is one of Poland's most iconic monuments, attracting more than a million tourists a year. But up until now, it's never hosted a mosh pit of ravers. Legends from the techno underground went literally underground to transform the site into an experimental performance spectacle. THUMP correspondents put on their hard hats to explore Wieliczka with former miners and then watched the historic space morph into an 800-person dance party.
Check it out next month on THUMP.
5. LAS VEGAS: Blue Wall of Silence
Street Survival is a two-day police seminar run by one of the largest security-training companies in the country, Calibre Press. Every year, the lecture series teaches 20,000 officers how to survive gunfights, use their weapons, and handle suicidal subjects. With no standard training model for police academies across the country, Street Survival has filled a void for decades. But the warrior mentality it espouses has come under scrutiny as police brutality and excessive force have become matters of national concern. Until recently, Calibre Press kept the public and media away from the seminars, but we managed to gain unprecedented access. In this episode of VICE Reports, Thomas Morton looks behind the blue wall of silence, attending a Street Survival seminar in Las Vegas.
Watch the doc on VICE.