“Emergency response” to DAPL –> Protesters in cities across America denounced the Army Corps of Engineers decision to move forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline as quickly as possible. The Standing Rock Sioux, meanwhile, vowed to take their fight back to court. “Lawyers for the tribe say they will argue in court that an environmental impact statement, mandated by the Army Corps under Obama, was wrongfully terminated,” Alleen Brown reports for The Intercept. “They will likely request a restraining order while the legal battle ensues. Pipeline company lawyers have said that it would take at minimum 83 days for oil to flow from the date that an easement is granted.” [2-9-17]
HART ISLAND MASS GRAVES?
More family members will be able to visit the graves of relatives buried in the potter’s field on Hart Island, as part of a settlement announced between New York City and the New York Civil Liberties Union. Over 1 million people are buried on Hart Island, the site of the largest mass grave in the US. (HELLO! They are good to do this but this statement is not exactly TRUTH… millions of bodies of Native people are scattered everywhere in North America … The US itself is a mass grave. This is not fake news but censored news… LT)
Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear. He has prepared his story for public consumption with a careful eye to making it credible, whereas reality has the disconcerting habit of confronting us with the unexpected, for which we were not prepared.
Human trafficking and the spread of human slavery in todays world, can often be linked to environmental degradation and global warming. As the environment becomes more polluted, dry, and deforested, people become unable to look after their basic needs.
IJM partners with other local organizations and government agencies to ensure that the victims are provided with the care they need in the aftermath of abuse. Examples include:
Homes for girls rescued from commercial sexual exploitation when they are unable to return to their families;
Micro-enterprise opportunities for adults released from slavery so that they can support themselves;
Post-trauma counselling for victims of sexual violence; and
Post-incarceration counselling for victims of illegal detention.
Slavery in India in some cases can be linked to environmental cataclysms, such as drought. When farmers crops fail they may have to take out a loan to help feed their families. Once the loan is taken the interest is increased to a point where it can’t be paid back, then those who took the loan have to work to pay it off. This can often lead to themselves and their families serving a life of unpaid servitude to the loan holder.
There are four main threats to all farmers. The first being drought, a severe drought can have drastic impacts on crops. The second is flooding, floods can drown crops or wash them away, or even make it impossible to get livestock and crops to market. The third is fire, devastating feed for animals and burning crops. The fourth is disease, disease that strikes animals as well as crops. Drought is a factor in disease, a lack of water for animals and crops stresses them, making them more prone to contracting diseases.
In 2002 Alberta suffered a very serious drought. Because many people lacked feed and water and sold off their herds, the market was flooded (causing the price drop). Beef was near worthless, the price of grain also dropped. During this time many farmers suffered, however because this happened in Alberta measures here put in place to smooth over the affects.
In Alberta many farmers left for jobs in the oil field, or construction sectors. But what if this had happened in an already poor nation, a nation where there were no other jobs? The hungrier a person gets, the more desperate they become. When a daughter of farmer in Moldova with no prospects, is offered a job as a waitress in Italy, how can she refuse? Unbeknown to her she will be sold as a sex slave when she arrives.
In Chinadesertification is pushing people off the land into the city’s, in Africa for many years people have suffered from crippling droughts, all of these situations create desperate people. Natural disasters also create opportunity for human traffickers, earthquakes, hurricanes and typhoons all increase the availability of desperate people to become victims of trafficking.
Rising sea levels will displace an ever increasing number of people from fertile low coastal areas, adding to the increasing number of desperate and destitute people, whom slave traffickers can easily take advantage of. What, if anything can be done to stop this abuse of human rights? As long as drought severity continues to increase, floods become more and more devastating and wildfires burn out of control, the future seems dismal.
Shared Hope International and International Justice Mission (IJM), are working hard on the ground to help victims of slavery. But what can average citizens do? We can start by decreasing our ecological footprint, by reducing our consumption, reusing and recycling. By educating ourselves as how best to avoid slave made products, avoiding slave made products is hard, but reasonably possible.
The world is a shrinking place, where it is harder and harder to avoid the realities faced in the day to day struggle for survival. The climate is changing and our resources and farm land diminishing, displacing many millions of people, and by doing so making more people vulnerable to slavery.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
The billions of dollars are being made off the backs of people no different than you or I–they’re just living in hell. Slaves in Asia who have literally been born and raised in a rice mill and have never stepped outside of it. Seven-year-old girls abducted in Russia or Brazil or America who are taken to foreign countries where they don’t speak the language and are told that going to the police is pointless, because the police are in on it; that if they try to escape, their family at home will be killed. These are people who don’t even feel like people anymore. They are property. Like your iPhone.
The thing about human trafficking is that it is not as “underground” as you might think a slave trade would be. Human traffickers use the latest technologies to their advantage–and do so exceptionally well. But now, thanks in part to a $3 million grant from Google, a group of three anti-trafficking organizations–Polaris in the U.S., LaStrada International in Eastern Europe, and Liberty Asia–are using innovative technology from big data partners Palantir and Salesforce.com to launch The Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network, which aims to turn the tide in the fight against modern-day slavery.
Google pledges to help combat human trafficking. (Photo: Google)
It is said that nearly 21 million people across the globe fall victim to forced labor and trafficking situations creating widespread instability and repression. Almost every country in the world is affected by human trafficking either as the country of origin, transition or destination of the trafficked victims.
While there are very many NGOs and agencies such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that help prevent, protect and prosecute the trafficking offenders, Google says that there is something it can do to help eradicate the menacing problem.
Aimed at combating human trafficking and providing support for victims, Google has announced the launch of a new project created in collaboration with three other organizations – Polaris Project, Liberty Asia, and La Strada International. They have decided to come up with what they call a “Human Trafficking Hotline Network” that is said to help victims through cross-border coordination.
There are many hotlines already across the world established for fighting human trafficking but they are all working in isolation. The hotline network, Google claims, will connect all local, regional and national anti-trafficking helplines across the globe in a “data-driven network” that would work towards disrupting the entire trend. The idea, according to a CNET report, is to fight traffickers with great technology knowhow with greater technical sophistication.
A shared platform for information exchange thus created would make it easier to coordinate the trafficking cases and to protect them across borders. Google’s Global Impact Award will fund $3 million for this project.
Google has already collaborated with Palantir, a similar organization fighting human trafficking and has gained some interesting insights about seasonal trends in trafficking “within door-door sales crews, or the prevalence of trafficking into the sex trade along the major truck routes in the US,” Google says.
“Through future collaboration with many more hotlines, the integrated system will hopefully provide insights and protection for hundreds and thousands of potential victims around the world,” the Google page explaining the project read.
About 100 deaths from suicide occur each day in America. Young adults as especially at risk – suicide is the third leading cause of death among those between the ages of 15-24. Likewise, Facebook’s median user age is 22, making the social network a rich source for studies of social behaviors leading up to suicide.
Facebook’s role in suicide prevention might be minor, but if it can potentially save a life will users be so quick to judge? Earlier this year, rapper Freddy E eerily tweeted his final moments prior to taking his own life. As someone who have witnessed a friend on Facebook days prior to a suicide, I can say with certainty that there were major signs of depression – how we use that knowledge should be a public discussion and Facebook is starting with good intentions. This is not the first time Facebook has addressed suicide prevention, and it will not be the last.
Prepaid mobile phones and websites are changing the nature of illegal sex trafficking in the United States. But tech giants like Google, Palantir, and Microsoft are all contributing resources to fight human traffickers worldwide.
In late November, a movie called Journey to Freedom was shown at the State Department in Washington. The film, which calls attention to the existence of modern-day trafficking in humans, was jointly funded by Google and the State Department. Google’s collaboration with Foggy Bottom on the film was just the most recent salvo in a series of donations and activities to combat human trafficking; in December 2011, the technology giant granted more than $11 million to counter-trafficking organizations. The company’s think tank spinoff, Google Ideas held a summit in 2012 in collaboration with the Council on Foreign Relations and Tribeca Enterprises to bring together activists disrupting illegal drug, organ, arms, and human trafficking.
Apart from the global sex trade, human trafficking is endemic for purposes of forced manual labor in parts of Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. According to a 2002 United Nations estimate, between 10% and 20% of the population of the northern African country of Mauritania are currently being held in slavery.
Journey to Freedom tells the story of former Cambodian slave Vannak Prum, who worked as a forced laborer on a Thai fishing boat for three years, and of Solomon Northup, a free-born African-American from upstate New York who was sold into slavery in the Deep South in the 19th century. The film makes an explicit connection between contemporary human trafficking and slave labor, and the forced slavery of African-Americans in the United States.
Ambassador Luis Cdebaca, the State Department’s anti-human-trafficking czar, told Co.Exist in an interview that between 17 and 27 million people worldwide–roughly equivalent to the combined population of New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and London at the lowest end of the estimate–are being held as forced laborers worldwide. Most of these individuals were forced into slavery for presumed debts that they will be unable to pay, at the very least, for decades.
“The rise of the Internet and mobile phone usage can work in favor of traffickers, helping them keep a low profile and facilitating human trafficking rings on a global scale–especially in the commercial sex industry, where sex traffickers use the Internet as a tool to target vulnerable women and girls. [But at the same time,] online outreach and social media are critical to combating and preventing child trafficking. The Internet fuels the anti-trafficking movement by increasing awareness, mobilizing advocacy, and strengthening programs, as well as providing victims and families with access to information about rehabilitation and reintegration services,” Kristin Lindsey of the Global Fund for Children told Co.Exist.
One organization receiving funding from the State Department, Slavery Footprint, runs a web- and app-based service that notifies customers of the global “slavery footprint” that their consumption of everyday commodities and luxury goods (including consumer electronics) causes. Forced and unfree labor is common in many agricultural settings, in mining of precious and rare earth metals in Africa and China, and in the construction of many consumer goods. “Understanding of slavery in the supply chain, for many customers, often stops at a few items because they’ve heard something about sweatshops or chocolate,” says Justin Dillon of Slavery Footprint. “We wanted to use empiricism to generate and amplify awareness of the use of slavery [in everyday products],” said Dillon. The site/app measures a carbon-footprint-styled metric on the amount of unfree labor used to create the food and consumer goods in each visitor’s daily life. The footprint is based on an algorithm generated by the nonprofit, which then offers it to corporations so they can audit their supply chain for irregularities.
Technology, however, cuts both ways. A report released in late 2012 by the University of Southern California’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy claims mobile phones are transforming sex trafficking. While the USC report focuses primarily on the illicit sex trade in minors within the United States, it finds that the anonymity of VoIP numbers forwarding to mobile phones—or better yet, throwaway pre-paid phones by providers such as Metro PCS–are the contact methods of choice for pimps and sex traffickers. Mobile phones have replaced landlines as a way for traffickers to get in touch with customers, and the use of smartphones means recruitment and advertisement can be done on the go. A thriving underground sex trade takes place on both Twitter and Facebook, with smartphones serving as the preferred method of interaction.
Minors are also being recruited into the sex trade via social networking. The USC report claims that Facebook, MocoSpace (a mobile gaming network), and gaming site Tagged, along with newer sites and projects, are all active vectors where sex traffickers find teenagers. A 2010 investigation from the New York State Attorney General’s office found that graphic images of children were regularly available via Tagged.
Because the price of smartphones has decreased drastically, they have also become commonplace among both minor and of-age sex workers. One federal agent quoted in the USC report found that underage children “walking the stroll” would frequently carry a phone linked to an ad on an adult site such as Backpage or Myredbook, and that internet use was directly tied to both the trafficker’s and traffickee’s socioeconomic background.
Underage sex traffickers use throwaway phones slightly differently than drug dealers, another criminal subculture known for using them. The USC report noted that inexpensive smartphones are frequently used in order to utilize geotracking apps that keep tabs on the whereabouts of sex workers. Rather than relying on the voice and SMS text message portions of things, data plays an integral role in the use of mobile phones in child trafficking.
However, this cuts both ways. A law enforcement interviewee quoted in the study referred to phones confiscated from both traffickers and traffickees as “evidentiary gold mines” that play an important part in building cases against traffickers, thanks to their archives of text messages, voice mails, geotagged metadata, and web browsing history. This data can also help law enforcement find emerging websites, forums, and apps used in the underage sex trade.
No identification is required to purchase a prepaid mobile phone or SIM card in the United States. Registration of prepaid phones is currently required in countries including Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and Thailand.
[Top, Middle Images: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department. Bottom Image: USC]