The Lone Star Gazette November
The Lone Star Gazette November
Human Trafficking: Everyone’s Problem By Anna Merzi
H uman trafficking is arguably the world’s greatest crime against humanity and is often called modern day slavery. Formally, human trafficking is defined as the act of recruiting/transporting/harboring/r eceiving of persons by the means of threat/force/coercion/fraud for the use of sexual exploitation/forced labor/removal of organs. Anyone who takes part in the exploitation of another against his or her will is a human trafficker. According to nationally recognized anti-trafficking expert Dottie Laster, there are 27 million victims of trafficking right now. Despite this, the government hardly intervenes — or loosely enforces antitrafficking policy— and it is openly practiced in public facilities that every one of us utilizes, such as restaurants, hotels, bars, farms and nail salons. This fact is alarming, but the resolution to reject human trafficking
necessitates a shift in human nature and an increase in awareness.
“It is openly practiced in public facilities that every one of us utilizes” The United States is a top contributor to human trafficking, containing one of North America’s largest trafficking ports: Houston, Texas. Despite this, many Americans understand neither the practice nor the severity of this trade. According to the Polaris Project Trafficking Monitor, 48% of Americans were unable to give an accurate definition of human trafficking and 37% of those surveyed believed it to be the smuggling of persons without proper documentation across international borders. Even in Texas the criminal code for human trafficking was once listed under transportation. Human trafficking does not require movement; the twelve-year-old being forced to prostitute within her community is still considered a victim.
The police force shares this ignorance and it prevents the officers from successfully combating human trafficking. The stories that victims tell can be so unreal to an unaware officer that the police often do not believe them. Because of this, it is common for a nineteen-year-old forced into prostitution to be arrested for promoting commercial sex, when they are the true victims of the crime. Human trafficking is also a highly profitable trade and is second to drugs in the highest grossing
crimes in the world. According to the nonprofit organization Charity Sub, human trafficking produces an annual income of $32 billion, or $87 million per day and over $60,000 a minute. This highlights the supply and demand of the industry. Whether it be the labor demand in underdeveloped countries or the height of the commercial sex industry in industrialized economies, there is a growing market for slaves and the pimps, bar owners, brothel owners, and transporters are unwilling to forgo the profits of trafficking a victim. According to Laster, the average trafficker can accumulate a six-figure income.
The Lone Star Gazette November Large corporations, such as Hershey’s, Victoria’s Secret and Apple, have also used forced labor or worked with companies that use forced labor to lower the cost of production in varied amounts of manufacturing. Finally, human trafficking is an invisible yet ubiquitous aspect of all communities. This trade targets all ages from infants to adults in their late 20s and does not focus on a specific socioeconomic bracket.
The traffickers also come from all ranks of society. Laster worked on a case for girl from Liberia whose mother sold her to her trafficker when she was only 12. For four years she was trafficked by a United Nations (UN) peacekeeper to diplomats across the world.
Also, in 2004 the UN released a statement admitting that during a mission in Congo the UN peacekeepers and bureaucrats had been sexually exploiting women and girls in the area, and that the issue was “wide-spread and ongoing.” Because these crimes are being committed at such high levels of authority, prosecutors choose the side of the wealthier, more influential individual, versus the helpless victim with little power over the situation. The greater the authority of the trafficker, the more likely their case is to be overlooked. It seems like a lost cause to many— the public is uninformed, the trade is extremely lucrative, and even some individuals with the power to make a difference are participating in the trade. However, human trafficking is far from untouchable. What is necessary for change is awareness. It is up to the public to take action and pressure their leaders into combatting the trade to a greater extent. In the Woodlands, Texas, I am a student at The John Cooper School and a member of our
Junior Statesmen of America chapter. We are one example of grassroots anti-trafficking activism. As a part of our anti-trafficking campaign we began a twitter page to bring awareness to our high school students, brought Laster to come speak in front of our student body, and sponsored antitrafficking events for our students. We received recognition within our community and globally in the twitter sphere. !
“What is necessary for change is awareness.” That is one example of how easy it is to raise awareness. Once the public is active in combatting human trafficking, the world’s greatest violation of human rights will fall and the innocent victims will be given an opportunity to be free.
The Lone Star Gazette November
John Cooper School’s Response By Ellen Teuscher
On October 5
, 2013 the John Cooper School’s JSA Chapter hosted a screening of the movie Not My Life, sponsored by the National World Affairs Council. The goal of this activism event was to promote awareness and understanding of the global issue of human trafficking. Formally, human trafficking is defined as the act of recruiting/transporting/harboring/receiving of persons by the means of threat/force/coercion/ fraud for the use of sexual exploitation/forced labor/removal of organs, but the event aimed to give personal insight into the destruction and injustice it brings to innocent humans. It also exposed viewers to the reality that
DisasterCon By Catherine Zhang
On the cold morning of October 5th, while frantic high school students were taking their SATs, JSA members from the PMR region gathered at Plano West Senior High School for its Chapter Conference, also known as DisasterCon. DisasterCon, named for its disaster-themed debates covering topics such as nuclear proliferation, was the first conference in the PMR this school year. Block one consisted of a stimulating group debate over intervention in Syria. Block two involved a prolific thought talk over the stigma surrounding mental illnesses such as depression. Students told stories of personal experiences, questioned how the stigma is perpetrated, and pressed for solutions in changing
human trafficking is not solely a global crisis, but a crisis within the United States. Since last year, human trafficking awareness has been a major focus of the John Cooper School’s JSA chapter. This year, it is the main activism project of the Texas State JSA as well as in the Gulf Coast Region. For this reason, the event also served as this semester’s activism project for the GCR. The attendees also had a rare opportunity to talk with and ask questions to Bradley Myles, the Executive Director and CEO of Polaris Project. Polaris Project created and runs the United States’ official human trafficking hotline and advocated for policy change in Washington DC. Over 150 students from John Cooper attended and multiple schools from the Greater Houston Area were present. Overall the screening of Not My Life was a successful event that proved to be informative and interesting to all who attended.
public perception of mental illnesses. Block three experimented with more quirky types of debates. Participants were able to experience the fun of three headed debates and schizophrenia debates. After a lunch of pizza, soda, and homemade cookies, participants engaged in regional bonding activities such as political charades and Minute to Win it. For charades, participants divided into two teams. Members of each team were asked to draw a slip with the name of a notable politician on it. They then had portray the politician without stating the politician's name so their team could guess who it was. Politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were easy to deduce. Others, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were not so easy to guess. For Minute to Win It, participants once
again arranged themselves into two teams. The two teams competed against each other in small challenges, which included toilet paper wrapping contests and paper clip basketball. Both regional bonding activities helped members of the conference become more familiar with each other. The conference was capped off with a fun round of Quizbowl. Some of the questions involved linking torture practices with ancient civilizations or naming the purpose of treaties. At the end of the conference, all members gathered in the main room as speaking awards were awarded. After a thoughtful closing speech from Plano West's JSA club officer Priyanka Parikh, the PMR's first conference, DisasterCon, finally came to a close.
The Lone Star Gazette November
Our Debt Ceiling: Like Macklemore By Marshall Webb
Like American rapper Macklemore in his hit song “Thrift Shop,” the United States government has only $20 in its pockets...Actually, that’s a lie. We have negative $17,000,000,000,000 in our pockets. That’s right, our government currently owes about two-trillion more dollars than the total value of all goods and services this country makes in a year. Good job, team. Understandably, many Americans are upset about this fact and are calling upon Congress to do something to put an end to our budgetary deficit. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that many conservatives are staunchly opposed to raising the “debt ceiling” (the limit on the amount of money that the U.S. can incur). So, with the ability of the federal government to continue spending money on the line, it becomes imperative that we ask ourselves “Should Congress raise the debt ceiling?”. The answer is yes. Yes, we should, and this is for one key reason: if we don’t, it would be terrible for the economy. So, let’s look into what the debt ceiling really is and what it would mean for this country if we didn’t raise it.
“Our government currently owes about two-trillion more dollars than the total value of all goods and services this country makes in a year.
One of the main reasons that most people are opposed to raising the debt ceiling is the argument that Congress should balance its budget. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have a balanced budget. But this argument is based on one major flaw that many of us fall into: a misunderstanding of what the debt ceiling really is. The debt ceiling is NOT a limit on the amount of money that Congress can spend. Rather, it is, as the Government Accountability Office put it in February 2011, “a limit on the ability to pay obligations already incurred.”
Refusing to raise the debt ceiling isn’t making Congress balance its budget; it’s making the Depart of the Treasury default on all US debt, which is not a good idea. Yes, this country should balance its budget, but we shouldn’t do in a manner that would destroy our economy, right? I don’t want to sound pessimistic or apocalyptic, but refusing to raise the debt ceiling will lead to global economic collapse
rivaling that of 2008. If the US defaults on its debt, the value of bonds will drop significantly, and because bonds are a cornerstone of the financial market, without value, the stock market would be crippled. Additionally, people would begin to get frightened and would invest less, sell stocks, and stop hiring new workers. In fact, most economists agree that not raising the debt ceiling has much more pressing and immediate implications that continuing to overspend for decades to come. We must raise the debt ceiling because we don’t want to risk economic collapse. Personally, I believe that Congress should strive for a balanced budget, but I don’t think we should do it in a manner that jeopardizes the ability of our country to pay back its debts as we should be very careful not to harm the economy. So, when returning to the topic of the debt ceiling, we find it would be very unwise for our country to refuse to raise it as it could gravely harm our economy. While we may be in a far worse position than Macklemore’s, if we just make smart decisions, we may be able to eventually have even 20 dollars in our pockets, instead of negative 17,000,000,000, 000.
The Lone Star Gazette November
A Stifling Point in American Politics: Home and Abroad By Juan Lopera The American system seems to be working in over-drive. Below, a few of the recent key issues will be covered: The current government shutdown, an embarrassment of the American political system, presents the key matter of divisive partisanship and its detrimental effects on progress in our Government. Thankfully, on Monday October the 7th, the issue appeared to be in slow reparation, with president Obama agreeing to raise the debt ceiling temporarily. The senate has yet to respond.
Despite this development, frustration among the leaders on both sides appears to be rising as the government shutdown slogs on in Washington. The partial shutdown of the United States government illustrates that Washington’s problems extend beyond American borders. Beached by the political crisis at home, President Obama was absent from a summit meeting in Indonesia, giving China greater opportunity to highlight its role in the Pacific Rim. In Syria, a member from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague and the United Nations, said Syrian forces used cutting torches to begin demolishing munitions such as
missile warheads and aerial bombs. This is wonderful news since American as well as international forces nearly reached crisis levels throughout the last month. Lastly, the court’s new term, which also began Monday, will feature an extraordinary series of cases on consequential constitutional issues, including campaign contributions, abortion rights, affirmative action, public prayer and presidential power. In the ever perplexing world of politics, let us, the JSA community, utilize our differences to create brilliant things, not suffocate our development.
Welcome to the Lone Star From the editor In a world that has grown increasingly technological, we, the publicity department of Texas JSA, strive to integrate our media for effortless accessibility. The Lone Star endeavors to be representative of all opinions throughout the organization. If ever you wish to voice your opinion on an issue, utilize the Lone Star as a forum and podium. Furthermore, if you disagree with a published article, please feel free to submit a counterpoint.
The success of the Lone Star depends on the acuity and involvement of its readership and I implore all to participate in a wonderful year as Junior Statesmen of America.
BE THE PEOPLE