Despite Rumors, California’s Severe Drought Continues

For the past five years, the state of California has been in a state one of emergency when it comes to one of nature’s most prized possessions: water. It was not until recent years that Californians were asked to make significant changes in their daily rou

Courtesy of: Creative Commons

tines in order to conserve water.

On January 17, 2014 state governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on the California drought.

This meant that residents of the United States would be required to cut back on all forms of water usage. This included everything watering plants, washing cars, bathing, using the restroom, and ordering a glass of water at a restaurant. Each resident of the state was asked to do their best in conversing water, as the supply was limited.

However, as El Niño has began rolling it, it was Northern California that began to see a major improvements in their water levels.

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Courtesy of: Los Angeles Times

Early this year, the Los Angeles Times reported on the extreme El Niño conditions taking place in the Pacific Northwest in which was traveling along the cost, primarily reaching Northern California.

The Los Angeles Times received an  interview from Stanford University climate scientist, Daniel Swain who stated, “Of all the years in which there was a strong El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, this is the wettest start to any of those years that we’ve observed in the Pacific Northwest, both in Portland and Seattle.”

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Courtesy of: @johnupton via Twitter

The same article shared images of homes that were flooded from the heavy rains.

A few months later, the Los Angeles Times again reported the increase in water levels in Northern California.

In this report, they shared the ways in which the water crisis has changed for Northern California stating that there had been an increase in levels of snow, rain water, and work to fill reservoirs.

A chart provided by the U.S. Geological Survey reiterated this truth by providing a map of California which showed water stream flow as “normal” in Northern California and “much below normal” in Southern California.

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Courtesy of: U.S. Geological Survey

Because of the increase in Northern California, many California residents began speculating that the drought had come to an end. However, a five year severe drought is a lot of damage to make up for.

In March 2016, the California Department of Water Resources released a breaking news update stating that the despite “state water project allocation increase, the drought is not over.”

Stating, “Although February was mostly dry, rain and snow returned in March to boost the state’s two largest reservoirs – Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville – to slightly above their historic levels for the date. Some key reservoirs, however, remain far below expected levels for this time of year.”

The breaking news update continued by stating that although there was an increase in water, there was also an increase in temperatures in 2014 and 2015, which were two of the warmest years in over 121 years. The report also explained how recovering from a severe drought would take much longer than one year, as the conditions have become the way they are over the course of five years.

Provided with this breaking news update was also the 2016 Drought Contingency Plan, which provided in depth explanations for the recent water levels and the distribution of water throughout the remainder of the year.

These reports came after much speculation from the public stating that “drought was over.” Many users took to Twitter in order to express their relief.

Ben Shanerman shared via Twitter, “Is California going to Thank God? Because their drought is over. We heard for the last year how bad it was. Nature took care of it again!”

Shanerman and others are not the only ones making premature assumptions that the drought is over.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Blackhawk, a gated community of 2,027 homes in Danville, California, was going to return to fining their homeowners for any brown lawns.

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Courtesy of: @KatCameron91 via Twitter

According to The Mercury News, Community Association Manager Mark Goldberg stated, “We believe that allowing the drought to negatively impact the landscaping at any Blackhawk home does a disservice to property values throughout the community and is a violation of our CC&Rs” in a letter that went out to each resident.

 

When others began questioning the association, they simply stated that they were not demanding that their homeowners increase their water usage. They were demanding that the homeowners seek alternative options through synthetic grass or drought-tolerant landscaping.

However, many expressed discontentment stating that the Blackhawk homeowners association is premature in their decision. The drought is still very much an issue, and fining residents for not watering their lawn contradicts the emergency conservation water regulations that were updated in February of this year.

In a press release that was given by California Water Boards, Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board stated, “After four years of extreme drought, there is still a need for Californians to keep up their stellar conservative practices. This updated regulation acknowledges that need, while making adjustments in response to feedback from water suppliers and others. If we continue to receive a lot of rain and snow in February and March, we may scale back the conservation requirements further, drop them, or move to another approach.”

In the Mercury News article, Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of the San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group stated, “The Blackhawk HOA seems to have missed an opportunity to have a high-profile, well-respected community take a leadership role in water conservation.”

Choski-Chugh was not the only one to express her concern with the matter, as numerous news outlets and California residents have done the same through social media sharing.

 

“The drought is not over” tweets, and posting links to news articles and websites stating otherwise.

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Courtesy of: The National Drought Mitigation Center

One of the websites providing frequently updated drought information is The National Drought Mitigation Center, which provides maps in which clearly show that Californians should limit their amount of water usage. Much of Northern California is described to be in a severe or extreme drought, and Southern California remains in an exceptional drought.

Overall, it is clear that the water crisis has not ended, despite rumors that have surfaced the Internet. State officials still ask California residents to limit their water usage until conditions improve drastically.

 

 

 

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The Fight Behind American Currency

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Courtesy: TWC News Charlotte Twitter

Last June,  The Secretary of Treasure, Jacob “Jack” Lew announced a plan to feature a woman on the $10 note, in the hopes that he could “encourage a national conversation about women in our democracy.” Lew’s announcement did just that.
Since Treasury Lew announced his idea to America, a campaign known as Women on 20’s quickly backed the big changes coming to American money and gained thousands of supporters.
After 10 months of roundhouse discussions and countless recommendations, the US Department of Treasury has decided that Harriet Tubman will be the face of the $20 bill. President Jackson who was formally on the front of the note will be found on the backside. The decision was made official on April 20, in Secretary Lew’s letter to the American people.

Tubman will be the first woman represented on American currency since the United States $1 Coin Act of 1997 was passed, placing Sacagawea on the front of the gold coin.

When Lew’s official letter was released, countless conversations on social media and other platforms took off. Everybody from news anchors to college students expressed their feelings on the monumental change.

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Courtesy: Hillary Clinton Twitter

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Millennial feminist, Alyssa Wilbert took to social media to share her frustration about Jackson’s replacement. She expressed that slaves never had access to the US currency that “was used as a mode for the oppression of women and the perpetuation institutionalized racism.” in a Facebook post, Wilbert summarized her post, adding that she felt “putting Tubman on American currency flat out doesn’t make sense.”

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Ben Carson, former republican presidential candidate wrote an opinion article, Harriet Tubman Has a Legacy Worth Upholding expressing his disapproval for the face swap.

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Courtesy:GOP Endorsement 2016 Twitter

“Harriet Tubman would likely be turning over in her grave if she knew she would be the new face of American debt slavery. She would revile the cheap trick being pulled on African Americans in getting them to support this nearly bankrupt symbol of American debt. It is amazing how, just as the currency dwindles down to near worthlessness – all of a sudden the Government wants to invoke Harriet Tubman as a symbol on the twenty dollar bill.” He wrote.

Carson feels the freedom fighter should not be directly linked to the endless slave battle that today’s American people face-debt.

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Courtesy: The Wrap Twitter

Fox News anchor, Greta Van Susteren, expressed her disapproval of the big change in an “off the record” video during her show On The Record with Greta Van Susteren. She stated, “They (the Obama administration) went stupid again by booting Jackson off the bill.” Susteren predicts that the decision will cause an “unnecessary divide” between American people that are happy with the the seventh president being the face of the $20 bill and those who want to honor a woman. She proposed that the Obama Administration create a $25 bill to honor Tubman.

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Courtesy: @Micnews Twitter

On an episode of her show, Full Frontal, Samantha Bee, American-Canadian comedian blatantly disagreed with Susteren. Bee doesn’t understand how the change could spark any controversy. “Yes! Finally a black woman making a white man move to the back … He (Andrew Jackson) was a genocidal (censored word) who forced the relocation of non-whites and fulminated populous rebellion.” she said. Bee continued jabs at President Jackson, comparing Jackson to “Trump with better hair.”

Andrew Jackson is referred to as a genocidal man because on top of being a known slave owner, he passed The Indian Removal Act of 1830.

According to the library of congress, this act allowed the president to “grant unsettled lands (for replacement of the Native American tribes) west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many (Native American Tribes) resisted the relocation policy.” The resistance led to The Trail of Tears which notoriously claimed the lives of 4,000 Native Americans. This could have been the key reason why Jackson was nixed from the $20 opposed to Hamilton on the $10 bill as Lew originally planned.

While supporters of the Women on 20’s campaign agree that crowning Tubman as the face of the twenty is historic, they’re not completely satisfied. In a press release, the group stated that “the promise of replacing the slave trading, Indian killing Jackson with a woman on the $20 fifteen years down the road is not the suffrage centennial celebration we were looking for.”

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Courtesy: Coco Toribio

With the negative backlash that Jackson is getting, it may be confusing as to why he is still being featured on the $20 bill. Despite all the talk, America’s 7th president isn’t only known for his failures. Biography.com says that he is “known for founding the Democratic Party and for his support of individual liberty” earning him the title of the “People’s President.”

 

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Courtesy: Coco Toribio

According to Politico, Treasury Lew said Alexander Hamilton would be replaced simply because it was the next bill up for remodeling. Lew received backlash from Hamilton fans after he publicly announced his plan especially after the broadway show, Hamilton hit New York.  The support for Hamilton is likely what led to him remaining on his throne as the face of the $10 bill.

The backside of the new ten will honor Women. Modern Money stated that Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott who helped pass The 19th Amendment will also be included the new design.

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Courtesy: Coco Toribio

Although Lincoln will remain on the front the $5 bill, the note will receive a makeover as well. “The bill will highlight historic events that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.”-Modern Money.  By 2020, the back of the bill is set to pay respect to  Dr. Martin Luther King’s who gave his I have a Dream speech there. Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt are also expected to be on the new bill.

The Women on 20’s stated that keeping Hamilton and Lincoln on the front of the $5 and $10 notes are “teaching a generation of schoolchildren that women don’t have the same shot as men.” Making it clear that they feel being pushed to the back of the bill is unacceptable.

The drastic design changes are a huge step for America’s war against gender inequality. The supporters of Women on 20’s will continue to fight until all of the American bills honor the three ideas listed on their website.

  1. Commemoration of the inclusion of women in the American democracy and as full citizens in 1920 on a redesigned $20 dedicated to women’s history in this country.
  2. Recognition of the contributions of women to our country.
  3. Removal of symbols of hate, intolerance and inequality to enable equality that will bring forth the full potential of all people regardless of gender, race ,ethnicity, sexual preference or identity.

    An official layout of Tubman’s $20 bill has not yet been released, but many ideas have surfaced online.

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Courtesy: @Olimba_Medina Twitter

 

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Courtesy: @Blackvoices Twitter

Teen sexual assault prevention enforced in California

After Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León established the ‘Yes Means Yes’ affirmative consent law at the college level last year, his natural next step was to expand the concept to California high schools. The democratic leader of the state’s 24th district implemented Senate Bill 695 at the beginning of the year, which states all high schools that require a health course for graduation must teach sexual assault and violence prevention.

“[de León] feels a really strong connection with the issue in terms of assault and women, and feels a strong sense that men need to step up and have this conversation,” de León’s Senior Education Consultant Kimberly Rodriguez said. “It shouldn’t just be a women’s issue. It should really be both genders embracing it.”

The original bill and the high school adaptation that followed were spurred by de León’s concern for his then college-aged daughter. The bill, which was supported by nine organizations, specifies classes must teach different forms of sexual harassment and violence, prevention strategies, ways to report cases and resources for victims.

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Senate Bill 695 was supported by nine organizations. Information provided by Tanya Lieberman of the Assembly Education Committee. (Gina Ender Graphic)

Rodriguez said though not all schools have health courses, the three largest districts in the state, of which Los Angeles Unified is the first, do require the class for graduation. She said long term, de León hopes the bill will establish healthy relationships and help inform students about the law’s existence.

In hopes of beginning this education earlier, Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson, who worked alongside de León in implementing bill 695, is working on a new law. Bill 1435 proposes relationship courses begin in middle schools. Rodriguez said she believes this age is not too early to instill respectful and healthy relationships as it will help to prepare students for their interactions in high school, college and beyond.

“You should [know] how to deal with your peers and how to treat each others before you get [to high school],” Rodriguez said.

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From left to right, statistics provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association, U.S. Department of Justice and American Association of University Women.  (Gina Ender Graphic)

Michael Wagner, Monrovia High School’s Health and Wellness teacher for the past 12 years, said he has been teaching these values for as long as he has been an educator. He said he instills in his students that no matter what decisions they make, they have to care about other people.

“I hope [other educators] understand there are certain things that need to be covered, whether you’re uncomfortable with them or not, and we need to leave our private agendas at home and try to teach,” Wagner said.

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(Gina Ender Photo)

Wagner said he believes the new bill will be beneficial because it will universalize the curriculum in all high schools.

“It’s not going to be based on the homophobic teacher that doesn’t want to talk about gender issues, or it’s not going to be based on the person who is pushing gay agenda,” he said. “The playing field is going to be level.”

He said while the implementation may take up to a year to reach its full effect, the law will quickly stir important discussions in district offices. He said for years, there were never clear specifications of what to teach beside a basic outline, which left the standards up to teachers’ interpretations. He said the new law should enforce the importance of sharing all information with students regardless of a teacher’s comfort level.

“Math teachers aren’t going to leave something out if they are not good at it, and I think that’s what we’ve seen in health for years,” Wagner said.

Wagner said Monrovia High anticipates eliminating the health requirement in the future as many other schools have done. If that happens, he said he will incorporate the information he teaches in his health class in biology or physical education.

Azusa High School stopped requiring a health course for graduation several years ago. The school’s health clerk, Rose Araiza, said students have turned to her with sexual education questions since then. She said she believes bringing back the class would be beneficial to teach students about abuse sexually, mentally and physically.

“Health would cover all of that,” Araiza said. “It would be an asset to the kids.”

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(Gina Ender Photo)

She said she has multiple students confide problems concerning romantic and familial relationships in her and the school psychologist. She said there is a general lack of education about sex among many students, especially regarding abuse and protection.

Brittany VanDeVrugt, a Heritage High School junior, said her experience with health class was minimal. She said she was encouraged by her teachers her freshman year to take a fast track health class which she attended twice a week for a semester and then tested out of the second semester. She said she believes it would be beneficial for students to take more in-depth courses to learn about sexual harassment so they are able to identify it when they see it.

“I would tell [other students] to understand what sexual harassment is and the severity of the situation,” VanDeVrugt said. “People blow it over like it’s nothing, but it’s not always nothing.”

VanDeVrugt said she believes students often overlook the seriousness of sexual assault, but said a classroom setting would change students’ perspectives. She said in her experience, most teachers avoid having conversations about touchy sex education topics.

“It’s kind of like a ‘don’t go there’ region,” she said.

She said if she were to have questions concerning sex education, she would most likely turn to a book before a person. She said most teachers treat the topic as taboo, and she thinks they would want her to be more private about her questions than she would like to be.

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(Gina Ender Photo)

Tahquitz High School senior Mady Martinez said she has been informed of the medical aspects of a sex education in anatomy class and has been told about the social aspects in psychology class, but has not had a formal health class since elementary school.

“I know right from wrong, but I was never taught,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she believes it is necessary for students her age to learn about the emotional aspects of sex education. She said Tahquitz offers assemblies about bullying, and she thinks dedicating a class period every so often for a sexual assault assembly would be beneficial.

“I think if we can cover social abuse, I don’t see why we couldn’t cover sexual abuse.”

“I think if we can cover social abuse, I don’t see why we couldn’t cover sexual abuse,” she said.

Hemet High School senior Saige Darrow said her school gave her a choice between taking health and AVID, a college preparatory class, as a freshman. She said she chose to take AVID, but she wishes she would have taken health because she now feels uninformed.

“I think there’s a lot of things that I could have learned that I did not learn,” Darrow said.

She said as she never received instruction from a health class, she would not feel comfortable approaching a teacher with questions about sex education and would prefer to talk to her parents. She said she talks with her friends about issues such as abuse and harassment occasionally, but it is not a frequent topic.

“It’s not a regular discussion,” Darrow said. “It’s talked about, but not as much as it should be.”

For confidential counseling regarding sexual assault, call 800.656.4673 or visit Rape Abuse and Incest National Network.

California’s public libraries resilient despite lacking funds

In response to California budget deficits in 2011, Governor Brown cut direct state funding from public libraries, slashing funds from the California Library Services Act (CLSA), the Public Library Foundation and the state literacy program. Since then, California’s legislators have gradually allotted funding back into the state library fund, but these funds come with restrictions that inhibit local libraries’ freedom to decide how to use the money for improvements.

With a lack of direct state funding, Azusa City Librarian Reed Strege has seen public libraries suffer, facing cutbacks in the form of fewer full-time staff members and decreased hours.

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Established in 1959, the Azusa City Library is located down the street from Azusa City Hall. Photo by Maureen Wolff

“They used to just write everybody a check, but they don’t do that anymore. It’s competitive, and you write grants,” said Strege.

Governor Jerry Brown’s California budget proposal for education in fiscal year 2016-2017 adds $4.8 million in funding for public libraries. About $1.8 million of this sum will be added to the state library budget baseline. The remaining $3 million will be a one-time fund for the upcoming year, intended to help libraries move toward improved technology and digitalization.

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Governor Brown’s budget proposal adds almost $4.8 million to one-time and ongoing funds to state libraries via the California Library Services Act. Courtesy of the California Department of Finance.

“It probably sounds like a lot of money, but if you really think about it, it’s really not,” said Strege. He explained that once distributed, state funding doesn’t go very far among public libraries.

Of the $170.7 billion expenditure budget proposal, Governor Brown allots approximately $51.6 million total for the State Library Fund—about .03% of California’s budget.

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The total funding for California’s libraries for fiscal year 2016-2017 is projected to be approximately $51.6 million. Courtesy of the California Department of Finance

Like other public libraries, the Azusa branch must use its grant-awarded funds for projects that are specifically delineated by the state. Though limited in amount and scope, state funding for the Azusa City Library has been effectively put to use in areas such as the library’s adult literacy program and the improvement of broadband internet networks.

Often, additions to state library funding are not given through permanent additions to the budget baseline. Instead, much of state funding comes in the form of one-time grants, the money from which must be used up for a specific project within the year it is given. Neighborhood Connections is one of Azusa’s current programs that is funded by a one-year grant, with funding coming from federally-based Library Services and Technology Act (LTSA) money that has been filtered through the states. The program allows the Azusa community members to consult with a bilingual Community Resource Specialist who can help provide information about health care, housing, employment and more.

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Photo by Maureen Wolff

Seeking to offer its visitors up-to-date content and programs, the Azusa City Library branch offers free WiFi and access to computers. While Strege emphasized that it’s the people themselves that make the libary thrive, he also stated that budget limitations can inhibit access to key resources. Other than the addition of desktop computers, Strege said that the library looks much the same as it did when it opened it 1959. He pointed to poor lighting, scuffed-up bottoms of doors, and worn-out carpets in the library classroom.

“We can get by day to day with the money that we have,” he offered, citing the library’s offering of after-school tutoring, children’s story time, citizenship classes and computer workshops. But when it comes to facility improvements, the money just isn’t available in the city or state budget.

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Courtesy of Maureen Wolff

The city of Azusa granted the library just over one million dollars for the past fiscal year, and as of 2013-2014 estimates, about 91 percent of the library’s funding is local. In addition to funding from the city, the library receives grants from the Canyon City Foundation, an Azusa-based foundation that supports arts and education.

Less than one percent of the Azusa City Library’s funding coming from the state. Because this small allocation of state funding comes with such strict parameters, sometimes the city’s budget is simply insufficient to address the scope of the local library’s needs.

Chair of the California Library Association’s Advocacy and Legislation Committee Sara Jones points to another issue facing public libraries: the disparity in support and resource distribution between cities and counties across California. While the library Jones directs—the Marin County Free Library—is amply supported, areas such as Kern County struggle to maintain taxpayer support.

While state funding additions will not solve all problems, Jones said, they can help build momentum. “The greatest extent it has is to leverage collaboration and cooperation,” she offered, believing that the real strength in libraries does not come from money, but from librarian and citizen advocacy.

While Strege allows that the Azusa library building is “badly outdated,” he hopes that the city will eventually prioritize funds to replace the facilities. Despite the lack of funds, Strege looks forward to future programs and improvements.

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Photo by Maureen Wolff

“I think the library is moving more toward an educational model and a community meeting space,” said Strege. “I would like to see more classes about more topics, and more direct assistance programs to help people learn about important topics like technology, personal finance, health…We do a lot right now, especially with how little time and money we have, but I think we could do more.”

Director of the American Library Association’s Center for the Future of Libraries Miguel Figueroa said that while economic downturn has had negative effects on state and federal funding for libraries, California’s libraries are on the forefront of adapting their roles to reflect larger trends.

“The future is technology, but it’s also lots of other changes that are happening,” said Figueroa, asserting that many of the innovations happening in the nation’s libraries are not technologically based. While libraries are still grounded in the culture and rhythms of sharing information, many are encouraging not only reading, but doing. Many libraries are providing what Figueroa calls “maker spaces,” allotting room within their facilities for visitors to create and experience learning and expression beyond books.

Public libraries have adapted to a lack of funding with agility, but the fight to save state funding for public libraries is far from over. Governor Brown’s 2016-2017 budget—and specifically his allotment for state library funding—remain open to revision. His proposals for state library funds are expected to be reviewed by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance on May 4, according to a CLA press release.

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Children use the computers in the youth section of the Azusa City Library. Photo by Maureen Wolff

In the meantime, Governor Brown has expressed strong support for California’s libraries, declaring April 10-16 of this year “California Library Week.” He stated in a proclamation, “California’s 1,112 libraries provide a multiplicity of important community functions: fostering a love of reading in people of all ages and walks of life, providing academic support to schoolchildren, teaching literacy skills to adults and serving as a safe haven and connection to social support for our most vulnerable citizens…I applaud all of our public libraries’ efforts to modernize their services, and my budget continues to provide support for library broadband access.”

CLA is calling on all state library supporters to write to legislators on the budget subcommittee, asking them to approve funding proposals and to allocations additional funds for broadband connection grants and adult literacy programs. The budget will receive final approval this summer.

 

 

 

Social media’s “in” to human trafficking

The number of people joining social media is increasing every year. Just from 2015 to early 2016, there has already been a 17% increase of social media users.

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The increase of users on social media

Social media is making a name for itself in the younger generation. Teenagers are able to build their profile in ways to shape their reputations and only expose information they want the public to believe about them.

Not only is social media giving teenagers this power to portray their image a certain way to the world, but human traffickers are doing the same thing. Social media has opened up a whole new world for traffickers.

According to United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is the act of gathering, moving, receiving, or keeping human beings by threat, force, coercion, or deception, for exploitative purposes. This includes “the exploitation of prostitution of other or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

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The University of Southern California has done a study on how traffickers have adapted quickly to the 21st century global landscape. The study states, “While the rapid diffusion of digital technologies like mobile phones, social networking sites, and the Internet has provided significant benefits to society, new channels and opportunities for exploitation have also emerged. Increasingly, the business of human trafficking is taking place online and over mobile phones.”

Living in Southern California the term “sex trafficking” is not common in our vocabulary. I personally thought trafficking only happened in countries outside of the United States until I started doing more research.

There was a report done by Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force  that talks about how human trafficking is done throughout Orange County in hotels and homes that start from the social media platform. This is also confirmed by the womens funding network who say that media is actually a popular marketing tool to lure in young women.

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

“Social and technological platforms allow predators to operate behind anonymity and false identies which is why they use it,” said Founder and CEO of Redeeming Love Charlene Heydorn. “If they can get a vulnerable young person to believe and trust them behind the veil of the internet, then manipulation and coercion become easy.”

Citizen for Community Values shows that the average age of victims is between 11-14. About 80% of the the victims are of women and 70% are trafficked into the sex industry.

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“A majority of the victims that come to Community Service Programs are between the ages of 13-21. They were tricked into believing that they were doing work for a modeling agency and end up getting trapped by their trafficker and will do anything to keep their family out of danger,” said Community Service Programs Supervisor of the Human Trafficking Program Nikki Hutchinson.

These young girls are lured in by their trafficker’s fake social media account. They become excited about potenial opportunities with a “modeling agenecy” or even being involved romactically with a trafickker who is in fact posing as a loving partner.

“These girls begin to feel they are being valued, special, or that they can make a lot of money without their parent’s help,” said Rapha House International Director of Client Services Jen Osgood.

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

The different social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat now offer private messaging. The traffickers are easily able to reach out to potential victims through messages. According to News Trust, they say the growing trend in the United States right now is that traffickers use WhatsApp or Snapchat where messages disappear over time.

The website Backpage is also used by sex traffickers. Backpage is an adevertising website that provides a variety of different job listings that range from sells, bartending and different types of services. Backpage makes up 80 percent of all online prostitution and revenue. There are certain key words that the traffickers will use in the ads to grab a girl’s attention. The traffickers can also change the words from time to time.

“Traffickers really use any type of social media to their benefit and almost any social media can be used by traffickers to connect with potential victims,” said Osgood.

Some girls become connected to their trafficker through social media because they are seeking attention and affirmation. The trafficker then in a sense “rescues” them by assuring that they can give the young girls everything they are searching for.

“The trafficker becomes very good at brainwashing the younger girls into promising them a family, love and even allowing the girls to refer to them as ‘daddy,'” said Hutchinson.

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

I had the oppurtunity to talk with Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and Human Trafficking Unit Coordinator, Jane Creighton about what she has seen in Los Angeles regarding sex trafficking through the different platforms of social media.

She starts off by telling me about an encounter she had a few years ago with a female college student who was caught up in the scam/manipulation of trafficking. This college student attended a good college and had family support. The victim did not come forward because she was threatened by her trafficker. The only way the victim got away is because her trafficker was caught up in a federal drug sting.

“We have to keep in mind after the victims are captured, their traffickers already have a sense of who they are through their social media accounts. In this case it would be advised that the girls need somehow detach from social media,” said Creighton.

Social media is growing every day and young girls need to become more cautious of how they expose themselves on social media and who they might interact with.

“Because of the many ways traffickers are able to get connected with young girls through social media, we must prevent trafficking through awareness and education,” said A21 Global Volunteer Coordinator, Katie Fillinger. “We have created presentations and curriculum for schools, orphanages, and universities. Young people are now being equipped with strategies to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking.”

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Picture taken by Morgan Eisenga

The goal of A21 is to use social media platforms for potential victims to prevent trafficking before it even begins. This education empoweres the rising generation to be aware of the media propaganda used by the sex trafickking industry. 

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Photo taken by Morgan Eisenga

Sex trafficking is happening daily, not only globally, but right here in Southern California. These statistics and knowledge do not need to depress us, but empower people to create change and be more aware of how they present themseleves on social media platforms.

The Columbus Dispatch says, “We have come a long way, but we can not be happy where we are.”