Shine A Light On Slavery

Shine A Light On Slavery

Be in it to end it.
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Yesterday, Feb 23, was something called “shine a light on slavery day”. While this may seem like a small gesture, people around the world, inspired by the "End it Movement" drew red X's on their hands, wore a big red X, and posted pictures on their social media raising awareness for human trafficking. While drawing the X’s doesn’t end slavery, it raises awareness among people about this $32 billion industry that thrives on the exploitation of humans just like you and me. This industry is the trade and enslavement of humans and more specifically the trade of humans for sex.

While this movement to draw and wear x’s comes from the “End it Movement”, who partners with organizations such as Out of Darkness, The International Justice Mission, a21, and others, the movement has grown. Just a few days ago, Ashton Kutcher presented before the Senate calling for more action to tackle child sex abuse. Celebrities posted pictures with the End it X, people like Carrie Underwood, and Kristen Bell.

Lately, I have begun to realize the shocking presence of the sex trade in our society today and how desperately it needs to be addressed. Today, over 20 million people around the world sold and bought. An estimated 300,000 of these victims are children, meaning 1 in 5 victims under the age of 18 and the average age to enter the slave trade is 12 years’ old. In a school sponsored event this week I learned typical timeline for teenage girl entering sex trade beginning anywhere between ages 12-15 girls may run away from home, be picked up by a pimp, put on a site like "back-page" and very quickly start servicing between 5-10 men a night. There is a very low possibility these girls will ever be rescued, only 1-2% of slaves ever are. They may run away from the sex trade, may get too old, or may never leave this industry.

In 1850 an average slave cost $40,000 in today’s money, and today, a slave costs about $90. Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim, and there are more slaves than at any other point in history.

The unfortunate reality is that we are all connected to slavery. People our age, both boys and girls are sold in the slave trade. People our little sister's age, our little brother's age. While the reality is that we are closer to human trafficking and sex slavery than we think, we are closer to ending it than we think. We can raise awareness – learn how through the End it Movement, wear an X and show that you stand to bring an end to this industry. Know the warning signs among people your age. Become educated through the International Justice Mission, Department of Homeland Security. Advocate for this issue with your friends and family, like I am now. Realize that this isn't a Christian issue, a racial issue, a male or female issue, or a US issue, but this is a human issue. Realize the reality of this horror in our society, and be in it to end it.

Cover Image Credit: Becca Colehower

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The Trump Presidency Is Over

Say hello to President Mike Pence.

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Remember this date: August 21, 2018.

This was the day that two of President Donald Trump's most-important associates were convicted on eight counts each, and one directly implicated the president himself.

Paul Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman for a few months in 2016, but the charges brought against him don't necessarily implicate Trump. However, they are incredibly important considering was is one of the most influential people in the Trump campaign and picked Mike Pence to be the vice presidential candidate.

Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to file a report of a foreign bank account. And it could have been even worse. The jury was only unanimous on eight counts while 10 counts were declared a mistrial.

Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, told a judge that Trump explicitly instructed him to break campaign-finance laws by paying two women not to publicly disclose the affairs they had with Trump. Those two women are believed to be Karen McDougal, a Playboy model, and Stormy Daniels, a pornstar. Trump had an affair with both while married to his current wife, Melania.

And then to no surprise, Fox News pundits spun this in the only way they know how. Sara Carter on Hannity said that the FBI and the Department of Justice are colluding as if it's some sort of deep-state conspiracy. Does someone want to tell her that the FBI is literally a part of the DOJ?

The Republican Party has for too long let Trump get away with criminal behavior, and it's long past time to, at the very least, remove Mr. Trump from office.

And then Trump should face the consequences for the crimes he has committed. Yes, Democrats have a role, too. But Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, so they head every committee. They have the power to subpoena Trump's tax returns, which they have not. They have the power to subpoena key witnesses in their Russia investigations, which they have not.

For the better part of a year I have been asking myself what is the breaking point with Republicans and Trump. It does not seem like there is one, so for the time being we're stuck with a president who paid off two women he had an affair with in an attempt to influence a United States election.

Imagine for a second that any past president had done even a fraction of what Trump has.

Barack Obama got eviscerated for wearing a tan suit. If he had affairs with multiple women, then Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell would be preparing to burn him at the stake. If they won't, then Trump's enthusiastic would be more than happy to do so.

For too long we've been saying that Trump is heading down a road similar to Nixon, but it's evident now that we're way past that point. Donald Trump now has incriminating evidence against him to prove he's a criminal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is just getting started.

Will Trump soften the blow and resign in disgrace before impeachment like Nixon did? Knowing his fragile ego, there's honestly no telling what he'll do. But it's high time Trump leaves an office he never should have entered in the first place.

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Beto O'Rourke Is The Future For The Democratic Party

Democrats need a new voice, and now they have him.

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As a self-professed progressive, the 2016 presidential election was one of the darkest days of my life. Every day I wish that the election had turned out differently. But if there's a silver lining, the Democratic Party has almost completely reinvented itself and has a chance to move forward.

Barack Obama was an amazing leader for the party for a decade. Hillary Clinton was arguably the most-flawed candidate the modern-day Democratic Party has ever nominated, and she lost to the most-flawed Republican ever nominated. So now the Democrats need someone to look up to and lead the way past the regressive presidency of Donald Trump. That man is Beto O'Rourke.

O'Rourke is a representative of Texas's 16th congressional district, which covers the city of El Paso. But right now people in the political world know him as the guy who is running against arguably the most-hated man in the Senate, Ted Cruz. Former House Speaker and fellow Republican John Boehner once said that Cruz is "Lucifer in the flesh."

Cruz prides himself in being hated by Washington politicians, but hatred from his current colleagues could come back to bite him. "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," said Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina.

If O'Rourke wins in November, he'll take down Cruz, who is one of the most powerful and influential Republicans in Washington despite being hated. And it could launch Beto to even higher office someday.

Even if he loses to Cruz, Beto has an extremely bright future ahead of him because he's just what the Democratic Party needs right now. He's young, passionate, communicates extremely well and is a perfect representation of what the face of the party should be.

This year, O'Rourke has been setting an example of how Democrats should run their campaigns. Beto has traveled to every single one of Texas's 254 counties. Ever since the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United v. FEC (2010), Democrats have pushed for campaign finance reform, and O'Rourke is leading by example with his campaign. Beto has taken $0 from Political Action Committees (PACs). All of his money comes from individual donors. Cruz has taken PAC money, but O'Rourke still holds a significant advantage in fundraising.

O'Rourke in his campaign emphasizes that Texas has among the highest immigration populations in the United States, but the senators from Texas, Cruz and John Cornyn, do not accurately represent the diversity of the state. O'Rourke has separated himself from Cruz by speaking out against the proposed border wall and the separation of immigrant children at the border.

I'm not from Texas, but I'm just as excited for this senate race as I was when Doug Jones won in my home state almost a year ago. Beto O'Rourke has an opportunity to make positive change in our country and actually bring people together. If he doesn't win in November, Beto should make plans for 2020 because he can become the face of the Democratic Party.

If you'd like to learn more about, join, or donate to the campaign, here is a link.

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