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Targeting: The Governor of KS, The KS State Senate, The KS State House, see more…
Started by: Kristen Tebow, RC – Kansas/Missouri

Some people say that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The truth is that there are more slaves in America in modern times, than during the Civil War. Modern slavery has a new name. That name is human trafficking.

Human trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Protocol of 2000 as “a criminal activity in which people are recruited, harboured, transported, bought, or kidnapped to serve an exploitative purpose, such as sexual slavery, forced labor, or child soldiery.” As one can see, there are many different faces of human trafficking. The most prevalent cases of human trafficking that exist in America are sex trafficking cases. Most of these cases involve young girls involved in prostitution.

Contrary to popular belief, there are cases of trafficking that happen in the heartland of the United States. A lot of these cases are never brought to justice. However, in 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a sting operation calledOperation Guardian Angel and there were several cases that took place in Kansas so it is obvious that a task force would be a need for a task force in Kansas.

Also in the same article, it was mentioned that there is no official task force like there are in other states in the U.S. where human trafficking is prevalent such asColoradoCaliforniaFlorida,IllinoisOhio, and Texas. There are many arguments that can be made about population sizes of the cities in these states compared to Kansas, but I can counter each argument with Craigslist Trafficking that happens all over Kansas and the long stretch of I-70 that runs through Kansas. Also, since the overall population of Kansas is low, Kansas is arguably a terrific place for human trafficking because of the remoteness of the state.

There should be a task force in Kansas. Where is a more perfect place to start a task force than Manhattan, KS? We have four student organizations at Kansas State University who are active in the movement. We have over 25 individuals dedicated to the issue and professors who have done research on trafficking on a local, national, and global level. This petition will prove that the community wants Kansas to get involved in ending the most hideous of crimes committed in the world.

Another reason you should care: All of us, even Kansans, contribute to human trafficking by buying consumer goods that are made by underpaid workers who are often maltreated. Most of the time these workers are children.

Most importantly and the reason you all should care: We had a student at Kansas State University who was kidnapped, gang-raped, and trafficked at Fort Riley. I think that this alone should warrant a prevention movement.

The task force would provide prevention educational programs, research on the issue, awareness event-planning, community action and outreach, and it would provide jobs for the community. There are many benefits for launching something like this in our town!

Please help us join the fight and show that Kansas cares!

http://humantrafficking.change.org/petitions/view/start_a_task_force_for_human_trafficking_in_kansas_-_manhattan#

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by Kristen Tebow, RC Kansas/Missouri

Since we have just celebrated a holiday that greatly measures success on costume and candy sales, I would like to take this time to talk about the dark side of Halloween.

We all go trick or treating on Halloween or take our children trick or treating. When I was growing up, I remember the competitions that my friends and I had while we were trick or treating. Whoever filled up the bag of candy first had bragging rights until the next Halloween. What I don’t remember from the early days is wondering where the chocolate in these candy bags came from. Now that I am old enough, I think about where everything comes from.

Here are a few things that were done in the few weeks leading up to Halloween, and also a few ideas that you can do for next year.

 

The International Labor Rights Forum, along with Global Exchange, Green America and Oasis USA, organized screenings of The Dark Side of Chocolate all across the country. This new documentary exposed the ongoing use of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry in West Africa. It is a great resources for increasing awareness of this critical labor rights issue. 

As part of the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, they asked concerned individuals to host screenings in their communities throughout October 2010, especially during a national week of action from October 25 through October 31.

For more information, please contact Tim Newman at Tim.Newman@ILRF.org or 202-347-4100

Reverse Trick-or-Treating
Ten to twenty thousand groups of children, college students, and activists (including myself) handed chocolate back to adults during their regular neighborhood trick-or-treating rounds this Halloween. They distributed Fair Trade certified chocolate attached to a card explaining the labor and environmental problems in the cocoa industry globally and how Fair Trade provides a solution. The event, Reverse Trick-or-Treating, was launched to raise awareness of the pervasive problem of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa fields, to empower consumers to press the chocolate industry for more fair cocoa sourcing policies, to shift the industry toward sourcing Fair Trade certified cocoa, and to inform consumers about Fair Trade companies that are leading the way to industry reform. Fair Trade standards prohibit the use of abusive child labor, contain extensive environmental sustainability protections, and enable farmers to escape poverty.

On Wednesday, October 13th, our Issue Analysts were afforded the opportunity to learn more about one of the greatest threats we face as nation and as a planet, nuclear weapons. Alex Toma, the Executive Director of the Connect US Fund was on-hand as our speaker and she gave a terrific, brief overview of nuclear weapons. She covered their origins and development, their use during World War II and the Cold War, the theory of deterrence and MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and how these weapons pose a threat today through either the potential for nuclear terrorism and/or accidental or miscalculated nuclear launches.

Feedback from our Issue Analysts has been overwhelmingly positive! We had Issue Analysts specifically writing for the Global Peace and Security Program in attendance, but we also had some who were not writing specifically for GPS, but other AID programs, which was fantastic!

We are anxiously looking forward to offering more of these briefings for our Issue Analysts, so stay tuned for more details!

By Enock Musungwini
Enock is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Enock below or take a look at the Student Issue Analysts.

BEHAVIORAL CHANGE is the way individuals or people Think, Speak , Act and See with regards to many health problems including HIV/AIDS. Behavior change is a process and is a strategy of moving beyond awareness thus taking programs from information to action. Understanding the behavioral change theory is key to HIV prevention.

As a public health professional, I have learned that behavioral change is influenced by five BIG factors:

1) Current information level of the individual who should change the behavior.

2) Perceived risk of that individual: whether the individual personalizes the risk. For example, a person may think that although the risk is high for general population level that that may not apply to them.

3) Skills and confidence of the individual to take action with regards to the positive behavior to be adopted.

4) Social support for the individual to change and adopt the positive behavior he /she wants to take. This involves the environment and the support systems to reach and get to the desired goal and behavior. This involves creating an enabling environment for behavior change in terms of policies, practices, beliefs and traditions of the particular group or population as well as families and communities.

5) Access to the resources that support and promote behavioral change. This involves HIV prevention services including testing and counseling (T&C), Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Condoms, Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART) and other support services. Barriers that affect access to the services should be removed.

Behavior change is a process with stages and the stages may happen in order or haphazardly. The stages of behavior change are:

1.     Not thinking about change: An individual is unaware of the need to change and don’t perceive themselves at risk.

2.     Thinking about change now may be because there was awareness and weighing the pros and cons of changing behavior. The individual now perceive him/herself at risk and has personalized risk.

3.     Preparing to change the behavior that will put him/her at risk and developing a plan for the change. The individual find ways of going about it and what to do to achieve the change.

4.     Taking action to adopt the new desired behavior and thus now an individual is following his/her plan of reaching that goal (behavior).

5.     Maintaining that behavior which one has adopted so as to avoid relapsing back to the risk behavior. This involves avoiding events and situations that will trigger the re-surfacing of the risk and undesired behavior.

Behavior change is a cross-cutting HIV prevention strategy that zero down to an individual and is the ideal approach in a generalized HIV epidemic where HIV is no longer confined and concentrated in specific populations and groups. Behavior change challenges everyone: HIV positive and negative, married and unmarried, men and women, young and adults to take part and make effort. Behavior change is not about blaming the past and what happened in the past but it is about what do an individual do and what can the community and families do now to prevent HIV transmission.

Behavior change is multifaceted and multidimensional as well as cross-cutting in all sectoral HIV/AIDS services and programs.

Behavior Change starts with me!! Stop AIDS , Keep the Promise! HIV Prevention now.

Enock Musungwini is a holds a Certificate in Public Health and Health Systems management, Diploma in Nursing and BSc (Hons) Degree in Psychology. He holds other  various certificates related to Leadership, Interaction, Facilitation and Management. He is the Director and Founder of Community Organization for Development and AIDS Prevention (CODAP) an NGO that works with youths and young people on HIV/AIDS, Reproductive health, peer education and other development programs. He has presented various Abstracts and papers at many national, regional and International conferences related to HIV/AIDS, Climate change and Leadership. He has worked for the following NGOs that work with youths and communities on HIV/AIDS: Midlands AIDS Service Organization as a Program officer for Behavioral Change Communication programs, Gweru Women AIDS Prevention Association as Project Coordinator, The CENTRE – Project Officer (Capacity Building and Outreach )

So this past weekend I had the privilege of traveling as part of the AIDemocracy delegation to the Millennium Campus Conference in New York City, which coincided with the important Millennium Development Goals Summit happening at the UN. The conference brought together young activists around advocating for the achievement of the MDGs by 2015. We heard from an impressive array of NGO leaders and powerful speakers, but the most engaging moment for me came outside of the conference itself.

Myself and two others in the AIDemocracy delegation had the chance to dress up as part of a stunt with ActionAid as farm animals. As soon as I heard the potential animals I called the goat, while my fellow animals were a chicken and a cow.

We were representing the farm animals of women in developing countries, and we were there to advocate on their behalf. Women farmers, if empowered and supported, can help achieve the MDGs. They are closest to those that are living in conditions of poverty and hunger, and have the power to dramatically affect those communities. This was a great opportunity for me to come to the center of the development talks, and participate in a high level stunt like this. Various media outlets came out to film and take pictures, and it was a very empowering experience.

I know this goat is going to continue advocating for those living in extreme poverty and hunger. My battle cry is still reverberating in my head, “Support my farmer, she can fight hunger!” Will you step up to be an advocate for her too?

Below is a brief video about the stunt.

Is it just me…. Or are “grown-ups” finally realizing how important and valid youth voices are? Everywhere I go- at meetings, listening to speeches, attending coalition meetings—everyone wants to involve youth.  As if we have a new power in the world. Maybe they are really getting it. Perhaps they are accepting that it is also our world and realizing that all of the global challenges that they are trying to tackle cannot be solved without us. After all there are 3 billion of us under the age of 25 who make up half of the world’s population.

Here are some reasons UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid shared as to why she feels youth are essential during the launching of the International Year of Youth a couple weeks ago:

“Young people are among the most affected by the key development challenges of our time, but are also at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to these problems.”

“Their open-mindedness, mobility and affinity to information and communication technologies transcend geographical boundaries. Youth can be a bridge between cultures and can serve as key agents in promoting peace and dialogue. We stand to learn and to benefit from their energy and creativity.”

“Today, as we celebrate the launch of the International Year of Youth, the world’s largest youth generation ever is searching for opportunities to pursue and fulfill their dreams. They are approaching adulthood in a world our generation could not have imagined, and with their own leadership, supported by the older generation, they can shape the world to ensure sustainable development for the present and future generations.”

“We call on the international community to join our efforts and to recognize the central role that young people play in the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals and the attainment of peace and security.”

“So ‘get up and shake’ for youth as the leaders of today and the makers of tomorrow.”

Read her entire statement here.

Yesterday I turned a quarter of a century old (ekkk!). Like every other birthday, my mother did not fail to remind me of how much pain she endured to bring me into the world. “You know, I was in labor for almost two days with you? Do you know how much that hurt? You were a small baby but with such a big head – you almost killed me!” Although at first I began to sigh and give a sarcastic “Yes, mom I know…. Sorry I had such a big head back then,” it really made me think about my 25 years of life. My life could have been so different than it is now.

My life could have been drastically different from day one simply because I was born in a developing country. Because of barriers to access health facilities and with no skilled birth attendant by her side, my mother could have easily added to Nepal’s high maternal mortality rates (today’s ratio as high as 16.6 women dying per 2,000 live births) and I could have been another child with no mother.  Luckily, with a healthy mother and father who were able to provide me with the basic needs survive, I also surpassed Nepal’s high infant and child under-five mortality ratio (today’s ratio: 51 deaths per 1,000 live births), just in time to move to the US at the age of six.

I was able to receive a number of basic needs and opportunities in the US that I most likely would not have had in Nepal: regular visits with the doctor, clean water, immunizations, primary and secondary education, adequate nutrition, sex education or opportunity to attend college, among others. I wondered…if I did not have the opportunities I had living in a developed country, would I have been able to do as much as I have at this age? Would I be able to advocate for the women’s rights, let alone sexual and reproductive health and rights?

Read the rest of this entry »

One of the key groups in the AIDemocracy network are our Regional Coordinators – an inspired group of student activists who act as regional “party hosts” for the community. Our new batch is in town this weekend, for our annual ‘get-to-know-eachother’ and skillbuilding retreat.

In addition to learning more about each other and the organization, and hearing from some experts working in the fields of water, nuclear weapons, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and foreign assistance, we’re spending a lot of time brushing up on advocacy and oranizing skills. Some points that stuck in my mind from today:

  • fun and creative organizing is the only thing that will save the world
  • look for issues that are broad (touch many people) and deep (touch them deeply)
  • don’t underestimate the value of having a conversation with an elected official; they often don’t know much about the issues we’re working on, and at the very least we should get them talking/thinking about them
  • find things you are for, as much as things you are against
  • only issues matter. Don’t focus on “sides”; win and keep people on the issues
  • most people vote because of how they feel, not the facts

Big thanks to our speakers: Alex Beauxchamp, Food and Water Watch; David Hart, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Jennifer Redner, International Womens Health Coalition; and Didier Trinh, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. And big props to our fantabulous organizing trainer Roxanne Lawson!

We are living history. The youth generation of today has witnessed some of the nation’s most momentous events, all of which will undoubtedly be discussed in history classes for years to come. However, not only have we witnessed many, we have participated in and caused for one in particular. In 2008, young voters turned out in record-breaking numbers to the polls to elect President Barack Obama, giving him the win with the largest youth vote for a single candidate ever in history. This election was also the third highest in voter turnout among young people since the voting age was lowered to 18.

In 2008, 51% of voters between 18-29 years old came out to vote—a jump of 11 points since 2000 when 40% voted—constituting the largest spike of any age group. Total turnout of the voting-age population has consistently been on the rise in presidential elections since 1996, when national turnout was 49.1% while in 2008 it was 56.8%. However, while presidential election turnout has been climbing upwards, midterm election turnout has consistently been around 37% since 1978.

Lowered news coverage and overall less “hype” surrounding midterm elections in comparison to presidential races can partially be faulted for minimal turnout during off-years; however, ultimately voters’ mindsets are the heart of the problem. Congressional elections arguably have as much influence over the government’s actions and the overall political scene for the nation as presidential ones. The president’s desires and platform largely, if not entirely, depend on the rulings of Congress to be progressed or denied–making every person’s vote and opinion valuable whether they support the president of the time or not.

This November, the 2010 off-year election ballots will be cast to determine who will sit in 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate for many years to come. With such momentous feats amid our freshly blazed trail, we as youth cannot let up now. As the 2010 elections quickly approach, we must keep in mind that our votes are needed as much as ever and that youth hold immense power in politics. Remember, regardless which candidate your vote is cast for, every vote counts in contributing to the workings of democracy upon which our nation was founded. While we as youth are hailed for breaking records in 2008, we can continue to break records with the Senatorial elections of 2010.

Sources:
http://www.civicyouth.org/?page_id=241#3
http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2008G.html
http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/FactSheets/FS_youth_Voting_2008_updated_6.22.pdf

Given the title of this post, you may be understandably asking yourself, “what’s New START?” Well, let me explain. New START is the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and Russia to reduce the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons that each of us have in our nuclear arsenals down to 1,550 each, a reduction of about a third of the current stockpiles. The reason the treaty is preceded by the word “New” is because there was a previous START, which was negotiated and ratified back when President George H. W. Bush was in office in 1991. That treaty expired on December 5th, 2009. Therefore, we have not had a treaty in place to replace the first START in almost a year. New START attempts to fill this gap.

I provide all of this background to you for several reasons. One, because I feel it is critically important to simply be aware of current events, especially with regard to nuclear weapons. However, more importantly, it is crucial you understand the issues surrounding arms control and nonproliferation if you are to work towards the goal of the elimination of all nuclear weapons, of which ratifying New START is an integral step.  Now you may be asking yourself, but why do I want to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons? Don’t they assure that another country who also has nuclear weapons won’t launch an attack against us because they know we would do the same to them? Again, allow me to explain briefly.

Read the rest of this entry »

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