Thursday, January 31, 2019

Happy Birthday Minnie Driver!

It gets me emotional to talk about it cause there... no one would tell that story. I don’t know, it seems so strange when you can see people head’s being blown off, the kind of sexual objectification of women, and all kinds of things that they’re empty in what they’re offering up out into the world. And you go and tell a story that might actually bring comfort to somebody, or remind you of your, remind us of our humanity, and how what survives of us is love. That’s it. That’s what we got. So when you get to do that in your job which is kind of, sometimes superficial as being a celebrity or as an actress, that’s very good news. -Minnie Driver discussing the television film “Return to Zero”

Picture Legend:

1. Minnie
2. Minnie’s birthplace, Middlesex Hospital, London, England
3. Young Minnie
4. Minnie with her mom, Gaynor Churchward
5. Minnie and sister Kate
6. Minnie with her dad Ronnie and her son Henry
7. Ronnie and Minnie’s parental grandmother Mary in December 1939
8. Minnie and brother Charlie
9. Minnie With Brother Edward (holding his daughter) while shopping for Thanksgiving (yes, they celebrate Thanksgiving in Briton... if they feel like it)
10. The location of the Heligoland Bight
11. The Heligoland Bight
12. Vickers Wellington twin-engined, long-range medium bomber.
13. Couture model
14. Example of “Minnie Driver’s English Living,” her line of home textiles.
15. Bedales School
16. Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
17 Collingham College
18. Minnie selling Right Guard
19. In “God on the Rocks" 
20. “House of Elliot” 1991
21. In “Casualty”
22. In “Lovejoy” 1992
23. Omi the Zebra Man
24. Minnie as Arlette in “Maigret” 1993
25. In “Mr. Wroe's Virgins”
26. Minnie and Keira Knightley on “Screen One” 1993
27. Minnie on“Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge” 1994
28. Alan Cumming in “That Sunday”
29. “Circle of Friends” 1995
30. As a Russian nightclub singer in “Goldeneye”
31. Minnie and George Cole in “My Good Friend”
32. In “The Politician's Wife”
33. Minnie with Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci, and Marc Anthony in “Big Night” 1996.
34. Minnie with one of the most underrated actors in the business, Brad Pitt, in “Sleepers”
35. Minnie with John Cusack in “Grosse Point Blank”
36. Minnie and Damon in “Good Will Hunting” 1998
37. Ben Affleck, Minnie, and Matt Damon
38. Alyssa Milano

   This morning it is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big Joyce’s Take shout out to one of my  very favorite actresses, musicians, singers, and songwriters, Ms. Minnie Driver!
   Amelia Fiona Driver  (“Minnie" would become a childhood nickname) was born at a very early age as a small, wrinkled up, female infant, at 5:25 A.M. precisely, deep within the turgid bowels of  Middlesex Hospital, in the Fitzrovia district (a district in central London, near London's West End, lying partly in the City of Westminster (in the west) and partly in the London Borough of Camden (in the east); north of Oxford Street and Soho between Bloomsbury and Marylebone), of London, England (It is purported that Winston Churchill was  treated there in 1962, which seems to make sense. After all, Churchill was British, probably living in or around London, as most British people do... the hospital was in London, sooner or later the two were bound to get together. And we know for almost certain (about as certain as anyone can be about these kind of things) that our good friend, the actor Peter Sellers, died there in 1980. The hospital giveth, and the hospital taketh away) Alas, that fine institution is no longer with us, having closed in 2005.
   Yes, I know what you’re thinking dear readers. Minnie, if I may call her that, is just another of those damn foreigners who entered the United States to steal all of our acting jobs, justifying themselves by rationalizing they are only taking the menial roles that Americans didn’t want or couldn’t physically manage. One of those immigrants our great leader is valiantly trying to keep out of our glorious country.
   Well, in that you would be correct, but she is truly one of us now. More about that later.
   As an adult Minnie would reach the height of 5' 10" (1.78 m). This will be come interesting later (if you watch the videos). She has dark brown eyes and (naturally curly) hair. Her average weight is 148 pounds (2,368 ounces, depending on what she had for dinner). Her net worth is 20 million dollars. She does not have but certainly deserves her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (I looked into the process of nominating her and discovered it would cost me $40,000 to do so, and that she would have to sign a form giving me permission to nominate her and that she would need to agree to personally show up at the commemoration ceremony, and since I don’t have her address I decided to hold off on this idea, not that the money was an issue, mind you. I could easily get that from Joyce’s Take petty cash... So every time you see someone get their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame you know the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce got paid (Hollywood Historic Trust, a 501(c)3 charitable foundation actually, or so they say))
   Ms. Driver’s lineage is a tad unusual, or unconventional I should say, in that her mother and father never married. Or perhaps that is the norm. Only the statisticians and sociologists know for sure.
   But there was something else.
   Her father, Charles Ronald  (“Ronnie") Driver (1921–2009), was married to another woman throughout his relationship with her mother, Gaynor Churchward (née Millington), making Gaynor Charles’ mistress. A secret mistress at that.
   Ronnie was a successful Swansea (a city and county on the south coast of Wales) businessman and financial advisor. His company, London United Investments, gave financial advice to the Royal Family and other high end clients.
   Minnie says: “My parents met in 1962 and were together for 13 years. They broke up when I was six. During that entire time, my dad was married to someone else and had another family. I didn’t know my parents weren’t married until I was 12 or 13 – my dad lived a very split life. We just did not talk about where he came from.”
   Ronnie’s first wife Annie had given birth to a daughter, Kate in 1969, making Kate the elder half-sister to Minnie. Apparently, Ronnie married a second time, and that union produced a son,  Charlie, and Gaynor married after the break up with Ronnie, which produced son Edward. Both families were unaware of each other's existence.
   How Ronnie was able to pull this off and survive to the age that he did is the stuff situation comedies are made of.
   Before all of this happened Ronnie had been a member of the Royal Air Force and participated with distinction in the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, which occurred in 1939, soon after England declared war on Germany on September 3rd, two days after Germany obstreperously invaded Poland. 
   Heligoland Bight (a bight is a bend or curve in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature) is a bay which forms the southern part of the German Bight, itself a bay of the North Sea, located at the mouth of the Elbe river.
   The Battle of the Heligoland Bight occurred on December 18th and was actually the first aerial battle of World War II that got it’s own name... “The Battle of the Heligoland Bight.” 
   You see, the German’s had been and were able to cause all sorts of mischief in the North Atlantic Ocean with their fancy U-Boat submarines. They were sinking Allied ships all over the place, and Britain, personified by aforementioned Winston Churchill, got fed up with it.
   The Air Ministry decided to launch an attack on German surface ships to prevent them from supporting those U-boats, and on the 18th three RAF bomber squadrons (one squadron consisted of 8 bombers) was sent to engage German ships in the Heligoland Bight and sink or damage as many as possible.
   24 Vickers Wellington long-range medium bombers took off. 18 year old Ronnie and his buddy 21 year old Walter were in one of them.
   Two turned back owing to engine trouble before reaching German airspace. The German reaction was slow, but eventually they scrambled strong fighter aircraft forces to intercept the bombers. They scrambled a whole bunch of them, over 120 aircraft.
   120 German vs 22 British, it hardly seems fair does it? Fortunately for the British only 44 German fighters made contact with the British bombers. Still, that’s like an almost exact two to one advantage the German’s had over the British, and the British were flying big unwieldy bombers, with no fighter support (which in itself is rather odd. Why was there no British fighter support? I just don’t know).
   The Germans destroyed half of the British forces. Walter was one of 61 British airmen who failed to return that day.
   The British Air Command reconsidered the idea of air raids during daylight hours after this incident, so the battle did have some historical and strategic significance overall. 
   Minnie only discovered her father was an RAF hero when a friend recently bought a book at a  rummage sale in Kent (a county in South East England, sort of like Riverside or San Bernardino counties here in Southern California, but with castles). Inside there was a story about Ronnie, aged 18, receiving the Distinguished Flying Medal for bravery in 1939.
   When his aircraft was badly damaged, his gun turret at the front of the plane was all but blown away. Ronnie put out a fire which threatened to destroy the whole plane, using only his hands.
   Later his pilot related: “My gunman was very prompt with the fire and beat it out with his gloved hands. But for this, the aircraft would have been well alight in a few seconds. His quick action saved our lives.”
   Minnie broke down in tears when she learned of her father’s heroism which continued as the plane ditched into the North Sea. Dangling from the remains of his flimsy gun turret, in freezing conditions, Ronnie was then able to launch a dinghy and get the three other members of his injured crew inside. But despite his best efforts, the men discovered that Ronnie’s best friend, the rear gunner, Walter Lilley, had died in the attack.
   Walter had been at the back of the plane and in the end they had to leave his lifeless body in the wrecked plane as it sank into the ocean. The four men in the dinghy were eventually rescued by British forces, which was pretty much a miracle in and of itself.
   Having escaped death by the narrowest of margins, Ronnie, a wool clerk (Wool is the hair that grows on sheep and on some other animals) before joining the RAF, suffered from post-traumatic stress and was hospitalized twice to receive treatment. In the archives of the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London, Minnie discovered newspaper pictures where Ronnie is showing his mother his medal, at home in Stockton on Tees. It was the first time she had ever seen a photograph of her grandmother.
    Minnie’s mom, or mum as they say in England, is a fabric designer and former couture model (Haute couture; French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking" or "high fashion") is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is high-end fashion that is constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high-quality, expensive, often unusual fabric (wool) and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable sewers - often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Check out Paul Thomas Anderson’s film “Phantom Thread,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and you’ll find out everything you ever wanted to know about haute couture and its models).
   The following is taken (stole) from an article in People Magazine, dated May 8th, 2017:
   “When Minnie Driver came home from school one day to find her mother, Gaynor Churchward, making cushions, ‘I thought she had gone a bit mad,'she tells PEOPLE.
   Churchward was reeling from her recent divorce and didn’t have much in the way of job experience, Driver says. “But she successfully made some very beautiful cushions. And she began what ended up being a multi-million pound (British money, not weight) company.”
   Now Driver, 46 (she’s a lot older now), is following in her mother’s footsteps. The actress has exclusively announced to PEOPLE that she’s launching Minnie Driver’s English Living, a line of home textiles on HSN (Home Shopping Network).  
   The collection — including bedding, window treatments and throws — was created in collaboration with Churchward, who first inspired Driver’s passion for interiors.
   ‘I’ve always been really interested in design, mostly because of my mom and how I was raised,' Driver says. ‘She’s a really inspiring person.’”
   Gaynor has her very own Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) page by appearing on Lifetime’s biographical television series, “Intimate Portrait,” in 2000. Presumably the episode was mainly concerned with her actress daughter.
   Here’s a link to Minnie’s HSN page.
      As Minnie shared above, Ronnie and Gaynor broke up when she was just six years old. Ronnie moved to an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America, named Barbados (13° 6′ 0″ N, 59° 37′ 0″ W), where Minnie spent her school holidays (some sources state that she was raised there).
   At some point she was shipped off to the Bedales School, in Hampshire, as a boarder. The school is a co-educational day independent school in the village of Steep, fairly near the market town of Petersfield.
   Wikipedia whispers to me: “Bedales is renowned for its eccentricity, liberal ethos, relaxed attitude, fashionable parents and famous alumni. The Tatler Schools Guide used to cite Bedales as ‘a bohemian idyll with bite,’  and The Good Schools Guide states that, although the school is ‘less distinctive than in the past,’ it is ‘still good for 'individuals,’ articulate nonconformists, and people who admire such qualities."
   They have fashionable parents! A lot of schools don’t.
   I wonder if that’s a prerequisite.
   Charmingly Bedales calls their alumni “Old Bedalians.” Here’s a few of them, in no particular order: the singer, songwriter, author, and television presenter, Lily Allen. Daniel Day-Lewis and his sister, the television chef and food critic, Lydia Tamasin Day-Lewis. Actor George Sanders, and the lovely and talented actress Alice Eve. The bookbinder, Roger Powell. Painter Nina Murdoch. Anthropologist and psychologist, John Layard. Tom Arnold (the politician, not Roseanne’s ex). And the actor Simon Cadell and his younger sister, Selina.
   Many others have attended Bedales, but I just don’t have room for all of them. I just don’t.
   At the age of 15, Minnie got a tattoo of a red rose on her right butt cheek. Not the left one mind you, but the right butt cheek.
   This is one of the things Minnie and I have in common.
   Minnie later attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in South Kensington (an affluent district of West London split between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster). Notable alumni include the lovely and talented actress, Natalie Dormer, Stewart Granger, Siobhan Hewlett and Hunter, Angela Lansbury, Patrick Macnee, Julia Ormond, Terence Stamp, and Omar Berdouni.
   She also attended Collingham College, an independent college also in Kensington.
   In a 2016 interview, Minnie revealed that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 17 while  vacationing in Greece. When she reported the incident to police, she was partially blamed for the incident.
   Just in the United States one in three women and one in six men experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Imagine what it must be like for women in Greece.
   Minnie first entered the entertainment industry not as a actress, oh no, that was just what they expected, but as a singer-songwriter-musician when she was at Bedales, being part of the Milo Roth Band, which got their own recording contract when she was just 19 years old.
   “How did you get into music?”
   “By going to a very musical school where I was encouraged to sing, write and perform. I got a record deal at 19 with a group called the Milo Roth Band; then I followed the acting path, but I've always made music as well.”
    Minnie has said that she thought about acting as a career when she was very young, around 12 years old let’s say, and was heavily inspired by the actress Meryl Streep in Alan J. Pakula’s  rendition of the William Styron novel, “Sophie's Choice” (1982).
   In a 2013 interview she spoke of her time at school.
    “Well,” she says, “maybe it was the school I went to, but the drama department was the English department and I still break down characters in the way I was taught to in English.” She was, she says, “rubbish at maths”, but “really good at music” and always a “voracious” reader. “I'm sad now,” she says, “that I didn't go to university. I'm mad about linguistics and semiotics, language and literature. That was always there, but it was all siphoned into acting. I was so focused. I think you have to be as an actor.”
   After being trained as an actress at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts (making ends meet not as a waitress, which is the traditional route most budding actors choose, but by  finding gigs as a jazz singer and guitarist in London. She was a member in the  the jazz group Puff, Rocks and Brown, earning a development deal with Island Records.
   “I don’t know if I actually did the whole Malcolm Gladwell thing [a Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. His 10,000 hour principle holds that 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" are needed to become world-class in any field] of playing for 10,000 hours, but I felt like I did,” Driver recalls.  “I had planned to make music my primary thing, but then I got offered a film and it all went off in a different direction.  At the time, I thought that I was ready to take on the music industry, but I don’t think that I really was.  I had to grow up enough to have something to say.”
   When she wasn’t playing music she found work as an actress. There is some controversy as to what is Minnie’s very first appearance on television. The good folks at Wikipedia insist that it was in 1991 for a Right Guard Deodorant commercial in which she was partially nude. The IMDB however, and a few other sources maintain that she was cast in the television movie “God on the Rocks," with Bill Paterson and Sinéad Cusack (no relation to John, Ann, and Joan) in 1990, in which case this would be her first appearance on the telly, as they say in England. YouTube, and a few other sources list the film as being made and broadcast in 1992, so I just don’t know what to believe and may start drinking again due to this unsolved and annoying mystery.   
   In any case Joyce’s Take has sparred no expense searching long and hard for video clips from both of these entities... first up, the racy deodorant commercial. And now “God on the Rocks,” which is described thusly: “Growing up in a household incapable of showing love and affection, Margaret's life is transformed when Lydia (Minnie), a worldly teenage maid, arrives.”  
   Before being offered that film she mentions above Minnie appeared in Episode #1.4 of  the British television series “House of Elliot,” staring Stella Gone and Louise Lombard as the ubiquitous Elliot Sisters, which aired on September 21st of 1991. In November she was found on the longest-running emergency medical drama television series in the world, “Casualty,”  as Zena Mitchell, who suffered from what Inspector Clouseau would call a “bimp” on the head. The show was concerned with the staff and patients at Holby City Hospital's emergency department. This program started in 1986 and is still running! By Golly you could go to England this very minute and watch new episodes of “Casualty” if you had a mind to. She appeared with the Irish actor Derek Thompson who seemed to make a habit of appearing on the show, being in 783 episodes as the steadfast Charlie Fairhead.   
   On March 15th of 1992, a Sunday, the episode “Kids,” aired from the on the comedy-drama mystery series “Lovejoy,” with Minnie on it as Sarah. The show starred Ian McShane way before he became an American God. In this episode Lovejoy learned that his daughter was living with a middle-aged man and that a close friend had been duped into buying an expensive forged painting.
   My God! Will the carnage never end!?
   She also appeared on 3 episodes of “Kinsey,” playing  Louise Kinsey, and staring Leigh Lawson as Neil Kinsey. 
   “Midlands lawyer Neil Kinsey, known for being a maverick, takes on a new partner, Tricia Mabbott, who has recently left a larger firm. He brings an unconventional approach to dealing with his clients' cases, but has to contend with his estranged wife, Judy, his rivals, and the potential of romance with Tricia.”
   Now I happen to be in possession of some secret information that confirms that Neil Kinsey’s estranged wife Judy was in fact portrayed by the actress Marian McLoughlin. Leigh Lawson was 47 years old when the three episodes Minnie appeared in were produced, and Marian 40. Minnie was all of 22 years old, so her character Louise Kinsey, if indeed she was related to the Neil and Judy characters at all, may have been their daughter, I’m thinking. If not the whole thing dissolves into a crumbling mass of utter confusion. 
   When I google “Minnie Driver Kinsey TV show” or just “Kinsey TV show,” looking for pictures and videos to support this portion of Minnie’s life I keep getting nude pictures of the lovely and talented Lizzy Caplan, so I don’t know what’s up with that. Sorry.
   On a personal note, Leigh Lawson once canoodled my very first one true love, the actress Haley Mills, producing a son, Jason, before he married the actress/model Twiggy. 
   I’m pretty sure I hate him.
   Minnie’s first female lead was in the 11 minute short film, “The Zebra Man,” with Duncan Bell. “The true story of Major Horace Ridler, an English aristocrat who returned from the First World War to 1920s London where he began his transformation into one of the world's greatest oddities, tattooed from head to foot in black and white stripes: Omi the Zebra Man.”
   I don’t know if this guy was related to the Elephant Man or not. It doesn’t really matter. But really... zebra... elephant. All I know is that there were more than an average amount of  British African animal people in the past.
   More work in television in 1993 and 1994. Minnie Appeared in the “Maigret and the Night Club Dancer,” episode  of the crime/drama/mystery “Maigret,” starring Michael Gambon, way before he became Professor Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise (he’s now a Sir Michael Gambon, and deservedly so).
   “From Montmartre to the remote French countryside, Maigret encounters the dark side of the human psyche. Yet, he manages to maintain both compassion and a sense of humor as he explores the complex motives that lie behind every crime.”
   Minnie plays Arlette in her episode.      
   “After a beautiful but alcoholic stripper reports overhearing a murder plot in the club where she works, she recants and is murdered shortly thereafter.”
   I’m fairly sure Minnie played the beautiful but alcoholic stripper (which description is very judgmental I believe) as the only other female in the cast for that episode was the lovely and talented actress Brenda Blethyn, who was like 47 years old when this was made.
   Not that I’m saying 47 year old women can’t be both beautiful and alcoholic. I happen to know some that are both, and they can be very fetching... and alcoholic.
   Minnie played Leah in the 200 minute mini-series “Mr. Wroe's Virgins.”
   “Based on the novel by Jane Rogers, the series follows the stories of seven young women who came to live and serve in the household of 19th century cult leader John Wroe.”     
   John Wroe was a real person. You can learn all about him here if you have a mind to. Jonathan Pryce (“Brazil” “The Brothers Grimm” “Pirate of the Caribbean”) played him. One would suppose Minnie played one of the virgins.
   Hey, stop laughing!
   How rude.
   The only clip I could find of Minnie in this movie was at the pornography site, Porn Hub as it contained full frontal nudity on Minnie’s part, and I don’t feel like going there in this post. You’ll have to look it up yourselves, you nasty people.
   Full frontal nudity on British television in 1993. We have a great deal to learn from our friends in England.
   Minnie also played Sally in the “Royal Celebration” episode on the anthology series “Screen One.”
   “July 29, 1981: After two years of the Thatcher administration, there is recession and unrest, but the economic boom is just around the corner. Meanwhile, there's the fairy tale wedding of Charles and Diana to celebrate.”   
   The lovely and talented Keira Knightley made her on-screen debut in this episode.
   1994 saw Minnie playing Sue Keel in the “ Enemy Within,” episode of the long running medical soap-opera “Peak Practice.” She was Daniella Fores in the “Show 2,” episode of the comedy series “Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge.” She worked with the Scottish-American actor Alan Cumming (“Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” “The Tempest”) in the charming, romantic-comedy short, “That Sunday.” How do I know that it’s charming? Because I just watched it! And here it is if you want to watch it too (at last a clip of Minnie working with her clothes on)!
   Alan and Minnie would work in at least three films together in the following year (or at least the movies were released the following year and probably filmed in 1994).
   And Minnie appeared on two episodes of the six episode comedy series “The Day Today,” with Steve Coogan (“The Other Guys” “Holmes & Watson” “Stan & Ollie”).
   “A spoof of the British style of news broadcasting - including ridiculous stories, patronizing vox pops, offensively hard-hitting research and a sports presenter clearly struggling for metaphors.” 
   Here’s a clip featuring Minnie.
   And now it’s 1995 and we can get to that movie offer that altered Minnie’s career choice away from focusing on music, and that movie was called “Circle of Friends.”
    It was directed by Irish filmmaker Pat O'Connor (“Inventing the Abbotts” “Fools of Fortune” “A Month in the Country”), and based on the novel of the same name written by Maeve Binchy.
   Some anonymous person summarized the film on the IMDB like this: “'Circle Of Friends' is set in 1950's Ireland. The movie focuses on Benny Hogan and her best friend, Eve Malone. The story centers around Benny and Eve as they enter student life at University College, Dublin. Here Benny and Eve reunite with their childhood friend, the ice-cool Nan Mahon, the 'college belle'. They also encounter the handsome and charming Jack Foley, whom Benny quickly falls for.”
   I agree with that, although I’d have to add a goodly amount of romantic intrigue, scheming, and a betrayal.
   The film stars Minnie (who gained 25 pounds for the role), Robin, er, I mean Chris O'Donnell, Saffron Burrows, Alan Cumming, Geraldine O'Rawe, Aidan Gillen, and Colin Firth. 
  It is interesting for me at least that only two of the seven main actors listed above are actually Irish. I can only surmise that all the other Irish actors in the world were busy at the time of production.
   I actually saw this movie in a theater when it was released and that was when I was first introduced to Ms Driver, who made a fair impression upon me, so much so that I followed her career as best  I could, and looked for her in other vehicles. It is my estimation that she is one of those rare actresses or actors (I refuse to call female actresses actors... I don’t know why) that make any project they are associated with better just for their participation.
   I’ve always remembered one of her lines from “Circle of Friends,” that goes something like this: “Jack says it’s his job to try and seduce me, and that’s it’s my job to stop him.”
   That makes sense considering the huge difference in the time needed for human reproduction between males and females (males about 10 minutes on a good day - females about 3 years for each child, which includes gestation and initial child-rearing), especially significant in the 1950s.
   By that as it may, Minnie was  now the female lead of an international big budget film and was introduced to the largest market in the world, the United States of America.
   “Circle of Friends” was positively received by critics, as the film holds a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews.
   It made money! It cost 15 million USD to produce, and made 45 at the box office.
   "I just felt that you never see parts like that," said the ringlet-haired English actress. "When you're young, you don't get character leading roles. You're generally playing the daughter, the nurse, the mistress, the young wife. This was an extraordinary part for me when I was 22 -- this great big, warm character."
   Here is a fan video featuring Minnie in “Circle of Friends,” accompanied by the song "You're the One" sung by Shane McGowan and Maire Brennan, which played during the film's credits.
   By the way, the characters Sean Walsh and Simon Westward, played by Alan Cumming and Colin Firth respectively, were just despicable and poor examples of the male gender. I apologize on behalf of all males for their reprehensible and shameless behavior.
   “Circle of Friends” was released in April of 1995. In November Minnie was in another international big budget movie ($60 million for this one) having a small part in the James Bond film “Goldeneye,” with Pierce Brosnan as Bond (his first time as that character), Boromir, er, the Hitchhiker, er, Ned Stark, er.. I mean Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Liam Neeson’s “Taken" wife Famke Janssen, and Alan Cumming as a computer programmer working for the bad guy (Bean, I know it’s hard to believe but Sean plays a villain in this film). Minnie plays Irina, a Russian nightclub singer and mistress of Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane).
   Minnie sings “Stand by Your Man” with a thick Russian accent.
   Does this make Minnie a “Bond Girl?”
   Why yes, it does!
   The movie of course was a huge success, getting generally favorable reviews and making around  $350 million US dollars. 
   It has been reported that Minnie was paid $5,000.
   She must not have had one of those profit sharing deals.
   I need to say this about Minnie, she seems to be rather fickle. In 2017 she stated that Daniel Craig was the best Bond ever, and that she loved him. When reminded that she had worked with Pierce she said she loved him as well. In the future she would proclaim her love for Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson.
   Women are like this sometimes.
   1995 also saw Minnie as a regular cast member in the first season of the comedy series “My Good Friend,” appearing in all seven episodes as Ellie, Harry's landlady (Richard Pearson). The show also starred George Cole. The show was on the air for two seasons and for some unknown reason the character of Ellie was played by Lesley Vickerage in the second.  
   She was in the dramatic television mini-series “The Politician's Wife” as a former escort (British for hooker) turned parliamentary researcher who has an affair with a married member of Parliament.
   Minnie played Flora Mussell in the TV movie “Cruel Train,” which concerns trains with a bad temperament, and “In wartime England, a railway official learns that the chairman of the line had sexually abused his wife as a child, then given him the job so he could continue having sexual access to her. The husband and wife kill him together, but are seen by a train driver, who also has problems of his own. The wife tries to divert suspicion by implicating another driver and befriending the witness, but it doesn't go that smoothly.”
   Nothing about that sounds smooth at all.
   She was also in “Coping with Christmas,” which probably has something to do with the December holiday. I’d be awfully surprised if it didn’t. In it she is reunited with co-star Alan Cumming.
   In 1996 Minnie played police Sgt. Cole in the “Confess” episode of the comedy/crime/mystery series “Murder Most Horrid,” with Dawn French.
   “Two policewomen [Minnie and Dawn] try to get a confession out of an ex-convict suspected of murdering a police inspector. The interrogation finally leads to an unexpected conclusion.”
   Here’s the entire episode in three installments. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
   Minnie also was in two big time Hollywood productions. “Big Night,” written by Joseph Tropiano and the actor Stanley Tucci. Directed by the actors Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci. And starring Minnie, Bilbo, er, I mean Ian Holm, Ingrid Bergman’s lovely and talented daughter Isabella Fiorella Elettra Giovanna Rossellini, Tony Shalhoub, and, you guessed it... Stanley Tucci.       “New Jersey, 1950s. Two brothers run an Italian restaurant. Business is not going well as a rival Italian restaurant is out-competing them. In a final effort to save the restaurant, the brothers plan to put on an evening of incredible food.”
   “In the year after its premiere, Big Night got great reviews (96% fresh, according to Rotten Tomatoes), won multiple awards for its screenplay, and its co-directors, and earned nearly $12million [$12,008,376] against its estimated $4.1million budget, according to IMDB.
   More important than that, Big Night helped kick off a revolution in American food culture. It wasn’t just that restaurants were changing, with ‘authenticity’ the new watchword. How we looked at and thought about food shifted, in both minor (the band Cibo Matto released its first album, featuring food-mad tunes like Know Your Chicken and White Pepper Ice Cream) and major ways.” -Matt Gross of The Guardian
   Here’s a clip (Yes, Minnie has her clothes on but they’re all wet).
   And she was in the crime/drama/thriller/revenge flick “Sleepers,” also with Kevin Bacon, Jason Patric (Jason Miller’s son. Who’s Jason Miller? Jason Miller is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning dramatic play, “That Championship Season,” and he was the priest that wasn’t Max von Sydow in 1973‘s “The Exorcist”), Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Billy Crudup, and Vittorio Gassman.
   “After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized. Thirteen years later, they get their chance for revenge.”
   The film garnered generally good reviews, and made some money, $165.6 million against a production budget of $44 million (which doesn’t take into account print, advertising and distribution costs (or they might be included in the $44 million budget figure. I’d have to actually ask one of the producers, or the studio to find out for sure, but I’m much to high to do that. Producers and studios generally will only report production costs, a lower figure than if everything like advertising were included. They do this to make whatever profits or losses look either greater or less than they might actually be. They’re sneaky that way). Trying to figure out how movies make money will give you a migraine and make you wonder why anyone even bothers at all).
    Directed by Barry Levinson (“Rain Man” “Wag the Dog” “Rock the Kasbah”), and based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's 1995 novel of the same name. Minnie plays Carol. She got the “And, Minnie Driver” treatment in the opening credits after everyone else, which can be construed as a sign of distinguished respect, at least that’s the way I’m taking it.
   She was really the only woman in the entire film (except for a small part of one of the    witnesses).
   I hadn’t seen it since it was initially released, but I watched it the other night in preparation for this post and it was a lot better than I remembered it.
   Here’s the trailer.
   Now an established Hollywood actress, 1997 would see Minnie in what she has called her favorite film (that she’s in), “Grosse Pointe Blank.”
   “Martin Blank is a freelance hit-man who starts to develop a conscience, which causes him to muff a couple of routine assignments. On the advice of his secretary and his psychiatrist, he attends his 10th year High School reunion in Grosse Pointe, Michigan (a Detroit suburb where he's also contracted to kill someone). Hot on his tail are a couple of over-enthusiastic federal agents, another assassin who wants to kill him, and Grocer, an assassin who wants him to join an ‘Assassin's Union.’” Written by Afterburner 
   And he reunites with an old flame (Minnie as Debi Newberry, a local DJ). After arriving in the town and patching things up with Debi (Martin disappeared on her 10 years earlier when he went off into the military, and discovered a natural talent for killing people, eventually becoming a private contractor) and rekindles their relationship, he takes a look at his orders to discover that his intended target is Debi’s father (Mitchell Ryan, as Mr. Bart Newberry). He decides he’s not going to kill him as Debi would probably look unfavorably on such a corse of action. But Martin has competitors who suffer from no such qualms. For instance Dan Aykroyd as Grocer being the fiercest and a twidge, just a twidge, over-the-top. So Martin takes up the task of protecting Bart, while explaining to Debi all of what is going on. Is he successful? I’m not going to tell. I’ve already given freely way too much information as it is. You’ll just have to watch the movie and find out for yourselves. You can do that, can’t you? Of course you can.
   Here’s some more information. John Cusack’s sister Joan plays his secretary. His other sister Ann is one of the reunion people with a baby. His brother Bill is in there somewhere (talk about nepotism), as well as the lovely and talented Jenna Elfman and the lovely and talented Hank Azaria.
   Alan Arkin plays John’s pyschiatrist who feels threatened after Martin tells him what he does for a living. And Jeremy Piven is an old high school chum.
   The film was directed by George Armitage (“Private Duty Nurses” “The Big Bounce” “Miami Blues”), and was well received by critics but didn’t make a whole hell of a lot of money ($31,070,412 on a budget of $15 million during its initial theatrical run) despite my having gone to see it in a theater about three times.   
   But the important thing to remember here is that Minnie had a good time making this film.
   Here is a clip of Minnie, John, and sister Ann. Here’s another one with just Minnie and John. And one more with John and Aykroyd.
   In about three years or so, Minnie would work with Dick Cusack, John’s, Joan’s, Ann’s, and Bill’s dad, making her conquest of the Cusack family nearly complete (only former mathematics teacher and political activist mom Ann Paula Cusack and actress sister Susie would escape her mendacious clutches).
   Minnie would provide the voice for Lady Eboshi in the English version of the animated historical fantasy war epic, “Princess Mononoke (original title “Mononoke-hime“).”
   “Princess Mononoke” is set in the late Muromachi period (approximately 1336 to 1573) of Japan with fantasy elements. The story follows the young Emishi prince Ashitaka's involvement in a struggle between the gods of a forest and the humans who consume its resources. The term "Mononoke" is not a name, but a Japanese word for a spirit or monster: supernatural, shape-shifting beings.”
   Other actors involved with the English version are ex-sleeper, Billy Crudup. Billy Bob Thornton, Claire Danes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Scully, er, I mean Gillian Anderson, Keith David, and Tara Strong.
   The IMDB lists this film as being released on December 19th, 1997, but Wikipedia tells me that the movie was only released in Japan in 1997 (where it was a critical and commercial blockbuster, becoming the highest-grossing film in Japan of 1997, and also held Japan's box office record for Japanese-made films until 2001's “Spirited Away,” another Hayao Miyazaki film (director)), and released in North America (after being dubbed into English) on October 29th, 1999.
   Here’s a 9 second clip with Minnie showing how to kill something while being perfectly still.
   She appeared in the 12 minute short film, “Baggage,” with Juan Carlos Malpeli, and Liev Schreiber.
   And then there’s this movie called “Good Will Hunting,” that was released on the 5th of December, 1997.
   “When professors discover that an aimless janitor is also a math genius, a therapist helps the young man confront the demons that are holding him back.”
   That’s how Netflix describes the film.   
   I would add that it was the courts that ordered the Will Hunting character (Matt Damon) into therapy as a condition of release to a distinguished M.I.T. mathematics professor (Stellan Skarsgård) due to Hunting inexplicably starting a fight (with his friends, Ben Affleck, Affleck’s  brother Casey, and Cole Hauser) with another group of men (apparently this is what passes for fun in Boston, or “Several scholars have examined the film as a portrayal of residual Catholic–Protestant tensions in Boston, as Irish Catholics from Southie (South Boston, a densely populated neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, located south and east of the Fort Point Channel and abutting Dorchester Bay) are aligned against ostensibly Protestant characters who are affiliated with Harvard and MIT.” Hence, the fight is a mini-version of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. But this is not apparent while viewing the movie). When the police attempt to break it up Hunting hits one of them, thus his interaction with the courts.
    The late Robin Williams plays the therapist, Sean, and Minnie plays Hunting’s love interest, Skylar. Matt’s dad, Kent Damon had a cameo as a chess player. Stephen Trouskie played an uncredited bystander.  
   Damon and Affleck are credited with writing the original screenplay (after a somewhat tortuous process) and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for their efforts (beating out “As Good as It Gets,” “Boogie Nights” Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry,” and “The Full Monty,” at the 70th Academy Awards.
   Robin Williams won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, beating out Robert Forster for “Jackie Brown,” Anthony Hopkins for “Amistad,” Greg Kinnear for “As Good as it Gets,” and Burt Reynolds for “Boogie Nights.”
   Our heroine got nominated for an award for Best Supporting Actress, along with Joan Cusack for “In & Out,” Julianne Moore for “Boogie Nights,” and Gloria Stuart for “Titanic.” Kim Basinger won for her work in “L.A. Confidential.”
   Minnie was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role at the 4th SAG Awards.
   Freaking Kim Basinger won again (actually she won this before the Academy Awards on March 8th, 1999. The Oscars were presented on March 23rd)!
   The film itself was nominated for a total of 9 Academy Awards; Best Picture (losing to “Titanic “), Best Director (Gus Van Sant (“Drugstore Cowboy” “Finding Forrester” “Milk” James Cameron won for ”Titanic”), Best Actor (Matt. Jack Nicholson won for “As Good as it Gets”), Best Film Editing (Pietro Scalia), Best Original Score (Danny Elfman), Best Original Song (Elliott Smith (song "Miss Misery"), and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.  
   Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 97% based on 70 reviews and an average rating of 8/10. The site's critical consensus reads: It follows a predictable narrative arc, but Good Will Hunting adds enough quirks to the journey – and is loaded with enough powerful performances – that it remains an entertaining, emotionally rich drama.
   I agree.
   “Good Will Hunting,” made a hell of a lot of money for the company that eventually produced it (after being shopped around practically everywhere else), Miramax, headed up at the time by future alleged serial sex offender, Harvey Weinstein. It  grossed $138,433,435 in North America
and $87,500,000 everywhere else for a worldwide total of $225,933,435, on a production budget of $10,000,000.
   The hope that this phenomena will be repeated is why producers bother to make movies.
   So the film was a big success for everyone involved (especially Damon, whose career seemed to be going a little better than his friend Affleck at that time. Ben would eventually catch up, winning another Oscar for Best Picture (as a producer) in 2012 for “Argo”).  Both actors were not completely unknown at the time as some have suggested. For Damon “Good Will Hunting,” was sandwiched between “The Rainmaker (directed by Francis Ford Coppola),” and “Saving Private Ryan (directed by Steven Spielberg).” And Affleck was working steadily.
   In my opinion the screenplay was intricate, and strong. The acting was top notch. Here's a clip.
   Yet I really didn’t care for the film and was hesitant to watch it again (having first seen it when it was initially released). Why?
   It’s rather simple. The Matt Damon character Will Hunting is a big pain in the ass and rather unlikable, so why should I care for him or about what happens to him?
   I shouldn’t and didn’t.
   He starts fights with people he doesn’t know. He’s a smart ass to practically everybody, especially those who are trying to help him. He treats Minnie’s character, Skylar, like shit. He treats her about as bad as Damon treated Minnie in real life (the two dated for about a year after making this film, with Damon breaking it off publicly while on Oprah (when asked his relationship status he said he was single, disavowing his relationship with Minnie. This was news to her (Minnie told the Los Angeles Times how she felt about the way he’d ended their relationship, and while she clearly held her tongue, she also was obviously not very happy. “ It’s unfortunate that Matt went on Oprah,” she said. t seemed like a good forum for him to announce to the world that we were no longer together, which I found fantastically inappropriate. Of course, he was busy declaring his love for me on David Letterman a month previously”).
   I might as well mention this here. Minnie has never married, but she has been in some high-profile romances with the likes of actors John Cusack, Harrison Ford and David Schwimmer and rocker Mick Jagger (another thing Minnie and I have in common).
   Minnie started dating Josh Brolin after working with him in straight-to-video flick “Slow Burn,” in 1998. In January 2001, they were engaged. However, they broke up in October supposedly due to her prospective mother-in-law’s interference in producing the wedding.
   Later in 2001 she hooked up with the American singer and sometimes actor, Chris Isaak. The magician Criss Angel in 2006 -2007. 
   In and around 2007- 2008, Minnie had a short lived affair with the Australian television writer and producer Timothy J. Lea who worked on four episodes of the television show “The Riches,” which Minnie was working in at the time. Their liaison resulted in Minnie getting pregnant with her son, Henry Story Driver, who was born on September 5th, 2008 (She gave birth naturally at home after enduring a 25-hour labor. Henry weighed 9 lbs. 12 oz). Minnie kept the identity of    Henry’s father secret until 2012.
   In 2011 was in a relationship with American writer, producer, actor, and former model, Matthew Felker, which lasted until 2013. 
   I found this on the Internet machine: “Elliott Smith (2014) – In 2014, Driver was reported to be dating singer Elliott Smith after they were pictured holding hands while having lunch. Minnie first met Elliott while working in Good Will Hunting and thereafter became close friends. Elliot did the music for the movie.”
   This entry onto the Internet machine is highly inaccurate. Elliot did not “do the music” for “Good Will Hunting.” Jenna’s uncle-in-law Danny Elfman did. Elliot wrote the song "Miss Misery," which was used in the film and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, losing to "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic, music by James Horner and Lyrics by Will Jennings.
   And Elliot Smith died on October 21st, 2003 at the age of 34 from two possibly self-inflicted stab wounds to the chest.
   So someone needs to find out who it was that Minnie was holding hands with.
   Minnie debuted a new relationship with American businessman and film producer, Ryan Kavanaugh  (Relativity Media) at the Golden Globe Awards held in January of 2014, the same month Kavanaugh received a divorce from his ballet dancer wife, Britta Lazenga. Minnie and Ryan’s relationship (if indeed there ever was one) soon ended as Kavanaugh married model Jessica Roffey in 2015.
   As for current relationships I have no further information. If she is indeed single right now there is hope for guys like me who think very highly of her. I’m 63 and she’s 49 as of today. We’re both 5‘10“, and have identical tattoos on our respective asses, and if she can go out with an old bastard like Harrison Ford I feel I still have a chance.
   But probably not. She seems to prefer high profile men, and I’m very shy and adverse to publicity.
   Back to “Good Will Hunting.”
   The only thing that made Will Hunting (and what’s so “good” about him anyway?) vaguely interesting was the gimmick of him being a yet undiscovered super math genius (which in itself seems unlikely), and that only went so far.  
   Having watched it again my distaste for it remains.
   Minnie was fantastic (Minnie is always fantastic). So was Matt, that’s why he was nominated for Best Actor. He played an asshole very well. If you were mean you might say it came naturally to him. Fortunately I’m a very nice man and would never say that about him.
   Now Matt is on the surface a very likable person. He has a certain boyish quality that is appealing. He appears in cameos quite often, ofttimes poking fun at himself. (“Saturday Night Live” “The Cobert Report”).
   He appeared with two other of my very favorite actresses, Milana Vayntrub (Lilly, from the AT&T commercials, “This is Us”  the subway rat woman in “Ghostbusters” and the classic “I Dunno” short) and Stevie Nelson (“Mad Men" “The 7 Worst Ways to Thank a Veteran" “Just Shut Up!") promoting water. Take a look.
   See how cute, funny, and concerned he is!
   But Matt has a much darker side as you can plainly tell from his Bourne movies and “Suburbicon.” This man is a natural born killer. There’s just no getting around that.
   He didn’t even give credit for his dad in “Good Will Hunting” for God’s sake! He could have done that!
   A couple of years ago, following Weinstein’s outing as having molested up to 80 women, Matt was asked about how he felt about this, especially since he is the father of four girls (and remember, Harvey had a lot to do with getting both Matt and Affleck into the movie business). Matt had an interesting answer, attempting to put sexual abuse into some form of gradient system, maintaining certain acts are more acceptable than others. Here he is talking about it.
   Minnie, and another of my very favorite actresses (there are so many!), Alyssa Milano (“Who's the Boss?” “Fear” “Charmed”), took exception to Matt’s comments, and spoke publicly about it.
   Here’s a synopsis of what happened.

      Okay, we’re at 15 pages (you can’t see the pages but I can) and about 9,000 words (it takes so long to count them). I think we should take a little break, and give you time to digest all of the information that has been presented.
   I will publish the thrilling conclusion of Minnie’s birthday tribute in a few days, but on this day, all of us here at Joyce’s Take wish you, Minnie, continued good health and fortune for you and your family, and wish you a very happy birthday!
   Happy birthday Minnie Driver!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Human Trafficking

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by the means of the threat or the use of force, or by others forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control of another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. -United Nations

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents…. They are accidents and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishments for concealed sins. And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul? a monster, the norm must seem monstrous since everyone is normal to himself…. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. -John Steinbeck -“East of Eden,” p.71

Picture Legend:

1. Human Trafficking
2. Sex Trafficking in Cambodia
3. Child Soldiers in Uganda
4. Organ Trafficking
5. Labor Trafficking in Domestic Service
6. Children Trafficked to Beg
7. Labor Trafficking for Construction
8. Labor Trafficking in Thailand
9. Sex Trafficking in Germany
10. Human Trafficking in the United States
11. “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery,” 2017
12. Peonage
13. H-2A Visas
14. Agricultural Worker Sexual and Labor Abuse
15. Coalition of Immokalee Workers
16. Magazine Sales Crew Bondage
17. Thomas Dale DeLay
18. Jack Allan Abramoff
19. Northern Mariana Islands
20. Rep. George Miller, D. CA
21. Garment Industry Labor Trafficking
22. Forced Marriage
23. Massage Therapy Slaves
24. Nail Salon Slaves
25. Restaurant and Food Industry Trafficking
26. Polaris

   In Cambodia, five-year-old Srey was sold by her parents to a brothel. She was probably sold for somewhere between $10 and $100. The child was drugged to gain her compliance and passed from one customer to the next. This small child suffered months of abuse from pimps and sex tourists. At the age of six, Srey was rescued from the life of a sex slave by a former prostitute who ran victim shelters for Cambodia’s rescued children. Somaly Mam, who runs the shelter, describes Srey as “timid, quiet, and damaged.” The child was diagnosed as HIV positive and suffering from pneumonia and tuberculosis. Other children at the shelter with Srey may be even more traumatized. One child who had been imprisoned for two years in a cage where she was repeatedly raped is suffering from profound psychological trauma.

   In 2001, 27-year-old Sergey from Perm in Russia responded to an advertisement in a local newspaper for a job in construction work in Spain. The job agency promised a salary of US$1,200 per month, six times more than Sergey’s monthly salary of $200 in Perm. Sergey’s application was accepted and the agency paid for his plane ticket to Madrid on the condition that the money would be paid back when Sergey started work. Upon arrival, Sergey was met by someone from the agency who took his passport, brought him to Portugal, and forced him to work on a construction site for several months without pay. Sergey was held captive behind a barb-wire fence. He finally managed to escape and “begged his way to Germany.” Because he had no passport, Sergey was arrested by the German authorities who, according to Sergey, “beat him and took away what little money he had before deporting him to Russia.” Sergey is back home but traumatized by his experience. He reportedly is suffering from psychological problems and was unable to work for several months.

   Sixteen year old Susan, abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, reported the following:
   One boy tried to escape, but he was caught. They made him eat a mouthful of red pepper, and five people were beating him. His hands were tied, and then they made us, the other new captives, kill him with a stick. I felt sick. I knew this boy from before. We were from the same village. I refused to kill him and they told me they would shoot me. They pointed a gun at me, so I had to do it. The boy was asking me, “Why are you doing this?” I said I had no choice. After we killed him, they made us smear his blood on our arms. I felt dizzy. There was another dead body nearby, and I could smell the body. I felt so sick. They said we had to do this so we would not fear death and so we would not try to escape.
   I feel so sad about the things that I did... It disturbs me so much--that I inflicted death on other people... When I go home I must do some traditional rites because I have killed. I must perform these rites and cleanse myself. I still dream about the boy from my village who I killed. I see him in my dreams, and he is talking to me and saying I killed him for nothing, and I am crying. -Human Rights Watch (1997).

   John Allan (formerly Mohammed Gheit), 59, and Hassan Zakhalka, 32 persuaded developmentally challenged or mentally ill Arabs from the Galilee region and central Israel to sell a kidney. By placing ads in the newspaper offering money for organ donations, the pair was able to identify potential donors. They gave false information and pressured and threatened the donors to give up their kidney. Following the surgery, the organ brokers refused to pay the donors as promised.

   Henriette was 15 when she was taken by a friend of the family from Togo to work and attend school in Paris. She ended up working as a domestic servant from early morning until late at night and was forced to eat table scraps and sleep on the floor. At the age of 12, Malik was taken from Niger to Mali under the pretense that he would attend a religious school. Instead he was forced to beg on the streets for long hours. Forty two year old Robert was forced to work eight months long, for sometimes 18 hours a day with limited food and no pay in the construction industry in Armenia. Maria, age 16, was tricked by a friend into traveling from her home town in Romania to Bucharest where she was sold into prostitution and kept in line through the threat of beatings. Two 16-year-old Thai boys, Top and Wirat, were drugged, kidnaped, and forced to work under inhumane conditions on a fishing boat off the coast of Thailand for nine months with little food and no pay. Thirty-nine-year-old Lucy was showered with compliments and gifts in her native Kenya. When she traveled to Germany to be with her German “boyfriend,” he forced her into prostitution.

   These are stories of real people. They come from different parts of the world. They differ in age and gender. The jobs they are forced to do vary. But they share one thing in common. They were exploited -- victims of human trafficking. - “Human Trafficking, Human Misery, The Global Trade in Human Beings,” Alexis A. Aronowitz

   A report issued last September attempted to encapsulate the depth of the problem of modern human trafficking and slavery.
   “We now have the largest number of slaves on Earth than we’ve had in human history,” said Andrew Forrest, founder of the Walk Free Foundation, an organization working to end contemporary slavery and human trafficking which co-authored “Global Estimates of Modern Slavery” with the International Labor Organization, or ILO.
   “But we also feel equally as confident that we have the weapons now, we have the communications skills, we have the interest to raise it to public attention,” Forrest said. “As soon as the public becomes aware that slavery exists among them they can ask the question when they’are at the teller, or when they’re at the shops, or when they’re buying clothes, how can I be sure that this clothing, this seafood, this product wasn’t made by slaves? And with that question frees a slave.”
   Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world after drugs, generating approximately $150 billion in profits, according to the ILO.
   The report estimates that “40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016. In other
words, on any given day in 2016, there were likely to be more than 40 million men, women, and children who were being forced to work against their will under threat or who were living in a forced marriage that they had not agreed to.
   Of these 40.3 million victims:
   ▪ 24.9 million people were in forced labor. That is, they were being forced to work under threat or coercion as domestic workers, on construction sites, in clandestine factories, on farms and fishing boats, in other sectors, and in the sex industry. They were forced to work by private individuals and groups or by state authorities. In many cases, the products they made and the services they provided ended up in seemingly legitimate commercial channels. Forced laborers produced some of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and they have cleaned the buildings in which many of us live or work.
   ▪ 15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage to which they had not consented. That is, they were enduring a situation that involved having lost their sexual autonomy and often involved providing labor under the guise of “marriage.”
   Women and girls (the 2nd weakest among us and the 2nd least able to defend themselves) are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for 28.7 million, or 71 per cent of the overall total. More precisely, women and girls represent 99 per cent of victims of forced labor in the commercial sex industry and 58 per cent in other sectors, 40 per cent of victims of forced labor imposed by state authorities, and 84 per cent of victims of forced marriages. One in four victims of modern slavery were children (the weakest among us and the least able to defend themselves). Some 37 per cent (5.7 million) of those forced to marry were children. Children represented 18 per cent of those subjected to forced labor exploitation and 7 per cent of people forced to work by state authorities. Children who were in commercial sexual exploitation (where the victim is a child, there is no requirement of force) represented 21 per cent of total victims in this category of abuse. Over the five years of the reference period used in these estimates, a total of nearly 90 million people were in any of the forms of modern slavery for at least a few days. The average length of time victims were in forced labor varied from a few days or weeks in some forms imposed by state authorities to nearly two years for forced sexual exploitation.
   Modern slavery occurred in every region of the world. Modern slavery was most prevalent in Africa (7.6 per 1,000 people), followed by Asia and the Pacific (6.1 per 1,000) then Europe and Central Asia (3.9 per 1,000). These results should be interpreted cautiously due to lack of available data in some regions, notably the Arab States and the Americas. For forced labor specifically, the prevalence is highest in Asia and the Pacific, where four out of every 1,000 people were victims, followed by Europe and Central Asia (3.6 per 1,000), Africa (2.8 per 1,000), the Arab States (2.2 per 1,000) and the Americas (1.3 per 1,000). While noting limits of the data in key regions, particularly the Arab States, the data suggests prevalence of forced marriage is highest in Africa (4.8 per 1,000), followed by Asia and the Pacific (2.0 per 1,000).”
   Modern slavery is not a problem that is exclusive to other countries, such as shrimp shelling factories in Thailand, brothels and sex tourism in Mexico, the Philippines, and  Japan, and begging children in India. The practices of slavery and human trafficking are prevalent in modern America with an estimated 17,500 foreign nationals and 200,000 Americans being trafficked into and within the United States every year with 80% of those being women and children.
   Labor trafficking is defined by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000  as “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery and is most frequently reported in domestic work, restaurants, peddling rings, and sales crews.”
   Peonage, which is also referred to as debt slavery or debt servitude, is a system where an employer (which could be anyone from a farmer with a large agricultural concern to a madam in a brothel)  compels a worker to pay off a debt with work. In some cases, employers advanced workers some pay or initial transportation costs (the alluded cost of getting from a “Source Country,” where victims are recruited or coerced into being trafficked, to “Destination Countries,” countries where these victims are exploited. (Those who fall prey to human trafficking tend to be the most vulnerable -- usually the socially deprived characterized by low income, poor education, and lack of employment. These are typically circumstances of the poor -- even though available data shows that it is not necessarily the poorest people in a country who are trafficked. Research, however, shows that many of the victims assisted by international organizations and non-government agencies (NGOs) invariably come from some of the most poverty stricken countries (for example, Bangladesh, Mali, Moldova, and Nepal).
   Extensive research has been undertaken and victim support provided in Southeast Europe. There it is shown that trafficked victims come from the poorer countries of the region -- Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Romania. Albania and Moldova are the poorest in the region and are also primary source countries for trafficked persons. In South Asia, Bangladesh and Nepal (two of the region’s most poverty-stricken countries) are the major source countries. Poverty is seen as the key factor in human trafficking in West and Central Africa and for rural trafficking in China). Source countries tend to be poor, with little or no economic opportunity for its citizens, and destination countries tend to be wealthy. Dominican women are trafficked to Montenegro for commercial sexual exploitation, while Russian students were trafficked to the United States for labor exploitation and forced to sell ice cream. Zambian girls were trafficked to Ireland and Kenyan women were trafficked to Mexico for commercial sexual exploitation. Vietnamese children are trafficked to the United kingdom for forced involvement with drug smuggling and Filipino women are trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) for commercial sexual exploitation. Thai men are trafficked to the United States for labor exploitation and debt bondage, Chinese women are trafficked to Afghanistan (which is an exception to the trend of source and destination countries, Afghanistan being one of the poorest nations on the planet. It’s my belief that cultural tendencies regarding women in Afghanistan make prostitutes much sought after) for sexual exploitation. Children in Burma were trafficked into armed conflict), and workers willingly agreed to work without pay in order to pay it off. Sometimes those debts were quickly paid off, and a fair wage worker/employer relationship was established. In many more cases in which slavery is apparent, workers became indebted to planters (through sharecropping loans), merchants (through credit. One could make an argument that the $1 trillion plus (since June) of commercial credit card debt in the United States, and student loan debt, approximately $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers, is a state sanctioned form of peonage, or debt bondage, and that one making the argument would be right. One could also argue that credit card debt and student loan debt are forms of self imposed debt, and that one would be right as well), or company stores (through living expenses). Workers were often unable to re-pay the debt, and found themselves in a continuous work-without-pay cycle for the remainder of eternity. Often in some countries a debt will become transgenerational, with descendents working to pay off the debt of their forefathers.
   Here is a particularly insidious example of transgenerational debt bondage:

   Raman was born at the same brick kiln site in India where his father and grandfather had worked their entire lives to pay off a debt incurred by his grandfather. For 15 years, Raman and his family earned 3 rupees (2 cents) per 80 kilogram bag of bricks to pay off the $450US advanced by the brick kiln manager. They were beaten with sticks and hit by the owner if they were not working hard enough or producing enough bricks. They could not leave, because the brick kiln owner threatened to hunt them down and beat them or bribe the police into arresting them.

   Back in the United States, in the agriculture sector, the most common victims of trafficking are U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and foreign nationals with temporary H-2A visas (an H-2A visa allows a foreign national entry into the United States for temporary or seasonal agricultural work). 
   Due to the nature of agricultural work being seasonal and transient, the ability of employers to exploit these workers is high. Such exploitation may take the form of threats of violence and playing on vulnerabilities (i.e. immigration status). In some cases, workers are held in a state of perpetual debt to the crew leaders who impose mandatory transportation, housing and communication fees upon the workers which are high in relation to pay received, therefore further indebting the worker. Crew leaders may also provide workers with H-2A visas and transportation to the place of work from a home  (source) country.
   In 2010, the company Global Horizons, a US-based labor recruiting company, and two Thailand-based recruiters, were indicted on charges of forced labor.  The US Justice Department’s criminal charges alleged the defendants brought hundreds of Thai workers to the US from 2001 to 2007 to work on farms across the country and conspired to hold these workers in forced labor. The indictment alleged that the defendants caused the workers to believe that if they did not work for the defendants, they could be arrested and deported.  The defendants allegedly confiscated the Thai nationals’ passports after their arrival in the US.  Three defendants plead guilty in June of 2011.  On July 20th, 2012, a federal judge dismissed the case, after the prosecutors requested dismissal because they believed they could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
   In April 2011, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two related civil lawsuits.  The first was filed in Hawaii federal court against Global Horizons and six local farms (Captain Cook Coffee, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee, Kelena Farms, MacFarms of Hawaii and Maui Pineapple Farms).  The second lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington state against Global Horizons and two farms in that state (Green Acre Farms, Valley Fruit Orchards).  In these suits, EEOC alleged that Global Horizons trafficked over 200 men from Thailand between 2003 and 2007 to work at the farms in Washington and Hawaii.  The complaint alleged that the companies subjected Thai workers to mistreatment, intimidation, harassment and inhumane working conditions.  Between July and September of 2011 the defendant farms in Hawaii filed motions to dismiss the suit, claiming EEOC had not alleged sufficient facts to support its claims.  In October 2011, EEOC requested a stay of the proceedings until after the completion of the Global Horizons criminal trial.  On November 2nd, 2011, the federal court dismissed the complaint filed against the six defendant farms but allowed that EEOC could re-file their claims.
   On March 24th, 2014, a federal judge held Global Horizons and Maui Pineapples liable for discriminating and abusing hundreds of Thai workers.  In June 2014, the parties announced that Captain Cook Coffee, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee, Kelena Farms, and MacFarms of Hawaii had reached an out of court settlement.  In December 2014, in the district court of Hawaii, the judge ruled that Global Horizons and Maui Pineapples should pay $12.3 million in damages to 82 claimants.
   On April 26, 2016, a federal judge ruled that Global Horizons should pay $7,658,500 in damages to the claimants that suffered discrimination, harassment and mistreatment.

   Ronald Evans recruited homeless men from shelters, forced them to work on his farm, and kept them in debt by selling them beer and overpriced and highly addictive crack cocaine on credit. The men would be lured from Miami with promises of a decent wage, hot meals, and a place to stay. Instead, they were forced to work on one of Ronald Evan’s work camps in northeast Florida or North Carolina. When police raided the east Palatka, Florida, camp in June of 2005, they found 148 individually wrapped crack cocaine rocks -- one nights supply. Evans was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.

   When Alejandrina Carrera first came to the United States from Mexico 20 years ago, a migrant farmworker in search of a better life. She was just 14 years old, scared, vulnerable, and alone.
"I was very young, I didn't have my father or mother, no one," she says.
   Carrera says she found work on a farm, and it wasn't long before her supervisor tried to take advantage of her. He promised her an easier job inside a warehouse. But as soon as she got in his truck, she says, he drove to a remote part of the farm and tried to force her to have sex with him.
   "He told me if we don't do this the easy way, we'll do it the hard way. I was afraid and trembling," she says.
   Now 35, Carrera recalls with gratitude the farmworker who heard her screams and rescued her before she could be raped. She also remembers how they both were fired the next day.
   Protections against that type of labor abuse against migrant workers in the United States were virtually non-existent in the 1990's.
   "No one knew anything about rights," Carrera says. "We didn't seek out what our worker rights were. We just accepted everything they told us and just did our jobs."  
   In 1993, a group of American activists and migrant farmworkers decided to change that. They founded the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to improving the wages and working conditions of migrant farmworkers.
   The organization is named after the migrant town of Immokalee, Florida, the epicenter of tomato production in the United States. Ninety-percent of all winter tomatoes consumed in the US come from Florida. Immokalee also used to be known as ground zero for modern day slavery (Immokalee was once home to some of the most brutal atrocities against human rights in the United States. Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven slavery cases in Florida, four involving tomato harvesters. More than 1,200 people have been freed from agricultural slavery rings in Florida during the last 10 to 15 years. Workers tell stories of brutal beatings, being shackled in chains at night, no regular pay for work, housing where 20 pickers share one mobile home and are each charged upwards of $200 per month in rent. Yes, per person. No shade in the fields, no breaks for meals, 10 to 12 hour workdays, seven days a week. With financial obligations and no way to escape).
   Farms and fishing boats have long been some the world's least-regulated workplaces, says Laura Germino, who coordinates the anti-slavery campaign for the CIW.
   "There's always been a big imbalance of power between workers and employers in [U.S.] agriculture," says Germino, noting that farm workers were initially excluded from minimum wage requirements. "So agricultural labor is one of the sectors where you see trafficking occurring the most. And [overseas], it's not going to be any different."
   The CIW is a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of social responsibility, human trafficking, and gender-based violence at work.  Built on a foundation of farmworker community organizing, and reinforced with the creation of a national consumer network since 2000, CIW’s work has steadily grown over more than twenty five years to encompass three broad and overlapping spheres:
   1. The Fair Food Program
   2. The Campaign for Fair Food
   3. Anti-Slavery Program
   On any given day, the fruit and vegetables we eat or drink may have been picked by workers in involuntary servitude.  Men and women are held against their will by their employers through the use of violence – including beatings, shootings, and pistol-whippings – threats of violence, and coercion.
   The CIW’s Anti-Slavery Program has uncovered, investigated, and assisted in the prosecution of numerous multi-state, multi-worker farm slavery operations across the Southeastern U.S., helping liberate over 1,200 workers held against their will.  The U.S. Department of State credits the CIW with “pioneering” the worker-centered and multi-sectoral approach to prosecutions, and hails the CIW’s work on some of the earliest cases as the “spark” that ignited today’s national anti-slavery movement. 
   The CIW’s Fair Food Program (FFP) is a partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. It harnesses the power of consumer demand to give farmworkers a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, and to eliminate the longstanding abuses that have plagued agriculture for generations.
   With the advent of the FFP, the CIW reached the goal of prevention. Rather than cleaning up  abuse after the fact. Worker education and monitoring backed by market consequences, enforceable zero tolerance resulted in FFP farms having zero cases of forced labor in a five-year period.   In a region and an industry with an uninterrupted 300-year history of forced labor, from chattel slavery to convict leasing, debt bondage, and modern-day slavery operations, this is a  remarkable transformation.  In three crops and seven states, the FFP is an undisputed success.    
   The FFP has been called “the best workplace-monitoring program” in the US by the New York Times, and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day” in the Washington Post.
   The CIW’s national Campaign for Fair Food (CFF) educates consumers on the issue of farm labor exploitation, its causes and solutions, and forges alliances between farmworkers and consumers in an effort to enlist the market power of major corporate buyers to help end that exploitation. Since 2001, farmworkers have partnered with people of faith, students, and communities all over the country to win respect for workers from some of the largest corporations in the world.
   The Campaign has combined creative, on-the-ground actions with cutting edge online organizing to win Fair Food Agreements with fourteen multi-billion dollar food retailers, including Walmart, Ahold USA, McDonald’s, Subway, and Compass Group, establishing more humane farm labor standards and fairer wages for farmworkers in their tomato suppliers’ operations. Alongside farmworkers and 90% of tomato growers, participating buyers are a key part of the Fair Food Program. Through the Program, these buyers support a wage increase through paying an additional penny per pound and require a human-rights-based Code of Conduct to be implemented on the farms that grow their tomatoes. Not only does the FFP make a substantial difference for workers’ wages, but it transforms the labor environment in Florida’s fields into a workplace rooted in mutual respect and basic dignity for farmworkers.
   With the four largest fast-food companies (McDonald’s, Yum Brands, Burger King, and Subway) and three largest food service providers (Compass Group, Aramark, and Sodexo) having signed Fair Food agreements with the CIW, the focus now falls squarely on the $550 billion supermarket industry and the final major players of the fast food industry.  In addition to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, who respectively joined the Program in 2008 and 2012, the CIW signed agreements with Walmart (2014), The Fresh Market (2015) and Ahold USA (2015).  It’s time now for the country’s other major grocery chains and final fast food hold-outs to sign up an join the movement (because if the continue not to do so what is it that they are saying about themselves? That they are pro-slavery and inhumane working conditions? Or they can’t afford the extra penny? We shall see).
   In total, the CIW’s work has gained national and international recognition, including the 2015 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts in Combating Modern Day Slavery from President Obama, the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Hero Award from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2007 Anti-Slavery Award from Anti-Slavery International of London, a 2005 commendation from FBI Director Robert Mueller, and the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award from the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.

   Kumari Indunil, age 23, a trafficked domestic worker in Kuwait was forced to work as much as 20 hours a day with no free time off. When she asked her employer for time to rest, she was told, “You have come to work; you are like my shoes, and you have to work tirelessly.” Conditions declined and her employers refused to pay her salary and refused to return her to the employment agency in Kuwait. The employer’s husband began beating her and pulling her hair. “He went to the kitchen and took a knife and told me he would kill me, cut me up into little pieces, and put the little pieces of me into the cupboard.”

   A couple in Texas smuggled a 12-year-old girl from Mexico under the pretense of using her as a babysitter. She ended up becoming their domestic slave, deprived of school and having to sleep on the floor. The child was told she could not return to Mexico and was physically abused by the wife. Only after the local sheriff responded to a call involving a drug overdose was the child found and rescued. After pleading guilty, the couple were sentenced to 33 and 84 months in prison and ordered to pay $28,822 restitution to the victim.
   In another case, defendants running karaoke bars in Saipan worked with recruiters and brokers to bring Chinese women to the Northern Mariana Islands under the pretense of working in restaurants. Instead, the women were saddled with large debts, forced into prostitution, physically threatened, and subjected to violence. The two defendants were sentenced to 33 and 78 months in prison, and ordered to pay restitution of $22,200 and $25,200 to two victims, and fined an additional $55,000.

   Domestic servitude is the forced employment of someone as a maid or nanny, and victims are often migrant women who come from low-wage communities in their home countries. Domestic workers perform duties such as cleaning, cooking and childcare in their employers home. Domestic workers are often US citizens, undocumented workers or foreign nationals most commonly holding one of the following visa types: A-3, G-5, NATO-7 or B-1.
   The most common victims of this type of trafficking are women. Similar means of control to agricultural Work are common. Additionally, a lack of legislation regarding the duties and protection of these workers facilitates their exploitation. Employers commonly use the workers lack of knowledge of the language or legal system as a means of control and intimidation. This is also commonly paired with various forms of abuse and/or threats of passport revocation. Many domestic workers are brought to the United States on a promise of a better life or an education.    Traffickers are usually married couples from the same country of origin as the trafficked person, and are usually not involved in organized criminal networks, making it more difficult to identify instances of this type of trafficking. Perpetrators of domestic servitude are often well-respected members of their communities and lead otherwise normal lives. Areas with large middle-class and upper-middle-class populations are commonly the destinations of this type of trafficking.
   Legally employed domestic workers are distinct from illegally employed domestic servants. While legally employed domestic house workers are fairly compensated for their work in accordance with national wage laws, domestic servants are typically forced to work extremely long hours for little to no monetary compensation, and psychological and physical means are employed to limit their mobility and freedom. In addition, deportation threats are often used to discourage internationally trafficked persons from seeking assistance from authorities.

   It’s a testament to their salesmanship that in the time it took to consume one Waffle House meal in Columbus, Ohio, a table of door-to-door itinerant magazine sales crew members convinced their 25-year-old server, Johnathan Terrell Stewart, to quit his job in May of 2014, leave home without telling his family and join them on the road.
   A few weeks later, police in Maryland called Stewart’s grandmother to tell her that he had been found dead in a motel room. It was a heroin overdose, the family learned from the autopsy report they eventually received, but they know little else about what happened to him. Eight months later, police still won’t release any information about their investigation into his death. His body was shipped home shirtless, in jeans and tennis shoes; all of his belongings, including his wallet and cell phone, disappeared along with his crew, whose names remains unknown.

   When magazine crew workers become victims of tragic accidents or violent crimes, they’re often thousands of miles from home, which makes it difficult for their families to get information about their cases, which may often involve foul play. Since their door-to-door jobs are by nature itinerant, they roam the streets, trying to sell magazine subscriptions to the public in town after town.
   It is also a job that, many say, leaves crew members open to serious abuse. There is a long list of persistent mag crew-related problems, which usually generate only local news attention — disappearances, rapes, assaults, van rollover accidents, abandonments and suspicious deaths. Successful civil lawsuits against mag crew company owners haven’t done much to curb the industry’s labor abuses, and because of jurisdictional restrictions, local police in most states can do little other than arrest sales agents for selling without proper permits.

   On a personal note, while looking for employment when I was in my early twenties, I answered an ad to sell magazines in cities far away from Los Angeles, where I lived. I went to an interview and was met by an ordinary, unprepossessing  looking, middle-aged woman, sitting behind a folding table, in a small room. We spoke for a few minutes, her telling me what the job entailed, which was to join a sales team of other young people in cities far away from Los Angeles, and sell magazine subscriptions, all expenses paid (board, food, transportation, etc.). If I remember correctly I agreed to take the job, left, and never came back. I wasn’t keen on leaving L.A., and I thought the whole offer was slightly suspicious. I think it was that folding table that set off an alarm in my head. So I may have, and probably did, escape from a form of human slavery, which many others, unfortunately, have not.

   Traveling sales crews have the highest rate of calls to human trafficking hot lines after domestic labor (counting from January 2008 to February 2015). The mobile nature makes it easier for traffickers to control their victims' sleeping arrangements and food and to alienate them from outside contact. Traffickers may withhold food or threaten to abandon their victims in unfamiliar locations without money if they do not comply. Unlike other professions, members of traveling sales crews are considered independent contractors even if they do not have any autonomy in their life outside of work. As independent contractors, they are not overseen by several laws meant to prevent abuse, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Victims often incur debt from their traffickers, and enter into a form of debt slavery.
   On March 26th, 2009, the state of Wisconsin passed Malinda's Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act (named after an 18 year old girl (Malinda Turvey) who was killed along with six other young kids while selling magazines door-to-door in Wisconsin on March 25th, 1999), which is a Wisconsin law that gives traveling sales crew members similar employment rights as part-time workers in Wisconsin which are currently guaranteed by state law. It also requires all crews to register with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection before going door to door in state communities. By registering members of the crew, alerts for members with outstanding warrants in other states can be distributed and criminals identified and detained. It is the only law in the United States that regulates traveling sales crews. Wisconsin governor James E. Doyle said the intent of the law is to "stop companies from putting workers in dangerous and unfair conditions." The bill was passed in a form that applies only to sales workers who travel in groups of two or more. It was authored by Jon Erpenbach. Southwestern Advantage (a multi-level marketing company that recruits and trains college and university students as independent contractors to sell educational books, software, and website subscriptions door-to-door using direct selling methods) lobbied against the bill, arguing that their independent contractor business model nurtured the entrepreneurial spirit. During the hearings, former Southwestern student dealers testified on both sides of the issue, the result being Malinda's Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act' became active law on April 10th, 2010.

   Thomas Dale DeLay, a former Houston exterminator, whose hatred of E.P.A. pesticide regulations sparked his political career in 1978, became a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Texas's 22nd congressional district from 1985 until 2006. He was the Republican Party House Majority Leader from 2003 through 2005, until he stepped down as Speaker of the House after being  indicted on conspiracy charges by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas, on September 28th, 2005 (On April 3rd, 2006, three days after a former aide, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty to various charges of corruption relating to the Jack Abramoff scandal, DeLay announced that he would withdraw from the 2006 race and not run for re-election, effective June 9th of that year).
   Jack Allan Abramoff is an American lobbyist, businessman, movie producer and writer. He was at the center of an extensive corruption investigation that led to his conviction, and to 21 other people either pleading guilty or being found guilty, including White House officials J. Steven Griles and David Safavian, U.S. Representative Bob Ney, and nine other lobbyists and Congressional aides.

   The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 15 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes all islands in the Mariana Archipelago except Guam which is the southernmost island of the chain and a separate U.S. territory. Along with Guam, it is the westernmost point (in terms of jurisdiction) and territory of the United States.
   The islands’ past exemption from U.S. labor laws led to many alleged incidents of exploitation, including claims of sweatshops, child labor, child prostitution, and forced abortions.  

   The following is from "Sex, Greed And Forced Abortions" written by Rebecca Clarren (May 9, 2006).

   A naked Mongolian woman in a blond wig grinds her body around a silver pole. As music pounds through the small room, disco lights reveal an overweight, graying man in a Hawaiian shirt sitting in the corner, rubbing the thighs of another of the club’s dancers.
   Outside this Saipan nightclub, scantily-clad Chinese girls, their hair dyed red or blond, sit on cheap white plastic chairs. “You want massage?” they call out to the Asian businessmen and U.S. Navy sailors who frequent the club.
   “I can get you lots of Chinese girls,” says a man with one long fingernail, who calls himself Free. “You can take a girl back to her room and do whatever you want to her. All night.”
   One would imagine that Tom DeLay, a right-wing Christian, would be appalled by the teeming red-light district of Saipan, the main island in the Micronesian chain of the Northern Marianas. Or Jack Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew. Yet these two men have been among the strongest supporters of an exploitative labor and immigration system on Saipan that has helped fuel not just this sex tourism, but work arrangements that are tantamount to indentured servitude.
   When asked about reports of forced prostitution and labor abuses, DeLay told the Galveston County Daily News in May 2005: “Sure, when you get this number of people, there are stories of sexual exploitation. But in interviewing these employees one-on-one, there was no evidence of any of that going on. No evidence of sweatshops as portrayed by the national media. It’s a beautiful island with beautiful people who are happy about what’s happening.”
   No evidence? DeLay’s support persisted even when a Department of Interior report documented that workers in Saipan’s garment factories were coerced into having unwanted abortions. The damage continues to this day, even though both men have been stripped of their power.
   The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. territory, and thus subject to most U.S. laws. But the 30,000 “guest workers” there—predominately women from China, the Philippines, and Thailand who sew clothing for top-name American brands, which are then allowed to label them “Made in Saipan (USA),” “Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA)," or simply “Made in USA”—are not covered by U.S. minimum-wage and immigration laws.
   At its peak, the factories in the Northern Marianas annually exported garments worth $2 billion retail to the U.S. Considering that the success of the industry was tied closely to its low wages and exploitative guest worker program—and the fact that it was exempt from tariffs or quotas on exports to the U.S. mainland—it’s not surprising that both the Marianas’ government and the garment manufacturers have fought long and hard to maintain the deal.
   So they hired Jack Abramoff, the formerly high-flying Republican lobbyist. First at the Washington, D.C., law offices of Preston, Gates, Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds and later at Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff and his team brought in nearly $11 million in fees from the Northern Marianas government and Saipan garment manufacturers to block Congressional efforts to raise the minimum wage and eliminate the islands’ exemptions from U.S. immigration laws. His efforts focused on the House Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. territories. And he also cultivated powerful allies in the House leadership—notably Tom DeLay, who, as majority whip at the time, could keep a bill off the House floor even if the Resources Committee voted in its favor.
   One of Abramoff’s favorite tactics for influencing Congress was to arrange Saipan junkets for members of Congress and their staffers. As many as 100 people connected to the U.S. Congress—members themselves or their staffers—traveled to the islands. Among the islands’ visitors were DeLay, his wife and daughter and six of his aides. DeLay would later tell The Washington Post: “[The islands are] a perfect petri dish of capitalism.”
   Meanwhile, the garment industry on Saipan has begun to decline with the expiration of worldwide quotas on apparel exports to the United States. Garment makers are moving off Saipan to even lower-wage countries such as China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Desperate to earn money and pay back their recruitment fees, some unemployed garment workers have found themselves turning to another lucrative industry on Saipan: sex tourism. There are no reliable statistics, but an estimated 90 percent of the island’s prostitutes are former garment workers.
   When Ms. contacted DeLay during its investigation, his spokesman Michael Connolly said, “He stands by the things he has said in the past and he stands by the votes he’s made that pertain to the islands.”
   Rep. George Miller, D.-Calif., who has championed efforts to raise the minimum wage in Saipan, hopes that the recent indictment of Abramoff offers a chance for real change in the Marianas. He has requested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the House Resources Committee chair, Richard Pombo, R.-Calif., launch a full investigation of Abramoff’s dealings in the Marianas.
    “It’s so ironic that people who talk about themselves as having family values are allowing these guest workers to be exploited in the harshest possible ways,” says Miller. “Their money and lobbying allowed the continuation of the worst of human behavior.

   Since leaving Congress, along with tending to his legal troubles, Tom DeLay has co-authored (with Stephen Mansfield) a political memoir, “No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight,” given media interviews (primarily regarding politics), begun a personal blog, opened an official Facebook page (written in the third-person), become active on Twitter (written in the first-person), and appeared on the ninth season of “Dancing with the Stars,” the highly watched ABC television reality show.
   Jack Abramoff returned to lobbying since his release from prison, having attempted to arrange meetings between then President-elect Donald Trump and foreign leaders. He is registered as a lobbyist. He now speaks out against Washington, D.C. corruption and the Lobbying community.

   Have labor conditions improved since the abuses mentioned above were brought to light to the mainland American public and federal legislators?
   Unfortunately, they have not. As a matter of fact, under the Trump administration they have gotten worse.
   From a report by David North on July 30th, 2018 for the Center for Immigration Studies:
   The federal government — as it has for decades — has once again made the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, just North of Guam, a really cushy place for the employers of foreign workers.

   Congress and the president have decided that the old foreign worker ceiling of 4,999 was too low, and that it should be more than doubled to 13,000. The ceiling is just for those with the CNMI-only work permit; there are also a handful of workers in the islands with federal permits, such as H-1B. Aliens on the CW-1 visas have no path to citizenship, and are thus without any political influence, as we have reported earlier.
   The labor market in the Marianas is what one would expect in an environment where the employers have all the political power, and the workers none. Wages in the private sector are kept low, unions are non-existent, and violations of the labor laws are all too common. Most of the indigenous population prefers to work for the undemanding, and over-staffed, commonwealth government.
   The employers control the local government, the islands' non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representative goes along with them, and the Department of Homeland Security, in this and previous administrations, always sees it the employers' way.
   The legislation exploding the alien worker ceiling wound its way through Congress and a presidential signature very quietly, and I missed it completely until USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) issued a press release about the new law.
   That bit of legislation contains a useful new element, a $50 per worker anti-fraud fee to be paid by the employers. If the ceiling is met, that will give DHS $650,000; hopefully the department will use it to send a couple of sharp investigators to the islands, people not yet captured by the islands' power structure.
   The CNMI has once again been tagged “destination and transit location for men, women, and children, subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking,” based on the U.S. State Department’s newly released 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. Feb 27, 2017

   In the United States v. Kil Soo Lee, Lee was the director of Daewoosa, Ltd., a garment factory located in American Samoa. Lee recruited internationally for his workers, targeting Vietnam, China and Samoa. The workers were required to pay $3,600 to $8,000 to be hired plus an additional $5,000 if not completed. When they arrived, Lee retained their passports. The living conditions were highly controlled, including a curfew. Complaining about the conditions resulted in punishment: lack of food, physical abuse, detainment or deportation. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) began, in May of 1999, an investigation on Lee, eventually reimbursing many unpaid workers. The day the back payments were made, Lee demanded the workers sign the checks over to him, which he placed in his personal account.
   The garment industry is particularly susceptible to labor trafficking in part because of a highly immigrant work force, low profit margins, and a tiered production system. The production of garments is often divided into several parts. Major retailers will often subcontract work to different companies, which will subcontract to other smaller companies. The limited number of contracts will often go to the cheapest subcontractor. The largest cost is often human labor, so subcontractors that pay their employees the least are often the ones that get the contracts. Because of the tiered nature, it is difficult to regulate and there is little incentive to verify that subcontractors are obeying the law. Coupled with a worker population that is vulnerable because of their visa status and unfamiliarity with American laws, this creates a system that is ripe for human trafficking.
   In the El Monte Thai Garment Slavery Case, 72 Thai nationals were discovered working and living in an apartment complex ringed with barbed wire and spiked fences, sewing clothes for major retailers and manufacturers in El Monte, California. Some of the captives had been held for as long as seven years by the leader of a human trafficking ring, "Auntie Suni." The play “Fabric” was based on the events of the case.

   A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both participants are married without their freely given consent. Servile marriage is defined as a marriage involving a person being sold, transferred or inherited into a marriage. According to End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) (a global network of civil society organizations that works to end the sexual exploitation of children. It focuses on halting the online sexual exploitation of children, the trafficking of children for sexual purposes and the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism industry), "Child trafficking for forced marriage is simply another manifestation of trafficking and is not restricted to particular nationalities or countries."
   A forced marriage qualifies as a form of human trafficking in certain situations. If a woman is sent abroad, forced into the marriage and then repeatedly compelled to engage in sexual conduct with her new husband, then her experience is that of sex trafficking. If the bride is treated as a domestic servant by her new husband and/or his family, then this is a form of labor trafficking.

   The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is a charity campaigning and working in child protection in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.
   According to case studies released by the charity, one 17-year-old girl told counselors: “I got forced to marry last year. I never wanted any of this. My friends are being supportive, but I can’t talk to my mum about it as she thinks he’s the best thing for me and told me that if I end the marriage, she won’t speak to me ever again. I’ve never even met him.”
   One 18-year-old girl told the NSPCC: “My parents are talking about taking me back to my home country to get married, but I don’t want to. They get violent when I don’t do what they want. I want to leave home but they’d never agree to it. I just want to live a normal teenage life, but they won’t let me.”
   Figures from the leading children’s charity show the number of counseling sessions it has provided for youngsters has trebled in five years.
   Children face violence, bullying and threats from adults pressing them to marry someone they do not want to and, in some cases, have never met.
   The NSPCC’s chief executive, Peter Wanless, said: “This is a crime and an abuse of human rights. Forcing a child to marry shows a complete lack of regard for their feelings, thoughts or ambitions.
   “We understand some may worry about betraying their family, but we would urge anyone, including potential victims, to speak up before it is too late. Help us break the cycle and speak up, so that we can step in and stop a child being bound into something that they would never ask for.”
   Maria grew up in the countryside of an eastern European country. She was the product of an alcoholic father who constantly beat his children. Poorly educated, Maria was sold to an unknown man by her sister when she was only 13 years old. She was taken by boat to Italy and there was sold again to another man who raped and beat her. The police rescued Maria and she was eventually returned to her family, only to be sold four days later -- this time by her father. Again she was taken to Italy, imprisoned for seven months and made to drink vinegar (as a form of punishment). After being smuggled into the United Kingdom, she was forced to work for five years as a prostitute, seeing 65 to 70 customers a day. Maria, 24 years old, has been “raped, beaten, sold, cut with knives, and threatened.” She was finally able to escape and went to the police who brought her to a shelter. “My traffickers threatened to kill me, and they threatened to take my sister too and do the same to her.... I was beaten often, very badly. I have scars from it now, especially from my broken arm. I have been raped many times.... I will never forget what they did to me.”

   Lucy Kabanya, 39, left Kenya for Germany in July of 2006 for a three-month holiday to join her German boyfriend in Frankfurt. Lucy, who was introduced to the man through a friend, began communicating  with him through e-mail early in 2005; in 2006, he came to Kenya to meet her. When he came to Kenya they stayed together in a hotel for a month before he returned to Germany. He promised to send her an airline ticket to go on holiday and visit him. Before she traveled to Germany, her “boyfriend” sent her gifts and money. “Before I left Kenya, my host had treated me so well; he had lavished me with gifts of all kinds, sent me money whenever I asked for cash. He promised a life I had never seen before.”
   Upon her arrival in Germany, instead of a vacation, Lucy had her travel documents confiscated and she was denied food for several days before her “boyfriend” informed her that she would be working as a prostitute. She was raped, viciously beaten, and threatened with death.
   Lucy was one of the lucky ones. Although she had been kept incommunicado, denied a telephone, and refused permission to talk to strangers, she was able to convince her captor to allow her to call relatives to inform them that she was alright. Instead, she called a friend who gave her the number of the German police hot line. She was immediately rescued and taken to a  hospital, a safe-house, and then to Solwodi, an NGO that provided victim assistance.
   The manager of the Kenya branch of German-based Solwodi, said, “We have received more that 25 women who have been returned to Kenya from Europe after falling prey to international crooks who took them there as their boyfriends before they turned them into sex slaves.”

   Coco was kidnaped in Mexico and taken to Canada after her husband double-crossed the men he worked with as a drug money courier. “At the beginning, they wanted all the information about money, properties, bank accounts, and everything that my husband stole from them.” The drug dealers soon altered their plans. Coco was beaten, locked up, and forced to perform sex acts for money. Within three months of working as a prostitute she got pregnant. Her captors took her to a doctor for an abortion. Instead, the doctor helped her escape.

   Min came to Southern California from the Fujian province in China. She had dropped out of school in the 9th grade but had worked hard all her life. Her husband had always gambled and now had more debts than they could pay, so she came to visit a friend in the United States and look for work. She found an online ad for women to work as massage therapists near Los Angeles and was promised $6,000 a month with free housing.
   She took a bus to the location on the ad and was met by a driver. Min showed the driver the name of the business and the address she had been given. The driver then drove for some time to an apartment where two other women were staying. In the morning, a second driver came to pick everyone up to take them to the massage parlor. On her first day, Min was told that in order to earn the money she had promised her family, she would have to engage in commercial sex.
   Min had no idea where she was or how to contact the first driver to get back to the bus station. Min stayed and when she was able, told her family everything was fine. Min was deeply ashamed this had happened and never wanted them to find out. Whenever she came close to asking a customer for help, her manager would threaten to call the police, who she said would deport her and tell her family how shameful she had been. Every few weeks, Min would be moved to a new apartment and new business. All she knew was that she was still somewhere near Los Angeles.
   Eventually, she wound up in a business that police were targeting. When they came to shut it down, they arrested the traffickers, not Min. The police then told Min she was actually in Illinois, nowhere near LA. The police helped connect Min with service providers in Illinois and then California. The service providers helped Min understand her rights and helped her enroll in English classes. Min is in the process of receiving a visa specifically for victims of trafficking, the T visa.

   Last year in Orange County, California, four Vietnamese women filed a lawsuit against their former employers, the owners of Tustin Nail Spa, for violations of several labor laws, including wage and hour violation. Just three years ago, state officials had fined the same salon $28,000, citing similar offenses.
   “Even though we smiled and seemed happy in front of customers, the truth was that we were quietly suffering,” said Jenny Hoang, a plaintiff who worked at Tustin Nail Spa for nearly a decade. “We did not fight back because we were grateful to have jobs as refugees who do not speak a lot of English, and we wanted to provide for our family and children.” It is extremely common for workers to feel too intimidated to pursue legal recourse and justice in the face of labor violations. Their income and livelihoods are at stake. “The fear of retaliation is a huge issue since the community is relatively insular, and so news of a ‘troublemaker’ worker can easily get around to other owners,” said Trang.  And since nearly every Vietnamese non-citizen in America escaped the Communist regime or is directly related to someone who did, they grew up with little faith in the legal system. “Many Vietnamese people carry that skepticism about the legal system and laws to America.”
   The above may seem like a simple labor dispute, but in legal working conditions in the United States fear of retribution and being deported is not used to intimidate laborers. This is a form of coercion, and one of the definitions of trafficking.
   In many circumstances, perhaps most, the situation can turn most dire.
   Many of these young women have fled poverty and unimaginable horrors. Because of no money and no alternatives, they are funneled into nail salons, not out of a passion to do nails, but to pay back their trafficker and make good money for those who hold power over them. Many don’t make a living wage, and yet, they send more money home to support their families in Vietnam than they keep for themselves. Many are also forced to work at night as prostitutes or drug farmers, and it’s not uncommon for 10 or more to live together in the same room.

   Labor trafficking within the restaurant and food industry has been documented in nearly all kinds of food service and may involve bars, clubs, buffets, taquerias, or food and ice cream trucks. People working as cooks, bus staff, and wait staff may be exploited, with traffickers often taking advantage of language barriers between exploited workers and patrons to help avoid detection.
   With this type, it can be difficult for even survivors to decipher who their primary trafficker is since the links between the smugglers, recruiters, and restaurant management are sometimes unclear and may be deliberately obfuscated by the trafficker to help avoid detection.

   Myanmar has joined China, Syria and South Sudan as being among the countries doing least to tackle human trafficking, according to the US State Department's latest annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report (6-28-2018).
   The US report specifically cited the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis as the reason for downgrading Myanmar to Tier 3, the bottom rung of the TIP scale, which rates the best performing countries at Tier 1.
   The report said Myanmar's military operations in northwestern Rakhine State had "dislocated hundreds of thousands of Rohingya and members of other ethnic groups, many of whom were subjected to exploitation in (Myanmar), Bangladesh, and elsewhere in the region as a result of their displacement."
    At least 700,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine State since last year, mainly into neighboring Bangladesh, after the Myanmar military launched clearance operations the government claims were targeting terrorist groups. The US and UN human rights chief have since described the operations as "ethnic cleansing."
   Many of those fleeing "were subjected to exploitation -- or transported to other countries for the purpose of sex trafficking -- as a result of their displacement," the US State Department report said, adding that refugees were also vulnerable to "forced labor" in jade mines and other industries [including the use of child soldiers]. -James Griffiths, CNN

   A U.S. State Department report on human trafficking warned on June 28th, 2018, that removing children from their families made them easy targets for traffickers, raising questions about the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children and parents illegally crossing the U.S-Mexico border.
   As mentioned above the annual TIP report looked at 187 countries and territories and ranked them into four tiers. In a special section, the State Department said children should only be removed from their families as a “temporary, last resort.”
   John Sifton, an advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said the report “is an indictment of the Trump administration’s own policies with respect to asylum seekers and others seeking entry into the United States.”
   Since April, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents as a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy for illegal immigrants. Children were kept in shelters while their parents waited to have their cases heard by a judge.
   Faced with criticism at home and abroad, Trump signed an executive order on June 20 requiring families be detained together for the duration of legal proceedings, but many could remain apart as legal challenges drag on.
   A senior State Department official said the United States has screening standards for trafficking indicators when children cross the border unaccompanied or are separated from their parents.
   Trafficking indicators can include children who eat apart from family members, travel unaccompanied by adults and children who have no time for playing, according to the United Nations. -Daphne Psaledakis, Reuters

   Senate Bill 1693, commonly referred to as SESTA/FOSTA, is a new federal law aimed at curbing sex trafficking by holding online platforms accountable for the content their users post. And since the legal definition of sex trafficking is consistently conflated with consensual adult sex work, several websites that advertised in-person adult entertainment services have shut down, or began blocking access from the United States.
   But instead of helping reduce exploitation, say sex trafficking survivors and advocates, taking away their ability to use the Internet has actually increased the risks facing their community, and crippled efforts for harm reduction. Moreover, they say the law does not address issues that truly contribute to trafficking: homelessness, poverty and a broken foster care system. Instead, SESTA/FOSTA drastically limits the tools available to those who survive in the sex trade, pushing workers further underground, into the streets and the dark web, where they are easier targets for those who aim to exploit the vulnerable.
   "This was unlike anything we'd ever seen," says Meg Munoz, a sex-trafficking survivor and founder of the OC Umbrella Collective, an organization that serves sex workers and those being domestically trafficked in Southern California. "The immediate impact was swift and, honestly, terrifying. We watched people literally walk back to their pimps knowing they had lost any bit of autonomy they had. We watched people wind up homeless overnight. We watched members of our community disappear."
   SESTA/FOSTA was signed into law just days after the FBI seized, one of the largest and most affordable online platforms available for sex workers to advertise and screen clients. Platforms such as Backpage, and the dozens of similar sites that shuttered in response to the new law were also an important tool for those who serve victims of trafficking.
   "Every client I have ever worked with has had ads associated with online websites, the majority being Backpage," says Jamie Walton, a survivor of childhood sex trafficking and founder of the Wayne Foundation, an organization in South Florida that provides direct services to young people victimized by exploitation. "Those ads are forms of evidence. Those ads are ways that we were able to find children who were missing. Now, all that information has been driven to places online that are difficult to search, making the work almost impossible."
   Those who aim to traffic minors however, still have ample access to platforms that children use, such as Facebook. "Traffickers targeting children are using Facebook as a way to engage with potential victims," Walton says. "I've worked several cases where the original point of contact was through their site." While the monolithic social media platform actively and publicly supported the bill, Walton says Facebook continues to be a place where pimps and predators can have easy access to potential victims.
   "Recently, screenshots of people being approached by pimps trying to recruit them via Facebook message have been circulating. The same goes for Twitter. This was not as common before SESTA," says Munoz. The national organization of the Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP USA) confirmed that they have received a number of reports and screenshots from their members who have been contacted by pimps and other predators via social media in the past months.
   Facebook and Twitter both responded promptly when asked for comment on these allegations, firmly reiterating their commitment to ensuring trafficking, abuse and exploitation have no place on their platforms, and pointing to the systems and policies they currently have in place to protect minors from being victimized on their site through reporting and cooperation with law enforcement.

   Our ally, Saudi Arabia has reportedly recruited children from Darfur (a region in western Sudan which has been in the throes of a civil war since February 26th, 2003) to join its military campaign in Yemen.
   The New York Times reports that as many as 14,000 Sudanese militiamen have been fighting for the Saudi-led coalition over the last four years.
   Almost all of those fighters come from Darfur, which has its own civil war resulting in 300,000 deaths so far and 1.2 million people displaced.
   Many of the militiamen helping the Saudi-led coalition belong to the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces, who were blamed for the systematic raping of women and girls and indiscriminate killing during the conflict in Darfur, states the Times.
   According to fighters that the Times interviewed, the Sudanese were used on the front lines of the conflict. Five fighters who returned from Yemen told the Times that children made up at least 20 percent of their units. Two said children made up more than double that percentage.
   Saudi Arabia reportedly offers pay that many Sudanese cannot decline.
   “People are desperate. They are fighting in Yemen because they know that in Sudan they don’t have a future,” Hafiz Ismail Mohamed, a former banker, economic consultant and critic of the government, told the Times.
   “We are exporting soldiers to fight like they are a commodity we are exchanging for foreign currency.”
   The Saudi-led war in Yemen has been called the world's worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations. As many as 12 million people in the country are near starvation because of blockades, according to human rights groups.
    “The Saudis told us what to do through the telephones and devices,” Mohamed Suleiman al-Fadil, a 28-year-old member of the Bani Hussein tribe who returned from Yemen at the end of last year, told the newspaper. “They never fought with us.”
   “The Saudis would give us a phone call and then pull back,” added Ahmed, a 25-year-old member of the Awlad Zeid tribe. “They treat the Sudanese like their firewood.”
   Sudan has a young population with 41% of its total population under the age of 15. 20% of Sudanese people are 15 to 24 years old. The age of consent in Sudan is 18, which correlates
with the age of the majority which separates children from adults. therefore individuals under the age of 18 who are “recruited” to participate in military activities, willingly or not, are legally unable to make this decision on their own. Thus individuals under the age of 18 recruited to fight in Yemen can be considered a form of human trafficking.

   Last December 13th the U.S. Senate voted to end American support for the conflict in Yemen, although the House will have to approve such a move this year.
   The Senate had supported aiding Saudi military operations earlier in 2018, but changed their position following the outcry over the death of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
   President Trump has maintained that he would stand by the Saudi government, despite reports that U.S. intelligence has linked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Khashoggi's killing inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul last October.
   Polaris was founded with the name Polaris Project in 2002, by Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon, who were seniors at Brown University, when they were inspired to create a nonprofit organization that focuses on ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The inspiration came to them after learning about a forced labor criminal case which exposed how six South Korean women were forced to work at a brothel in Providence, Rhode Island.
   Polaris is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking. For the past 10 years, Polaris has run the National Human Trafficking Hotline, working on some 40,000 cases of trafficking. From that work, the organization has built one of the largest data sets on human trafficking in the United States. Based on this data set, in 2017 Polaris released The Typology of Modern Slavery, which classified human trafficking in the United States into 25 distinct businesses. The data set is publicly available for use by researchers through the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, launched by Polaris and U.N. International Organization for Migration.  Polaris also advocates for stronger state and federal anti-trafficking legislation, and engages community members in local and national grassroots efforts. Polaris has been criticized for releasing false and misleading data regarding sex trafficking. Critics of Polaris state that the organization fails to distinguish between consensual sex work and coercion, and that the policies Polaris lobbies for harm sex workers.
   The organization was named after the North Star, which people living in slavery in the Southern United States used to help find their way along the Underground Railroad to freedom in the North.
   The organization is committed to ending human trafficking and slavery and focuses its efforts in the United States. Polaris is one of the few organizations working on all forms of trafficking, including supporting survivors who are male, female, transgender people and children, US citizens and foreign nationals and survivors of both labor and sex trafficking.
   Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888), has been in operation. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families and through non-governmental sources. The National Hotline provides survivors of human trafficking with support and a variety of options to get help and stay safe, and shares actionable tips and expertise with the anti-trafficking community. It is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Assistance is available in more than 200 languages.
   In 2018, the National Hotline announced expanded modes of communications. Now survivors and others can contact the service using BeFree SMS Textline (233733) and online chat services in both English and Spanish. Chat is available at
   The number of human trafficking cases reported to the National Hotline has increased significantly every year since its inception. More than 7,600 cases were reported in 2016, over 8,700 in 2017, and it is projected to surpass 2017's number by 10 to 20 percent last year. All calls are kept confidential unless a caller consents to being connected to law enforcement or a social service provider, or if the caller reports a situation of imminent danger.
   Accurate statistics are hard to come by, but according to the ILO, forced labor alone generates an estimated $150 billion in profits per annum as of 2014. Again, trafficking in humans is the second most profitable illegal enterprise on the planet, with drug trafficking being the first. One has to remember though when drugs are gone they’re gone. People on the other hand, can be used over and over again.
   As long a greed persists in our societies the monsters will continue to roam and wreck havoc upon the world.

To be continued

A message from Polaris:

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Understanding the true nature of human trafficking is the first step to combating it. Human trafficking Hollywood-style looks a lot like kidnapping in a foreign country. The reality though is far more complicated. It is the woman who came to work in the home of a diplomat forced to work for no pay, the migrant worker refused food or water and trapped in debt, and the young woman coerced by her boyfriend to provide sex for money. In order to prevent human trafficking we have to know what it really looks like. Help us spread awareness, by educating friends and family on this terrible crime. The fight to end human trafficking begins with you.

Addendum: 1-23-19: Nigeria Finds More Than 20,000 Kidnapped Girls in Mali