Sex trafficking nationally

 

Minnesota is such a quiet place no one would think something like sex trafficking would be going on. It is known for teens to do risky things in the bathroom at malls and movies in Minnesota. But no one really knows if they’re forced to interact in these sexual encounters. There was a total of 28 victims forced into human sex trafficking last year during the “Final Four” in March of 2019, also sex trafficking is huge during the Super Bowl, which Minnesota hosted not that long ago. 

All 28 of those victims were rescued, including one minor, and there was a total of 58 men and women that were arrested for these crimes.

But this isn’t only happening in Minnesota, it’s a worldwide problem. Over 20.9 million are victims of human trafficking globally. This is occurring everyday and is ruining little girls and women’s lives. 

The average age of when a sex trafficking victim is first sold is 13years old. The ages go up to as high as 30 years old. One pimp of who was a sex trafficker, but ultimately was caught said, “The goal is to get the girls as dependent as possible. Mentally you’ve gotta burn into their brains you’re the only one…You’re god. Once you’ve got that down and they’re ready to work…Then you instal the fear…The wrath of god. If they mess up, there’s a price to pay, and they know it’s a heavy price.”

Most everyone knows about sex trafficking from what they see and hear in movies and the news but no one has ever sat down to actually listen to the victims instead of interviewing them to get famous off their stories.

So, as we conducted research, we went around to the students of Highland Park Senior High School and asked their opinions on the topic. We interviewed multiple students but only a few of these students’ opinions really stood out. The same two questions were asked: “How do you feel about human sex trafficking?” and “What are your emotions towards the victims that go through sex trafficking?”. 

Jerry Flores a sophomore attending Highland Park Senior High said, “Well sex trafficking is a controversial topic and isn’t well thought out or more of the less thought of. I feel that there should be more laws about how to compensate these families when going through these type of experiences.” 

Brianna Avalos said, “It has messed up young girls’ lives because they don’t experience things that everybody else does because of it.” She also said. “It makes me feel bad because they have to go through it everyday and they don’t have a normal lifestyle that a normal person would have.”

Another Highland Park student said, “The authorities need to do a better job regulating it.”

We then asked our parents about sex trafficking and here’s what they had to say:

“It’s horrible and they need to have a specific force team for just sex trafficking.”

“I feel that this kind of thing happens almost everyday and for these young girls to go through something like that it’s really really sad. I feel that the police should do more to stop the creeps and pedophiles who use these young girls for their bodies.”

According to the U.N.-backed International Labor Organization (ILO) globally, it is estimated that up to 40 million people today are affected by this industry. In 2019 alone, per the Institute for Sport and Social Justice’s “Shut Out Trafficking” program, there were 2,907 individuals arrested, suspected or charged with human trafficking activities in the United States. More than 400 people over 18 years of age were rescued from being trafficked and nearly 115 children under age 18 were freed. There were 83 new laws passed and 483 community-based initiatives to fight human trafficking.

There are plenty of groups and organizations working and helping the police in different states to stop this crime from happening. So, if you, or anyone, are in need of help please don’t hesitate to call the National Trafficking Hotline at: 1-888-373-7888 or text “HELP” to Polaris Project’s BeFree Textline at 233733. And please take the information provided to you and spread the word; it’ll help a lot of kids and women. 

‘Simcity Build It’™️

I’d like to talk about an app that has taught me, and other kids, about the world we live in and how our society works in real life. The app is called Simcity Build It.

In this app, you can start on a blank land. With each level you increase your population. To do that, you have to build their homes. To do that, you also have to collect the materials for building the homes.

When you get to a certain level you have to provide safety (police, fire people, etc.) and health care. If you don’t have the money to build the fire stations, police stations, water pumping stations, sewage disposals and government buildings your population will go down, and people will abandon their homes.

This game has taught me and many others how cities work. 

Many of my friends play this game as well. I asked them questions so I could see how much they have invested in this game, and how much they have learned from this game. I also asked them about how their cities are doing.

The first person I interviewed was my good friend Ella Ramirez. When I asked how much time she had invested she said, “Two hours a day.” She also mentioned how she has been on the app for 5 months in total.

I also asked her things she has learned about the game and she said, “When not enough is provided for the people they get upset and leave.” She also added, “The bigger the city the more the pollution, and the quality of the city goes down.”

A more personal question I asked was “How was your city doing?” and she said “It’s doing really well. I’m really happy with the way it is functioning. I’m also really happy with the design it is in at the moment. It is formatted into different sections of areas of more calmness and more business giving the Sims different options based on the building they are living in. They are also arranged based on the height, the taller and fancier buildings are in the more busy area while the smaller and more tranquil buildings are in the calmer area.”

That concludes my interview with Ella Ramirez.

Screenshot of Olivia’s Sim City

I also asked my teacher Mrs. Kallestad, about the game and what she thinks about students using the game.

When I asked her about her opinions, it seemed like she was very curious about it. She was curious about how the cities work and also seemed to be very interested in the people behind the game and how they managed their cities.

She was also very interested about the names of people’s cities, as some are not appropriate for kids.

Another topic that Mrs. Kallestad was sort of heated up on was the fact that a big city was equal to a successful city, another player and I were telling her that that was the whole point.

That concludes my interview with Mrs. Kallestad. 

Overall, most people seem to be interested in the game but have very different opinions because Mrs. Kallestad doesn’t seem to like the game very much. This is probably because it distracts her students, but Ella, as a player, sees the game in a different perspective in an educational point of view.

Should schools require vaccinations without religious or philosophical exemption?

Little child have a vaccination shot in studio. Image taken from: https://thrivingschools.kaiserpermanente.org/5-reasons-to-get-kids-vaccinated/

In Minnesota, vaccinations are required by law before enrolling your child in school, whether it be public school or private school. However, it is legal for people to get a religious or philosophical exemption from getting their vaccinations. Should such a thing be allowed if it puts other people’s and children’s health at risk? 

Parents choose not to vaccinate their children for a number of reasons. While in general, there are no restrictions on vaccinations in any major religions according to History of Vaccines.org, there are a few smaller denominations of religions that do, such as Christian Scientists or the Dutch Reformed Church, denominations of the Christian church. There is also a number of muslim people who claim that they cannot use vaccines made from pork (gelatin), as it is against Islam to consume pork, but the refusal of vaccines is not agreed upon throughout the whole religion. Additionally, both of these religions support the morals behind vaccines, them being to prevent children (and adults) from suffering. 

So, it’s a very controversial topic even within one religion. Can the excuse that vaccines are against one’s religion be used even if it is unclear whether the religion as a whole opposes this idea or not?

Another reason parents do not vaccinate their children is the fear of vaccines, specifically the vaccine for mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR), possibly causing autism. According to historyofvaccines.org this is most often thought to be because the rate of a child born with autism is increasing while we are getting more advanced medically and using more vaccinations to defend against diseases. Not only that, but the spread of misinformation in the media and in person can be a great reinforcer of this idea.

According to ncbi.gov, widespread exemption from vaccines undermines the benefits of herd immunity. Herd immunity is when a large group of a population has a strong resistance to a type of disease. This helps not only people but also people with weaker immune systems such as babies or young children.

Parents who don’t vaccinate their children contribute to outbreaks of diseases that could have been preventable by vaccines, such as measles or whooping cough, according to the University of Michigan Health Lab. It keeps these diseases alive. For example, according to The Hospitalist, measles, which the USA had been declared clean of by the CDC, has started to make a comeback because people refuse to vaccinate either themselves or their children. 

The graph below, which can be found on the CDC website, shows the number of measles cases recorded in each year. 

As you can see, between the years 2015 and 2017 the number of measles cases were generally small, staying in the low hundred. However in 2018 there was a spike in outbreaks which brought the numbers up to 375 and even higher in 2019 at 1282 cases.

This brings us to the million dollar question. Should vaccines be completely required for every student, regardless of religious or philosophical beliefs?

The practical answer would be yes. They prevent diseases that could be fatal amongst children and without them these preventable diseases keep coming back. Thus, without question, requiring vaccines would turn out for the better.

However, would we be violating the religous freedom of those who are against vaccines? Religious freedom is an incredibly important part of what makes our country so diverse and something we have fought so very hard to keep.

The real question is does it matter what the religious or philosophical beliefs of one person is when it comes to the well-being of all the children around them?

Lil Wayne: ‘Funeral’

Lil Wayne’s album Funeral came out January 31st after it was first announced in 2016. If you flip the cover upside down it cleverly also spells Lil Wayne. The album is a continuation of his 2010 album Rebirth. Funeral is Lil Wayne’s fifth album to go number one on the charts. It has many featured artists including names such as Adam Levine, 2 Chainz, and XXXTentacion.

“I Do It” was the only single released from the album. Funeral has 24 tracks and the album as a whole takes an hour and sixteen minutes to listen through. Plus, with ten features it’s no wonder why the album feels bloated.

It starts off strong with its title track which starts off somber and slow, but starts to pick up speed near the end. The four tracks after it are well crafted and sound like classic Lil Wayne.

However, track six, “Stop Playin With Me,” marks the beginning of a very poor middle. The tracks all have similar beats, and while they each have some good quality to them, they don’t feel unique.

The Adam Levine feature is poor, and it feels like the other artists featured on the album are not fully utilized or just don’t seem to fit on the song or album. 

I personally had a hard time getting through the middle slog because the songs didn’t offer much for me to grab onto. I was writing my passing thoughts on the songs while I was listening and, while the first few tracks I had a good amount of notes for, I really couldn’t find anything memorable in most of the songs after.

The album does have a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant ,who died in a helicopter crash just five days before the release of Funeral. In the song, Lil Wayne and Jay Rock rap about achieving king status in the game just like Kobe with basketball. It ends with 24 seconds of silence. 

Funeral was given mixed reviews. Some critics felt it was too long and unoriginal while others thought it was decent, but certainly not the best. It’s something that fans of Lil Wayne will enjoy, but not an album that will catch your attention if you’re not already familiar with him. 

It seems like the album doesn’t really know what it’s doing. It throws everything out there, but only a few songs are strong enough to stick. It’s a good album, just not cohesive enough, and it offers very little.

Would I recommend this album? Well, yes, if you’re a Lil Wayne fan or big into rap, but if you’re just looking for something to casually bop to or an intro to Wayne’s music then this album probably isn’t the direction to go. It certainly doesn’t live up to his older classics.

The impact Kpop has on the American music industry

Recently the Kpop Industry has made a rise to fame in the western music industry.

The popularity of Kpop has gone up tremendously since 2018. Since then, many groups have teamed up with American music record companies to expand their audience.

For example BTS, a well known Kpop group, has broken many world wide records on many platforms. On Youtube they have constantly broken records for the most views in 24 hours, their music video (MV) for “Boy With Luv” got 74.6 million views in 24 hours beating Blackpink’s, a fellow Kpop group’s, “Kill This Love” MV. The biggest accomplishment so far is BTS being the first Korean group to perform at the Grammys.

Being a Kpop fan is different than being an American music fan. In the Kpop industry you have different versions of Kpop albums. The album includes photo cards, which are pictures of each member of the group. Also, the album includes a photo book, which is just a bunch of pictures from a photo shoot, a poster, and a CD for the album.

Another thing that the Kpop industry does is have light sticks at their concerts so the artists can interact with their fans. Unlike many American boy and girl artists, they sing and dance during concerts with full choreography for each song.

Ever since Kpop has become a popular genre to listen to many artists have “borrowed” many ideas from the Kpop industry. For example, Taylor Swift has four versions of her new album lover and it includes different photos of her.

Additionally, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran have given their fans flashlight attachments to go on their phone cameras so they can interact with fans during a concert.

Recently, the Jonas Brothers have made a comeback with their song “Sucker.” On Twitter they posted saying that “DNA,” a BTS song, inspired the music video for “Sucker.”

Animation software review

RPG Maker MV is a game making software that allows you to make a game from a template that has already been set down for you. Inside the software there is some more software for making animations. These animations can range from attacking, healing, and cut-scenes, or maybe blending it all together.

I have been using this software for about three weeks now and it is great for people first learning to animate. Without actually knowing how to start, it shows you the frames for the different cells you are using, and you can color it at and add custom elevations from outside the software in case you don’t want to use some of the stuff that has been laid down for you already. 

Screenshot of different frames you can use for a single animation.

This app features scaling which makes it so you can make animations larger or smaller even if you have already completed the animation set.

This animation set also has tweening. This makes it so you can start with the first frame of the preset animation set up, and the last frame of a preset animation, and then you can use tween to fill in the gap‘s in between. This makes creating animation way faster.

Then there is opacity which can make how clear something appears to someone or how transparent it will come out. This is in case you want to have a nice animation and you want to not see the person behind, or in case you do want to see the person behind the animation, or maybe the animation is behind someone. 

Screenshot of tweening, scaling, etc.

Overall, this is a great start for animation for games. I would use it for many other things mainly because I haven’t had a chance to experience that part, and I don’t know what other easier softwares are out there.

The price is $90 for the software (you can get a free version that works just as well). If you’re really into making games, and you want to start somewhere, then for animations you can start with RPG Maker MV.

Obviously though, that’s a big price on the software, so is it worth it? Well yeah, it is because it did teach me a lot but there is more to it than animation software. There  is also the game aspect of it, the part where you put the animation into the game. You can make a game and that seems worth the money to me if you’re into it, and you’re going to use it, and not just sit on it.

You’re not gonna buy it once and use it once (otherwise just use the free version). Overall a fun experience. 5/5

Eating in class

We have all been in that position where you have to run out the door in the morning to make it to school on time. But, if you don’t have time to eat breakfast, or choose not to, it may leave you rather hungry during class. Depending on the time, lunch might still be a class or two away. That’s why many students have turned to snacking during class. Should you be able to eat in class? Is this a habit with negative effects?

According to experiments and studies, we should have the ability to eat in class. It is important that we don’t have big distractions in class, but an empty stomach can completely change your focus. Instead of learning, all you’ll consider in how much longer till lunch.  

Through research, it has been proven that a student who has not eaten, is less likely to succeed than a student who has eaten. This research helps to support why it is important that students can eat in class, because hunger can be a distraction that only keeps you counting down the minutes instead of paying attention to what you are doing in class. 

That being said, what snack is the best to have to get you to lunch? The best snack is one that isn’t messy, isn’t candy, and isn’t loud. This makes the least amount of distractions for you and the people around you. So, pretzels are one good option. 

Lastly, what do students think about eating in class? Well, I asked a couple of students and they all seemed to agree that eating in class should be allowed. One explained that everyone should be allowed to eat when they feel it is necessary to eat, and another student described how early lunch affected how hungry they feel at the end of the school day.

But does eating in class distract them? They say no. One student explained how eating in class doesn’t make them fidget or look at their phone. They also described a pattern they developed of grabbing their snack and writing notes in a cohesive system. 

If you do eat in class, please be sure not to leave behind any trash or crumbs. No teacher wants to pick up wrappers or residue from the floor or desks. Also, if you leave behind a bunch of garbage it may deter the teachers from allowing you, and all the other students, to eat in class. 

Ending animal testing

At this very moment there are animals that are being tested on. Testing on animals happens worldwide. It is a big problem, but it is often ignored. Testing on animals is another way of animal abuse. According to PETA, these poor animals are exposed to: burning, shocking, poisoning, isolation, starvation, and brain damage. No animal should be exposed to this kind of harm no matter what.

Animals that are often tested on are dogs, rats, rabbits, pigs, and fish. They are used on a daily basis for tests in the laboratory. Each year, around 100 million animals die for the purpose of experimentation. One of the most common products that use animals to test on, is make-up.

Testing on animals is just a waste of time overall. Not all the information they find on animals will be accurate on humans. It’s an inhuman act that scientists take on animals that are defenseless. Animals are also very different from human beings, which is why they make bad test subjects, the anatomy of animals and the anatomy of a human are very different. They may be able to pass tests that are dangerous to humans. 

So, what can you do to make this situation right and save more animals? Some things you can do to help suffering animals is to buy 100% cruelty-free products. If you don’t know where to look, you could look for any bunny logos on the product or you could search up a list of brands that sell cruelty-free products.

You could also educate people about the dark side of animal testing and why it shouldn’t be supported. You could also educate friends on what brands to use and not use, because your friends probably don’t know how bad animals are being treated in labs; help them see and understand this horrible situation and help them make the right choices. 

If you want more information on brands that are cruelty-free, visit: https://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx 

 

Sports schedule for: Feb 17-22

MONDAY DATE:   February 17th
TIME BUS DEPART/RETURN EVENT DETAILS Notes
         
TUESDAY DATE:  February 18th
TIME BUS DEPART/RETURN EVENT DETAILS Notes
4:00  / 5:30 / 7:00 p.m. C-Squad / JV-3:15-8:15 p.m.

Varsity 5:00-8:15 p.m.

C-Squad / JV / Varsity Boys Basketball vs. Humboldt at Humboldt High School  
4:30 / 6:00 p.m.   JV / Varsity Girls Basketball vs. Humboldt HOME  
WEDNESDAY DATE:   February 19th
TIME BUS DEPART/RETURN EVENT DETAILS Notes
5:30 / 7:00 p.m. 4:15 / 8:15 p.m. JV / Varsity Girls Basketball vs. Como Park at Como Park  
THURSDAY DATE:     February 20th
TIME BUS DEPART/RETURN EVENT DETAILS Notes
5:30 / 5:30 / 7:00 p.m. 4:30 / 8:15 p.m. C-Squad / JV / Varsity Boys Basketball vs. Harding at Harding High School  
6:00 p.m. 2:45 p.m. Boys Swimming Sectional Prelims at Art Downey

Aquatic Center

 
TBD   Boys Hockey Sectional TBD  
FRIDAY DATE:    February 21st
TIME BUS DEPART/RETURN EVENT DETAILS Notes
11:00 a.m.   Gymnastics: STATE MEET –

Team Championship

at Roy Wilkins Auditorium  
4:30 / 6:00 p.m.   JV / Varsity Girls Basketball vs. New Life Academy HOME  
6:00 p.m.   Boys Swimming Sectional Diving at Art Downey

Aquatic Center

 
SATURDAY DATE:    February 22nd
TIME BUS DEPART/RETURN EVENT DETAILS Notes
10:00 a.m.   Wrestling Individual Sectional at Mahtomedi High School  
10:00 a.m.   Boys Diving Sectional Finals at Art Downey

Aquatic Center

 
11:00 a.m.   Gymnastics: STATE MEET – Individual and All-Around Championship  

at Roy Wilkins Auditorium

 
1:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m. Boys Swimming Sectional Finals at Art Downey

Aquatic Center

 
SUNDAY  

‘Link’s Awakening’

Link’s Awakening, is yet another remake of a Zelda game, since Nintendo isn’t in the business of producing anything original. Originally released on the Game Boy, sometime in the 90’s, it was one of the first Zelda games ever, meaning that it is in turn, one of the most influential.

The remake of this game came out last year, and I got it for Christmas. The Legend of Zelda franchise is my favorite game franchise of all time, so I was excited to play this for the first time. But, I can firmly say that after playing it for just a few hours, this is a forgettable entry in the Zelda series.

Link’s Awakening should be a fun game, and for the most part it is, but it never really captivated me like other Zelda titles have. For starters, it’s a lot more linear, up to the point where once you leave every dungeon a talking owl just tells you where the next one is. It’s still up to you to find out where they are and how to get there, and that’s my main problem with this game.

There is absolutely no sense of direction. After every dungeon, it’s implied that you need to go back to areas you couldn’t before with whatever item you got, but the map is so big, it’s hard to figure out where you are supposed to go. Also, there’s a bunch of forced side quests in between that make you travel across the map several times over for no real reason. This gets confusing very quickly, and even though it takes the mystery out of it, I would just look up a guide.

One thing this game has going for it is its looks. It has a toy style of artwork that makes everyone in the game look like, well, a toy. The top down perspective of the game makes you feel like you are in a plastic diorama moving characters around.

However, while the art style is awesome, Link can only move in 8 directions, making movement very analog. The problem with this is that every single time Link turns, there is no animation for him changing directions, and it looks so forced. The fact that you have to deal with this throughout the entire game is such a bother.

The game plays well enough, like most top down Zelda games. The sword swinging animation is satisfying enough, and once you get Roc’s feather, which lets you jump and battle in 3D, the combat really shines. But like most things in the game, it has an underlying flaw. 

To use almost any item in the game that is not the sword or the dash boots, you have to select it to one of two item spots. This was understandable in the original game, because the Gameboy had a lot less buttons than the Switch does, but now that we have so many buttons, why should we be limited to using two items at a time? I wasted a lot of time switching items in the menu because of this.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on Link’s Awakening. Did I like it? Yeah, it was fun enough, but I have a hard time recommending it to anyone who is not a diehard Zelda fan or a 12-year-old. I mean that seriously, my little brother loved this game. It was one of the only Switch games he’s ever beaten before me.

My final rating for this game is 7/10.