Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a declaration designating May 1-7, 2018 as Iowa Peace Week. Throughout Iowa Peace Week, we will be celebrating peace and justice leaders from Iowa who are making a difference in our world.
Beyond the entertainment world, Iowa-born actor Ashton Kutcher works to end human trafficking and child exploitation. In 2009, Kutcher established an international human rights organization with his then-wife Demi Moore. DNA Foundation, later known as Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, works to address the sexual exploitation of children and the proliferation of child pornography on a global scale. In April 2011, Kutcher and Moore began a campaign to end child sex trafficking. Kutcher claimed that 100,000 to 300,000 American children were sold into sexual slavery.
Thorn clearly has its work cut out for it: In 2012, the International Labor Organization estimated that there were roughly 21 million human trafficking victims worldwide, of which about 5 million were being sexually exploited. According to Thorn, the internet is largely to blame: It found that 63 percent of child sex trafficking victims that it surveyed were advertised online.
In addition to researching the circumstances that facilitate child sex trafficking, Thorn is also building tech to help fight it. In 2013, it worked with Twilio to create a shortcode that victims of sexual exploitation, as well as witnesses could text to seek help discreetly. From its launch through last June, the system enabled 3,808 conversations via text message that led to 3,631 substantive cases and 18 potential victims extracted.
Kutcher gave an emotional speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Feburary, 2017, as he called for more to be done to tackle child sexual abuse. He called for funding for tech tools to combat child sex trafficking, fostering public-private partnerships to come up with such solutions and fixing the pipelines that lead minors in and out of trafficking networks.
In total, the tool had identified 6,000 victims of modern slavery in six months, he revealed.
The visibly emotional actor, who has two young children with actress Mila Kunis, said: "As part of my anti-trafficking work, I've met victims in Russia, I've met victims in India, I've met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico, victims from New York and New Jersey and all across our country. I've been on FBI raids where I've seen things that no person should ever see. I've seen video content of a child that's the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play."
Kutcher said his team received a call from the Department of Homeland Security asking for help to find a seven-year-old girl after footage of her being sexually abused was "spread around the dark web".
"She'd been abused for three years and they'd watched her for three years and they could not find the perpetrator, asking us for help," he said. "We were the last line of defense."
Kutcher and the sharpest minds from tech, non-profit, government and law enforcement are working to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material and stand up to child traffickers. They've also uncovering new kinds of abuse, and are fighting those too.
He explains their success is measured by how many children they've helped save, how many cases they've contributed to solving and how much harm they've prevented. Through focused and persistent effort, he believes they can stop online child sexual abuse.
Kutcher said he refuses to live in a world where the technology exists to help kids but simply isn't being used. They have built powerful products, lead new programs, maintained essential resources, and developed awareness campaigns to attack the issue from all sides. He wants tech companies, law enforcement, and NGOs to leverage everything they do.
Their work is guided by three principles:
Accelerate victim identification
Their first product, Spotlight, was designed based on insights from their first survivor survey. It accelerates victim identification and helps law enforcement make the best use of the critical time they have to find child sex trafficking victims. Spotlight is a Web app that assists in trafficking investigations by helping law enforcement sift through thousands of classifieds and forum posts advertising escort services from several sites. It uses machine learning to analyze data and identify suspicious ads that may involve minors, matching images and generating profiles so individual cases are easier to track. The tool is now used in all 50 US states by 780 agencies.
Now, the organization is gearing up to take on traffickers who operate on the Dark Web. It's building a tool called Solis, a tool to analyze activity on the underground network and help investigators uncover information about minors being exploited across the globe. It's currently being tested by Thorn's international partners, and it's already helped rescue 40 children.
It's great to see celebrities standing up for causes they believe in; what's particularly notable about Kutcher's approach is how Thorn is following tech trends and adapting their processes to target traffickers as quickly as they change their modus operandi. Hopefully, initiatives like these will help curb devastating crimes like sex trafficking not just across the US, but around the world.
Thorn and its software has helped:
Identify an average of 5 kids per day
Reduce critical search times by 60%
Find a total of 1,980 victimized kids
Partnership on programs like Project Vic are critical to success. This collaborative effort works to create a central repository of identified child sexual abuse images. This reduces the amount of time it takes law enforcement to analyze seized content and allows them to quickly eliminate around 85% of content and focus on the 15% that have not already been classified.
They share what they've learned:
Sound Practices Guide
Many small and mid-size companies do not have the resources or knowledge to implement child safety procedures and tools, making their platforms vulnerable to abusive content and behavior. We offer guidance and concrete steps to for companies of all sizes to help protect kids on their platforms, including the Industry Hash Sharing program and PhotoDNA.
With the sheer volume of illicit child abuse material online, law enforcement isn't equipped to find and identify all the people searching for this content. The result is that people search and share with a seemingly low risk of getting caught. We work to intercept this behavior and change it - reducing the demand for abuse content overall.
Industry Hash Sharing
Most image sharing platforms independently screen for child sexual abuse images, but don't share intelligence, resulting in the slow and inefficient removal of abusive content. Our hash-sharing program was developed to help companies share intelligence quickly and speed the identification and removal of bad content.
Their new campaign: it's a threat to reveal intimate images to get you to do something you don't want to do.
Click HERE to visit Ashton Kutcher's Facebook page.
Gary T. Guthrie
Gary T. Guthrie, dubbed the "The Carrot King", calls himself a humble servant and says, "There is nothing in the world more honorable and joyful than feeding healthy, tasteful food to families."Gary has grown carrots, onions, sweet potatoes and other vegetables on his 1/2-acre Growing Harmony Farm in Nevada, Iowa since 1997 (a Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA). In the magazine Edible Iowa River Valley, journalist Jay Wagner, gave Gary the title "The Carrot King" after biting into one of Gary's tasty, nutritious Bolero carrots which was sweeter than candy. These organically grown carrots are sold directly to families and restaurants within a ten mile radius of his acreage. Being part of CSA combines Gary's passion for "feeding the hungry of the world" with creating a sense of community with those who purchase and eat these healthy and nutritious foods.
Before starting the GHF Gary graduated in Agronomy from Iowa State University and worked in corn breeding for a few years after college. He then joined with up the Mennonite Central Committee and worked for 3 years in Bolivia with peasant farmers. There he met and married Nancy and then they moved to and worked in El Salvador for three years working with local farmers assisting them in growing their own food.
Working with farmers in Latin America in sustainability led him back to Iowa to start Growing Harmony Farm. Embracing both the Catholic and Mennonite faith traditions, he has attempted to weave his spirituality and agricultural experiences with the sacredness of healthy food. For Gary, growing carrots has come to symbolize 'abundant life' when "one is faithful to tending the soil of our earth and the soil of our own lives."
Gary was recently featured in the Iowa Ingredients Show, produced by the Iowa Public Television. His blog Thecarrotking.blogspot.com offers great recipes about all types of locally grown foods, not just carrot recipes - check out the caramel apple pie! He has recently established 'prairie strips' for water restoration and now keeps bees on the larger farm he manages. He has recently scaled back his food production while tending to elderly parents.
We recognize and thank Gary for his efforts to build right relationships and community. He integrates faith, food and farming that provide affordable healthy and nutritious food to feed the hungry while caring for our planet earth. Gary - you are "The Carrot King."
The Stanley Foundation
The Stanley Foundation is based in Muscatine, Iowa and is built on the belief that greater international cooperation will improve global governance and enhance global citizenship. It was created by C. Maxwell and Elizabeth M. Stanley in 1956. Working from this small community in the heartland of Iowa, their mission and work embodies active non-violence in peacemaking internationally connecting the global community.
The Stanley Foundationseeks multilateral action to create fair, just, and lasting solutions to critical issues of peace and security. It seeks to secure peace with freedom and justice with advocacy as a core aspect of their programming. They build networks of support for specific outcomes and are nonpartisan. Their forums are respectful of all voices and they have maintained a long-term, independent perspective.
The foundation's current work includes specific actions toward policy change in the areas of nuclear security, human protection, and climate change. They also support educational efforts in their local community.
Their core values reflect these beliefs.
All people have inherent dignity, value, and ability to contribute to building a sustainable future.
All people deserve a world at peace where the causes of conflict are addressed and disputes are resolved without recourse to violence.
They value and encourage a U.S. multilateral role.
Both the policy community and civil society have essential roles in building sustainable peace.
They are an invaluable resource and produce a bi-monthly newsletter. Check out their website at www.stanleyfoundation.org
Sister Mary McCauley
Sister Mary McCauley, BVM is a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. She does all that she can to educate and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. She is a woman who "walks the talk". Sr. Mary tells that one of the most transformative days of her forty-five years of ministry took place on May 8, 2008 - the day of the infamous immigration raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa. At that time, she served as the pastoral administrator of three rural parishes including St. Bridget's in Postville. It was on that day and for many days to follow that she offered pastoral presence and support to over 400 devastated and traumatized women, children and men.
She recalls those days and the impact of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in her parish community. "I saw faces filled with fear. Children crying as they feared they would never again see their mother or father. I think of women walking with GPS devices on their ankles carrying signs that read: We are not criminals. We came to work. We came to feed our families. We are mothers. At that moment my heart stirred and I realized that while our government claimed to uphold the integrity of the law it had totally ignored the integrity of the person, the integrity of the family, the integrity of a community, as well as the integrity of the values for which our country stands."
She continues, "The profound respect and love for every person affected by the Postville raid and a desire to uphold American values demands we find a humane solution to the Postville scene and those like it. The rendering of relationships in ICE raids, the ripping apart the fabric of families, of children from parents and husbands from wives, demands we find ways to bring people together to benefit all. After viewing what horrors the ICE raids wrought, we now have the opportunity to create humane solution to the broken immigration system and to reach out to government, to employers who unscrupulously take advantage of undocumented workers, to neighbors who fear the stranger, and to legislators who have been slow to rewrite our broken and callous laws." (Network and U.S. CCCB)
Sr. Mary is steadfast in her efforts, "Now is the time to say: Let us move on, let us respect and honor the dignity of all persons, let us recognize that laws have but one purpose - to ensure the common good. Now is the time to restore the integrity of the law, of the family, of our American values, of our country. Now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform. We can to turn the tragedy of Postville into victory for justice." (Taken from the U.S.C.C.B. Blog, August 29, 2013; The Postville Project Postville.org "Reflections from Sister Mary McCauley, BVM"
Lavina Engle is an elementary school Guidance Counselor with the Clinton Community School District here in Clinton, Iowa. Recently, she was selected to receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Justice Award for her work in the schools and in the community at large.
In nominating Lavina for the award, Eagle Heights Elementary School Principal Roger Winterlin praised her efforts pointing out ways she utilizes her position within the school district to advocate for peace and social justice in all aspects the lives of her students.
Lavina started a Diversity Club for students in 4th and 5thgrades. The group's activities focus on acknowledging and appreciating diversity in our community and it quickly became a big hit with both students and parents alike. The students work not only on addressing diversity issues, but also anti-bullying efforts. Under Ms. Engle's direction, the students made a video on the topic and created posters to display at the schools. She also urged the students to participate in the community's annual Stop the Hate - Show the Love Walk which is held in Clinton to raise awareness of tolerance and acceptance for all. The Peace Pole which was part of this celebration still stands in the hallways of Eagle Heights Elementary School.
In addition to her work with the Diversity Club, Mrs. Engle works closely with students and parents of various backgrounds to assist them with whatever social or emotional needs they might have. She is instrumental in helping to guide them to other resources in the community to get help.
Ms. Engle is also the Chairperson of the Clinton Community School District's Diversity Committee. The Mission of the Clinton Community School District Diversity Committee is to provide activities, materials and/or experiences that would impact staff and students and provide opportunities for them to develop a deeper level of appreciation of diversity.
Maggie Tinsman, former Iowa Senator and Scott County Supervisor, is our January Peacemaker, designated as such because of her work with Human Trafficking. While in the Iowa Senate, in which she served for 18 years, Maggie drafted a bill criminalizing Human Trafficking and has since become a major speaker on the "Global and Local Problems of Human Trafficking."
Maggie serves as Chair of the Board of Braking Traffik, a Quad Cities-based organization whose mission is to support and enable the discovery of and response to incidents of human sex trafficking through a victim-centered, multidisciplinary, and collaborative community effort. She works to combat human trafficking in the State of Iowa, and is available as a speaker on the subject.
Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Human trafficking deprives people of their rights and freedoms, is a global health risk, and fuels the growth of organized crime. It has a devastating impact on individual victims, who often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, and even death.
Maggie states, "I am proud to have contributed to Iowa's becoming the 14th state to pass a law criminalizing human trafficking, making it a serious felony with social services available to victims and training available to law enforcement."
Mother of three, grandmother of eight and resident of Bettendorf, Iowa, Maggie is an active member of her church, serving as a lay minister and a leader at the diocesan and national levels. Both University of Colorado (BA, Phi Beta Kappa) and University of Iowa (MSW) are Alma Maters. She also holds an Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree from St Ambrose University. In 2007, she launched a policy analysis and consultant business called "Maggie Tinsman, LLC", specializing in advocating for early childhood education development, in lobbying for health and human services issues. She promotes public service in elected politics for women through a partnership with Senator Jean-Lloyd Jones called 50/50 in 2020, designed to achieve political equity for women in Iowa by the year 2020. She has served on various positions including:
Maggie's past and present National, State and community work include:
Senator for District 41 from 1989 to 2007.
Assistant Minority Leader - 6 years
Legislative Committees: Judiciary, State Government, Local Government, Appropriations, Education, Human Resources, and Health & Human Services Appropriation Sub Committee (Chair)
Scott County Board of Supervisors - 11 years (First Women)
Bettendorf Civil Service Commission
Bi-State Early Childhood Co-Investment Team,
Skip-a-Long Child Development Services,
Scott County KIDS Board
Child Protection Response Clinic
Volunteers for Symphony - Past President
American Lung Association of Iowa,
Iowa Legal Aid Foundation,
Prevention of Disabilities Commission of Iowa,
Iowa Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies,
Iowa Board of Health
Mental Health Institute Taskforce.
50-50 in 2020 Co-chair
National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services
ACLU - QC Elfreida Hershal Civil Liberties Award - 2010
Iowa Quad-City Rotary Club - Citizen of the Year 2007-2008
Quad Cities Woman of the Year - 2007
American Heart Association - Award of Excellence - 2007
Iowa Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Commission Award - 2006
Child Abuse Council Priorities Award - 2005
American Academy of Pediatrics Citizen Award - 2005
Friends of Older Iowans - 2004
Iowa Defense Council Association Public Service Award - 2004
American Lung Association of Illinois-Iowa Volunteer Recognition Award - 2004
Iowa Coalition for Housing and the Homeless Recognition Award - 2004
Coalition for Family & Children Services - Protector of Children Awards - 2003
Women's Legislative Lobby Pacesetter - 2001 & 2003
American Cancer Society Policy Maker of the Year - 2002
American Cancer Society Lynn Smith Award for Excellence in Tobacco Control - 2001
Illinois/Iowa Center for Independent Living Political Action Recognition for support of people with disabilities - 1999
Coalition of Family and Children Services in Iowa Public Service Award - 1997 &1999
Iowa Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations Chairperson Recognition - 1984
Iowa Social Worker of the Year - 1978
National Episcopal Convention Deputy