Human trafficking is here: How to spot it, what’s being done about it
WINCHESTER — Each student mixed their base of black icing with a variety of other colors — orange, dark blue, green, pink or light blue — to create a glaze for their galaxy cupcake during Tuesday afternoon’s activity at Roseburg Summer Fun’s Bon Appetit camp at Umpqua Community College.
“It turned out real good,” 10-year-old Tigerlily Whitebird said. “All the color tilted to one side.”
After the glaze went on, students added sprinkles, pearls and additional icing.
As soon as they were done pouring the glaze on their small cakes the students went to clean up.
And while the glaze was hardening, the students made a large cake to decorate later. Each student had a five-second turn to beat the ingredients together.
“I like eating what I make,” 8-year-old Brooke Sexton said.
Galaxy cupcakes were just one of many delicacies the fourth through sixth graders will make this week.
In addition to learning about baking and decorating, the students are also learning how to make appetizers, main dishes and use a Dutch oven.
In Dutch oven cooking, the students made breakfast pizzas and armpit fudge, and will have mac and cheese and brownies on the menu later this week.
All the recipes are designed to be child-friendly in both taste and ease of cooking.
Aiden Spurgeon and Jacob Townsend were friends before they came to camp and were excited about creating together throughout the week.
“My trick is to add a lot of color,” Aiden said, while Jacob went for a more understated look with just a few blue swirls.
“Cooking camps are always popular,” said UCC Camp Coordinator Susan Neeman. “We don’t force them to make anything or eat anything.”
Each student also gets to bring the recipes home with them.
WASHINGTON — Robert Mueller on Wednesday bluntly dismissed President Donald Trump’s claims of total exoneration in the federal probe of Russia’s 2016 election interference. The former special counsel told Congress he explicitly did not clear the president of obstructing his investigation.
The televised Capitol Hill appearance, Mueller’s first since wrapping his two-year Russia probe last spring, unfolded at a moment of deep divisions in the country, with many Americans hardened in their opinions about the success of Donald Trump’s presidency and whether impeachment proceedings are necessary.
Republicans and Democrats took divergent paths in questioning Mueller, with Trump’s GOP allies trying to cast the former special counsel and his prosecutors as politically motivated. Democrats, meanwhile, sought to emphasize the most incendiary findings of Mueller’s 448-page report and weaken Trump’s reelection prospects in ways that Mueller’s book-length report did not.
They hoped that even if his testimony did not inspire impeachment demands — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made clear she will not pursue impeachment, for now — Mueller could nonetheless unambiguously spell out questionable, norm-shattering actions by the president.
Yet Mueller by midday appeared unwilling or unable to offer crisp sound bites that could reshape already-entrenched public opinions.
He frequently gave terse, one-word answers to lawmakers’ questions, even when given opportunities to crystallize allegations of obstruction of justice against the president. He referred time again to the wording in his report or asked for questions to be repeated. He declined to read aloud hard-hitting statements in the report when prodded by Democrats to do so.
But he was unflinching on the most-critical matters.
In the opening minutes of the hearing, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, asked Mueller about Trump’s claims of vindication in the investigation.
“Did you actually totally exonerate the president?” Nadler asked.
“No,” Mueller replied.
Though Mueller described Russian government’s efforts to interfere in American politics as among the most serious challenges to democracy he had encountered in his decades-long career — which included steering the FBI after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — Republicans seized on his conclusion of insufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“Those are the facts of the Mueller report. Russia meddled in the 2016 election,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “The president did not conspire with Russians. Nothing we hear today will change those facts.”
Mueller, pressed as to why he hadn’t investigated a “dossier” of claims that the Republicans insist helped lead to the start of the probe, he said that was not his charge.
That was “outside my purview,” he said repeatedly.
Though Mueller declared at the outset that he would be limited in what he would say, the hearings nonetheless carried the extraordinary spectacle of a prosecutor discussing in public a criminal investigation he conducted into a sitting U.S. president.
Mueller, known for his taciturn nature, warned that he would not stray beyond what had already been revealed in his report. And the Justice Department instructed him to stay strictly within those parameters, giving him a formal directive to point to if he faced questions he did not want to answer.
Trump lashed out early Wednesday ahead of the hearing, saying on Twitter that “Democrats and others” are trying to fabricate a crime and pin it on “a very innocent President.”
Trump has made Mueller a regular target of attack over the past two years in an attempt to undermine his credibility and portray him as biased and compromised.
Over the past week, Trump had begun to frequently ask confidants how he thought the hearing would go, and while he expressed no worry that Mueller would reveal anything damaging, he was irritated that the former special counsel was being given the national stage, according to two Republicans close to the White House. They were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
Long aware of the power of televised images, Trump seethed to one adviser that he was annoyed Democrats would be given a tool to ramp up their investigations — and that the cable news networks would now have new footage of Mueller to play endlessly.
Trump this week feigned indifference to Mueller’s testimony , telling reporters in the Oval Office on Monday, “I’m not going to be watching — probably — maybe I’ll see a little bit of it.”
Mueller is a former FBI director who spent 12 years parrying questions from lawmakers at oversight hearings, and decades before that as a prosecutor who asked questions of his own. He resisted efforts to goad him into saying anything he did not want to say. He repeatedly told lawmakers to refer to his report for answers to specific questions.
Wednesday’s first hearing before the Judiciary Committee focused on whether the president illegally obstructed justice by attempting to seize control of Mueller’s investigation.
The special counsel examined nearly a dozen episodes, including Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and his efforts to have Mueller himself removed. Mueller in his report ultimately declined to state whether the president broke the law, saying such a judgment would be unfair in light of Justice Department legal opinions that bar the indictment of a sitting president.
The afternoon hearing before the House intelligence committee will dive into ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
On that question, Mueller’s report documented a trail of contacts between Russians and Trump associates — including a Trump Tower meeting at which the president’s eldest son expected to receive dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton — but the special counsel found insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy aiming to tip the 2016 election.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline received a call about a potential sex trafficking incident involving a teenage girl July 10 at Rice Hill, according to Douglas County Human Trafficking Task Force founder Marion Kotowski.
A post about the allegation appeared on the task force’s Facebook page July 16 and has continued to create a stir among county residents for the past week. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said it is aware of, but not currently investigating, the alleged incident.
Kotowski said the hotline’s report indicated a Caucasian teenager who appeared to be a minor, but could have been between 16 and 19 years old, was waving to and interacting with adult males at the Pilot Flying J Truck Stop and the Adult Shop in Rice Hill.
Those are red flags for sex trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery in which victims are coerced or manipulated into prostitution with all the proceeds going to a pimp, according to Kotowski.
Human trafficking is here: How to spot it, what’s being done about it
Possible additional victims were also mentioned, but were reportedly believed to be adults. Kotowski said the task force’s primary concern is the alleged younger victim. She said there’s no such thing as a teenage prostitute. A minor cannot consent to sex and is automatically considered a human trafficking victim if they are involved in prostitution.
The hotline did not identify the caller, or offer any information about the suspected pimp.
Both the truck stop and the adult store are located just off Interstate 5, which is known to be a corridor for transporting trafficking victims, Kotowski said, and truckers are frequently targeted as potential Johns — the term for a prostitute’s client — at truck stops up and down the freeway.
Kotowski emphasized that there’s no indication it’s unsafe for travelers to stop at Rice Hill, and that the businesses in that area are cooperating with the task force’s efforts to identify and prevent human trafficking, including placing informational posters in their restrooms.
Pilot Flying J Manager Cody Collins said no one notified him of any possible human trafficking on the day in question. Collins said his employees regularly patrol the parking lot, and that all employees receive training on identifying human trafficking. He said as far as he knows, there have not been any trafficking incidents at Pilot Flying J’s Rice Hill location since he took over as manager a year ago.
Many truckers are part of a movement against human trafficking, and are quick to report on possible incidents, Collins said. Umpqua Community College trucking students receive training to help them recognize the signs.
An employee who answered the phone at the Adult Shop referred questions to a manager, who did not call back by deadline.
However, the Adult Shop commented on the task force’s Facebook post Saturday that, “The Adult Shop is outraged by the reports of human trafficking in the Rice Hill Truck Stop. We find this conduct deplorable and have been in contact with Douglas County Sheriff to assist with any ongoing investigation.”
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Brad O’Dell said the sheriff’s office is aware of the report and the Facebook post.
“The Sheriff’s Office has reviewed the available information, but at this time does not have an open investigation,” O’Dell said in an email. “As always, the Sheriff’s Office encourages the public to report any suspected criminal activity through the dispatch center at 541-440-4471.”
Kotowski said this is the fourth possible incident she’s heard about in the Rice Hill area over the past year. She encouraged witnesses to suspected human trafficking incidents contact police.
She urged witnesses to remain safe, but record license plate numbers and descriptions and take cellphone photos if possible. Red flags for possible trafficking include observing a person who is under the control or surveillance of someone else, who won’t make eye contact, looks fearful or won’t speak.
Kotowski said traffickers and their victims come from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds, and 40% of the pimps are women. Many victims have experienced child abuse or other traumas or have been involved with the foster system or juvenile justice. They are often manipulated into thinking they have to repay some kind of debt to their pimps.
Bystanders unsure whether they’re witnessing trafficking can contact the hotline at 1-888-373-7888. If they’re able to safely speak to a victim but the victim doesn’t want police involvement, another resource is the Battered Persons’ Advocacy in Roseburg, which provides shelter and has an anti-trafficking advocate on staff. The BPA can be reached at 541-673-7867.