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Exposing America’s Dark Secret: Families Sell Children for Sex

(Amanda Hara) An alarming epidemic plagues East Tennessee, but few fully understand the gravity or magnitude of the situation.

In the simplest of terms, children, some as young as three years old, have been sold for sex by their own parents and family members.

Adults, many with children of their own, have also fallen victim to human trafficking.

Experts identify the most vulnerable human trafficking victims as children in foster care or group homes, children or adults with a history of physical or sexual abuse, runaways, people with special needs, and anyone with a weakness or vulnerability that can be exposed or exploited.

“Traffickers promise a high-paying job, a loving relationship, or new and exciting opportunities and then use physical and psychological violence to control them,” said the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

As one of the region’s darkest secrets bubbles just below the surface, the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking answers with a swift and focused attack.

The coalition, which serves all areas of upper East Tennessee, offers a variety of services to help communities identify and respond to human trafficking.

One program pairs mentors like Tamara Klauer with survivors like a woman identified only as ‘M.’ Both started as partners in survival but quickly grew as friends.

When WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara first met Tamara, she was sifting through old memories, packing up little treasures from the past, and preparing to sell her West Knoxville home and move to Chicago.

As Tamara waited for crews to arrive and begin the moving process, M was already moving Tamara’s heart with a letter of gratitude.

“Dear Tamara, You’re going to make me cry that you’re moving away. My life is better for knowing you and counting you a dear friend,” Tamara read. “It seems like I’ve known you a long time, which is a good thing since the longest I’ve known anyone is four years, the anniversary of our rescue.”

M escaped a lifetime of trafficking, sold by her own family for sex. She found refuge in Knoxville, in the coalition, and in Tamara.

“You can’t wrap your head around it; you can’t even imagine what would lead someone to do that. It’s just pure evil … When you think of a survivor you think of someone who’s young. She’s a mom, she’s older than me. She has a son who’s a freshman in high school, she has an older daughter. This is not some kid. I think that is often surprising that it’s not just a 14- or 15-year-old girl,” Tamara explained.

The profile of a human trafficking survivor and victim is often misunderstood. Not just their age, but how they come to find themselves being sold for sex.

It’s true, Knoxville’s interstates provide traffickers a direct route from southern states to the north. But experts say the convenient infrastructure that brings people to East Tennessee isn’t the only culprit.

Family members, fueled by drug addiction, are selling children for sex straight from their East Tennessee homes. This chilling scenario makes up an alarming amount of the coalition’s cases.

“It happened to grandma, it happened to mom, and it’s happening to the daughter because that’s how families got by – that’s how they survived,” explained Kate Trudell, Executive Director of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Trafficking is especially prevalent in rural communities. The coalition points to a 2011 assessment from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which found 85 percent of Tennessee counties reported at least one case of sex trafficking. Familial trafficking is the primary reason for sex trafficking in rural communities, the coalition reported.

Furthermore, it’s happening far more often than most of East Tennessee realizes. Trudell said, “Our state really needs to digest the reality that trafficking does happen. We are seeing more referrals year to year than ever before, and that’s because there’s more trafficking than there ever has been.”

The coalition serves 30 to 40 clients every month, some as young as toddlers, many of them living in a safe house which keeps its location private to protect survivors.

Trudell said the uptick in clients can be attributed to improved detection and reporting of cases.

For Trudell, every story is one that sticks. “A teenager couldn’t understand I didn’t want anything from them. They were so used to relationships being a transaction they just could not comprehend that wasn’t our role, we were simply there to make sure they were okay.

The coalition says the process of healing can often take a lifetime and include setbacks and milestones that require consistent support. CCAHT provides clients and survivors with emergency shelter, legal aid, transportation, case management, medical care, therapy, workforce development, and so much more.

Trudell said love is the most important, “There is nothing they can do that will make us not love them because that’s what they want to feel like there’s someone on earth that will love us no matter what, and many of them have never had that before.”

There are several ways to identify a victim of human trafficking. Trudell said to watch for big changes in personality and behavior, sudden expensive belongings that aren’t easily explained, and sudden drug or alcohol use.

While the general public may misperceive human trafficking, so do some law enforcement officers. There’s a criminal justice component to the epidemic that muddies the waters. Trudell said oftentimes law enforcement officers mistake a victim for a prostitute and file criminal charges that can render long lasting negative effects and criminalization of a victim.

Founded in 2010, CCAHT has served nearly 400 survivors across East Tennessee. It prides itself as being the only agency in the region dedicated to specialized trafficking services with safe shelter.

In 2018, Tennessee was ranked first in the country for its counter human trafficking legislation, according to Shared Hope International. CCAHT credited its partnership with the TBI, the Tennessee Anti-Slavery Alliance and countless other groups, for achieving the ranking.

If you or someone you know is in trouble, please call the national or state human trafficking hotline number:

National Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888
TN Hotline: 1 (855) 558-6484
Be Free Textline: Text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE)

Copyright 2019 WVLT. All rights reserved.




How Russia and the United States nearly started a nuclear war in 1995

The Norwegian meteorological rocket incident remains the only time in history that the Russian president has activated his nuclear briefcase.

On January 25, 1995, Doomsday could have come in the world: the Russian Federation was preparing to launch a nuclear strike on the United States. How did it come about that the states that left the confrontation of the Cold War in the past and had just normalized relations with each other found themselves on the verge of mutual destruction?

The beginning of the war?

The cause of the crisis was an ordinary Norwegian meteorological rocket. Its launch from the small island of Anneia at 7 am local time (10 am Moscow time) towards Spitsbergen caused a stir in Russia. 

Black Brant XII.

Black Brant XII. Legion Media / ZUMA Press

Equipped with scientific equipment to study the aurora borealis, the Black Brant XII was similar in size to the nuclear-powered American Trident D-5 ballistic missile, intended for launch from submarines. In addition, it flew along a trajectory along which, as the Russian Defense Ministry believed, American missiles would fly in the event of a nuclear war. 

In December 1994, Norway informed 28 states, including Russia, about the planned launch, but did not give a specific date, limiting itself to specifying the period: from January 15 to February 10 of the next year. Due to bureaucratic delays, this information did not reach the Russian Missile Warning System, which sounded the alarm.

Decisive minutes

An emergency meeting with the country’s top political and military leadership was convened in the Kremlin. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov and President of the Russian Federation (as Supreme Commander-in-Chief) Boris Yeltsin had three strategic missile forces control terminals activated – the so-called nuclear suitcases.

Vladimir Sayapin / TASS

The military believed the lone missile could have been fired to create an electromagnetic pulse that knocked out Russian radars and communications systems. Following it, a massive blow could be expected.

For several tense minutes, as leaders watched it flight, it was decided whether Russia would launch a nuclear strike against the United States. 

“Little is known today about what Yeltsin said at the time, given that it could have been some of the most dangerous moments in the entire history of the nuclear era,” The Washington Post journalist, David Hoffman wrote three years after the incident : “They make it clear that the Cold War nuclear readiness system continues to operate, and how catastrophic its consequences could be, despite the fact that the feud between the great powers is already over.”   

The situation was discharged only when it became clear that the rocket had gone towards Spitsbergen (not far from which it fell into the ocean). The nuclear cases have been deactivated. Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right).

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (center) and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (right). Igor Mikhalev / Sputnik

The incident with bringing Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces to combat readiness, soon became the property of the world community. When, four years later, the Norwegians were about to repeat their launch of Black Brant XII and reported this to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the US additionally warned all key Russian military departments about it through their channels. As a result, this time there were no unpleasant surprises. 


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Germany conducted exercises in case of nuclear war

Bundeswehr / Birthe Brechters

The Bundeswehr with partners in the North Atlantic Alliance ( NATO) trained in operations in a nuclear war.

The German army, together with Italian, Belgian and Dutch colleagues, conducted exercises in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

The location of the exercise “Steadfest Noon” was chosen airbase “Nörfenich”, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 31 “Boelcke” is located. Together with the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr, the air forces of other NATO countries, in particular, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, took part in the exercises.

According to a report by Bild, the exercise scenario involved training procedures for safely removing nuclear weapons from storage, delivering ammunition and installing them on aircraft. The training flights took place without nuclear weapons, and in parallel with the aviation exercises at the Büchel airbase, where the tactical squadron of the Luftwaffe 51 Immelman is located, the Resilient Guard air defense systems were trained to protect the airfield from air attacks.

The training sites for the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr were not chosen by chance, since the Nörfenich airbase is a reserve storage site for the B61, a hydrogen bomb that forms the basis of nuclear weapons of the US strategic nuclear forces. 

Some of this ammunition is stationed at NATO bases in Europe. The exact number of hydrogen bombs that are stored at European sites and which ones are not reported. In Europe, the B61 is carried by Panavia Tornado fighter-bombers (pictured) and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters.

Recall that the B61 thermonuclear bomb is the main weapon of the US strategic nuclear forces, although it entered service in 1968. Since 2012, a new guided version of the B61-12 has been under development, which will replace all B61 and B83 bombs that have been in service since 1983. It can be used both on strategic bombers and tactical aircraft. About two billion dollars were spent on the development of the 12th modification of the aerial bomb.

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The Pentagon wants to use 5G for military purposes

© Al Drago; George Frey/Reuters

The US military has partnered with more than a dozen companies for “large-scale experiments” with 5G technology, including efforts to increase the “lethality” of certain systems, as part of a $ 600 million project. 

Duplicating 5G technology as the “Founding Tool for Modernizing All US Defense,” the Pentagon announced a massive research initiative on Thursday that will donate hundreds of millions of dollars to 15 private contractors to conduct tests at five US military sites.

 “The Department of Defense today announced a $ 600 million award for 5G experiments and testing at five US military training grounds, representing the world’s largest full-scale 5G trials for dual-use applications,” the Pentagon said in a statement that it will bring together experts from multiple industries and disciplines. 

Projects will include piloting 5G-enabled augmented / virtual reality for mission planning and training, testing 5G-enabled smart warehouses, and evaluating 5G technologies to improve distributed management and control.

Selected for the project include telecommunications companies AT&T, Nokia and Ericsson, exploration and information technology contractor Booz-Allen Hamilton, research arm of General Electric, GE Research and a subsidiary of aerospace giant General Dynamics.

One initiative, led by AT&T at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, will apply 5G to its “Distributed Command and Control” system to “Assist in lethality in the air, space and cyberspace”, improving communications for mobile command posts in combat scenarios. At the Lewis-McCord joint base in Washington State, AT&T will also work with Booz-Allen and two other firms to develop 5G-enabled virtual reality technology for training, mission planning, and even Operational Use. 

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