Things That Matter

From School Shootings To Change: Here’s What’s Happened Since The Tragic Shooting In Parkland, Florida

It’s been over a year since the Valentines Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Despite the tragic loss of life during the shooting, there has been little progress in the U.S. to prevent more mass shootings. In fact, there were 304 shootings in the U.S. in all of 2018 killing 373 people and wounding 1347 people.

Politicians and the NRA have fought against gun measures that would preserve life moving forward. However, a handful of teenagers from Florida have led a charge that is changing the landscape of those in power and the fate of gun laws in the U.S.

Within days of the traumatic incident, students at Parkland spoke out in a way we haven’t seen before.

@bjoewolf / Twitter

During a time when school shootings have become the new normal, these students didn’t capture America’s attention simply because they were traumatized and horrified by the deaths of their classmates.

They called BS on “thoughts and prayers.” They were angry, and they had every right to be. Seventeen of their classmates died and politicians seemed eager to brush it under the rug.

People from around the United States flooded Washington in the days after the shooting in protest.

Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

What most people don’t know is that countless schools around the country held both planned and spontaneous walkouts. One week after the shooting, West Boca High School students spontaneously ran from the moment of silence and walked 12 miles to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in solidarity.

Emma Gonzalez emerged as the face of the gun reform movement.

@HillaryWarnedUs / Twitter

Her face has been wholly unwelcomed by the Trump administration. One Republican nominee even stooped so low as to call this teen survivor a homophobic slur. That hasn’t stopped her.

Her and other students formed a non-profit called “March for Our Lives” and their main goal is to get America to vote out legislators who receive donations from the NRA. Genioso.

Unfortunately, young people are still dying across the country.

FOX News

Just ten days after Parkland, a gunman opened fire on a young woman at Savannah State University. The victim, Kaleel Clarke, died.

Ten people died in a shooting at Santa Fe High School May 18, 2018.

@JosephSakran / Twitter

A 17-year-old opened fire using his father’s legally owned guns, along with explosive devices found at the school. Ten people died, and ten people were injured.

“I’m scared to even go back,” one student told ABC News. “It’s just not something that you should feel throughout the day, being scared. Especially somewhere where we say the Pledge of Allegiance.”

One 17-year old girl died at Huffman High School on March 7, 2018.

@GovernorKayIvey / Twitter

This was an “accidental shooting,” which is something students wouldn’t have to be afraid of if every school was a gun-free zone. Courtlin Arrington was a college-accepted senior who planned to become a nurse.

Central Michigan University shut down after a student fatally shot his mother and father in a dorm room on March 2, 2018.

@MooSquidSyd / Twitter

The students woke up to an announcement to find shelter and barricade doors until further notice. This is protocol. This is not normal.

On March 20, a student opened fire at Great Mills High School, Maryland, injuring one and killing another.

“PHOTO: Crime scene tape is used around Great Mills High School after a shooting on March 20, 2018, in Great Mills, Md.” Digital Image. ABC News. 16 August 2018.

The student, Austin Rollins, shot himself in the head when confronting a police officer. Jaelynn Willey died a week after the shooting. She had recently broken up with Rollins.

The father of two Parkland survivors was fatally shot during a robbery.

Untitled. Digital Image. NPR. 16 August 2018.

Ayub Ali owned a corner shop in North Lauderdale when a man held Ali at gunpoint while he emptied the register. He left with the money, but then mysteriously returned just to shoot Ali.

His family is once again struck with the grief of senseless, preventable violence.

Parkland survivors have taken to the White House to fight for their lives.

Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

A week after the shooting, Trump held a “listening session,” where Trump promised to pass laws for stricter background checks, and entertained the idea of arming teachers with guns.

Then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a $400 million reform bill that includes a ban on bump stocks.

March For Our Lives

Their efforts are working. Included in the bill is a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases, and an increase in the purchasing age of rifles from 18 to 21 years old.

Far more action has been taken at a city level.

@Emma4Change / Twitter

Thanks to the Parkland survivors, Colombine survivors now have a new platform to speak up. School districts all over Florida have voted to ban teachers from carrying firearms in schools, in direct protest of Trump’s plan to arm teachers.

On a federal level, the Department of Justice is now considering a ban on bump stocks.

Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

Meanwhile, the House passed a measure that trains students, teachers and law enforcement on how to detect threats of gun violence and how to go about reporting it.

March for Our Lives has published every legislator who has taken money from the National Rifle Association (NRA), and are holding them accountable.

@BillyCorben / Twitter

While the NRA received an increase in donations after the Parkland shooting, they are struggling now. It seems that they’re not able to buy out politicians quite as easily because voting Americans are paying attention.

In fact, the fallout from companies has been even more significant than from our government representatives.

@Shopify / Twitter

Shopify Inc., the online platform for hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world, has banned the sale of semi-automatic firearms (like AR-15s, bump stocks, and silencers) and 3D-printed guns.

“Solely deferring to the law, in this age of political gridlock, is too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast-moving internet,” CEO Tobi Lutke wrote in his own post.

Meanwhile, Delta lost a $38 million tax break for disassociating from the NRA.

@wilxTV / Twitter

In a memo to the company, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Balstian commented, “Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale.”

The fact that companies are setting the moral precedent shows how broken our legislative system is.

Untitled. Digital Image. UPI. 16 August 2018.

Partisanship is dividing our country. Marco Rubio is one of the few Republicans to first speak out after the Parkland shooting in support of the students. That said, when asked point blank by a Parkland student if he would continue accepting money from the NRA, Rubio stood his ground. He will continue to accept money from the NRA.

This summer, March for Our Lives went on a “Road to Change,” ending in Newtown.

@Emma4Change / Twitter
Parkland survivors went on a bus tour to get as many young people educated and registered to vote this November. Until 2018, young voters were missing at the polls. This year, they’re leading the nation into a safer future.

READ: Students Staged A National Walk Out For Gun Reform On The 19th Anniversary Of The Columbine Shooting

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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