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Sandy Hook mom reflects on ‘incredibly raw’ grief ahead of sixth anniversary

first_imgCourtesy BBDO New York and Sandy Hook Promise(NEW YORK) — Every year without her son Dylan and his classmates who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School is unimaginably difficult for Nicole Hockley, but this year brought fresh pain. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas this February marked the deadliest school shooting since the one in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. “Parkland hit me and all of Sandy Hook Promise incredibly hard, as it hit the whole country,” Hockley said, referring to the gun violence prevention group she co-founded in the wake of her son’s death. The two tragedies drew instant comparisons, and they came together directly at the White House earlier this year when President Donald Trump held a listening session on gun violence the week after the Florida shooting. Hockley was seated next to Sam Zeif, a Parkland survivor who issued an emotional call to action. “Being in the room with a lot of those parents and kids — where the grief was incredibly raw — it was very much like looking at myself five years ago,” Hockley told ABC News last week. “You really do feel like the earth isn’t balanced underneath your feet,” she said. “That whole first year I felt like I was walking on a tilt.” The parallels between Sandy Hook and Parkland — both of which are among the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history — make for easy juxtapositions. But Hockley says that the wounds re-emerge much more often, with every shooting. “Each shooting we take very personally because we feel it was another preventable shooting and we haven’t trained people fast enough,” Hockley said. She and Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was also killed in Newtown, founded Sandy Hook Promise to help combat school shootings as well as gun suicides and other forms of gun violence. “We know logically that we can’t reach them all, but we know in our hearts we want to,” she said. As part of that effort, the group organizes training sessions in schools and guidelines for how students, parents and teachers can know the signs of gun violence. Their latest annual ad stressing the importance of being aware of such warning signs was released Monday morning on ABC News’ Good Morning America.The ad, directed by Rupert Sanders — best known for directing Snow White and the Huntsman — uses a twist to shock the viewer at the end of a seemingly normal high school day. “Folks are going to find it a gut punch,” Barden said of the ad. “It’s powerful. It’s hard-hitting. It’s real, but it absolutely emphasizes that there are warning signs.” Barden said that the work that he and the team at Sandy Hook Promise have done helps him in the wake of Daniel’s death. “I have to keep reminding myself of all the good work we are doing, and all the mass shootings that didn’t happen because of our work and all the suicides we have prevented,” he said, noting that more than 5.5 million children and adults have received the group’s training. “We are getting anecdotal evidence from the field literally every day” about prevented shootings or instances of gun violence, Barden said, adding “it’s a good counterweight to these statistics of the growing number of mass shootings.” He doesn’t have to go far to see the reality and regularity of shootings in America impacting children, though. He sees it with his daughter. Daniel Barden was 7 years old when he was killed at Sandy Hook, and he had two older siblings, Natalie who was 10 years old at the time and James who was 12 years old. “I’ve heard my Natalie express things just recently,” Barden said of his daughter, now 16.“She was having an anxiety attack at the movie theater,” he said. “She was afraid she was going to get shot. That shouldn’t be normal.” “You can’t say ‘You’ll be okay, don’t worry,’ … she has every right to have that concern and I don’t know what to say,” Barden told ABC News. He said he places his greatest hope in the notion that future generations won’t be subject to the kind of horror and fear his own children have endured. “I do feel like, ‘Hang in there, Natalie, we’re on it.’… Natalie’s kids won’t have to worry about being shot in the movie theater or being shot at the beach,” he said. Hockley said that the group believes that gun violence prevention is a two-generation campaign, and she hopes that the invigorated students who have become vocal advocates in the wake of the Parkland shooting will help lead to massive, sweeping change. “Now that the Parkland student leaders have given voice to youth… that’s powerful, so that’s why we’re seeing more movement and more noise,” she said. “I would love for Sandy Hook Promise not to exist,” she said. “My goal in life is to put this organization out of business.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

China factor

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaThe U.S. government said last week it would begin to set limits on how much clothing China could ship into the country. The move was praised by the U.S. textile industry. But the decision may not help U.S. cotton farmers, says a University of Georgia economist.Since the global textile quota system ended Jan. 1, U.S. imports of some Chinese-made clothes like trousers and underwear have increased more than 300 percent. In that time, 16,600 textile workers have lost jobs, and 18 U.S. mills have closed, says the National Council of Textile Organizations.The new quota will allow only a 7.5 percent increase annually for certain Chinese clothing products. The U.S. textile industry believes this will save jobs and bolster the faltering industry.But the reinstated quota has angered Chinese officials. China’s minister of commerce will protest the decision, according to a May 18 report by the official Chinese press agency.Big buyerIt’s unclear how the reimposed quotas will affect U.S. cotton farmers, said Don Shurley, a cotton economist with the UGA Extension Service. But one thing is clear: U.S. cotton farmers need China to buy their cotton.Farmers will be hurt, he said, if China decides not to buy U.S. cotton, either to retaliate against the quotas or if it doesn’t need as much cotton to make clothes.The United States produced 23 million bales of cotton last year. (A bale is about 480 pounds of fiber.) It was a record crop. The nation usually grows 19 million to 20 million bales annually. Of that, 13 million to 14 million bales must be bought by other countries.”We’re not going to get rid of that much cotton without China,” Shurley said.There are fewer U.S. textile mills. In 1997, U.S. mills used 11.3 million bales of U.S.-grown cotton, Shurley said. This year, they’re expected to use 5.8 million bales.China has bought a lot of U.S. cotton in recent years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Chinese are expected to buy 8 million bales of foreign cotton this year. The United States typically supplies half of that. China has bought 3 million bales so far this year.China hasn’t threatened to stop buying U.S. cotton. But any cut in the country’s purchase of U.S. cotton will affect prices, Shurley said.The world has a surplus of cotton. Farmers worldwide grew 114 million bales last year. Of that, only 103 million bales were used.”China can get its cotton from other places,” he said.Shrinking industryA healthy U.S. textile industry helps U.S. farmers, too. By creating a demand for their cotton closer to home, they’re less dependent on foreign buyers.”But a small increase in use by the U.S. textile industry won’t immediately help U.S. cotton farmers sell their cotton,” Shurley said.U.S. textile mills have closed for several reasons in recent years, Shurley said. But increased competition by foreign mills and increased imports of finished clothing products have greatly contributed.Cool, wet spring weather kept many Georgia farmers out of their fields and delayed cotton planting, said Steve Brown, a UGA Extension Service cotton agronomist. Warm, dry weather in May, though, has helped them catch up.As of May 15, the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service reported that only 38 percent of the crop had been planted. Only 19 percent had been planted a week earlier. Half the crop is usually planted by this time.”It’s too early to say how the crop will turn out this year,” Brown said. “A lot can happen between now and harvest.”last_img read more