FBI Continues To Work Diligently To Rescue Children From Human Trafficking
Aug29

FBI Continues To Work Diligently To Rescue Children From Human Trafficking

Governor Jerry Brown of California recently sign a human trafficking bill in an effort to streamline prosecutions, save taxpayer dollars, and reduce the amount of trauma inflicted upon victims of trafficking when appearing in court, according to officials. Senate Bill 939 gives prosecutors the opportunity to file multiple charges during during a single trial against defendants who have allegedly committed offenses related to human trafficking across the state of California, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. According to Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, “SN 939 will be a tremendous asset to prosecutors statewide and make it easier and more efficient to prosecute these types of cases.” The current law requires victims of human trafficking to travel to different counties across California, where they are often exploited to testify against traffickers in a number of separate trials. SB Bill 939 completely eliminates the need for multiple trials in different jurisdictions. The timing for this new bill is perfect, as human trafficking has become the fastest growing crime in California. The new law also provides victims with more protection. Human trafficking isn’t just a problem for the state of California, it has long been a national and global epidemic. It’s estimated that 3 out of 1,000 people worldwide are forced into labor, according to a 2012 report released by the International Labour Organization. That translates to nearly 21 million people, including 1.5 million in North American alone. Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Act passed in the year 2000, the United States defines human trafficking as falling into two main categories, sex trafficking and labor trafficking. However, the FBI works tirelessly in order to rescue victims, most of which are children, from the horrors of human trafficking. Each year, a significantly large number of children go missing each year and fall victim to human trafficking rings, right on U.S. soil. Several of these innocent children are lured and forced into prostitution by child predators they’ve met on the internet. In 2003, the FBI launched a groundbreaking and massive operation called the Bureau’s Innocence Lost Program. Since its implementation, the program has been extremely successful, and is credited with recovering 3,600 child victims of human trafficking rings. Recently, the FBI has just recovered 168 child victims as part of an annual nationwide crackdown. The majority of these children were never even reported as missing. Also, 281 “pimps” were also arrested as part of the operation. Though this is news is cause for celebration, the internet remains a powerful medium used by predators to lure children into danger. Law enforcement officers continue to work diligently in order to rescue victimized children and...

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The Redneck Wedding to End All Redneck Weddings
Aug29

The Redneck Wedding to End All Redneck Weddings

When the average wedding in Maine costs $30,000, what’s a couple from the Pine Tree state to do when the median annual household income is only $48,219? Why, have a redneck wedding of course, where the brides wear camo gowns, the grooms were camo tuxes, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen follow suit in camouflage as well. Tom and Lori Merrill of Wiscasset, Maine, had their redneck wedding in the dooryard of their home this past July. The men wore white shirts with camo vests, hats and shorts, paired with work boots and ties that were the bright orange hunters wear, while the women wore dresses of similar camo-couture. As for the bride’s veil, it was attached to camo baseball cap and was decorated with moss, birds, and butterflies. They even nailed the details down, too. One of Lori’s co-workers made the bouquet and the boutonnieres, which were decorated with shotgun shells. The ring-bearer’s pillow was camo on one side, and on the other featured a huge fish. The rings were attached to it with carabiners. The audience, which numbered almost 100, also participated in the theme. “It was funny to see,” said Eric Bellavance, a long time coworker of Lori’s. “One lady had a skirt and blouse on while wearing knee-high rubber muck boots.” The redneck theme even influenced the actual ceremony. Lori was escorted up the aisle on a golf cart to the Little Big Town song “Pontoon,” an appropriate musical choice considering the fact that the wedding party all sat on the Merrills’ pontoon boat. Blue turf grass had been laid around the water vehicle to make it look like it was out on the lake. The couple’s vows were also tailored to fit the redneck theme. Tim promised to always lift up the toilet seat, and replace the TP when it was out, while Lori promised to follow him with a push mower — an inside joke referring to their side job mowing lawns. The ceremony concluded, the new couple toasted their friends and family to “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith in specially made beer cozies, which guests got to keep as wedding favors. The reception featured several redneck DIY decorations — red solo cups on shooting targets as centerpieces, beer can wind chimes, and hubcap flower cases. The four wedding cakes each had a different theme — camping, four-wheeling, hunting and fishing. The little bride and groom figurines atop one cake appeared to be shooting at game on another. Lastly, the party ended with a bonfire, fireworks, and blasts from an authentic cannon, which had been borrowed from a friend. For a textbook perfect...

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Amazon Offers Booking Services for Home Improvement Contractors
Aug21

Amazon Offers Booking Services for Home Improvement Contractors

Most people go to Amazon.com for books, music and movies, but soon you may be logging onto the popular website to find someone to patch that hole in your roof and hook up your cable.That’s right: Amazon is breaking into the home improvement industry. Preparations began two years ago, when Amazon employees in the company’s hometown of Seattle started shadowing home repair workers, taking notes and gauging interest from providers and potential customers. They’ve since expanded test programs to New York and LA, according to six service providers who worked with Amazon, and more locations are coming soon. The home improvement service industry is fragmented but has been bouncing back in recent years, estimated to be about worth $400 billion. It’s no wonder that Amazon’s looking to cash in, especially since it’s one of the last industries without a significant online counterpart. Though the exact numbers may change, Amazon plans to start taking a cut of as much as 20% from services brokered on its new web service as soon as mid-august. “This could be an exciting new direction to put potential clients in touch with home services companies,” says Gregg Buffington,President of Buff Exteriors LLC. “We would gladly welcome anything in our industry that raises the bar across the board on quality and customer service!” The new development is worrying to investors, who’ve already begun to cite concerns about how much the company is spending on new and speculative business ventures. Only a few weeks ago, Amazon broke into the POS industry as well.Similar initiatives to draw home improvement services and small businesses online haven’t been met with much success. Yelp and Craigslist advertise and often rate available services, but potential clients still usually have to pick up the phone and call for services. Angie’s List would be the closest competitor to Amazon’s new initiative, and it doesn’t exactly offer a blueprint for success either. So much money has been spent on advertising for the site that the company is constantly in the red, and small businesses remain notoriously difficult to rope in. Amazon’s team on the ground hopes to reach out to well-regarded service industry contractors and capitalize on customer loyalty, even including a money-back guarantee in some trials for unsatisfied customers. Participating contractors are required to reply to calls within 24 hours and submit to annual background checks to ensure quality. While some trial participants are worried about having to overcharge to make up for Amazon’s cut, others are satisfied with the influx of new clients, even before advertising made the program widely...

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Iowa Neighborhoods Start Walking School Bus Program
Aug21

Iowa Neighborhoods Start Walking School Bus Program

Keeping kids safe as they travel to and from school is something that many parents with young children have been worried about, and one group in Iowa is doing something about it. A new program called the Iowa Safe Routes to School program is what many parents and educators are calling a “walking school bus,” and its goal is to make school transportation fun for kids, while lessening the anxiety of parents along the way. A walking school bus, as described by one adult supporter of the program, is where two or more parents escort a group of kids, usually all from the same neighborhoods, to and from school every day. It’s a bit different from the yellow school bus system that was set up in 1939 to transport kids safely to school everyday, but the idea behind this new program is the same. The program is, at its very core, a community effort, and multiple schools from the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas have already begun implementing the program. With one parent leading the group and another following at the end, two neighborhood adults keep a tally of the kids they’re escorting everyday and make sure that everyone gets to school safely. The program is aimed toward kids who live close to school — usually within a mile, according to a program representative — who would normally have to walk or ride their bikes to school alone. Adults hope that this program will help teach younger kids to be more aware of their surroundings; although awareness has always been important to teach kids who walk to school everyday, as more kids have their own mobile music players and cell phones, it’s easier now than ever before to get distracted and not pay attention to cars and another people on the road. Additionally, the program has received support from parents and community leaders for encouraging kids to be active, and it is also an eco-friendly initiative that will cut down on fuel usage. Although the program is still in its early stages, leaders of the Safe Routes to School program have been working closely with the Iowa Bicycle Coalition to educate parents and children about street safety. The program is also part of a larger statewide initiative to help young children be active, be conscious of environmental concerns, and be aware of their own personal...

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Judging A Business By Its Cover: Why Web Design Is Still Relevant In The Digital Marketing World
Aug20

Judging A Business By Its Cover: Why Web Design Is Still Relevant In The Digital Marketing World

Have you ever looked back at old school pictures from decades ago and thought, “Oh gosh. What was I wearing? What I was thinking?” in dismay? We’ve all been there, and now Microsoft is doing the same. Back in the day, well, the day being 19 years ago in 1995, Microsoft released Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer became the web browser that would popularize the existence of the World Wide Web. However, a year prior to Microsoft releasing its popular web browser, the company quietly unveiled its very first website. In the spirit of nostalgia or perhaps #tbt (Throwback Thursday) and #fbf (Flashback Friday), Microsoft recently relaunched its original website in all of its dial-up, web 1.0, tacky, mid 1990’s glory. Though the original website may be fun to look at (or make fun of) and reminisce about the good ol’ days of the internet, it also serves as a reminder as to how far web design has come, as well as its continued relevance in marketing today. Microsoft’s original website was launched at a time when the very term or practice of web design didn’t exist. This is evident by the lack of typographic hierarchy, the thoughtless use of typefaces, as well as the random placement of low-resolution graphics. This is what the web looked like before anyone had even imagined applying design principles to it. Now, effective web design is synonymous with integrated marketing solutions. To think web design is not an essential aspect of branding would literally be blasphemy, like having macaroni with no cheese. The horror! However, in the ever-evolving world that is the advertising industry, new marketing strategies and trends frequently come and go. Content marketing is all the rage now. To think otherwise would be so, like, two years ago. So what is content marketing exactly? Content marketing can be defined as a marketing strategy focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content in order to attract and retain a clearly defined target audience, with the end goal of driving profitable consumer action. Companies both large and small have been integrating content marketing into their overall marketing strategies with great success. Not so fast, though. Web design is still a critical part of marketing, and it isn’t all about content. Though content remains important, the client also has to be visually stimulated by your site as well. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression. The attention span of most people today is becoming much shorter, as the instant-gratification the web and mobile devices provide continues to be an influence. Much of the research indicates that if consumers can’t find the information they are looking for in...

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