How thousands of truck drivers are combatting human trafficking, one truck stop at a time.

Meet the Truckers Against Trafficking.

Note: This story contains descriptions of sexual violence.

When Beth Jacobs was 16, she was drugged, kidnapped, and forced into prostitution.

She says that her captor took her to a truck stop and forced her to have sex with a man who asked for a discount afterward because she “cried too much.”


Photo by Ira Gelb/Flickr.

This traumatizing experience was the first of many during her six years as a sex slave.

While the world is a dark place for the approximately 4.5 million people currently trapped in the human trafficking industry in forced sexual exploitation, this is also a story of redemption and heroes.

In 1983 — six years after she was kidnapped — Jacobs was arrested on prostitution charges for what she said felt like the hundredth time. A friend bailed her out, but instead of returning to her pimp, she fled. Jacobs eventually ended up at a battered women’s shelter, where she found the resources she needed to get her life back in order.

Now, she has made it her mission to combat the illegal sex trade and save others like her.

In fact, she’s helping to build an army of folks who want to help fight the sex trade every day … an army that could be almost 3.4 million strong.

Jacobs works as a trainer for Truckers Against Trafficking, or TAT, a nonprofit organization rallying America’s 3.4 million truck drivers to combat trafficking.

Beth Jacobs conducts a training for TAT. Image via Truckers Against Trafficking, used with permission.

She trains the drivers to spot traffickers so they can report their suspicions to the authorities. "If [these drivers] had been around [when I was a sex slave], I truly believe someone would have helped me," Jacobs said.

"The first thing truckers say when they hear about TAT is that they have daughters, they have granddaughters. They want to help," Truckers Against Trafficking’s executive director, Kendis Paris, said.

She’s been amazed by the sweeping acceptance of the program so far: There are over 214,000 people trained by TAT, and she has partnered with hundreds of companies in the trucking industry, including Walmart Transportation and UPS.

Image via Truckers Against Trafficking, used with permission.

Although truck stops can have bad reputations, the people running them often want to put a stop to human trafficking as much as anyone.

According to The Polaris Project, truck stops aren’t even on the top of the list for trafficking venues, though; in 2015, truck stops accounted for 1.5% of sex trafficking cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. But many of the venues of choice for sex traffickers — hotels, motels, bars — are also frequented by truckers, too. "They’re the eyes and ears of the country." she said.

The first organization to take a chance and partner with TAT was the truck stop TA and Petro Stopping Centers.

Since TAT’s first partnership with TA/Petro, they have since teamed up with multiple law enforcement agencies, trucking companies and nonprofits. Law enforcement in Kansas is the most recent of 22 state agencies that have partnered with TAT throughout the U.S., and the state highway patrol in Ohio provides information and training from TAT to everyone who obtains a commercial driver's license. Eventually, Paris hopes that it will be mandatory training in every state.

And by the numbers, it looks like TAT’s plan is working. Though calls to NHRTC hotline are anonymous, calls from truck drivers have skyrocketed since TAT came onto the scene. The hotline has received 1,371 calls from truck drivers since 2007, which involved 744 victims — 249 of which were minors.

The TAT driver training is free, and it only takes a short time.

Basic training for truck drivers is a 26-minute DVD designed to give the basics of what to look for and what to do in case they come across suspected sex traffickers.

Some of the warning signals TAT trains for are tattoos (for branding purposes), recreational vehicles with different people coming in and out, and cars flashing their lights on and off. If a trucker is suspicious, they’re instructed who to call the authorities or the NHTRC hotline. Truck drivers are told not to engage with suspected sex traffickers.

Drivers are also given a wallet card that bullet-points their training, and they’re encouraged to display posters that let victims of human trafficking know they have options, too.

Photo by Truckers Against Trafficking, used with permission.

While the drivers certainly can’t identify every victim of trafficking, the more eyes and ears we have out there, the better.

Human trafficking is a global problem, and it’s going to take a united effort to put a stop to it. But if the testimonials on TAT’s website are any indication, people are ready to fight.

"There’s a place for everyone," Paris said. "We provide the pathways for those who want to help."

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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