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Bettendorf Woman Sentenced to 240 Months Imprisonment for Child Exploitation Offenses PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Val Quast   
Friday, 17 August 2012 13:39
DAVENPORT, IA – On August 15, 2012, Amanda Diener, age 37, of Bettendorf, Iowa, was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment, having previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sexually exploit a child, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt. Senior United States District Judge Robert W. Pratt also sentenced Diener to 15 years supervised release following imprisonment and ordered her to pay $100 to the Crime Victims Fund.

On October 24, 2011, when she entered a plea of guilty, Diener admitted that she met a man on-line who identified himself as Gary King from Massachusetts. After conversing for months, King, who was later identified as Hobart Yates, asked to chat with a minor female to whom Diener had access. During on-line chats, Yates asked Diener to have the minor female perform sexual acts with her, photograph them, and send the images to him. Deiner complied and produced images of child pornography and sent them to Yates. Diener and Yates admitted that Deiner had performed sex acts on a live webcam in Bettendorf, Iowa, that were seen by Yates in Massachusetts.

The case was investigated by the Bettendorf, Iowa, Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and it was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

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Motivate Kids by Teaching Them ‘Life is a Business,’ Says Non-Profit Founder PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:48
Offers Tips for Raising Kids to Succeed

Welfare may seem like a charitable measure for struggling families. But it’s a self-perpetuating trap when it becomes the only way of life parents know how to teach their children, who then know nothing else to teach their own children, says Virgil Brannon, founder of the non-profit I Am Vision Inc.

“Living on entitlements becomes a way of life for recipients when it’s handed down from one generation to the next because the family loses any tools it might have once had to forge a life based on self-discipline, achievement and challenging,” says Brannon, author of Democratic Coma (www.DemocraticComa.com).

“It’s no different from the child who grow up being given material thing he wants, along with excessive praise that’s not deserved. One child may be from a poor family and the other from an affluent family, but both are at risk for growing up without the skills necessary for success.”

Brannon’s non-profit organization mentors disadvantaged children, helping them develop the values, understanding and knowledge they need to be motivated and equipped to succeed. He has found that coaching children to manage their lives as they would a business helps them not only develop good habits and skills, it also teaches them some essential business lessons:

•  Your life is your business: Our business is how we act, speak, the way we dress, how we treat ourselves and how we treat others. Like any other business, it is expected to grow and prosper and to do that, we must invest in it. Part of that is feeding the mind with the information needed to make good choices.

•  The people you meet and the friends you make are your clientele: Treat all people with the respect you would any customer or potential customer. Our relationships can elevate us if people feel their treated fairly, honestly and with respect.

•  The more you provide or produce, the more you advance: Business involves providing a service or product. Business people do not care about excuses; they care about what you have to offer them. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what color you are, if you have something they need – and a reputation for integrity -- they will come to you for it.

• Your appearance means everything: You must look the part to get the part. The secret is to look as though you already have it to obtain what you want.

Parents should teach their children to be business-like and to think like a professional, Brannon says.

“That includes giving them the best education possible, including learning at home about history, civic duty and different cultures,” Brannon says. “In business, people are expected to display good manners and to communicate with others, from a firm handshake to looking others in the eye and speaking clearly and correctly.

“That is the most important investment we can make.”

About Virgil Brannon

Virgil Brannon is a private investigator and the founder of I Am Vision Inc., a non-profit program that embraces and empowers youth with academic and leadership challenges. His goal is to promote the personal growth of socio-economically disadvantaged youth and their families by encouraging their dreams and providing members with a roadmap for success. Brannon attended Shepherd’s Care Bible College and received his master’s and doctoral degrees in ministry religious counseling.

 
Smith and Grassley: How Will DHS Prevent Fraud and Abuse in Amnesty Program? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:02

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing concern about the Department’s plan to grant deferred action and work permits to illegal immigrants, particularly with regard to how the President’s directive will be implemented without a serious plan to combat fraud and abuse.  Both Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Grassley have repeatedly asked for more information on how the Department will detect fraud and verify documents provided, but no assurances have been provided to Congress thus far.

Below are excerpts from the letter to Secretary Napolitano. To read the full letter, click here.

“We are very concerned about the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to grant deferred action to individuals here illegally, particularly with regard to how the President’s directive will be implemented without a serious plan to combat fraud and abuse. While potentially millions of illegal immigrants will be permitted to compete with American workers for jobs, there seems to be little if any mechanism in place for vetting fraudulent applications and documentation submitted by those who seek deferred action … It’s distressingly clear that the administration plans to press the replay button for the large-scale fraud from the 1986 amnesty.

“Department officials indicated to Committee staff that they would not use fraud prevention and detection measures that you consider “too expensive” or “time consuming”, or that would “unduly impact” USCIS’s other responsibilities.  This attitude blatantly demonstrates that the Department has little regard for preventing fraud, especially since the law allows the Department to impose fees for the benefit of deferred action.  The illegal immigrants themselves, rather than the American taxpayer or legal immigrants, should bear any expense associated with the program.

“For the sake of preserving the integrity of our immigration system and ensuring that the process is not riddled with fraud, we would like to understand the Department’s rationale for not placing in removing proceedings illegal immigrants denied deferred action and for attaching confidentiality provisions.”

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Accountability, Frugality Driving Pay for Performance PR Trend PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:01
Non-Retainer Approach Challenges Top Public Relations Firms

The recession has fueled a growing trend in the public relations industry – and not everyone’s happy about it.

More and more top public relations firms are moving away from the traditional retainer-plus-billable-hours fee structure to “pay for performance.”

Business leaders have been noting the increasing numbers of these non-retainer agencies for about 15 years, with a sharp uptick since the recession began in 2008. But no one seems to know exactly how many there are.

“We don’t have any hard numbers. A lot of what’s out there is anecdotal,” says Arthur Yann, a vice president of the Public Relations Society of America. “The first of these I can recall started in the early ‘90s.”

Pay for performance agencies promise certain actions or quantifiable results, such as media placements, for a fee. Some agencies offer refunds if they don’t perform; others guarantee quantifiable results. The approach appeals to companies with slimmed-down marketing budgets, individuals and smaller businesses that want pay-per-click-style accountability. The agencies say more clients leave satisfied – and come back for more.

Retainer firms tend to be disparaging. These firms usually charge clients a monthly retainer fee and then bill for time actually spent working on a campaign. That simplifies billing for everyone, they say, because there’s no way to measure the value of every action they take and every result they get.

Among the nation’s pay for performance pioneers is Marsha Friedman, who launched EMSI Public Relations in 1990. Back then, she says, hers was one of only four such agencies that she knew of in the nation.

“Since it was such a new concept, I had to figure things out as I went along,” she says. “It’s still an evolving frontier; even the definition of ‘pay for performance’ differs from one agency to another. Some define it as the action or service they provide, ‘We’ll write a marketing piece and you’ll pay X for that.’

“At EMSI, our definition is getting actual media exposure. In radio, for instance, a client may pay a per interview fee to get booked on 15 talk shows within a given period of time. If we get them only 12 shows in that time, they can get a refund for three. With TV appearances, we book first and then bill. In social media, we guarantee a certain number of connections each month. In print, we measure in terms of circulation, or visitors per month for online publications.”

To address the issue of value, back in the ‘90s, Friedman developed a complicated grid system in which she set prices according to the placements EMSI obtained. For instance, when the agency got a client mentioned in a newspaper, he paid based on variables such as the paper’s size and the extent of the mention.

“You can imagine, when we got great placements, some clients had serious sticker shock. They’d say. ‘Stop! I can’t afford this!’ ’’ Friedman says. “That was a problem. We wanted to get the best placements for our clients, but a great campaign could quickly blow their budget. You don’t want to be in a position where your goals are in conflict with your client’s goals.”

So she abandoned the grid after just six months, but she notes many newer agencies – and those switching over to pay for performance – use similar price structures. She advises businesses exploring pay for performance options to make sure they understand up front exactly how they’ll be charged.

“Our goal is to get the most we can and the best we can get so that you will re-sign with us, which is why we contract for quantity,” she says. “But we aim for quality because that’s what gives us repeat customers and referrals.”

That approach is especially appealing to startups and businesses that have been struggling to maintain profit margins during the recession, notes ActSeed, a resource for entrepreneurs and startups.

“How much budget can we afford without some certainty?” wrote ActSeed CEO Bill Attinger.

“At the very least, a PR professional that lives by this model signals their confidence in bringing you material value.’’

About Penny Carnathan

Penny Carnathan is the Creative Director/Writer at EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com) and a journalist with 30 years experience as a national award-winning editor, reporter and columnist at The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Fla.  She is currently also a weekly columnist for the Tampa Bay Times in St. Petersburg, Fla.

 
Gov. Branstad sends letter supporting welfare work requirements to Sec. Sebelius PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Office of Governor Terry Branstad   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 10:00

(DES MOINES) – Today, Gov. Terry Branstad sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing his concerns over the weakening of work requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

In the letter, Gov. Branstad states, “I am concerned that your Department has watered down the most powerful element of the welfare reform efforts – a clear expectation that those who get temporary help from their fellow citizens must become self-sufficient through work in a timely manner.”

Gov. Branstad, along with Govs. Thompson of Wisconsin and Englar of Michigan, helped lead a bipartisan effort to reform welfare in the mid-1990s. Together, they worked with Congress and President Clinton to pass the landmark legislation.

Gov. Branstad continued: “The work requirements in TANF have been successful in Iowa. In 1996 when work requirements were implemented, Iowa had more than 86,000 Iowans on TANF. Today, Iowa has just over 43,000 Iowans on TANF. Work requirements have been instrumental in serving Iowans in this program.”

The governor also wrote, “Simply put, we believe the work requirements have led to greater long-term success for Iowans and the management of our TANF program.”

Gov. Branstad in releasing the letter said, “I understand President Obama while an Illinois State Senator opposed the Federal welfare reform efforts. The success of the reform efforts is evident across Iowa and the nation. However, that success did not prevent President Obama’s administration and HHS from diminishing the power that clear work and training expectations can play in improving peoples’ lives.”

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