RHINELANDER - Human Trafficking: not a problem you'd ever imagine having in the Northwoods.
But one local group is saying it is here; people just don't know how to identify it.
"The injustice, the outrage of human trafficking must be called by its true name: modern slavery," said President Obama in an address on trafficking.
Slavery fueled by crimes against Americans. Eighty percent of trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens. Eighty two percent of those victims are from sex trafficking. The first step in fighting it is to tackle misconceptions.
"The most common misconception is that trafficking means that it's only a crime if there's some type of international transportation. What we're really talking about is a crime of either forced labor or forced sex trafficking," says John Vaudreuil, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.
One of the biggest problems is people see those victims as common prostitutes, in the profession willingly.
"What we're talking about is really peonage; involuntary, compelled, in this case, sex trafficking," says Vaudreuil.
The biggest challenge for prosecutors is they don't get self-reporting victims.
"They're terrified of the police, they're terrified of the person who's controlling them. So the challenge for us is to see people as victims when they are not going to report themselves as victims," says Vaudreuil.
"It's very important, I felt, to bring the information to not only law enforcement but to all of the systems that could potentially work with victims to recognize the red flags," says Shellie Holmes, Executive Director of the Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Once Holmes recognized those red flags she was stunned to realize it has already been right in front of them.
"I realized that in the last three years we have had three trafficked women in our shelter. We just didn't know how to identify it," says Holmes.
A problem the council hopes education will solve. For now, they want the community to keep its eyes open and keep in mind things may not always be what they seem.
ACROSS THE NORTHWOODS - Railroads give businesses a chance to move loads of material for a low cost. Loggers could use rail as an alternative to trucking material, but many businesses donít get that opportunity in the Northwoods anymore.
Canadian National bought rail in the Northwoods about a decade ago. They have cut back service drastically since then.
Some counties haven't seen train travel in years, which hurts business. Now, those businesses want to reestablish rail service.
In response, a group of counties in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan formed the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission.
Dane County judge to hear Planned Parenthood lawsuit
MADISON - A Dane County judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that sets out conditions for abortions.
The law requires a doctor to determine whether the woman's consent is voluntary and inform the woman of domestic abuse services if he or she suspects the woman is being coerced. The law also requires doctors to perform a physical exam before they can prescribe abortion-inducting drugs and be in the room when the drugs are given to the woman.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in February 2013 arguing the law is unconstitutionally vague. The organization argues its unclear how doctors should determine voluntary consent and whether doctors need to be present when drugs are dispensed or administered.
Judge Richard Niess is set to hear arguments Thursday morning.
ACROSS THE U.S. - A new proposal from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would expand regulation on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, not regulated already by the agency.
The proposal, which was released Thursday, would regulate hookahs, nicotine gels, cigars and e-cigarettes. The FDA currently only regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
Some smokers turn to e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking. Medical experts donít know the full health impact of e-cigarettes yet. Leaders at the FDA want to get ahead of the trend.
The proposal would make e-cigarette producers register their products and show their ingredients to the agency.
MADISON - The start of a new short-term loan program that wasn't slated to begin until July has been moved up in an effort to help businesses hurt by recent cutbacks at Oshkosh Corp.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state's chief jobs agency, voted this week to start the pilot program earlier. It will provide loans or loan guarantees of up to $250,000 to companies for projects or expenses that may not be eligible for traditional financing.
The board says it was starting the program earlier in light of news that Oshkosh was cutting 760 jobs from its defense division because of budget cuts being made by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The loan program this year will only target businesses in Oshkosh Corp.'s supply chain
RHINELANDER - It won't be much longer before the Hodag water show gears up for the summer, but right now they need to make repairs to their building. Rod Olson says it may cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to make repairs to the building. To watch the video click on the video link.
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