Taking pictures of your next hotel room could be a small step in helping victims of sex trafficking around the world. A new app and website called TraffickCam allows travelers to upload pictures of hotel rooms around the world to a database where the photos are matched against a police database.

“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said at a Human Trafficking Town Hall. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” she said.

The idea came about from police asking for help to identify a hotel room where a person was trafficked—someone was able to identify the room from the photo.

So, the next time you check in to a hotel room, take some photos of the hotel room and upload them after you update your Snap story.

The app is free and available for iOS and Android devices. Discuss

Uber isn't going to display a notification for surge pricing anymore.

Normally, during a busy time with high Uber demand, a notification would pop up letting you know that the surge pricing is a certain times higher than the standard fare. Now, Uber users will see their total fare before they request the ride and a smaller notification on the screen of the high demand, according to a blog post from Uber Newsroom.

Uber says the change is to make things more simple for riders—no more trying to determine what your standard fare multiplied by a 1.2 surge equals.

"Upfront fares are calculated using the expected time and distance of the trip and local traffic, as well as how many riders and nearby drivers are using Uber at that moment," the blog post says.

However, critics say that the change is for business purposes because users are generally scared away by the surge notifications.

Uber began rolling the change out in some cities across the United States in April, but it will continue rolling out globally throughout the next few months. Discuss

For most adults in America, it looks like cohabitation is now a standard compatibility test for marriage. Two-thirds of adults in America are OK with cohabitation before marriage, according to a recent Barna study. The study asks participants of several different demographics about what they perceive to be pros, cons, motivations and possible effects of living together before getting married.

All of this research points to the shift of norms this country is experiencing, says Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group.

America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation.
Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood. Even a growing number of parents—nearly half of Gen-Xers and Boomers, and more than half of Millennials—want and expect their children to live with a significant other before getting married.

Along the lines of religion, predictably, only 41 percent of practicing Christians either strongly agree or somewhat agree that cohabitation is a good idea compared to 88 percent of people who described themselves as having no faith being in agreement. This is likely because Christianity's teaching, while it doesn't specifically call out cohabitation, it calls out things that are often linked or connected like pre-marital sex.

Millennials and their parents are 72 and 69 percent in support of cohabitation; compared to elders, who are anyone older than Baby Boomers, at only 36 percent. Barna attributes the difference to the more secular culture millennials have grown up in and played a role in shaping, where gender norms, career paths and plans for marriage continue changing.

The divide is even more drastic when it comes to liberals who are 86 percent in favor of living together before being married compared to 37 percent of conservatives.

Interestingly enough, far and away the most common reason people who supported cohabitation did it was to test compatibility at 84 percent, with 9 percent citing the convenience or practicality of it and 5 percent citing the cheap rent.

"Many of today’s young people who are currently contemplating marriage, see it as a risky endeavor," Stone explains. "They want to make sure they get it right and to avoid the heartbreak they witnessed in the lives of their parents or their friends’ parents. Living together has become a de facto way of testing the relationship before making a final commitment."

Another interesting aspect of the study was the reasons people who don't agree with living together gave for being against it. Religious reasons was the biggest share at 34 percent, with "I don't believe people should have sex before getting married" following at 28 percent. Family tradition was a 12 percent share.

Stone also gives advice to religious leaders who are fighting to help their followers understand why they should wait for marriage to have sex when surrounded by a culture that doesn't teach the same things.

Religious leaders will need to promote the countercultural trend by celebrating the reasons to wait—rather than trying to find evidence for why it’s wrong (because such tangible, measurable evidence may not exist). What are the spiritual reasons for waiting? How does waiting promote better discipleship? Better marriages? A better family life? These are the questions that young people, in particular, will need answered in order to resist the cultural tide toward cohabitation.

The robotics company Boston Dynamics, who seems increasingly intent on ushering in the end of humanity at the hands of soulless mechanical death creatures, has released a look at their newest creation “SpotMini.”

Sure, it looks fun and cute at first, but if you glimpse into its blank, dead eyes, you realize it’s actually a four-legged robot hell-beast. One minute it’s loading the dishwasher, the next it’s leading a revolt against mankind.

Just who is Boston Dynamics? As their website explains,

Organizations worldwide, from DARPA, the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps to Sony Corporation turn to Boston Dynamics for advice and for help creating the most advanced robots on Earth.

See? Just some friendly military robots. Nothing to be concerned about. Discuss

Here’s one of the weirdest church-related stories you’ll hear this week.

Last summer, six men were arrested after they began to heckle Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen during a sermon, calling him a “liar.” Each had theological issues with Osteen’s message. Their disruption reportedly frightened many in attendance, and Osteen told the court he “could sense hostility in their tone.”

All of them were removed from the service by security.

This week at a criminal trial in Texas, charges of trespassing were dismissed for four of the men and they were found not guilty of "disrupting a meeting or procession." (Charges against the other two are still pending).

The case is an interesting one, because the six sermon-interrupters aren’t just trouble-makers—they were raising theological concerns. But, the hecklers themselves are members of an extremely controversial Texas church.

Though one of the hecklers called Osteen a “false prophet,” many say they are the ones who are leaders of a dangerous cult.

Each of the men are from a small, extremely controversial congregation known as the Church of Wells, which many say is a fundamentalist cult. In addition to regularly engaging in intentionally confrontational street preaching, they’ve also been accused of brainwashing young women into cutting ties with their families to join their one “true” church.


It was a dramatic night in Britain, where voters decided that the country will leave the European Union. The effects of the vote were almost instant: Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would be resigning, and markets around the world have fallen wildly.

Overnight, the global stock market lost upwards of $2 trillion in value, as markets around the world continue to fall over the news.

Leaders in Scotland now say that they may call for a new vote to potentially leave the United Kingdom over the decision, and rejoin the EU. The Scottish National Party, where residents largely favored remaining in the EU, said in a statement, “The vote here makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union.” Discuss