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Galleria Evangelia - Faith in Consumption

The Struggles for Citizenship

Many around the world dream of one day claiming the American Dream for themselves. Because that dream is shared by so many, however, that often means it is incredibly hard to reach. Consider the difficulty in receiving residency in America, or as it is popularly known, getting a green card. The odds are very much against all but the very best and brightest. Even they have to work hard and hope.

But even for those who have an easier path, for instance, those who marry Americans and immigrate through that more straightforward process, the steps to reaching citizenship are still incredibly difficult.

While there may be a bias in some circle in this country against the process, with an assumption that it is quite easy, those circles would be wrong. There is a residency requirement of multiple years (at least three for those married to an American, at least five for other green card holders) that prohibit long-term stays (more than six months) in the home country. The fees for every application, from the first visa to the first green card (for two years), to the permanent green card (for ten years after the initial two) are quite steep. No matter the pathway an individual immigrant takes, it’s impossible to stay in America and work towards citizenship without spending thousands of dollars in the process. That is a lot of money for those new to a country who must also invest in building a new life.

Beyond the costs, there is the paperwork, which is extensive. Just as thousands of dollars must be spent, so hundreds of pages must be filled out meticulously. Even the slightest mistake or inaccuracy can lead to an application being denied, which would mean a need to pay the application fees all of over again. Rigorous records must be kept for every trip, every move, every new job. For those on a marriage visa, records must be kept to show when the couple met, how their courtship developed, and every proceeding step from there. Evidence will be required for all of these moments, and again, a mistake could cost thousands as well as months of waiting while potentially also being left in legal limbo.

The difficulties are great enough that many people choose to go to an immigration lawyer who can help guide them through the citizenship process. But again, that is another expense to consider in an already expensive process.

Of course, in the end, if all goes well, the immigrant receives permanent access to that American Dream, which makes it all worthwhile, but it would be unfair to those immigrants to assume they have not worked hard or sacrificed to earn that dream. From the moment that person woke up in their native country and decided they wanted to be an American to the moment they receive their certificate of naturalization, it can take almost a decade of their lives, a large portion of their income, and countless hours of work.

It’s all worth it, but we should appreciate them for caring so much about our country that they’d sacrifice so much to join us here.

Pool Maintenance

Swimming pools are a source of great fun in the summertime. What kid doesn’t dream of having a swimming pool in his or her backyard?

Yet, it’s important to keep in mind, as a parent, that swimming pools aren’t just for fun. Swimming pools can be dangerous.

For instance, the most obvious danger with a swimming pool is the risk of drowning. While this danger is always present when near water, the risk is greater when a family owns the pool simply because the water is always there. Kids can sneak out and swim at night or go out when parents are taking a nap. At any time, the risk is there. Parents need to take extra caution because of this. Putting up a fence around the pool would help keep the younger children out. For older children, strict rules with strict punishments are suggested to drill in the dangers of the pool. Also, make sure all children, regardless of age, get swimming lessons.

Another risk with a pool is slipping. Again, this is always present when water is around, but once again, a pool at the home means the risk is always there. To limit the risk, make sure your pool doesn’t have slippery surfaces nearby and enforce the rule of no running near the pool.

Further risks include, on the one hand, the spread of disease, and on the other, chemical exposure. These are really two sides of the same coin. If the pool water is not treated enough, bacteria can grow and that can lead to illness for people who swim in it. If too many chemicals are used (or someone gets into the chemicals) there’s a risk from that exposure. To limit this risk, keep careful track of your pool cleaning schedule and lock away any chemicals you use. Ideally, hire pool cleaners since they know best when and how to clean pools.

There are many smaller dangers also to consider, from injuries from pool toys to sunburns, and all such dangers suggest a new to always be vigilant with a pool in the backyard.

A pool can be the greatest gift you ever give your family. It can give children innumerable great summer memories. At the same time, though, pools require a heightened level of awareness and responsibility. Anyone considering purchasing a pool should be aware of this ahead of time.

Make sure, if you do decide to put in a pool, that you install the right surfaces (to avoid slipping), get a fence, and maintain strict rules for how to act in the pool. At the same time, keep a strict cleaning schedule and keep all chemicals strictly locked away and out of reach of everyone but yourself.

When it comes to pool fun, a little strictness is the best recipe for a good time. A little strictness makes sure people aren’t just having fun, they’re playing safe.

Navigating the Waters: Boat Injury

The ocean is a dangerous place, with natural disasters, copious safety regulations, and not to mention the long hours and fatigue of the workers, accidents are bound to happen. Whether you’re out on the water for work or pleasure, it is dangerous regardless.

Boat racing is one of the leading causes of offshore accidents as fun can quickly turn into a fatality. Racing requires boats to be in close proximity to each other, while adrenaline and competitive edge are thrown into the mix. While racing can be fun to watch and participate in, there are many dangers that come with the sport that can be and should be avoided.

Off the shore of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, a boating race turned fatal for one and seriously injured two others. In the annual Grand Prix racing event in Point Pleasant Beach, the accident occurred during the preliminary rounds of the race, in May of 2017. During the first turn of the race, the Smith Brothers’ boat was airborne, before landing on the unfortunate boat next to them, which sent its members into the water. One of the boat’s members, David Raabe, was pronounced dead shortly after hitting the water. Spectator, Pat Kowalonek told ABC, “Everyone wanted to have a good time, but it turned into a tragic accident.”

It is very easy for pleasure to turn into tragedy out on the ocean. And often, someone is at fault. This example was not work-related. However, there are a lot of work-related offshore accidents as well. Whether that is due to ignored safety instructions, malfunction of equipment, miscommunication, or sheer accident, serious injuries are not uncommon offshore. Other than man or machine-caused accidents, natural disasters can and will happen. Exhibit A and B of natural disasters are happening currently, with hurricanes Harvey and Irma, affecting those in Texas and Florida mostly. You cannot control for all natural disasters, and you cannot always expect them. Their unpredictable nature is what makes the most dangerous, and especially out at sea, safety is hard to achieve.  

Sometimes, inevitably, accidents happen. And sometimes, someone is at fault for those accidents, and when there is blame to be taken, there is also legal action to help. Compensation from legal action can be the only source of income you can receive if you’ve been seriously injured in an offshore accident, or if your loved one who used to make all the money passed away due to an offshore accident. Expert lawyers are aware of the dangerous nature of your job offshore and are ready and able to get you the compensation you deserve.

As seamen, you are under the Jones Act, and understanding your rights under this act is the number one frequently asked question. Lawyers are there to help answer your questions, help you understand your rights, inform you on whether or not to settle, and how much you can get from the company work for.

Will Wal-Mart Beat Out Amazon?

Amazon and Walmart are making interesting moves as they increase their business with the use of technology. Both companies are looking to patent a drone that would boost home delivery operations and feature a moveable warehouse. Walmart appears to be copying Amazon’s innovation by competing for the patent, especially because Amazon is still trying to open more stores and is overtaking Walmart’s extensive retail customer base.

According to Curbed Seattle, Amazon has patented airborne monitoring stations, tools that aid in the operation of home-delivery drones. These stations will float at a high altitude so they can communicate with the drones they monitor. According to Amazon, the airships are also capable of sending information to household devices, including laptops, phones, tablets, and audio players. In addition, the network can be used to deliver electronic book content to eBook reading devices. Cameras on the drone are able to track the drones using light beacons and other tools for recognition.

A different Amazon patent opens the possibility for drones to capture video inside the homes of users, with their permission. This video capture would allow Amazon to recommend products to people and detect emergency situations. If the drone was connected to a microphone, the system would be able to identify the sound of glass breaking or gunshots and alert emergency services. The Tech Crunch reported Walmart also applied for a similar drone-deploying patent. The purpose of their blimp is to reduce expenses associated with shipping and handling by decreasing the amount of shipping that third-party companies handle. The Walmart blimp would float between 500 and 1,000 feet in the air. 

Amazon has become a strong competition to Walmart by offering the option of fast shipping and cheap products. Although Walmart has an established physical advantage and is a larger retailer than Amazon, the latter is pulling more and more customers away from the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience. What’s more, Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. That means Amazon has a handle on both upscale retail and the online grocery market via their AmazonFresh service.

More than likely, Walmart is going to accept Amazon’s challenge and find new and inventive ways to gain an advantage over Amazon. For example, Walmart is looking to invest in a new drive-through pickup service that would utilize automated machinery. In combination with the company’s drone technology, quick pick-up and selection could give them the boost to edge out Amazon.

On the other hand, Amazon has won the business of millions of people, especially in the younger generation, thanks to their innovation and convenience. The idea of drone delivery is not new and there are companies across the world testing and offering these products. Far too often, individuals think of ideas but assume that patenting your intellectual property is something only done by large companies. In fact, if you have a great new idea, a qualified intellectual property attorney can help you secure it. Don’t let the corporations of the world cash in on your smart invention. Patent your idea with an attorney’s help. 

Why Some Claims are Underpaid

After a natural disaster causes damage to your personal or commercial property, the immediate thing you will need is to get the fair amount from your insurance provider to rebuild and move on with your life. However, unless you get a thorough investigation of the cause of loss, precise scoping of damage and accurate recorded and written statements of everything, then your experience may very well be your insurance company underpaying your claim.

Insurance firms send their hired independent adjusters to claimants’ homes to assess property damages sometimes a day or two after the disaster, when not even the property’s owner has correctly assessed his/her own losses yet.

The result, of course, is undervalued assessment. As explained by United Policyholders, a national insurance consumer advocacy group, after a hurricane, wherein damages can be  widespread and so awful, going into houses that are wet and smelly and soggy and dark, most people want to get in and get out. It’s not like you want to spend time looking at every nook and cranny, so underestimation of damages is most likely to occur, though this is unintentional. In some cases, claims are denied for reasons claimants never understand or, if a claim is approved, release of payment is delayed.

Adjusters, insurance claimants must know, are trained to represent the interests of their employers, which are insurance firms that hire their services. To get fair evaluation of the damages to their property, property owners should be represented by their own public appraiser, who will always act in their best interest and is trained to present a comprehensive claim on their behalf. Public appraisers are prepared to evaluate and adjust any claims that deal with property damage. Aside from hurricanes, property damage can be caused by fires, floods, explosions, ice storms, or wind.


Ponzi Scheme Red Flags

According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), first-time investor or those who have been investing for many years, should always consider some basic questions before committing their hard-earned money to an investment. This is because it sees too many investors who might have avoided trouble and losses if they had asked questions from the start and verified the answers with information from independent sources.

Thus, when considering making an investment, an investor should ask these five questions:

  • Is the seller licensed?
  • Is the investment registered?
  • How do the risks compare with the potential rewards?
  • Do I understand the investment?
  • Where can I turn for help?

One cause of great loss to investors is the investment fraud called “Ponzi scheme.” Named after Charles Ponzi, who resorted to illegal ways of earning huge profits in 1920, Ponzi scheme is a ‘get rich quick’ investment scam wherein a fraudulent firm finances its payout of returns to investors using money paid by new investors.

Ponzi scheme organizers keep their fraudulent firm profitable by soliciting new investors, promising them high returns with little or no risk at all. Ponzi schemes fraudsters need to keep on attracting new money, however, in order to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors (aside from enriching themselves) – this is to create the false appearance that investors are profiting from a legitimate business. Only when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out will a Ponzi scheme start collapse.

Since Ponzi schemes share common characteristics, these, most likely, also have the same “red flags,” which, the SEC says, can include (https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answersponzihtm.html):

  • High investment returns with little or no risk. Every investment carries some degree of risk, and investments yielding higher returns typically involve more risk. Be highly suspicious of any “guaranteed” investment opportunity.
  • Overly consistent returns. Investment values tend to go up and down over time, especially those offering potentially high returns. Be suspect of an investment that continues to generate regular, positive returns regardless of overall market conditions.
  • Unregistered investments. Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that have not been registered with the SEC or with state regulators. Registration is important because it provides investors with access to key information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances.
  • Unlicensed sellers. Federal and state securities laws require investment professionals and their firms to be licensed or registered. Most Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
  • Secretive and/or complex strategies. Avoiding investments you do not understand, or for which you cannot get complete information, is a good rule of thumb.
  • Issues with paperwork. Do not accept excuses regarding why you cannot review information about an investment in writing. Also, account statement errors and inconsistencies may be signs that funds are not being invested as promised.
  • Difficulty receiving payments. Be suspicious if you do not receive a payment or have difficulty cashing out your investment. Keep in mind that Ponzi scheme promoters routinely encourage participants to “roll over” investments and sometimes promise returns offering even higher returns on the amount rolled over.

When a Ponzi scheme collapses it can be difficult, if not impossible, for investors to get back their money.

Major Causes of Injuries in Construction Sites

Based on the 2013 record of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, working environments accounted for 4,405 deaths; 796 of these deaths were in construction sites, with the top four causes being: slips, trips, and falls; getting struck by a heavy or moving object; electrocution; and, being caught between objects. These causes are known in the construction industry as the “Fatal Four.”

When it comes to job-related accidents, industrial workers, particularly, construction workers, are the ones at the greatest risk. This is due to the heavy tools and equipment, and hazardous substances used in construction sites. Not to forget, the great heights that construction workers often need to ascend when performing their job.

Before 1971, and especially during the turn of the 20th century, construction workers who got involved in accidents during the performance of their work had to suffer the consequences of their misfortune alone. This is because employers usually reasoned out that danger was always associated with the work. Injured workers then had to resort to filing a lawsuit against their employers just to receive compensation, which would help them pay the costly medical treatment and which was supposed to cover the wages they would lose due to inability to work (for days, some for weeks or months). Some got paid, with a meager amount, but whether one got paid or not, one consequence of the lawsuit was certain – a destroyed relationship between worker and employer.

Falls, which account for about 40 % of all construction site injuries and deaths, are frequently due to poorly maintained or assembled scaffolding and work platforms, elevated surfaces or uneven floors, improper use of ladders, unnoticeable ramps and excavations, unprotected sides and edges, overhanging steel bars, lack of training on observance and strict implementation of safety measures, lack of protective gear and/or equipment, and so forth.

Being struck by a heavy or moving object is the next leading cause of injuries and deaths in construction sites. Getting hit by falling tools or construction vehicles are examples of this, while resulting injuries can include injuries to the head and/or neck, brain injury, back injury, etc.

The third most common cause of harm among construction site workers is electrocution. Damaged high voltage wires and lack of ground fault can cause severe injuries (or even death) to unsuspecting workers, many of whom have suffered serious burns, disfigurement or limb amputation.

Disfigurement or a limb getting amputated is also common when a worker gets caught or wedged between heavy or sharp objects, resulting to injuries that require days away from work. Some injuries are also severe enough to leave a worker disabled and unable to work again.

The many different harmful dangers that construction workers face every day is why failure to comply with safety and health standards that result to lack of employee protection against accident hazards or illness is a violation of the OSHA mandate to which an employer can be held totally liable.

The Goings Law Firm, LLC says “the construction industry can place both workers and anyone who passes by construction sites at risk of suffering serious injuries or harm. The nature of construction sites means that people are often in close proximity to large, dangerous equipment, hazardous substances, and unstable sites, which can cause life-altering physical harm or even death when proper precautions are not taken. Whether the injury was caused by someone’s negligence or while you were on the job at a construction site, the law may provide you and your family compensation for your injuries.”

Employment-Based Immigration with an EB-3 Visa

Millions of people want to go to the United States for a better life, and to help these people the US government gives out different types of working visas that would allow workers to practice their profession in the country for a certain amount of time. One such visa is the EB-3, or the employment-based immigration visa. The good thing about this visa is that it can possibly lead to a green card or a US permanent residence. It is made available for three categories: professionals, skilled, and unskilled workers.

You need to have a job offer (which should be a full time job) from US company or employer. Professionals are required to present a US bachelor’s degree or any equivalent foreign degree. Those who are skilled workers can apply provided they have more than two years of experience and training, while unskilled workers are eligible to apply if their chosen work or position asks for less than two years of experience or training. There are various steps in EB-3 visa process, and some might need help from your employer or an immigration or visa lawyer. In order to have a successful application, it helps to have all the help you can get.

Furthermore, the whole visa process can take a long time to get approved. In order to have a smother and possibly faster visa process and application, make sure that all your papers and requirements are readily available. Make sure that you are aware of what to do next, and where to go and what to present. This can easily be done through the help of your visa lawyer. The whole process can take a number or months to even years, so patience and perseverance is important. There are a number of factors in the EB-3 visa processing that can be out of your control, but being meticulous and prompt in submitting the needed requirements and fees can greatly enhance your chances of being approved.

Legal Issues With Your Family

Property division is one of the heated topics discussed during a divorce, especially when both parties can’t come to an agreement. When this happens, it will be up to the judge to determine and rule over the issue using the state laws as ground rules. These divorce laws and statutes differ from state to state, and making sure so the division of property is based on fairness rather than equality can be a challenging issue. The Illinois State Bar strives to to remain sensitive to the changing needs and mores of families and individual family members in our society.

According to Peck Ritchey, LLC, there are states that permit the distribution of properties according to separate and marital properties, with the source of the property being considered and counted during the appropriation of properties. After separate properties have been identified and distributed properly, the marital property will then be discussed and divided. Property division attorneys play a vital role in ensuring that both separate and marital properties are divided fairly between both spouses, with the rights and interests well protected so that the division or property will be fair and lawful.

The website of Marshall & Taylor PLLC indicates the division of assets and properties during a divorce has a huge impact on the Medicaid eligibility requirement when only one spouse is in need of nursing home care. In the state of Illinois, all pension benefits are considered marital properties if they are acquired by one of the two spouses after the marriage regardless of who partakes in the plan. This is a very important matter, especially since the long-term care of one spouse will be affected. This is the reason why lawyers are important, since they understand how elder law works and can provide advice and help in ensuring that proper care is provided for elders so that financial concerns, among others, can be given.

Because divorce is a big decision that can affect many aspects of both spouses and their children, it is important to find lawyers who can help guarantee that both parties are put in an agreeable position. It is not only a financial issue, but divorce will affect the family emotionally in the long run, therefore a divorce proceeding that ends in mutual respect and understanding will be the best to ensure that the future will be protected.

The Importance of Choosing a Good Cosmetic Surgeon

With cosmetic surgery on the rise, many people who wish to have the perfect face and body flock to various cosmetic surgery clinics to get what they desire. With the rise of demand for such procedures, many bogus and under-qualified doctors performed operations that resulted in not-so-desirable and even disastrous results. Because of this, many patients tend to find other clinics to help correct the botched procedure they have undergone. To avoid this, the Mayo Clinic recommends you choose a surgeon who specializes in the procedure you’d like to have done and is certified in the specialty by a board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, such as the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Beware of misleading certifications from unrecognized or self-designated boards.

There are many benefits to corrective plastic surgery. Aside from a botched operation, corrective surgeries are also necessary for those who have birth defects, been through accidents, or just simply want to improve their overall image. It is often a personal decision, and although it is not a solution to life’s problems, it has its own benefits that run further than physical satisfaction. As Bergman Folkers Plastic Surgery explains, cosmetic surgery, especially corrective procedures, can greatly improve not only the physical but the mental health of the patient. Among the immediate effects of cosmetic surgery is enhanced self esteem. This can bring about various indirect benefits as well, such as getting off of anti-depressants for those who suffer from depression prior from getting any cosmetic procedure. Emotional and mental wellbeing is greatly impacted when a person feels good and confident about themselves.

Furthermore, the need for corrective cosmetic surgery can provide physical benefit for the patient. In cases where the botched procedure resulted in physical deformities that restricted normal every day functions, corrective surgery can help in the health and wellbeing on the patient. Correcting a wrong rhinoplasty – or commonly known as a nose job – can help in relieving breathing problems from the patient. This is important, as lack or poor sleep can lead to various health complications such as fatigue, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Deep and heavy scars caused by fire accidents can help give back functions to limbs and face. There are a number of benefits that corrective cosmetic surgery can provide, so it should not be easily brushed aside.

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