Activists are celebrating as the world's biggest ivory market officially closes its doors.

Elephants are having a pretty good 2016 so far.

Early this year, the Ringling Bros. circus announced that it would retire all elephants from its performances by May 2016, more than a year ahead of its original schedule, which would've had the elephants working until 2018.


Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images.

Then, on Jan. 13, 2016, everyone's favorite betrunked pachyderms received even more good news:

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced plans to "phase out" ivory sales in the city.

Leung Chun-ying speaking in Hong Kong in 2015. Photo by Phillippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images.

Ivory, of course, is the hard, white material that comes from the teeth and tusks of various animals. Elephants, with tusks that are often bigger than those of walruses or warthogs, are the biggest source of ivory and most at risk from ivory poachers.

The use of ivory to craft items dates back to prehistoric times. In the modern age, ivory has been used to craft everything from billiard balls to piano keys to gun stocks.

A 26,000-year-old mammoth ivory carving on display in Paris. Photo by Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images.

The import and export of ivory is already banned in Hong Kong. But the ivory trade remains very much alive there.

About 400 sellers are permitted to trade in ivory material and products as long as they were created before 1989, which is when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species introduced a treaty that banned the sale of ivory products created after that year.

Activists like Alex Hofford of WildAid Hong Kong argue that while the treaty had its merits, it has resulted in a legal loophole, through which a large ivory black market has been able to survive.

"Hong Kong has always been the dark heart of the ivory trade," Hofford told CNN.

The plan introduced earlier this year will close the loophole and "ban totally the sale of ivory in Hong Kong" Chun-ying said in his statement. "We'll do it expeditiously. As quickly as we can."

Seized ivory tusks in Hong Kong, which were subsequently destroyed by the Chinese government in 2014. Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images.

This total ban is poised to make a significant impact, as Hong Kong "displays for retail sale more elephant and mammoth ivory items than any other city in the world surveyed for ivory," according to a 2015 report from activist group Save the Elephants.

This is a huge victory for elephants, a species rapidly nearing extinction.

They needed a victory, too.

The demand for ivory has led to an epidemic of elephant poaching. In Africa, ivory poachers killed 100,000 elephants in the last three years. If that trend continues, African elephants could be extinct within a generation.

Dune Ives, senior researcher at Vulcan, told The Guardian last March that “in five years we may have lost the opportunity to save this magnificent and iconic animal.”

African elephants walking to a water hole in Tanzania. Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

In October 2015, after a visit to an elephant sanctuary in China, Britain's Prince William urged the Chinese to stop purchasing elephant ivory and rhino horn.

Prince William with a baby elephant in China's Yunnan province. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

In a speech broadcast on Chinese state television, he told the public to think of what they would tell their children if elephants went extinct on our watch.

"Let us not tell our children the sad tale of how we watched as the last elephants, rhinos, and tigers died out," he said, "but the inspiring story of how we turned the tide and preserved them for all humanity."

With Hong Kong finally phasing out the ivory trade, we might actually be able to save the species.

Which is great news for the whole world.

Especially since baby elephants look like this:

OH MY GOD LOOK AT HIM. Photo by Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images.

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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

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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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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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