America should be clamoring to take in refugees, and not just for humanitarian reasons.

There are currently more refugees in the world than at any time in history—and half of them are children.

As of the end of 2017, there were a record 68.5 million displaced people in the world. Of those, 25.4 million are refugees—the highest number the world has ever seen according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Refugees are not merely migrants looking for a better life. The U.N. defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence” and “has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”


Refugees are distinct from asylum seekers as well, in that in order to obtain official refugee status your fear of persecution has to be verified as credible.

These are people who have shown that if they stay in their home country, they will either be targets for suffering or they will die. They have nowhere to go if other countries don't offer them safe haven. And half of them—more than 12 million of these refugees—are children.

Here's a mind-blower: In the face of this crisis, the U.S. is admitting the fewest number of refugees ever.

There are two things you need to know about where the U.S. stands right now when it comes to refugees:

1) We admitted fewer refugees last year than we did following the worst terrorist attack in history. (You know, when drastic security precautions were legitimately warranted.)

2) We are currently resettling fewer refugees in the U.S. than we ever have, though the need has never been greater.

Since 1975, some 3 million refugees have found a home in the U.S. through government resettlement programs, with an annual average ceiling of 96,000 per year.

The lowest annual number settled until recently was 2002—the year after 9/11—when 27,131 refugees were admitted.

In 2018, the U.S. admitted 22,491—the lowest number ever.

Credit: Migration Policy Institute

And at our current pace, we will settle even fewer refugees than that in the 2019 fiscal year—far below the already historic low ceiling and below the historic low actually admitted last year.

It's unprecedented. And it's flat out wrong.

Suggesting we should resettle more refugees isn't just a humanitarian plea. It's economically and politically smart.

President Bush reduced the number of refugees in 2002 and 2003 following the 9/11 attack, but he didn't cut them off completely. He could easily have done so, saying, "It's too risky," or "Terrorists might sneak in," or "America is full." So why didn't he?

I can think of several good reasons, which are also reasons why we should be striving to increase—not decrease—the number of refugees we resettle:

1) Refugees have been shown to be good for the economy. Research shows that even when we account for the cost of getting them settled, refugees have a neutral-to-beneficial effect on the economy. In other words, they tend to create more revenue than it costs to bring them in. They are more likely to start businesses than the average American-born citizen, so they add jobs and boost the economy.

2) Helping refugees makes the country stronger. This just seems like common sense to me: If a family fleeing persecution is given a safe haven in a country that welcomes them with open arms and helps them get on their feet, that family will naturally feel a loyalty to and love for that country. They will convey that loyalty and love to their personal network, which increases that nation's sense of pride and lifts its status on the world stage.

3) Refugees pose practically no risk, as they are the most vetted people to enter our country. The refugee resettlement program is the longest, hardest, and least likely way to get into the United States, hands down. Most refugees don't get to choose their country of resettlement, and the ones who come to the U.S. are so thoroughly vetted that the chances of a bonafide terrorist slipping through the cracks is practically non-existent. With the 3 million refugees we've taken in in the past four decades, the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee on U.S. soil is a whopping 1 in 3.64 billion. You're literally more likely to be killed by your own clothing than to be killed by a refugee terrorist.

4) Helping desperate people keeps them out of terrorists' hands. Terrorists and radicals love to play the "America hates us all" game, and can easily use our isolationist policies as fodder to recruit desperate people. If developed nations with the means to help say, "Nope, we won't help you" and a radical militant group sweeps in and says, "See? They don't care about you. Come, we will give you what you need," what will people struggling to survive do?

There are lots of myths about refugees out there, and the vast majority are perpetuated by fearmongers. The facts show that there is no reason other than prejudice and unfounded fear to severely limit the number of refugees we're taking in.

America also has a long, bi-partisan legacy of helping refugees that has served us well.

Refugees also bring culture and innovation with them that enrich our society. Without refugees, we wouldn't have nifty things like video games, Sriracha hot sauce, Madeleine Albright, or the theory of relativity. Just think of all the amazing food and arts and interesting friendships we're missing out on.

It is in our DNA as a nation to open our doors to those in need. The U.S. was founded as a safe haven for persecuted people. We have regularly resettled more refugees than any other country, which has solidified our identity as a diverse "melting pot" or "tossed salad" society. We have taken in refugees through every administration, Republican and Democrat.

Perhaps that's why it feels so unnatural to severely limit the number of refugees we're admitting, especially since our economy is booming and the need is so great.

Refugees should be vetted, and we've proven we can do that. We can't take everyone, and no one says we should. But we have plenty of open space, a resettlement system that works, an economy that can handle the initial investment, and people willing to help refugees successfully assimilate.

Slashing our numbers is simply foolish and shortsighted. Not only does doing so hurt refugees—again, half of which are innocent children—but it hurts our country in the long run as well.

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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

Cities

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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via EarthFix / Flickr

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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