Everyone stood by as a man drowned. Here's why this refugee jumped in.

While other bystanders pulled out their camera phones, he jumped into a freezing canal.

On Christmas Day, Mohsen Alwais decided to take a road trip to Amsterdam with a group of friends.

Their plan was to walk around, see the city, and enjoy the Christmas lights and celebration.


Mohsen and a friend on their way to see the Christmas lights in Amsterdam. All photos here provided by Mohsen and used with permission.

But that never happened. As soon as the six friends drove into the city, they stopped at a red light and saw a man standing on a bridge and shouting for help.

Mohsen thought maybe a child had fallen into one of Amsterdam’s famous canals. So he and his friends put the hazards on, left their car at the light, and piled out to see what was wrong.

“I looked down,” Mohsen said, “and I saw a Dutch guy, about 55, 60 years old, drowning in the water.”

About 20 people had gathered on the bridge. Most of them were videotaping the floundering man with their mobile phones. But nobody was doing anything.

“He’s drowning, he’s drowning!” shouted Mohsen’s friend, Hala.

Mohsen took off his hat and jacket. A Dutch bystander grabbed him by the shoulder. “Don’t jump in,” he said. “He’ll pull you under and you’ll both drown.”

Mohsen looked down. The man’s head kept slipping below the freezing water. He thought about how the man’s children would feel when their father didn’t come home that night. He imagined them asking, “Where is Daddy?”

He jumped.

“Mohsen had a brave heart, more than me, and he went down quickly,” his friend Nibaal said. “And if Mohsen hadn’t done it, I would have.”

Last year, more than a million refugees crossed into Europe. More than 3 in 4 of them were from the war-torn countries of Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Most of them want what people everywhere want: education, a job, and a home that isn’t being bombed to smithereens. But Europe’s far-right politicians are accusing them of everything from being “testosterone bombs” to trying to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Mohsen is one of those refugees.

In June 2014, he fled the war in Syria. He took a flimsy rubber raft packed with refugees to the Greek island of Samos. In Athens, a smuggler locked him inside a truck crammed with people, and seven horrible days later, he was in the Netherlands. Today he lives in Leiden, about 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam.

Like Mohsen, two of his friends almost drowned on the dangerous journey to reach Europe.

Hala took a raft from Libya to Italy — the deadly Mediterranean passage where 3,771 people drowned last year. Nibaal almost went down between Turkey and Greece.

“As Arabic people, we can’t stand to see a person drowning,” said Nibaal, who is from Damascus. “We can’t ignore it.”

When Mohsen reached the drowning man, he grabbed his right hand and squeezed it to see if he was still alive.

“You’re OK,” he kept saying to the man. “You’re OK.”

“Bravo, habiby, bravo!” Nibaal shouted from the bridge.

Mohsen dragged the man to the stone base of the bridge. Nibaal threw down a rope. Mohsen held the rope with one hand and the man with the other, trying to keep their heads above the freezing water. “He was really heavy,” said Mohsen, “but God gave me strength.”

After about five minutes, two police boats roared up. First they picked up Mohsen and the man he’d just saved. Nibaal followed in a second boat. As he got into the boat, Nibaal looked up. By then, around 200 people were standing on the bridge. As they sped away in the boats, everyone clapped. “It was like a movie,” he said.

Mohsen’s split-second decision probably saved the man’s life.

He got there “just in time,” Dutch police said later. “Otherwise it could have ended differently.” Two weeks later, Mohsen got a big bouquet of Dutch flowers and a letter from Henri Lenferink, the mayor of Leiden.

“As the mayor of the city of Leiden, I am proud that you are a citizen of Leiden!” Lenferink wrote in the letter. “You are a great example for others, both refugees and Dutch citizens.”

But Mohsen says there’s nothing remarkable about what he did.

“These days, many medias and many people are pointing at Muslim people, saying: ‘They are terrorists. It’s the religion of bad actions and killing,’" he said. "And I would just like to say no ... I am a Muslim, and I could help a non-Muslim guy. That’s what my religion asks me to do.”

Mohsen's dream is to keep helping people by designing prosthetic hands that work with neural impulses from the brain.

He's a trained biomedical engineer, and last year he started a charity to provide support to other Syrian refugees and hopefully take some pressure off the Dutch government.

“European countries are giving a lot of things to refugees,” says Mohsen. “They give us all kinds of support.”

Saving the drowning man was something anyone would have done, he says, but for him it was also “something to return, some small thing to do for Dutch people.”

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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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