He was fired when he attended his son's birth. His community got fired up too.

The Austin family in Concord, New Hampshire, went through a roller coaster of emotions shortly after the ball dropped to ring in the new year.

Their fourth child, a son named Cainan, was the first baby born in the city in 2017, at 7:44 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Hours earlier, around 1 a.m., father Lamar Austin also lost his job, via text message no less. But he told the Concord Monitor, "Sometimes you lose something and you get something even better."


Lamar with his new son, Cainan. Photo provided by Lamar Austin, used with permission.

Austin made an honorable choice to put family first. His former employer made a choice too — one that sounds heartless, but was legal.

An Army ammunition specialist who served six months in Iraq, Austin struggled to find steady work to support his family after he left the service. He had bounced around a variety of jobs, from crossing guard to fryer manufacturing, and relied on support from veterans programs and his local church community. "It’s been tough, but God has always provided for me when I needed it," he said in an interview with the Concord Monitor. "Some kind of help always came in the strangest forms."

In the fall of 2016, he received an opportunity to put his military training to use at Salerno Protective Services, a private security firm based in New Hampshire. Austin was hired on a part-time basis for a 90-day trial period, during which he was reportedly expected to be on call 24/7.

Main Street, Concord, New Hampshire. Photo by John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons.

The problem is much, much bigger than Austin and this one company.

Even if Austin were a full-time, salaried employee with an expectation of job security, it might not have mattered.

New Hampshire is an "employment at-will" state, which essentially means contractual employees can be terminated from a job at any time, without reason. Some states do have limitations on this law, but not the Granite State.

New Hampshire recognizes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but for Austin and his family, it wouldn't be enough. Even working full-time at that wage, he would gross just over $15,000 a year, which is well below the poverty line for his family. While New Hampshire might have a low unemployment rate, underemployment is a different story — and the situation can be worse for veterans.

Furthermore, the United States is one of the only developed nations that doesn't guarantee paid parental leave after the birth of a child. Some U.S. companies do choose to offer maternity leave (or at least unpaid time off with a job to return to), but paternity leave is still hard to come by.

The CEO of Salero Protective Systems did admit to an "error in judgement" one week later, and while he and Austin have reportedly made peace with one another, it doesn't change the fact that things like this have happened and will continue to happen as long as the law allows it.

The whole Austin family together. Photo provided by Lamar Austin, used with permission.

Austin's termination was unfortunate. It was also nothing new. This time, however, people are paying attention — and that could make a difference.

Local politicians, including State Senator Dan Feltes and Executive Councilman Andru Volinsky, have voiced their support for both the family and for family-friendly labor policies in general.

Sara Persechino — a Concord resident and total stranger to the Austin family — was so moved by their story that she launched a GoFundMe campaign to help them out, raising more than $8,000 in the first five days. "I don’t think anyone should ever have to choose between their family and their job," she told The Independent.

Even more, Austin has been offered several new job opportunities from people who were touched by his story. Representatives from the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers chapter and the AFL-CIO labor federation reached out to encourage him to take advantage of the flexible and family-friendly support nets offered by their respective unions. Austin would still have to start as an apprentice as he hones his trade, but skilled labor could be just what he needs to find steady work.

Austin hasn't made any decisions just yet, as he is focusing on being a good dad to newborn Cainan and a good husband to his wife, Lindsay. He already knows that no matter what happens, he'll always have his family — and that's what matters most.

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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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