She competed in a hijab and burkini, making Miss Minnesota history at 19.

For the first time in the pageant's history, a contestant wore a burkini during the swimsuit segment.

She was born in a Kenyan refugee camp. Then, at 6 years old, Halima Aden and her family moved to Minnesota.

Minnesota is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the U.S. As such, Aden grew up surrounded by lots of other Muslim women and girls. What she saw in the media, however, didn't match her own experience growing up in America.

"As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light,” she told Huffington Post in an interview this November. “But you never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”

Now 19 years old, Aden entered the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, making a bit of history in the process.

Like many pageants, Miss Minnesota USA has a swimsuit competition. Rather than wearing a one-piece suit or bikini like the other contestants, Aden did something completely different: She wore a burkini.

Photo by Leila Navidi/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ TNS via ZUMA Wire.

The word "burkini" is a portmanteau of the words "burqa" and "bikini," and it is essentially a full-coverage wetsuit worn by some Muslim women for personal or religious reasons.

"This is a great platform to show the world who I am," she told Minnesota Public Radio before the competition. "Just because I've never seen a woman wearing a burkini (in a pageant) it doesn't mean that I don't have to be the first."

Burkinis, which were invented a little over a decade ago, were designed to ensure that Muslim children wouldn't miss out on swimming and other activities.

What began as little more than a sensible solution that allowed children to observe their religion while taking part in activities with their peers soon turned into a controversy.

Some towns in France have banned burkinis, citing a number of concerns about safety, secularism, and an argument against the patriarchy, claiming that the suits are oppressing women. The truth is, however, that someone in a burkini does not present a threat to anyone else's safety, it's not an act of evangelism, and many women choose to wear it — just as many women choose to wear bikinis.

Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti created the burkini. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

Aden's decision to wear a burkini on stage matters, especially since anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise in the U.S., with the FBI finding a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015.

In the lead up to — and aftermath of — the 2016 election, U.S. Muslims are facing an increasingly hostile environment. A University of Michigan student claims that a man threatened to set her on fire unless she removed her hijab, there have been multiple instances of women having hijabs pulled off their heads, and a Muslim Uber driver reported being verbally accosted by a complete stranger.

Two days before the election, President-elect Donald Trump told a Minnesota crowd, "You've seen first-hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval." He then went on to claim that Somali refugees — like Aden — are joining ISIS. This sort of baseless claim is dangerous, and only furthers the growing anti-Muslim feeling.

While Aden didn't win the Miss Minnesota USA competition, her decision to wear her hijab and burkini on stage is a bold display of bravery.

"What I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective," she told MPR. "We just needed one more thing to unify us. This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people's eyes."

Leila Navidi/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ TNS via ZUMA Wire

Maybe seeing Aden on stage meant challenging any preconceived notions people in the audience may have had about Somali-Americans and Muslims. Maybe Aden's act gave courage to other Muslim girls and women who've felt as though they cannot (or should not) be themselves in public.

Personal acts of bravery — even as simple as saying, "I exist" — are crucial in questionable and trying times. By simply existing and participating in the pageant, Aden pushed back against powerful expectations. She may not have won, but she still made a difference.

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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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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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