The ocean is full of crime. And the only ones saving the day? Not even law enforcement.

You think you know the ocean, but you have no idea.

Aside from the occasional joke about a pirate, how many of us actually think about outlaws in the oceans?

You seem ... blue. Image via Tiago Fioreze/Wikimedia Commons.


Normal, nonprofessional seafarers — like most of us — probably don't. That's the duty of ... who? Countries with coastlines? Nations have navies and law enforcement for that, right?

Image via DEMIS Mapserver/Wikimedia Commons.

Wellllll ... The New York Times looked into this in its series "Outlaw Ocean" and found out some tough truths about crimes that happen at sea.

Basically the open sea is the new Wild West.

GIF from "Once Upon a Time in the West."

While many countries, companies, and even the United Nations have written rules and laws, those laws are often weak. And get this — they're easy for criminals to break.

Typically, a ship sailing on the ocean can only be stopped by another law enforcement ship that shares the same flag. American law enforcement ships can only stop American ships and so on.

And if it is my flag? Maybe not even my problem then. Image via ACME Squares/Wikimedia Commons.

And most law enforcement agencies — even countries and their navies — just don't have the inclination or the ability to enforce the laws and rules anyway.

We're talking about ...

GIF via "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

GIF via "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

All hugely dramatic stuff, just being swept under the proverbial ocean rug.

So, when legit law enforcement turns a blind eye to legit problems, who ya gonna call?

Manta rays? No! We're gonna call someone else.

Sea vigilantes!

Yeah. Ideally we'd have legit help from official authorities. But much like Ghostbusters (only these problems are NORMAL, not paranormal), sometimes you gotta think outside the law enforcement box to get the solution started.

Here are the major players.

Have you heard of the Environmental Justice Foundation?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

These folks won Seaweb's Seafood Champion Award in 2015 for their work monitoring illegal fishing in West Africa. Illegal fishing messed up the environment, and it's associated with some pain for humans, too.

"Illegal fishing is a widespread global problem and particularly prevalent in West Africa. It devastates vital ecosystems, ruins livelihoods, undermines food security and is associated with human trafficking and other labour abuses." — Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation

How about the movie "Blackfish"?

Remember the movie that makes everyone's favorite Twitterer, Cher, start using "SeaWorld" as a pejorative?

GIF via "Blackfish."

"Blackfish" didn't necessarily help with fighting crime on the high seas as much as it had a huge effect on keeping criminal things from continuing to happen to creatures that'd rather be swimming freely in the high seas.

This film was so effective in communicating the trouble with SeaWorld that it had an impact on SeaWorld's profits.

A documentary movie as crimefighter — what an unlikely hero.

I bet you've heard whispers of Greenpeace, too.

They're more than just those people you hear about yelling at whale murderers! (Though they do do that!)

Image by Roberta F./Wikimedia Commons.

They're out to save not just whales and fish but human beings being placed at risk for human trafficking by illegal fishing.

Their website states:

"The same unbridled economic interests that are driving destruction in our oceans are also allowing horrific labour practices and human rights abuses of workers in the seafood industry."

And it's right! To do their part to stop this madness, Greenpeace is working with the largest producer of canned tuna, Thai Union Group, and its largest brand, Chicken of the Sea, to get it together and stop massive labor violations on its supply chain.

What's perhaps my favorite part of sea crime fighting from Greenpeace involves no one getting on a boat ... but it involves investors in boats.

A fishing company in China that would've bought more vessels to fish big-eye tuna (which is already overfished) wanted to go public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Shares, stockholders, all that.

Greenpeace followed the tail of this Chinese fishing company, and it found some pretty FISHY (sorry, not sorry) finances.

According to Greenpeace's John Hocevar, the fishing company "acknowledged that overfishing was an issue, but said that there was so little enforcement it shouldn't be a problem! Greenpeace exposed their plans, and ultimately the public offering was cancelled."

Yep. After Greenpeace reported the problems to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the company, China Tuna, withdrew its plan to go public and ultimately lost around $150 million.

Greenpeace is a big name, and they have funding, and they're putting it to use to help people. Cool.

Actually, it's horrific labor practices! GIF via "Newlyweds."

And let's talk about a small but mighty aerial and satellite imaging company, SkyTruth.

Great name, right? Wait until you hear their motto.

"If you can see it, you can change it."


Satellite images are cool. But they can also be very very useful. Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr.

Using satellite technology in partnership with an equally cool-named company, SpaceQuest, SkyTruth tracked a notoriously law-breaking ocean cargo ship, the Dona Liberta. This boat was seen suspiciously close to a huge dump of oily bilge.

As The New York Times Outlaw Ocean series reported, SkyTruth pointed out a stripe of dirty water (you could see it from space!) that "stretched about 92 miles from Cabinda, Angola."

With the possibilities of satellite technology, it could be much easier to keep an eye on the far reaches of the seas, cutting down on human trafficking, murder, and profiteering. Will governments continue to turn their back on enforcing laws? Or will they embrace technology and crack down on some egregious law-breaking?

I don't think it's a reach to say that we'd maybe rather have actual certified law enforcement enforce these laws. But until then, at least there are some sea cowboys — behind film cameras, on boats, and in satellites — out there lookin' out.

GIF via "A Fistful of Dollars."

Giddyup.

Heroes
True
Waitt Foundation
Youtube

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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