These heroic rodents are showing the world why we need to rethink how we feel about rats.

Everything you think you know about rats is wrong.

Think they're dirty? Wrong. They spend hours cleaning themselves every day.

Think they were responsible for the bubonic plague? Wrong again. It was fleas, who were just as likely to be found on cats, dogs, and even gerbils!


Think they're ugly? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Rats are cute! Just look at this little guy.

This rat's name is Jones. And he is a hero. All images courtesy of APOPO.

And then there are African giant pouched rats. You won't believe what they can do.

We've known for a while that rats are capable of learning complex tasks, and that they're smart enough to care about each other.

I can actually vouch for their intellect firsthand. I had a major rat problem in my house a number of years back, and the rats were frighteningly good at getting out of and evading traps. (While I appreciated their intelligence, that doesn't mean I wanted them nesting in my bed.)

But the folks over at APOPO, an organization headquartered in Tanzania, have found a way to put those smarts to really good use.

The rats they train aren't just navigating mazes. They're saving lives.

Rats can sniff out land mines. I repeat. Rats can sniff out land mines!

The rats are tethered to little leashes to keep them on track, and they cover a TON of ground this way.

How's that for a daily dose of awesome?

See, dozens of countries around the world are affected by a deadly problem known as "land mine contamination," meaning they have tons of leftover explosives from conflicts past and present scattered across the landscape.

The usual process of clearing these mines is painfully slow and highly dangerous.

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times writes, "Typically, men in body armor walk in precise rows holding metal detectors in front of them. Whenever they come across metal, they stop and painstakingly brush away the soil until they see what it is."

Metal detectors? That's amateur hour.

That sounds ... tedious. And like it's a pretty good way to get yourself blown up.

The rats, who are too light to set off the mines, are able to quickly sniff out the explosives and then paw at the ground when they detect something. From there, the mines can be safely cleared.

APOPO says a team of rats takes about 20 minutes to sweep the same area that would take a human team about four days. Even better? The rats can sometimes be more accurate because they aren't distracted by scrap metal, according to the organization.

They also look pretty dang adorable on those little leashes.

But that's not all! Rats can also detect tuberculosis with a quick wiggle of their nose.

High-five!

TB, a highly contagious and potentially fatal lung infection, is a huge problem in certain counties. The disease was actually declared a national emergency in Mozambique a few years back.

Doctors in these areas have been desperate for a faster, more accurate way to diagnose patients.

Time to call in the rats.

Here's how it works: TB clinics collect sputum samples (basically, saliva and phlegm) from suspected patients and do an initial check. According to APOPO, doctors are only able to identify about half of the samples correctly this way.

The samples are then put in front of a team of trained rats that are able to double check large amounts of them with lightning speed, identifying thousands of missed positives in the process.

Rats are gross all right — grossly underappreciated.

D'awww.

We've gotta get over this idea that rats are yucky. And I'll be the first to admit that I've let my ... complicated history with rats color my better judgment for years.

Well no more.

Rats have earned my respect. And while I'd appreciate a comfortable distance between them and the food in my pantry, if sharing the occasional meal with them is the price I need to pay for the work they're doing, so be it.

They've earned it.

If you feel the same, you can start by "adopting" your own APOPO HEROrat to help pay for its intensive training.

Check out the video below to learn even more about why it's time to "Rethink Rats."

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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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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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