Monthly Archives: October 2017

These Are The Lives Cut Tragically Short At The Ariana Grande Concert In Manchester

The victims of the bombing at Monday?s Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, include an 8-year-old girl ?loved by everyone? and an 18-year-old who revered Grande and whose friends called her a ?true ray of sunshine [who] loved everyone for who they were.?

All gone. Much too soon.

Below are the victims who have been identified by friends or family in media reports. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

Georgina Callander, 18

Callander, a student at Runshaw College in Lancaster, was the first of 22 victims to be publicly named.

She had just tweeted at Grande the day before the show, ?SO EXCITED TO SEE U TOMORROW.? Her school said in a statement that she died in the attack, which also injured 59 people.

In 2015, Callander shared a backstage photo with Grande at Manchester Arena, the site of Monday?s bombing. ?I hugged her so tight and she said she loved my bow. I can?t get over this, I never will,? she wrote at the time. Callander is on the left in the photo, below.

In Twitter tributes from friends and loved ones, one woman called Callander ?a beautiful girl with the kindest heart & soul.? Another, Sophie Jauregui, wished that her ?beautiful best friend? rest in peace, saying she was a ?true ray of sunshine and loved everyone for who they were.? 

?Once Upon A Time? actor Sean Maguire, who?d recently met Callander, also voiced his condolences. 

Callander was rushed from the scene of the blast to the hospital, where she reportedly died with her mother at her bedside

Runshaw College paid tribute to her in a statement. ?It is with enormous sadness that it appears that one of the people who lost their lives in Monday?s Manchester attack was one of our students here at Runshaw College,? the school said. ?Georgina Callander was a former Bishop Rawstorne pupil studying with us on the second year of her Health and Social Care course. Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to all of Georgina?s friends, family and all of those affected by this loss. We are offering all available support possible at this tragic time, including counselling with our dedicated student support team.? 

Saffie Rose Roussos, 8

Saffie was attending the concert with her family, according to the BBC.

?She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly,? Chris Upton, head teacher at Tarleton Community Primary School, told the BBC. ?News of Saffie?s death in this appalling attack has come as a tremendous shock to all of us and I would like to send our deepest condolences to all of her family and friends.?

Saffie?s mother and sister were hospitalized with shrapnel injuries, The Daily Telegraph reported.

John Atkinson (age variously reported as 26 or 28)

Atkinson was leaving the arena when the bomb struck, the Manchester Evening News reported.

According to his Facebook tribute page, Atkinson lived in Manchester, studied health and social at Bury College, and was a Manchester United soccer fan.

?John you turned into an amazing young man so kind and thoughtful you will be missed by everyone,? Tracey Crolla wrote, per the Evening News.

Nana Julie Mills wrote: ?Just heard one of my good friends whom I?ve known since he was a little boy passed away last night. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP John Atkinson.?

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Travelers Chant ‘Lock Him Up’ As Man In Trump Hat Is Removed From United Plane

Passengers chanted ?lock him up? as United Airlines had a man sporting a Donald Trump ?Make America Great Again? campaign hat removed from a flight in Shanghai. The man delayed takeoff for hours as he was escorted from the flight for being belligerent, the airline confirmed in a statement Monday. 

The incident is the latest in a slew of mid-air confrontations this year, with United hitting the headlines for an ugly incident involving a staff member. This time, passengers were reportedly upset with the unnamed man in the Trump campaign hat for refusing to allow anyone to sit next to him on Flight 187, apparently because he had been refused an upgrade.

He became so disruptive that airline staff told passengers to exit the plane so that they could remove him before the flight could travel to its destination in Newark, according to the airline. By the time the plane took off, it had to make an unscheduled stop in San Francisco to replace the crew, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In scenes reminiscent of Trump taunting 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton at campaign rallies, videos show people in the terminal at Shanghai Pudong International Airport chanting ?charge him? and ?lock him up? at the man.

?Obviously, the hat provoked some of the stuff,? Alexis Zimmerman, who was flying back to Newark, told The Washington Post. Zimmerman said she heard the man say, ?I know people don?t like my hat.?

Fellow passengers reported the man called other travelers names on the flight, including ?moron, ?lesbian? and ?Hillary.?

He referred to another passenger as ?stupid friend over here that don?t know how to speak English,? video shows

It?s unclear what happened to the man in Shanghai.

?We?re grateful for the patience shown by our customers who endured the disruptive behavior of this passenger, as well as the exceptional poise and professionalism of our flight crew,? United said in a statement.

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Ring Purchased At Garage Sale May Be Worth Almost Half A Million Dollars

Shopping at garage sales can be hit or miss, but one lucky customer is cashing in on a major find. 

Southeby?s will auction off a sparkly cocktail ring a woman bought at a car boot sale in 1980s England next month with a starting bid of £250,000 (roughly $325,000). She had thought for decades that it was costume jewelry and wore it without a care in the world, revealed the owner, who declined to be named publicly, the auction house said this week.

The woman had purchased the piece for £10 at a garage sale at West Middlesex University Hospital in Isleworth in west London, according to Sotheby?s. She decided in recent months to have the ring appraised after a jeweler said the stone could be real. 

Sotheby?s Jewelry in London confirmed the stone?s authenticity ? a 19th century 26.27-carat, cushion-shaped white diamond. The auction house added that the stone has a color grade of I and an impressive clarity grade of VVS2. The ring could go for as much as £350,000 (about $450,000).

?We confirmed that it was indeed a diamond. We got it tested with the Gemological Institute of America … and that then dictated the price,? said Sotheby?s Jessica Wyndham, who heads the auction house?s jewelry department.

In the interview in the video above, Wyndham added that it was understandable the owner did not know the ring held a real diamond. 

?It was in an antique style mount, so it was quite heavy,? she said. ?It is mounted in silver around the top and when silver becomes tarnished it becomes quite black. And that mixed with the cut of the stone probably would have meant that it didn?t sparkle very much, and if it was all dirty, you just wouldn?t think that was real.?

The ring will hit auction on June 7.

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The Trouble With Trump’s Tolerance Tour

Post-truth POTUS turns out to be perfect casting for tackling the One True Religion problem.

Even if it were someone else, not Donald Trump, pulling the planet?s attention to the world?s three Abrahamic religions; if it were Barack Obama or George W. Bush, say, or even Eleanor Roosevelt, making an ecumenical pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Vatican City, the trouble with tolerance would still be a burr under the interfaith saddle.

Pluralism is the euphemism for how we manage the mess made when the worshippers of different gods maintain that theirs is the One and only God, and when sectarian worshippers of the same God claim that their way of worship is the one and only Way.

We contend with this dilemma, as we do with other discomfiting realities, like earthquakes, mortality and incipient male-pattern baldness, by denying it. Pluralism whistles past the graveyard of religious persecutions, inquisitions, pogroms, coerced conversions, civil wars, crusades and genocide. Instead of dealing forthrightly with doctrinal warfare, we acclaim mutual respect a common value, and we declare religious diversity a feature of civilization, not a bug that?s infested human history.

As for the varieties of irreligious experience, contemporary pluralism treats nonbelievers as all in the family. Diversity extends the same welcome to atheists and agnostics that it does to everyone else. Ditto for anyone who identifies as spiritual but not religious. God is great; God is dead; God is nature; God?s a metaphor; God is you; God is me; God?s a mystery; God is now: Pluralism wraps its arms around interpretations like those with no less graciousness than it affords to God is Yahweh, God is Christ, God is Allah.

That message is beautiful, incoherent and very American. It?s the least bad answer to the tension between religions and democracy. It?s what we want our culture to depict and our politics to project ? a supremely inclusive message to a world of warring faiths.

Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi Salafists finance Sunni warfare on Shia Muslims, is an ironic choice for President Trump to declare that his visit to ?many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic faiths? was a journey in the spirit of ?tolerance and respect for followers of all faiths.? Trump himself is an improbable carrier of that message. He is the candidate who said, ?I think Islam hates us?; who ran on a Muslim ban; whose simulation of Christian piety was a transparent hustle for the evangelical vote. The only One he worships is himself. Hypocrisy scarcely begins to describe his speechwriters? paean to our kinship as children of Abraham; gall, cynicism and arrogance come to mind as well.

But one thing inadvertently equips Trump to reconcile the professions of unique truthfulness by incompatible religions: his utter indifference to the truth. Trump wouldn?t recognize a contradiction if it bit him on the butt. A fact isn?t a fact to him; it?s just a gambit, an alternative to consider. ?Believe me? means ?true?; ?false? means ?true?; ?fake? means mean. Welcome to the epistemological fun house. Have a tremendous day.

If nothing is truly true, then there?s nothing to crown as the one true religion. Tolerance treats every belief as equally valid; Trump treats every belief as equally meaningless. Pluralism ties itself into pretzels trying to accommodate conflicting prophets and reconcile competing prophecies. But if prophecies are just fake news, interfaith dialogue is interfake dialogue, and the ultimate consequence of ultimate tolerance ? hey, anything goes ? isn?t a catastrophe, it?s Access Hollywood.

There?s a kernel of self-deception at the core of pluralism: For the sake of peaceful co-existence, we con ourselves into thinking that the truths that matter most to us don?t much matter at all. Trump, con to his core, flips that: Thinking that anything matters is the mark of a mark. Doctrine is for dummies; nihilism is bliss. Kumbaya, folks.

To solve the pluralism puzzle, there?s an alternative to Trump?s know-nothingism that appeals to me. Ken Wilber, whose work synthesizes wisdom traditions, calls it the search for the greatest common denominators, for the highest common factors, across all theologies and thought systems. For instance, the golden rule, do unto others, Kant?s categorical imperative, John Rawls? veil of ignorance: whatever you call it, acting from that principle is what so many religions and moral philosophies exhort us to do, irrespective of their Gods or stories or paradigms. Instead of merely tolerating one another?s differences, we can actively discover ourselves in each other?s mirrors.

The Abraham narrative, which comes to me from the Hebrew Bible, has always troubled me. I know there?s commentary that makes it less fearsome than I find it, but I?m stuck in its literal meaning. When God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, it strikes me as a cruel test of Abraham?s absolute obedience ? and a warning that any failure of mine to obey the letter of God?s laws could be fatal.

I?m not comforted that I share this origin story with the other Abrahamic religions. It makes me wonder if fundamentalism ? fanaticism ? is what we really have in common. I?d rather connect with my spiritual cousins through Adam. His story puts the knowledge of good and evil in human hands. That got him exiled from the garden. But no one turned life after Eden into life after truth.

This is a crosspost of my column for the Jewish Journal, where you can reach me if you?d like at

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This Dog Has So Had It With The Fidget Spinner Craze

The fidget spinner madness has gotten so out of hand, our four-legged friends have taken notice.

This dog wasn?t a huge fan.

But of course, some pooches are all for the devices ? and are total showoffs.

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Billy Bush’s Daughter Had The Most Reasonable Response To The Infamous Trump Tape

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Sunday, Billy Bush finally broke his silence about the now-infamous ?Access Hollywood? tape in which Donald Trump bragged about grabbing women ?by the pussy.? 

The former Today Show host talked about what it was like for him, his family and his career after the tape leaked in October 2016. One of the most difficult parts of the experience, he said, was explaining his own lewd comments to his three daughters, who were 12, 15 and 18 at the time. 

In the ?Access Hollywood? video, which was taped in 2005, Bush can be heard laughing along to Trump?s sexist jokes. He appeared to encourage Trump, yelling ?Yes! The Donald has scored!? after Trump recounted a time he ?moved on [a woman] like a bitch.? Bush also referred to Arianne Zucker, the woman they were meeting for an interview, saying ?Sheesh your girl?s hot as shit.?  

Bush told THR that his youngest daughter decided not to watch the tape and his oldest was ready to defend her father. But Bush said it was his middle daughter who called him out for his sexist and demeaning comments about women. 

Bush told THR that his daughter Mary, then 15, called him crying and asked, ?Why were you laughing at the things that [Trump] was saying on that bus, Dad? They weren?t funny.?

?It hit really hard, and I stopped for a second, and I said, ?I have no answer for that that?s any good. I am really sorry. That was Dad in a bad moment a long time ago. You know me. I am really sorry that you had to hear and see that. I love you,?? Bush told THR. ?She needed to hear that, and I certainly needed to tell her that.?

Bush explained that in the aftermath of the ?Access Hollywood? video he really put himself in women?s shoes and realized just how damaging his behavior was. 

?When a woman watches that tape ? and this is what really hit me ? they may be asking themselves, ?Is that what happens when I walk out of a room? When I walk out of a meeting, is that what they?re saying about me? Are they sizing me up??? Bush said. ?I can?t live with that. If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters ? Mary, Lillie, Josie ? and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.? 

Off the bat, Bush sounds like a great dad who immediately owned up to his bad behavior when his young daughter called him out on it. And he most likely is a wonderful father.

His response also points to a larger, more troubling trend: Men are often not confronted with the implications of their behavior ? that women are sex objects to be ?moved on like a bitch? ? until they?ve raised daughters. 

When Bush?s daughter addressed his demeaning comments about women, he didn?t have a good answer for her. How can he tell her that this is how many men speak about women, when he hopes no man ever speaks about his daughter in the same way? 

While Bush?s comments to his daughter are important, we shouldn?t have to wait for men to bear daughters for them to see half the population as equals.  

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