Secretary Zinke: Please Leave Our National Monuments Alone

Today, on behalf of The Trust for Public Land and its many volunteers and supporters, I am registering our concern with President Trump?s executive order to review certain monument designations.

Our public lands and waters help define who we are as a nation by telling the story of our historical, cultural, and natural heritage. This attempt to roll back protections for national monuments is unprecedented and terribly misguided. Secretary Zinke, we strongly urge you to reject efforts to eliminate or shrink our national monuments.

The Trust for Public Land has worked over many years to protect important conservation lands at several national monuments currently under review and we have worked to ensure public land protection at other recently created monuments including California Coastal, Stonewall, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers and Pullman. Our experience was always positive, with strong community support and engagement. In California, for example, the impetus for the the Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow national monuments began with came from Mojave Desert residents and business leaders, who organized for years in support of them.

The Antiquities Act has been used well by Presidents throughout our history for important and lasting public land protection. This current review is clearly aimed at undermining presidential authority under the Act. Should this result lead to reversals of current protection, those steps will have lasting negative impact and threaten many protected areas for generations to come.

Regarding the expedited review of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, we question the need for this condensed timeline but urge you, Secretary Zinke, to retain the monument?s current status. That area?s priceless historic, cultural and natural wonders are exactly the places and values which should be permanently protected. Monument status for Bears Ears protects 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites as well as stunning mesas, canyons and arches and the incredible outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing and general solitude and peace they contain ? treasures which are irreplaceable. It is clear the area has deep and important meaning to several Native American tribes, given their involvement in the long-standing protection effort and recent vocal opposition to rolling back protections. The boundaries of the monument clearly honor the voices of five sovereign tribal nations who joined together to seek protection of their shared ancestral lands and traditions.

We strongly believe rolling back the Bears Ears protections would threaten all our monument areas by setting a terrible precedent. Once that door is open, where might it stop? Such actions would discourage business investment and community growth around national monuments while also sending the signal that our history and natural wonders are negotiable. This already seems to be the case in Maine where review of the Katahdin Woods and Waters national monument has caused uncertainty about the area?s economic future, halting positive signs of economic growth following the August 2016 designation.

National monuments are tremendous drivers of the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. Businesses in gateway communities rely on the permanency of these protections when making decisions about local investments. Visitation has doubled at Organ Mountains National Monument since its designation. At the nearby Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management saw a 40% increase in visitors within a year after that land was designated a monument. A report by the Green Taos (N.M.) Chamber of Commerce said that within just year after that designation, the town?s lodging revenue increased 21% in the second half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. This experience has been repeated over and over again at other sites.

Our system of national parks, many of which began as monuments, has been called ?America?s best idea? and they are enormously popular with the American people. Our public lands provide thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact. They ensure permanent access to America?s unique cultural and natural history. The judicious use of the Antiquities Act, by presidents of both parties, has been a key tool in protecting that legacy of special places. There should be no rollbacks of protections, at Bears Ears or other monuments.

And we urge everyone to make their views known here.

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Giant ‘Styrofoam’ Planet Could Help Scientists Find New Habitable Worlds

We?re all pretty familiar with objects made from styrofoam. Our daily lives intersect with disposable items like coffee cups, insulation, hot and cold coolers and those seemingly millions of little cushioning styrofoam-y ?things? that are put into mailing boxes to protect the more valuable contents. 

And styrofoam balls are often used in arts and crafts to create models of the planets for hanging mobiles in bedrooms, classrooms and museums around the world. 

But, now, who would?ve guessed? Researchers at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, recently discovered a planet approximately 320 light-years from Earth that, according to a university statement, ?has the density of styrofoam.?

And the planet could be useful for scientists looking to discover new habitable worlds

?This ?puffy planet? outside our solar system may hold opportunities for testing atmospheres that will be useful when assessing future planets for signs of life,? the statement said.

A global effort of university researchers, observatories and amateur astronomers resulted in an online paper published in The Astronomical Journal. The paper describes initial findings of the planet dubbed KELT-11b, which orbits the bright, subgiant star, KELT-11.

?It is highly inflated, so that while it?s only a fifth as massive as Jupiter, it is nearly 40 percent larger, making it about as dense as styrofoam, with an extraordinarily large atmosphere,? said Lehigh University astronomer and team leader Joshua Pepper in the university statement.

But it?s not just the styrofoam-like similarity of the planet that intrigues scientists. The star ? KELT-11 ? that KELT-11b orbits plays an important role. The star is so bright, as seen from Earth?s southern hemisphere, that it can shed light ? literally ? on KELT-11b?s atmosphere.  The high brightness of the star shining through the atmosphere of the planet allows Earth-based equipment to better observe the planet?s atmosphere.

This, in turn, gives astronomers the ability to develop new tools to help them determine if Earth-like planets are surrounded by atmospheres that might allow life to evolve.

KELT stands for Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope, referring to two small robotic telescopes ? one in Arizona and one in South Africa ? that scan the night sky, taking measurements of 5 million stars. Those who monitor the data searching for possible planets are looking for the type of star that becomes dimmer at regular times. This might indicate the presence and movement of a planet crossing the star, producing an eclipse effect.

If researchers want to learn more about KELT-11b, they?d better hurry.

Well, sort of.

The ?styrofoam? giant is so close to its parent sun that it takes less than five days to orbit KELT-11. KELT-11 has begun depleting its nuclear fuel as it evolves into a red giant, and at this rate, it will eventually envelop its puffy partner within the next 100 million years. 

The Lehigh research team says the KELT discovery will prove to be an important target to learn more about how atmospheres are formed in the search for habitable worlds.

What?s next to be discovered out there in the cosmos? A plastic asteroid?

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Single Dad Hosts Class For Men To Learn To Do Their Daughters’ Hair

When Darious Bland became a single father seven years ago, he was at a loss as to how to go about doing his daughter?s hair. He?s since picked up a few tricks, and now the Alabama native is sharing them with his fellow dads. 

On May 21, Bland held a hair workshop titled ?Can Daddy Do My Hair?? in Hunstsville, AL. 

The event allowed 12 dads to come with their 3- to 10-year-old daughters as Bland guided them in navigating the understated difficulty of styling black hair.

?These dads are learning a lot; not only about hair but what many moms go through,? he told WHNT. ?They didn?t understand the frustration that mothers have to go through while doing their daughters? hair.?

Videos of fathers doing their daughters? hair have made their rounds on the internet throughout the years. And an April BBC News video showed health and well-being guru Khembe Clarke hosting a similar event for black fathers in England.

As for Bland, he admits he still has a thing or two to learn.

?I?m learning how to do flat twists, bantu knots, I want to learn how to braid,? he said.

For those who couldn?t make the workshop, Bland also posts video tutorials on the event?s Facebook page. 

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News Roundup for May 25, 2017

More depressing news to start your day.

1. Trumpcare will leave 23 million people uninsured according to the CBO. Seems like a really comprehensive plan. Tremendous. More here.

2. Advertisers are pulling their ads from Sean Hannity?s Fox News show. Fake news doesn?t pay, Sean. More here.

3. Jeff Sessions omitted Russian meetings on his security clearance form. Ugh, the White House swamp is so murky these days. More here.

4. Tensions are extremely high in Brazil after anti-government protesters set a fire in the ministry of agriculture. More here.

5. UK police are investigating the Manchester bomber?s network. They have stopped sharing information with the US due to consistent leaks. More here.

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Food Waste Efforts Scrapped From EPA budget

By Ashley Stanley

The Trump administration unveiled its $4.1 billion budget Tuesday, and the shock waves are being felt far beyond Washington. For many working in especially-targeted agencies, the magnitude of these cuts will have considerable implications. Here in Boston, EPA workers are rallying against the proposed cuts by gathering at the State House in a show of opposition.

Essentially, the administration?s cuts decimate the EPA by 31 percent, eliminating almost 4,000 jobs from the agency itself. Efforts to keep clean our streams and waterways are being eliminated, and there are deep cuts to the monitoring of the safety of our tap water (even in communities like Flint, Mich.). Regional conservation efforts are being scrapped, along with funding for environmental disaster cleanup.

Wasted food is one of the most significant drivers of climate change. Efforts to reduce and control it are being eliminated under this budget. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter behind both the United States and China. 3.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide is the byproduct of the harvesting, production, packaging, and transporting of food that ends up rotting in landfills. The water wasted in those same processes is equivalent to the volume of Europe?s largest river.

We currently grow and produce more than enough food to feed every single person on the planet, and that includes the estimated 9 billion world population in the next 30 years. As a food rescue in Massachusetts, Lovin? Spoonfuls runs on the premise that hunger and food insecurity are not problems of supply, but rather of distribution. By summer?s end, we will have rescued and diverted 7 million pounds of food from landfills. Each week, the 50,000 pounds of food we recover reaches more than 35,000 hungry people in Massachusetts.

The proposed cuts by the Trump administration not only pose a severe threat to the health of the planet, but threaten public health, too.  Along with EPA cuts, over $4 billion is expected to be cut from HUD, where essential Community Block Grants live, and SNAP funding ? on which 45 million Americans rely ? by more than a quarter. The costs of defunding safety-net programs that feed, house and care for people only sets in motion a higher cost down the road. Keeping veterans and seniors in their homes with nutritious meal delivery offers dignity, respect and ultimately better health.

In the world we live in, food is political. But on the ground, the immediate work that can be done is logistical. Tailoring solutions within the supply chain, looking at communities by their demographics, geography and current resources all become valuable factors and tools that we use to move food with intent and purpose, creating best practices for safe, reliable and consistent distribution of healthy nutrition.

Wasting food is perhaps the most avoidable and solvable problem we?ll see in our lifetime. Reframing hunger and access as consequences of poor or nonexistent distribution rather than supply is our guiding principle. Our work is on the ground, accessible to the community at large each day. But we, like so many other social service providers are limited by policy, and the underlying priorities therein. When managed and stewarded properly, the arms of government that create policy are essential to the health and future of our planet. It is the responsibility of us all to call for the protection and preservation of these agencies. It is time to step up, and step in – to keep and defend these priorities, even when our leaders have abandoned them.

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We?re always game for adorable ways to drink Champagne.

Moët & Chandon just unveiled a six-pack of mini Champagne bottles that will make you the star of any summer picnic or barbecue. At $99.95, the pack isn?t cheap, but it comes with six little servings of bubbly that are tough to resist. 

Bottles in Moët mini share packs have 187 milliliters of the brand?s classic Imperial Brut, which is a bit more than the amount in an average glass of Champagne. Packs are currently only available online, while Moët?s individual mini bottles ? which come in other varieties including a sparkling rosé ? are sold in stores. 

If pricey bubbles aren?t your style, you can always opt for a $4 four-pack of canned wine instead. Cheers!

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Tituss Burgess Channels Ursula In ‘Little Mermaid’ Cover

Before Tituss Burgess sang about Pinot Noir on Netflix?s ?Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,? he was singing ?Under the Sea? as Sebastian in Broadway?s ?The Little Mermaid.?

And although his costume from the 2007 play looks like something his current character Titus Andromedon would wear to a casual Sunday brunch, he never felt like his role as a talking crab really suited him.

?And while I was playing Sebastian, I was like, ?I?m playing the wrong role,?? he told an audience Saturday at New York Magazine?s Vulture Festival.  ?I went to the producers when I was getting ready to leave the show to see if they would let me audition for this other role that I should have been playing. And they said no.?

That role? It was Ursula. And sea witch, please ? he really should have played her.


Just watch his cover of ?Poor Unfortunate Souls? in the clip below.

Here?s hoping he?ll be cast in the role he was meant to play in ABC?s ?The Little Mermaid? live musical, which will air this fall.

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Uber Vows To Repay NYC Drivers ‘Tens Of Millions’ After Tax Snafu

Uber says it will reimburse its New York City drivers ?tens of millions? of dollars in lost earnings for miscalculating its commission there for several years.

The ride-hailing company said it had inadvertently calculated its commission since November 2014 based on drivers? ?gross? fares ? before taxes and fees are taken out. Instead, it should have collected a percent of the smaller, post-tax ?net? fare.

Uber said it realized the error last Friday, after it revamped how it shows drivers their earnings and discovered their commissions violated the terms of service.

The company told HuffPost it would refund drivers? backpay they?re due, plus 9 percent interest. The average driver should receive around $900.

?We are committed to paying every driver every penny they are owed – plus interest – as quickly as possible,? said Rachel Holt, Regional General Manager, US & Canada, in an emailed statement. ?We are working hard to regain driver trust, and that means being transparent, sticking to our word, and making the Uber experience better from end to end.?

But New York?s Independent Drivers Guild said the news is just one more sign of an industry in need of regulation.

?Uber?s theft of drivers? hard-earned wages is the latest in a long history of underhanded tactics in this industry,? IDG founder Jim Conigliaro Jr. told HuffPost in an emailed statement.  ?Year after year, companies like Uber, Lyft, Juno and Gett become more valuable and year after year they find new ways to take advantage of hard-working drivers,? he added. ?This is exactly why we have been calling for industry-wide pay protections to stop the exploitation of New York?s drivers once and for all.? 

It?s unclear if Uber drivers in other cities have been subject to similar miscalculations. The company said it is reviewing that possibility but has yet to find another instance. 

While Uber calculates its take based on drivers? ?net? fares, ride-hailing competitor Lyft told HuffPost its commissions still are based on its drivers? gross fares, as its agreement specifies.

?In New York, we deduct commissions and administrative fees from gross fares, as per our driver agreement,? a Lyft spokesman said in an emailed statement. ?We also pay sales tax on gross fares as required by law.? 

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Donald Trump’s Meeting With Pope Francis Was Full Of Awkward Moments

President Donald Trump?s meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday was mostly cordial, but there were still plenty of uncomfortable moments.

The meeting was already fraught with prior tensions, given that Trump lashed out after the pope criticized him during his campaign.

The Wall Street Journal?s Carol Lee, the White House pool reporter documenting the scene, noted that the initial mood at Wednesday?s meeting seemed ?stiff,? and that the pope appeared ?rather stone-faced.?

The pope was not particularly warm when shaking hands with Trump. Per the pool report:

?Thank you so much,? President Trump said to Pope Francis when they
shook hands.

After shaking hands, the pope and POTUS walked into the pope?s
private study, which is just off the room where they shook hands.

When pool entered the study, the pope and the president were seated
across from each other at the pope?s wooden desk.

POTUS told the pope it?s ?a very great honor.?

The pope did not say anything. He did not smile. He looked at pool
several times.

Another bizarre moment occurred while the pope greeted Trump?s family. He asked first lady Melania Trump about her husband?s dietary habits.

?What do you give him to eat, potizza?? he said, referring to a dessert from her native Slovenia. (It was initially reported that he said ?pizza.?)

But the mood in the room reportedly ?lightened considerably? when Trump and the pope exchanged gifts.

Pope Francis gave Trump several documents that he typically gives to visiting dignitaries, including a copy of his lauded 2015 address on climate change. Trump has said he believes climate change is ?a hoax? created by the Chinese.

The president was reportedly ?effusive? in his thanks and told the pope, ?I?ll be reading them.?

Climate change is just one of several major issues on which Trump and the pope disagree. Last year, the pontiff was also highly critical of Trump?s signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

?A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,? he said.

Trump responded by calling the pope ?disgraceful? and writing a threatening Facebook post.

?If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS?s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened,? Trump wrote.

The pope, who comes from an immigrant family, has also stressed the importance of helping immigrants and has encouraged more action on the international refugee crisis ? which sharply contrasts Trump?s anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric and his executive orders that target undocumented immigrants and halt refugee resettlement in the U.S.

Trump and the pope discussed ?the promotion of peace in the world,? according to the Vatican?s press office. The president described Wednesday?s meeting as ?great? and ?fantastic.?

?It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants,? the Vatican said in a statement.

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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.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage articlesList=59159395e4b00f308cf47d97,58fa0c18e4b086ce58980fdd,58ee1d51e4b0145a227cb9fe

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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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Drake’s Reaction To Vanessa Hudgens Rapping Says It All

Vanessa Hudgens? rap skills are starting from the bottom, and now we?re here.

The 2017 Billboard Music Awards host broke out some of Nicki Minaj?s rap from Kanye West?s ?Monster? while onstage with co-host Ludacris on Sunday. We?ve seen others such as Millie Bobby Brown rap the verse before to wide praise. So, in theory, this is a great way to connect with the audience and keep things fun.

It didn?t really go like that.

The look on Drake?s face says it all …

Stuff like this is probably why he says ?no new friends.?

The internet caught on, and the people had jokes.

Drake seemed to make up for it later, complimenting Hudgens and Ludacris while accepting the award for Top 200 Billboard Album. But if that look had a title, it?d be last name Ever, first name Coldest.

H/T PopSugar

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