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Why Easter brings me back to church

“Please — come join us in the cafeteria after Mass has concluded!” Father Ariel’s jaunty voice echoed from where he was standing at the slabbed marble pulpit, as he smiled out at the congregation. His family, who had arrived from the Philippines in droves to celebrate his 50th birthday, beamed from the first several rows of glossy, varnished pews. Mid-morning light filtered through stained glass depicting saints and the Stations of the Cross, casting soft pinks and blues and greens across the church: our local parish, St. James. Sun illuminated the top of Father Ariel’s head, and behind him, a domed mural of the stages of Jesus’ life — his birth in a manger, his crucifixion atop Calvary, and his resurrection after emerging from a stone sepulchre — seemed to swell higher with every slow, measured note of music from the raftered choir. It was a Sunday morning in April, not exactly Easter but right around the time. The smell of incense — a combination of frankincense and myrrh — leached from every corner of the space, creating a somewhat soporific effect. I pictured my family, friends and neighbors gently falling asleep to its bitter, powdery aroma, like Dorothy did in the poppy field. Everything felt buoyant and peaceful. My family and many other parishioners — mainly gentle, geriatric hordes — joined Father Ariel with his multitude of relatives in my middle-school cafeteria for an authentic Filipino feast. Side dishes of pearly quail eggs, roasted fish and meats, bright salads and an array of desserts adorned every inch of table space, the very same where I ate many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my youth. At the center of it all was a huge roast pig, or lechón, with delicate, crisped skin. I looked at the pig’s face, then at the people ambling around the dingy, linoleum floors, and immediately felt love. This was nearly 10 years ago, back during a time when I went to Church every Sunday and consistently prayed to God. I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person anymore. I’m not an atheist per se, but trying to find an equilibrium with faith has undoubtedly become a game of mental Tetris. Sure, Jesus seemed like a pretty cool guy — to me, his message has always unequivocally been “love,” in a broader sense. I’m on board with that. But I still remain immensely put off by how Catholicism’s sordid underbelly has blended into sociopolitical life, underpinning the dismantling of women’s reproductive rights and enabling sexual abusers. I find myself still clinging to it largely because it’s woven tightly into many people I love. It’s a perturbing relationship; I feel as though my continued shunning of organized religion has in a sense estranged me from the memory of some very important people. And yet, Easter and springtime always bring me back to church. I find myself craving, not exactly the scriptures and the teachings embedded in them, but how the space evokes the memories of people I love — chiefly my maternal grandmother and my mom — and an inclusive sense of community. A deeply spiritual person, my grandma — born in a small Bolivian jungle village called Riberalta — spent her teenage years living in a convent with a U.S.-based congregation of nuns performing foreign missionary work. She was readying to enter the sisterhood when she met my grandfather, a Sicilian and civil engineer volunteering with a Catholic mission group to help build new infrastructure in Riberalta. They returned to America together and settled in Bayonne, New Jersey, joined in a union forged out of a shared devotion to God and each other. Though my mom didn’t pray a daily rosary or make pilgrimages to Lourdes like my grandma, she was deeply affected by her religious upbringing, a heritage she inculcated her five children with through weekly mass, and offering up nightly intentions along with prayers before dinner: family and friends who were sick or had died, poverty and homelessness, wartime conflict, our cat Sweet Pea’s hypothyroidism. In my grandmother’s house and my own, the iconography of Jesus and other religious figures was everywhere, peppering walls and mantelpieces alongside family photos and wedding albums. Each time one of my more than 25 cousins or I received a sacrament — Baptism, First Holy Eucharist, Confirmation — a sprawling, family-wide party followed, usually at an Italian restaurant with a generically benevolent, pot-bellied owner who would toddle around and ask, “How yous all likin’ the food?” And of course, there was always a large white sheet cake, piped in bubbled fonts: “God Bless ____!” Seeing as my mom’s eight siblings were spread out across central New Jersey, I essentially ran the gauntlet of various Catholic parishes in our area for different holidays and events. I had my favorite churches. St. James retained the top position. Then came St. Michael’s, a red-bricked church that was famous for its live-animal manger display during the Christmas season. Holy Cross — located in one of the more affluent towns in my county — had a stunning interior, but its reputation had always been somewhat sullied in my mind from a 2006 embezzlement incident. While I was able to evade formal liturgical participation, my three younger sisters were all urged to be altar servers, helping St. James’ priests — mostly middle-aged men from the Phillippines and India — prepare and proceed with weekly Sunday mass. One sister recalled a time when she and another altar server accidentally spilled open a bag of already-consecrated Eucharist wafers as they were preparing for mass in the wood-paneled sacristy. “Oh! Uh, don’t worry girls — I’ll consume these later,” the priest said when he walked in and saw them scooping the body of Christ off the floor and into Ziploc bags. Another time several years ago, my family was running late for Easter Sunday mass, half of us with our hair still wet. “Overflow,” an usher posted outside the church doors said as we approached, jerking his thumb toward the rear parking lot where the grammar school was located. Given that creasters (Catholics who only attend church on Christmas and Easter) come out of the woodwork every winter and spring, tardy worshippers are forced to attend the secondary service, held in the gymnasium or auditorium. From my seat in a metal folding chair, nostalgia washed over me as the priest carried a gold crucifix across the same floor where I’d once played dodgeball, toward the makeshift altar where I’d watched classmates act out a rendition of “The Little Mermaid.” I spent last Easter in Newport, Rhode Island with my family for a short holiday vacation. The weekend was oceanic cliffs and Gilded Age mansions and a kaleidoscopic assortment of saltwater taffy. On Easter Sunday, we walked from our quaint bed and breakfast to St. Mary’s, Our Lady of the Isle, where JFK and Jackie O wed in September of 1953. We took turns waiting outside with our two Great Pyrenees, who had reaped the benefits of Newport’s reputation for being dog-friendly. Ahead of the homily, the part of the service when the priest explains the Gospel reading in further detail, I elected to relieve my mom of dog duty, knowing she wouldn’t want to miss the crux of the mass. As I turned toward the door to trade off with her, the sharp New England morning air — and an emotional pang — made me bristle. I didn’t want to leave. Mashed tightly in hard-backed pews alongside other Catholics, loyalists and creasters alike, I felt a distinct sense of calm. The very same that came to me years ago as I gazed at a pig’s snout. This Easter, we’ll be going back to St. James. Father Ariel is no longer at the parish — I don’t know many of the priests there anymore, my connection to the parish steadily eroded by distance, time and sheer obstinance on my part. It’s an elegiac relationship, compounded by the recent passing of my grandmother, who embodied holiness and unadulterated love in every sense. And while I may not take the time to philosophize about my salvation on Sunday, I’m certain I’ll think of her and what my being there would mean to her. For me, that’s enough to return every spring.

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With “Parish” Giancarlo Esposito is finally the lead. If only this vehicle were worthy of his talent

The shadow cast by “Breaking Bad” is inky, far-reaching and difficult, but not impossible, to escape. A few of “Parish” lead Giancarlo Esposito’s co-stars have tried with varying degrees of success. Bryan Cranston’s movie career avails him of some variety, but on Showtime’s “Your Honor” he plays another version of a good man pushed to commit evil for the sake of protecting his family. Bob Odenkirk and Aaron Paul steered out of the derivative prestige trap to some degree, with Paul showing entirely different sides on “Westworld” and “BoJack Horseman,” and Odenkirk blending his comedy chops with his dramatic range on “Lucky Hank,” one of those fine shows we wish we’d kept watching. Esposito, though, contends with a separate problem from his co-stars in that his singularly brilliant Gus Fring spans two shows, “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” and created a mold from which he’s still freeing himself. Fring is a dapper, eternally composed villain possessed of a calm that drapes an outer layer of sinister over a performance that screams warnings without saying much at all. Gus speaks with a suave efficiency that lends an elegance to his villainy. That was also true of Moff Gideon in “The Mandalorian” as Stanley Johnston – “with a T!” – the wealthy American wolf hunting crooked aristocrats in Guy Ritchie’s London, as seen in “The Gentlemen.” All of these are co-starring roles, each further cementing Esposito’s reputation of being the best reason to watch anything he’s in regardless of quality. “Parish” is no different, and entirely too much like many dramas gunning to earn the “premium TV” label by emulating other critically acclaimed shows. Like “Your Honor” it is an American adaptation of a foreign format — in this case a British show called “The Driver.” The main distinction is that Esposito is the lead as opposed to the sideman, a designation that he should have received much earlier in his career. His command of Gracián Parish’s stony resolve behind the wheel is captivating in the opening episode when he glides through a dangerous chase through New Orleans with ease, improvising at turn after turn to escape the cops, refusing to lose his cool. Gray, as he’s known, thought he’d left all that behind. (Yep, it’s one of those.) The former wheelman retired 18 years ago to run a luxury car service in New Orleans. But business has dried up, and he’s struggling to pay his mortgage. Skeet Ulrich in “Parish” (AMC) So when his old partner in crime Colin (a very sweaty and bestubbled Skeet Ulrich) resurfaces with a frantic request to help him with a mess he’s slipped into with a Zimbabwean crime family, Gray steps up with the standard “OK, but just this once” agreement, which will surely be true this time! Colin has run afoul of the Tongais, a family of human traffickers headed in the city by The Horse (Zackary Momoh), whose sister Shamiso (Bonnie Mbuli) counsels him as his capricious brother Zenso (Ivan Mbakop) tries his patience, are establishing themselves in local business and politics as they exploit workers they lure to the states with promises of helping them gain citizenship. In Gray, Horse sees an experienced, even-keeled potential ally who’s also exploitable; Shamiso does some digging and finds out he’s mourning the killing of his teenage son on top of the money problems. This leads to the good old “offer Gray can’t refuse” coupled with his confidence in knowing he’s the only man who can do what they require – you know, a specific set of skills, and so on, and so forth. Competent copycat dramas abound these days, making this show’s place on the lower side of the quality scale’s midrange fairly typical. Esposito puts in maximum effort, muscling out a performance that exhibits his full range of dramatic capability despite prosaic scripts stringing together phrases you’ve heard in other shows and movies, and not necessarily superior ones. Still, he warms substantially in scenes where he transitions from all business into a father and husband struggling to anchor his relationships with his daughter Makayla (Arica Himmel), who’s still navigating her grief over losing her brother, and his equally bereft wife Rose (Paula Malcolmson). They’re ready to leave the city for a fresh start, and with the bills piling up, cashing in what chips they still have makes sense. The writers very quickly bump Gray’s family life from the shotgun seat to the back until we nearly forget they’re around. That’s a shame for a performer of Malcolmson’s caliber. Like most of the other cast, she makes what we can of her screen time. Mbuli and Momoh similarly make watching worthwhile – Mbuli especially, both for her evil queen regalness and Shamiso’s enviable wardrobe. The Tongais are if nothing else models of aspirational style, which is the least a show like this can contribute to our weekly conversations. Bradley Whitford and Zackary Momoh in “Parish” (AMC) They both draw and seize our attention alongside Esposito. That’s still a poor excuse for failing to develop other characters, including Amanda Brugel’s Sister Anne whose role amounts to little more than an expositional prop, and Bradley Whitford’s businessman, mainly there to add some local color to all the corruption. For the viewer, though, the real shortcoming is the plot’s inconsistent pacing. Despite the standard body disposal and accompanying sidekick freakout, and a side journey designed to crack the hero’s mask of assuredness, the first two episodes set a speed that the middle hours downshift to the show’s detriment. This is one example of the drama’s divided depiction of New Orleans. On the one hand, there’s the cosmopolitan view of the Tongais, whose culture is one not often featured on TV. But then you have Gray stumbling through a random carnival parade, as if to play to the tourist stereotype. We should consider ourselves lucky that the appropriated accents aren’t dripping with Northern gumbo, i.e. the kind that punishes us instead of lending flavor. The fifth episode returns to form but if the sagging energy leads you to bow out before then you can’t be blamed for that. I suppose the fault lies instead with series co-creators Sunu Gonera and Danny Brocklehurst, who helmed the first two episodes before Gonera was swiftly excised from the production related to a sexual assault allegation. That would cast a cloud over any series, but it’s especially unfortunate that it happened on one announcing Esposito as a worthy lead. Who can say whether that added an unwelcome drag to the season’s narrative cohesion? We can only judge what’s shown onscreen. The six episodes allotted to “Parish” require a narrative discipline that simply isn’t in play, and Esposito’s talent demands original writing that rarely presents itself here. He’s excellent despite this lack – so much that it makes you want better for him. Maybe “Parish” will lead to more worthy projects, if not a second season that, fate willing, smooths out the rough patches and holes in its opening length of track. “Parish” premiere at 10:15 p.m. Sunday, March 31. New episodes air at 9 p.m. Sundays starting on April 7.

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Iran to decide how to punish Israel for attack on consulate in Damascus — Foreign Ministry

DUBAI, April 1. /TASS/. Iranian authorities reserve the right to retaliate to the Israeli airstrike on the republic’s consulate in Damascus and will decide how to “punish the aggressor,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said. “Iran, while reserving the right to retaliate, will decide on its own how to respond and punish the aggressor,” Kanaani said in a statement posted on the official Telegram channel of the Iranian Foreign Ministry. The diplomat said the responsibility for the attack rests with Israel, adding that the attack on the consulate is being investigated. Kanaani also urged the UN and the international community to condemn Israel’s actions and “take all necessary measures against the aggressor.” Earlier, the Syrian agency SANA reported that the Israeli Air Force had conducted a strike on a building in Damascus. According to Iran’s SNN TV channel, the building of the consulate and residence of Iranian Ambassador Hossein Akbari came under fire. According to the ambassador, five to seven people were killed in the attack. He confirmed that Iranian diplomats and military advisers who were inside could have been killed in the shelling.

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Chinese Illegal Immigrant Arrested After Entering Marine Corps Base And Refusing To Leave

A Chinese national confirmed to be an illegal immigrant was arrested last week after sneaking onto a military base in California and ignoring orders to leave, according to an official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP’s El Centro Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino said in a March 29 post on social media platform X that agents were called out to a Marine Corps base about a Chinese national who entered the facility without authorization and failed to respond to orders to leave. “Subject was confirmed to be in the country illegally,” Mr. Bovino wrote, adding that his purpose in entering the base remains under investigation. Requests from The Epoch Times to CBP and to the U.S. Marine Corps for more details on the incident were not immediately returned. However, a U.S. Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command spokesperson told Fox News that the Chinese national tried to enter the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. The spokesperson said that the individual was asked to leave by security personnel, but he proceeded onto the installation anyway and was subsequently arrested by military police. The facility, also known as Twentynine Palms, is the largest U.S. Marine Corps base in the country. The latest breach comes amid numerous instances of Chinese nationals infiltrating U.S. military bases over the past several years. CBP data shows that, starting in February 2023, the number of single Chinese adults encountered by Border Patrol agents nationwide started to rise, and doubled by April compared to historical monthly norms. In February 2024, Border Patrol agents encountered 5,455 single Chinese adults who had entered the country illegally, more than twice the number of any other February on record. China is designated a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. State Department, while the FBI says that economic espionage and counterintelligence efforts emanating from China’s communist regime are a “grave threat” to America’s economic security. Some analysts have said that deteriorating economic conditions in China, along with human rights abuses and policies such as strict COVID-19 lockdowns, are likely driving the increase.

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Family of man killed in police-involved shooting in Homestead says he was shot while trying to go inside his home, died in his bedroom

SWEETWATER, FLA. (WSVN) – The family of the man who was shot and killed in Homestead in a police-involved shooting said he was trying to run away from police and back inside of his own home when he was shot. Thirty-one-year-old Leandro Ledea Chong was fatally shot by Homestead Police officers inside his home, located along Sunrise Boulevard, Saturday morning. 7News cameras on Monday captured the front of the house riddled with bullet holes and dried blood, showing the aftermath of the shooting. Chong’s ex-girlfriend spoke to 7News on Sunday about the incident through a translator. “When I got there, I started screaming that they had killed him,” said Cabrera. Cabrera said she dated and lived with Ledea Chong for two years. After their separation, she said, she still took care of him, living just two homes away. Cabrera claims her ex-boyfriend should have never been killed because he was mentally ill. “I showed Homestead Police his mental health papers when they had arrived,” she said. On Friday, video posted on social media by Homestead Social shows Ledea Chong being surrounded by Homestead Police officers. However, they decided to disengage because, investigators said, he was not a threat at the time. But on Saturday, police said, they were forced to fire their weapons because they believed him to be a threat. “An incident did occur with the officers where the officers were forced to fire their firearms,” said Homestead Police Capt. Fernando Morales. His family said police first shot him outside the home and then they shot him again as he ran back inside. They said officers shot and killed him in his bedroom. Police have not confirmed whether or not Ledea Chong was armed at the time of the incident. But according to a GoFundMe set up by the family to cover funeral costs, Ledea Chong had a fanny pack filled with keys, a rehab brochure and a screwdriver. It remains unclear whether or not Ledea Chong was holding the screwdriver in his hand at the time of the shooting, but Cabrera said the police were aware that he was ill. “It was the same cops that came in the morning and at night,” she said. Cabrera also said she had called a crisis health center to come help her ex-boyfriend. “In the end, they had just sent police for this ending,” she said. Officials with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said their investigation is active and ongoing, so they cannot do an interview with 7News. Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Vontae Davis, former Dolphins and Colts player, found dead in his South Florida home

1 of 5 | FILE – Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis watches from the sidelines during an NFL game against the Oakland Raiders, in Oakland, Calif., Dec. 24, 2016. Former Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis was found dead in his South Florida home on Monday, April 1, 2024, but police say no foul play is suspected.(Daniel Gluskoter/File) Read More

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BMC property tax collection sees drop this year, lowest since 2012

With the financial year 2023-24 coming to an end, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has collected a total of Rs 3,195 crore in property tax as of March 31, which is only 71% of its estimated target of property tax collection for FY 2023-24 which was Rs 4500 crore. This has been the lowest recovery of property tax during any fiscal year in the past decade. The BMC in 2019-20 collected a total property tax of Rs 3,735 crore, before that in 2011-12 total property tax worth Rs 3223 crore was recovered. Meanwhile, in 2022-23, the actual collection stood at Rs 4994 crore. Civic officials said that in a bid to boost the collection, the BMC has extended the deadline for property tax payment till May 25. Meanwhile, the civic body’s data show that out of the Rs 3,195 crore property tax collected this year, Rs 336.45 crore was collected from H/East ward which covers the Bandra East, Kalanagar, Khar East and Santacruz areas, followed by Rs 317.48 crore collected from K/East (Andheri East, Jogeshwari) ward, and Rs 257.11 crore collected from G/South (Worli, Prabhadevi) ward. Meanwhile, the lowest collection of Rs 22.33 crore was recovered from B (Dongri, Sandhurst Road) ward, followed by Rs 41.93 crore recovered from C (Pydhonie, Bhuleshwar) areas. Civic officials said that one of the key reasons behind low recovery of property tax this year, is due to the late issuance of property tax bills to citizens. It should be recalled that starting December 26, 2023, the civic authorities had sent property tax bills at a 17.5% higher rate. However, following a public outrage, the civic authorities issued revised bills for paying property tax. “We started to issue new bills starting the first week of February this year and it took at least a few weeks for every property owner to receive the bills. Each property owner needs to pay the tax within 90-days after receiving the bills, as a result, we have extended the deadline till May 25, to expedite our collection,” said an official. The officials also maintained, owing to the upcoming elections there has been a shortfall of staffers in the civic body. “Ahead of any election year, we start issuing property tax bills by September or October of its preceding year so that our officers can finish the book-keeping and accounting formalities before they are pressed into election duty. This year, with an election to take place within a few months, there is already a shortfall of employees in our department,” the official added. Property Tax is the second largest source of revenue for the civic body. The BMC has not hiked property tax rates since 2015 and, as per rules, the tax rates are hiked every five years. However, in view of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, BMC authorities deferred the decision to increase the tax rates that year and the rates have not been increased since then.

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China Southern Airlines to add 17 international routes

By Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh BEIJING (Reuters) -China Southern Airlines on Monday launched its first flight between Beijing and Macau and said it plans to add 17 international routes, in a sign it expects a pick-up in international travel this year. The airline said at an event in Beijing the routes would be launched in the coming months before Oct. 26. The new routes would include Amsterdam, London, Doha, Riyadh and Tehran, executives from the airline said. Macau, a special administrative region of China, is a popular tourist spot and the world’s biggest gambling hub. China’s international airline industry has recovered only slowly following the lifting of pandemic restrictions in early 2023, struggling to match gains in domestic travel as consumers remain price-sensitive in a sluggish economy. China Southern’s international route network has to date recovered to 80% of 2019 levels, and the airline hopes the new routes will help take it to 85% by the end of this year, Chen Ling, a deputy manager in China Southern’s north China marketing department, told reporters. China Southern, one of China’s three state carriers, last Wednesday reported an annual loss of 4.1 billion yuan, which it attributed to weak consumer spending power, jet fuel costs, supply chain problems and the depreciation of the yuan. Hopes are high however that international travel out of China can turn a corner this year. China’s aviation regulator said in January it expected the number of international flights to and from the country to reach 6,000 per week by the end of this year, or about 80% of pre-COVID levels. (Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sonali Paul)

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Flight attendant complains about passengers switching seats on plane: ‘This isn’t Southwest’

A flight attendant has opened up about one grievance she has with her job: passengers who want to switch seats before the plane has finished boarding. Destanie recently took to TikTok to share a story about a recent flight that she was on and what happened. It started off with the flight attendant explaining that the flight was “completely full” but because so many passengers had short connection times there was a window of time when only half the amount of people were on board. “So, we are waiting on the tight connections before we shut the aircraft door,” Destanie said at the start of her video. She added that her flight had roughly “15 minutes left of boarding”. She went on to explain that a mother-daughter duo had “grabbed her” to ask if the flight would be full and if they could sit in the currently empty row across from their assigned seats. Despite telling them not to move because the flight was supposed to be full, they ended up switching seats. “I walk away, and then she tells her daughter to move [to the empty row],” Destanie said. She walked back over to them to explain that they had to sit in their assigned seats and could only move if any passengers missed their connection. She added that these were not the only two people thinking it was acceptable to switch seats and many people on the flight were “getting comfortable in seats that weren’t theirs”. This led to Destanie asking one of the other flight attendants to make an announcement on the intercom that people should be sitting in their assigned seats. “I’m like, guys, please go sit in your own seats until boarding is finished,” Destanie said. “This isn’t Southwest. You can’t just sit wherever you want.” She ended her video with a rhetorical question to viewers: “Why do people make this job so hard?” After posting, her video went on to receive over 300,000 views with many people turning to the comments questioning why no one listens to flight attendants or even thinks to move seats. “It’s wild to not sit in your seat when you board. Like, check the seating chart while you’re waiting to board if you want to know if the seats will be free,” one comment read. Another agreed, writing, “They made that announcement on my flight the other day, and all I could think was, WHO IS JUST SITTING WHEREVER THEY WANT?!” “That’s crazy I get nervous if I’m sitting in my own seat cuz I’m worried I’m doing something wrong anyway,” a third commenter pointed out. Some fellow flight attendants also chimed in using the comments with their own methods and phrases they say when something similar is happening on a flight they’re working. “‘Just let me know if this is you refusing crew instructions’ works like a charm,” one flight attendant wrote in the comments. “Fellow FA. I always say ‘sit in the seat on your boarding pass, if you don’t like that seat we can always see what other airlines have available’ gets em right together,” another flight attendant suggested.

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Brave’ dad initially went to hospital with a headache – now he is fighting for his life

A ‘brave’ dad who first went to hospital with a severe headache is now fighting for his life after being told he had an aggressive brain tumour. Mark Downey, 44, from Bolton, first complained of a headache last September, but knew something wasn’t quite right. He went to hospital, before scans quickly revealed he had a grade four glioblastoma, a fast-growing cancerous tumour. It was a whirlwind that his mum Eileen described as something ‘very sudden’ that ‘turned their lives upside down’. What followed was surgery and months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiation treatments for the dad-of-three. READ MORE: Family’s heartbreak after mum told she may only have a few weeks left to live following devastating Good Friday diagnosis After risky operations to remove the tumour, the genetics of the tumour were revealed as IDH wild type unmethylated, which his family say has a poor response to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. Feeling like they have exhausted options in the UK; with Mark told his life expectancy was between 12 and 14 months now almost seven months ago, his loved ones are hoping to save enough money for him to have alternative treatment overseas which may save his life. “He has been so brave and amazing given the fact that we don’t know what’s in store for him,” Eileen told the M.E.N. “We haven’t been given a lot of information or told what to expect when he finishes this course of chemotherapy. He’s been through so much treatment and we have still got no future at the moment. “It all happened very suddenly; he had a severe headache and knew it was different. He was otherwise very fit and healthy – it came out of the blue. From there he had a scan and it all happened so quickly. “But Mark knew by the severity of the headache, that something wasn’t right. Had he dismissed it, it could have been so much worse.” In the October, Mark, a HGV driver, underwent major, life-risking surgery in a bid to remove the tumour from his brain. He has since been receiving treatment including daily radiation for six weeks and chemotherapy medication. Due to limited treatments available for Mark’s stage and rarity of tumour, Mark’s loved ones are trying to give him a ‘fighting chance’ by fundraising for various treatments overseas, such as Car T-Cell therapy. Mark’s most recent MRI scan revealed that his tumour measured at 1.4cm, which means that the radiotherapy and chemotherapy has not been successful – and his family fear time could soon run out. They are not only trying to fundraise; but also raise more awareness about the condition and the lack of funding for clinical trials in the UK for glioblastoma. Mark has now lost his hair and has been left lethargic and drained due to the gruelling treatments – but despite this, his mum said his spirit ‘remains unbroken’. His sister Steph told the M.E.N: “It’s almost like getting shut down at every turn. Like the only way we can make noise is by putting a GoFundMe page together. “We are already seven months into the 12-14 month life expectancy he was given. He has had 35 sessions of radiotherapy and is on his third cycle of chemotherapy but it isn’t working.” His mum Eileen added: “You can’t come to terms with it; especially when we don’t know what the next course of treatment will be.” On the GoFundMe page, she penned: “Mark is a very private person but the most brave soul, who dreams off any extra time he can have extra with his family. Mark’s greatest desire is to watch his son graduate High school; he dreams of the day he can share of the joy for prom night, standing tall like any father should. “Time is just not in his favour right now. His spirit remains unbroken. As a parent it is heart-wrenching to witness your child endure such a battle, and we are reaching out to our community for support.” Donations can be made online here.

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