June 17th, 2010

For mentally challenged Staten Island couple, a marriage worth wait

For those not familiar with the Willowbrook State School: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willowbrook_State_School


Source: Staten Island Advance (local paper)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Burt Petrone, 88, and the former Barbara LaRoy, 72, celebrated their 25th anniversary Tuesday. It should have been their 30th anniversary, but it took five years for the state of New York to grant them a marriage license.

This is not your typical love story.

Burt and Barbara, both born with developmental disabilities, were institutionalized as adolescents in the former Willowbrook State School, where they suffered intolerable conditions for a combined total of 43 years.

When they left the facility — which eventually was shut down due to blatant mistreatment of its patients — in the late ‘70s, the two were transferred to facilities operated by Volunteers of America (VOA), a nonprofit, human services organization. It wasn’t until a few years later that they met at a day program run by United Cerebral Palsy of New York City in Port Richmond.

On March 8, 1979, a Thursday, they officially became “boyfriend and girlfriend.” On Dec. 19, 1980, a Friday, they got engaged. On June 8, 1985, a Saturday, Burt, then 63, and Barbara, 47, exchanged nuptial vows at El Bethel Assembly of God Church in Westerleigh.

Burt rattles off the days and dates effortlessly. He has total recall of dates and weather reports for historical and personal events, according to Anthony DiSalvo, founder of Sprout, a nonprofit organization that assists individuals with developmental disabilities with travel excursions.

DiSalvo met the Petrones on their delayed honeymoon — the couple’s first vacation — in 1986, when he and two other Sprout leaders escorted a group of 10 adults with developmental disabilities on a cruise to Mexico.

Burt Petrone and the former Barbara LaRoy on their wedding day on June 8, 1985. The couple had to wait five years for a marriage license.

Collapse )


Thought this was sweet, and it GMH. <3

Thank you much to the mod who helped me with tagging. ^__^
  • cenori

Female Genital Mutilation at Cornell University

Female Genital Mutilation at Cornell University

by Dan Savage

While the whole world was debating the American Academy of Pediatric's position on "female genital cutting" — the AAP was against it before they were for it and now, after an outcry, they're against it again — Alice Dreger and Ellen Feder have been raising the alarm about "medical research" currently being conducted at Cornell University. A pediatric urologist at Cornell — Dix Poppas — has been operating on little girls with what he judges to be oversized clitorises, cutting away important clitoral tissues, and then stitching the glans to what remains of the shaft. Poppas claims that, unlike past clitoral-reduction procedures, his procedure is "nerve sparing."

Collapse )


Adam &quot;Whut?&quot;

OKCupid Hides Good-Looking People From Less Attractive Users

The dating site OKCupid will begin hiding the hotties from the less-attractive users looking for love online.

The beautiful folks who fall into the top half of the site's most attractive users--as ranked by OKCupid click data and algorithms--will see more good-looking people in their searches than before. The move will help match members with other users whose attractiveness is similarly rated.

The Consumerist reproduced the email OKCupid sent to its better-looking members:

We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid's most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you'd like to know...

Your new elite status comes with one important privilege:

You will now see more attractive people in your match results.

This new status won't affect your actual match percentages, which are still based purely on your answers and desired match's answers. But the people we recommend will be more attractive. Also! You'll be shown to more attractive people in their match results.

The "cerebral" OKCupid is notorious for how carefully it monitors data and stats on its site. The dating site regularly posts its finding to its blog, OkTrends. Previous posts have examined how race affects the messages members receive, how older women fare on the site, and more.
Story continues below

Mashable explains the metrics that were used to rate the hotter OKCupid users:

The e-mail (which was sent by the "OkCupid Summer Interns") specified that the determinations were made through analysis of clicks on users' photos and reactions in the Quiver and QuickMatch features. Those two tools ask users to quickly respond positively or negatively to photos accompanied by segments of profile text.

(Source here.)

(This is bullshit. Sadly, I had an account on there, but I deleted it immediately as soon as I read this.)

Weev busted

Shortly after infamous troll and hacker weev claimed credit for exposing a security hole in the iPad, his residence was raided on an FBI warrant. The police may or may not have found any evidence related to the hack, but they certainly found a lot of illegal drugs.

CNET: Hacker in AT&T-iPad security case arrested on drug charges
by Elinor Mills

Collapse )

In case the username weev doesn't ring a bell, he was one of the featured subjects of the New York Times article on trolls and trolling in August 2008.

The Trolls Among Us

Collapse )

Nice guy, isn't he? *snort*

As if that weren't enough, he's also affiliated with Encyclopedia Dramatica, where the current "Article of the Now" blurb on the front page discusses the hack and subsequent bust in typical ED style, and the ED Government page lists him as "Pope Weev" under the "Theocratic Branch." I've also run into reports that he's also Joseph Evers, the President and CEO of Encyclopedia Dramatica.
bartlet for america

The End of the Best Friend?

A Best Friend? You Must Be Kidding


FROM the time they met in kindergarten until they were 15, Robin Shreeves and her friend Penny were inseparable. They rode bikes, played kickball in the street, swam all summer long and listened to Andy Gibb, the Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy on the stereo. When they were little, they liked Barbies; when they were bigger, they hung out at the roller rink on Friday nights. They told each other secrets like which boys they thought were cute, as best friends always do.

Today, Ms. Shreeves, of suburban Philadelphia, is the mother of two boys. Her 10-year-old has a best friend. In fact, he is the son of Ms. Shreeves’s own friend, Penny. But Ms. Shreeves’s younger son, 8, does not. His favorite playmate is a boy who was in his preschool class, but Ms. Shreeves says that the two don’t get together very often because scheduling play dates can be complicated; they usually have to be planned a week or more in advance. “He’ll say, ‘I wish I had someone I can always call,’ ” Ms. Shreeves said.

One might be tempted to feel some sympathy for the younger son. After all, from Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, the childhood “best friend” has long been romanticized in literature and pop culture — not to mention in the sentimental memories of countless adults.

But increasingly, some educators and other professionals who work with children are asking a question that might surprise their parents: Should a child really have a best friend?


Collapse )

Mods, I know it's not strictly political, but still interesting, I think? Also, my LJ crashed before, so sorry if I double-posted!! 

Everyone else: what do you think? Personally, I'm still stung about how adults think messing with their kids' lives is going to make them easier. I met one of my best friends in Middle School, and the other at Camp, and apparently, those friendships would have been discouraged by adults these days. Seven/six years later, all I can say is, these kids are going to miss out.

UN says 400,000 uprooted in Kyrgyzstan

Some 400,000 people have been displaced by ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the United Nations announced Thursday, dramatically increasing the official estimate of a crisis that has left throngs of desperate, fearful refugees without enough food and water in grim camps along the Uzbek border.

Ethnic Uzbeks interviewed by Associated Press journalists in the main regional city of Osh said that ethnic Kyrgyz men had sexually assaulted and beaten more than 10 Uzbek women and girls, including some pregnant women, and children as young as 12, on a single street during the rampages that erupted last week.

Resident Matlyuba Akramova showed journalists a 16-year-old relative who appeared to be in a state of shock, and said she had been hiding in the attic as Kyrgyz mobs beat her father in their home in the Cheryomushki neighborhood.

At some point, Akramova said, the girl came downstairs to bandage her father's head and another group of attackers noticed her and sexually assaulted her in front of her father.

Members of the Kyrgyz community have denied accusations of brutality and have accused Uzbek of raping Kyrgyz women. Eyewitnesses and experts say many Kyrgyz were killed in the unrest between the majority Kyrgyz population and minority ethnic Uzbeks. But the majority of victims appear to have been predominantly Uzbeks, traditional farmers and traders who speak a distinct but separate Turkic language and have traditionally been more prosperous than the Kyrgyz, who come from a nomadic tradition.


Collapse )

Police serve notice to vacate homeless camps in Chico

Police found only 10 people in a sweep of nearly a dozen homeless camps Wednesday morning, but two dump truck loads of furniture and other items left behind by transients were gathered up and hauled away.

The Chico police Target team posted notices at the encampments Monday, giving transients 48-hour notice concerning the Wednesday morning sweep and advising them to remove any belongings they didn't want confiscated and destroyed.

The sweep, which also included code enforcement officers, began under the Pine Street bridge at Little Chico Creek, where one resident was found. The check of a bridge under Chestnut Street turned up no campers. A Salem Street bridge encampment was also empty, but police found a large collection of items including couches, mattresses and other furniture. Some had to be fished out of the creek by city public works crews.
Collapse )


Teen With Asperger's Arrested: Were Callers Racial Profiling?

Reginald Latson loves to walk.

"He'll walk five or 10 miles, it's nothing to him. Sometimes he walks five miles just to grab a bite to eat at Chili's," says his mother, Lisa. "Walking is his release."

Neli, as his family calls him, is 18 and has Asperger's, a mild form of autism. Three Mondays ago, he rose early and left home without telling his mother. "When I entered his room at 6:30 am and didn't see him, I assumed he had gone for another walk," she says. It was a school day.

Four hours later Stafford authorities had ordered a lock down for eight schools, and Neli was in police custody, facing one count of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, one count of assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, and one count of knowingly disarming a police officer in performance of his official duties. The cascade of missteps that led to the arrest suggest a combination of public racial profiling and the over reaction of law enforcement officers who are unfamiliar with autistic behavior.

* * *


Collapse )


By the way Lisa Alexander has set up a petition in order to get more media attention and put out what happened to him on a larger scale. The local news reports which have been printed thus far have come from the police.

Will Cameron cave in to Murdoch again?

Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full ownership of BSkyB (he currently owns a 39 per cent stake) provides the coalition with its first big test on media ownership. David Cameron will want to avoid any suggestion that he pre-approved this deal in return for the support of Murdoch's newspapers but he may struggle to do so.

We know that Murdoch visited Downing Street just a week after Cameron was appointed Prime Minister. Was News Corp's plan to take full control of Sky discussed? It would be surprising if it wasn't. There is also no doubt that Murdoch timed his bid to coincide with the election of a government more sympathetic to calls for media deregulation. As I've previously noted, Cameron has already appeased Murdoch by agreeing to abolish Ofcom and to potentially freeze or cut BBC funding.

The Lib Dems, however, may not see things this way. It was the Murdoch-owned Sun, after all, that launched a series of crude, demagogic attacks on Nick Clegg after his success in the first leaders' debate. And, as David Prosser notes in today's Independent, it is Vince Cable, as Business Secretary, who will have to provide regulatory approval for any deal.

From one perspective, there is no decent objection to Murdoch acquiring full control of Sky. It was Murdoch who invested millions in the company, almost bankrupting News Corp in the process, and who had the foresight to recognise the immense potential of satellite television.

But the extent to which Sky will interact with the other divisions of Murdoch's media empire raises obvious public interest concerns. As Prosser writes:

You won't see print journalists from beyond the News International stable being used as pundits on Sky News, for example, and it can't be long before Sky subscribers are offered special deals on the newspapers' internet operations, now they are being moved behind the paywall.

In a digital age, in which Sky produces huge amounts of text-based content and the Times produces ever more visual content, the boundaries are increasingly blurred.

It is for this reason that Cable must order Ofcom to review the takeover and its implications for British media. Cameron must not be allowed to cave in to Murdoch again.

Source: New Statesman

Israel loosens chokehold on Gaza after deadly flotilla raid brought pressure to end blockade

JERUSALEM (AP) — An Israeli decision Thursday to ease its blockade of Gaza under intense international pressure could spell the beginning of the end of the chokehold that has hurt ordinary Gazans far more than their militant Hamas rulers.

The order to allow in all foods and some desperately needed construction materials brought calls for Israel to go much further and did little to quell the global outcry over the deadly flotilla raid that tried to bust the embargo.

Collapse )


blue, the national

Andrew Sullivan on "Getting Shit Done"

What are the odds that Obama's huge success yesterday in getting BP to pledge a cool $20 billion to recompense the "small people" in the Gulf will get the same attention as his allegedly dismal speech on Tuesday night? If you take Memeorandum as an indicator, it really is no contest. The speech is still being dissected by language experts, but the $20 billion that is the front page news in the NYT today? Barely anywhere on the blogs.

This is just a glimpse into the distortion inherent in our current political and media culture. It's way easier to comment on a speech - his hands were moving too much! - than to note the truly substantive victory, apparently personally nailed down by Obama, in the White House yesterday. If leftwing populism in America were anything like as potent as right-wing populism - Matt Bai has a superb analysis of this in the NYT today - there would be cheering in the streets. But there's nada, but more leftist utopianism and outrage on MSNBC. And since there's no end to this spill without relief wells, this is about as much as Obama can do, short of monitoring clean-up efforts, or rather ongoing management of the ecological nightmare of an unstopped and unstoppable wound in the ocean floor.

I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control - big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms. When you do, you realize that the left's "disgruntleist" faction needs to take a chill pill.

Collapse )


A different take on current events, from one of my favorite pundits.  No bolding, as the whole thing is worth reading.  Thoughts?