Tag Archives: child

Cincinnati zoo director defends killing gorilla

The Cincinnati Zoo’s director is defending the decision to kill a gorilla to protect a 4-year-old boy who entered its exhibit, noting it’s easy to second-guess after the child was recovered safely.

The male western lowland gorilla named Harambe was killed Saturday by a special zoo response team that feared for the boy’s safety. Video taken by zoo visitors showed the gorilla at times appeared to be protective of the boy but also dragged him through the shallow moat.

Director Thane Maynard said the gorilla was agitated and disoriented by the commotion during the 10 minutes after the boy fell. He said the gorilla could crush a coconut in one hand and there was no doubt that the boy’s life was in danger.

“We stand by our decision,” he said Monday, reiterating that using a tranquilizer on the 420-pound gorilla could have further threatened the boy because it wouldn’t have taken effect immediately.

Maynard said an investigation indicates the boy climbed over a 3-foot-tall railing, then walked through an area of bushes about 4 feet deep before plunging some 15 feet into the moat. The boy was treated at a hospital and released that same day.

The director said the zoo remains safe for its some 1.6 million annual visitors, but a review is underway for possible improvements.

Kim O’Connor, who witnessed the boy’s fall, told said she heard the youngster say he wanted to get in the water with the gorillas. She said the boy’s mother was with several other young children and told him no.

Anthony Seta, an animal rights activist in Cincinnati, helped organize a vigil Monday just outside the zoo gates. He said the gathering wasn’t meant to assess blame but rather to honor Harambe, who turned 17 the day before he was shot.

“People can shout at the parents and people can shout at the zoo,” Seta said. “The fact is that a gorilla that just celebrated his birthday has been killed.”

In the days since, people have taken to social media to voice their outrage about the killing of a member of an endangered species. A Facebook page called “Justice for Harambe” was created along with online petitions and another page calling for a June 5 protest at the zoo.

Maynard said the zoo had received messages of support and condolences from around the world, including from other zoo directors and gorilla experts. A spokesman for Jane Goodall, the famed primatologist, said she had “a private conversation” with Maynard, who said she expressed her sympathy.

Maynard said zoo visitors have been leaving flowers at the exhibit and asking how they could support gorilla conservation.

“This is very emotional and people have expressed different feelings,” Maynard said by email. “Not everyone shares the same opinion and that’s OK. But we all share the love for animals.”

The Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, where Harambe spent most of his life, said Monday that its staff was deeply saddened by the gorilla’s death.

Harambe was sent to Cincinnati less than two years ago in hopes he would eventually breed with females there. Maynard said the zoo has some of Harambe’s sperm saved for research and possible future reproductive use.

Many social media commenters have criticized the boy’s parents and said they should be held accountable. A Cincinnati police spokesman said no charges were being considered. A spokeswoman for the family said Monday they had no plans to comment.

“I do think there’s a degree of responsibility they have to be held to,” said Kate Villanueva, a mother of two children from Erlanger, Kentucky, who started the “Justice for Harambe” page and attended Monday’s vigil. “You have to be watching your children at all times.”

Jack Hanna, host of “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” said the zoo made the right call by shooting the gorilla. Hanna said he saw video of the gorilla jerking the boy through the water and knew what would happen if the animal wasn’t killed.

“I’ll bet my life on this, that child would not be here today,” Hanna told WBNS-TV.

The zoo said that it’s the first such spectator breach at Gorilla World since it opened in 1978. The director said expansion plans announced for the exhibit earlier this year would proceed as scheduled.

Gorilla World remained closed Monday, but Maynard said it could reopen next weekend.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement from its primatologist Julia Gallucci saying the zoo should have had better barriers between humans and the gorillas.

“This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at,” Gallucci said.

Creative with crayons | Adult coloring books become best-sellers

Adult coloring books are giving Harper Lee a run for the money on best-seller lists this summer.

Dover Publications has sold more than 3 million adult coloring books with titles like “Flower Fashion Fantasies.” Quarto Publishing will have 1.3 million in print this year ranging from mandalas to fairies. “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt,” by one of the genre’s most popular illustrators, Johanna Basford, remains a top seller on Amazon two years after its initial publication.

In fact, adult coloring books occupied as many of eight of the top 20 slots in a spot-check of Amazon’s best-seller list this week, including “Creative Cats” and “Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns.”

“We cannot print them fast enough,” said Amy Yodanis, Quarto’s head of marketing. “We are getting orders of 60,000 at one time from some of our biggest retailers.”

There are coloring clubs, coloring contests and a frenzy of coloring posts on social media. Parade magazine devoted a Sunday cover to the trend. Dover plans a national coloring book day on Aug. 2.

“People are stressed and anxious all the time,” said Jeannine Dillon, Quarto’s publisher. “Coloring is a way to calm down and unwind at the end of the day.”

But art therapy is not the only reason coloring has taken off. As hobbies go, coloring books are incredibly simple: portable, easy to pick up and put down, old-school analog pursuits with no batteries or messages, no calorie-counting, skill-building, classes or scores.

And the finished product is perfect for minimalists. Pottery and paintings demand shelf and wall space; knitted scarves cry out to be worn or bestowed as gifts. But a colored-in page takes up almost no space at all (unless you frame it).

I can attest to the trend’s allure. I’ve been spending my spare moments coloring a book called “Splendid Cities: Color Your Way to Calm.” 

Not that I’ve got much to show for my work. It took me more than two months to complete a single page of “Splendid Cities” because I never spent much time on it in one sitting. I’d color during a stressful moment at the office or at home, or use it as a break from a complicated or boring task, or to transition between tasks.

My longest stretch coloring was an hour while awaiting delivery of time-sensitive documents that I feared were lost. Coloring distracted me from worrying about something I couldn’t control or fix. I channeled the book’s subtitle, “Color Your Way to Calm,” and could feel anxious thoughts waning as I concentrated on the picture. Coloring required just enough attention to disrupt the obsessive loop playing in my mind. It wasn’t so much relaxation as immersion in something else.

The page I completed depicts a San Francisco streetscape of Victorian row houses with geometric patterns forming gabled roofs and arched windows. I limit my equipment to just four crayons and three colored pencils, preferring not to complicate my palette with too many choices, and I enjoyed deciding which of my seven colors to fill the template’s tiny spaces with. Blue or yellow? Crayon or pencil? Finish the window or start the roof?

When every space was colored in, I started over, rubbing crayon over pencil, pencil over crayon, mixing colors to make new ones and layering for a mottled effect. 

Jason Keyser, 42, a stay-at-home dad from a suburb of Sacramento, California, picked up the hobby a year ago in a program to help him with anxiety and depression after a friend passed away. “I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Keyser, who placed third in a coloring contest for a picture he completed from Dover’s “Asian Tattoo Designs.”

“It’s really relaxing,” he said. “Takes your mind away from stressful things in life.”

Lesbian parents: Pediatrician refused to treat infant daughter

Two Detroit-area women say they were humiliated when a pediatrician they selected to help care for their infant daughter declined to see the child because they are lesbians.

The Detroit Free Press reports Jami and Krista Contreras of Oak Park, Michigan, selected their daughter’s pediatrician before birth, but they learned the decision as they waited in October for the child’s first checkup. They say the doctor apologized in a handwritten letter.

Wayne State University Constitutional Law Professor Robert Sedler says there’s no Michigan or federal law prohibiting such a decision.

The doctor told the newspaper she couldn’t comment on the case, citing federal privacy law. She defended her commitment to pediatric medicine and helping children, saying her life is taking care of babies and she loves her patients and their families.

TV remake of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ shifts to Paris

Wiry Zoe Saldana got a kick out of wearing a huge fake belly as she played a young, pregnant wife on the Paris set of the remake of the classic horror tale “Rosemary’s Baby.”

“Every time I wear the really big ones, it breaks everybody’s heart whenever we’re doing all those stressful scenes, so I am milking that, I am really milking that,” the actress quipped as she sat in a hospital room used as a filming location.

Saldana is Rosemary Woodhouse in the two-episode remake of Ira Levin’s 1967 book, which director Roman Polanski also turned into an unforgettable 1968 film. The four-hour series directed by Agnieszka Holland also stars Patrick J. Adams, Jason Isaacs and Carole Bouquet and will air on NBC on May 11 – Mother’s Day in the U.S. – and May 15.

Saldana and Adams play an American couple who settle in Paris near posh French neighbors, Margaux and Roman Castevet (Bouquet and Isaacs). Then newly pregnant Rosemary begins to worry that the Castevets have malevolent plans for her baby.

Holland, a Polish director known for her work on HBO shows “The Wire” and “Treme,” said the plot of “Rosemary’s Baby” follows the novel, except it’s set in Paris instead of New York and shows more “blood.” Fans of the original may wonder how that is possible.

“It has more adventures. It has more blood,” said Holland, a three-time Oscar nominee. ” It is, you know, a contemporary American TV series, so you need some meat inside.”

Moving the story to the French capital isolates the main characters more than the book and increases the tensions, according to Adams, a Canadian actor known for his role as Mike Ross, an up-and-coming New York lawyer in the TV series “Suits.”

“The sense of being alone in a place can be so terrifying. I think it really ends up putting Guy and Rosemary in a difficult position because they don’t know anybody,” Adams said.

Holland said the series explores the tensions between the happiness of giving birth and the sometimes-shocking psychological and physical changes that pregnancy brings about in women.

“It’s interesting to see how this acceptance (of the baby), even if it’s something very painful, is coming,” she said.

Saldana, who starred in James Cameron’s “Avatar” and the two “Star Trek” films by J.J. Abrams, said playing a pregnant woman took both a physical and emotional toll.

“The moment I put the belly on, my body just feels really tired,” she said. “I just allow myself to be sort of like an open vessel, where emotions just come in and then they go out.”

Bouquet, a French film star, praised Holland’s filming style and her relentlessness on the set.

“She does whatever she wants with the light, I must say,” Bouquet said. “I mean it’s exquisite the way she shoots, you know, and she gets exactly what she wants. She won’t give up.”

Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” starred Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes and won Ruth Gordon an Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance as Minnie Castevet.

Saldana said she was grateful for getting to play the same part as Farrow but added that she and Holland tried to give Rosemary their own touch.

“It is a gift to be able to play a role that another actress, a very iconic actress, played and found a very special way to make it authentic,” she said.

On the Web …

http://www.nbc.com/rosemarys-baby?__source=Reso_Rosemarys_Baby_Brand_Exact_Google&k_clickid=27b6bf8b-4e78-e969-8bc8-000007225379&k_prof=66&k_affcode=538&sky=rosemary’s%20baby

Child with gun says voices told him to shoot boy for taunting friend

An 11-year-old boy who took a gun and ammunition to his middle school heard voices in his head telling him to shoot another boy that he thought was bullying his friend, police said in a court document released last week.

In the affidavit released as the boy appeared in Washington state’s Clark County Juvenile Court, police said he claimed in the presence of school officials that a “voice in his head” was telling him to kill another 11-year-old student “for calling his friend … ‘gay.'”

Commissioner Dayann Liebman ordered a mental competency hearing. The Associated Press is not naming the suspect because of his age.

Prosecutors are still gathering information from the police investigation and can’t say yet when the boy will be charged, said Kasey Vu, the senior deputy prosecutor supervising the juvenile unit. There will likely be more hearings on his competency, he said.

The boy was arrested last week after police said he was found with a gun, knives and more than 400 rounds of ammunition at Frontier Middle School in Vancouver, Wash. No one was hurt, and the school returned to normal after a two-hour lockdown.

Police said the boy was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, but court documents indicate the court found probable cause only for attempted assault, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon at school.

The boy’s mother called the school and said her son had taken some kitchen knives. The school resource officer took him to the principal’s office where police said they found a .22-caliber handgun in his pants pocket and two loaded magazines in another pocket.

More ammunition and the knives were found in the backpack, police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.

Police said in the affidavit the boy told authorities he planned to shoot the student he felt was bullying his friend “in the arm and then shoot himself in the head.”

The school, which has 900 students, and nearby Pioneer Elementary School, which has about 600 students, were declared safe after a two-hour lockdown.

Parents were notified through social media and a letter sent home with students, said Evergreen Public Schools spokesman Kris Fay.

The boy has been expelled. He did not have a reputation as a troublemaker, Fay said.

“This kid has not been on the radar for this,” he said.

The school will review the incident, but Fay said it appears all the protocols were followed.

“From the safety standpoint, everything went well yesterday,” he said.

Amnesty International: Child pregnant after rape must be allowed abortion

Amnesty International says an 11-year-old girl who was raped by her mother’s partner in Chile should be allowed all medical options, including an abortion.

Abortions, even for medical reasons and in the case of rape, have been illegal since Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. President Sebastian Pinera’s government opposes any easing of the ban.

The human rights group said on July 11 that “the Chilean State must provide” her with “all the psychological and medical support she needs,” and make all options available, “including safe abortion services.”

The girl who is 14 weeks pregnant was repeatedly raped over the course of two years by her mother’s partner. He has been arrested and has confessed to abusing the fifth grader.

The case has ignited a heated national debate over abortion in socially-conservative Chile.

Transgender girl wins access to girl’s bathroom at school

Colorado Civil Rights Division ha ruled in favor of 6-year-old Coy Mathis, a transgender child barred from using the girl’s bathroom at her elementary school.

GLAAD said this is the first ruling in the nation holding that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms that match who they are, and the most comprehensive ruling ever supporting the rights of transgender people to access bathrooms without harassment or discrimination.

“Schools should not discriminate against their students, and we are thrilled that Coy can return to school and put this behind her,” said Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother. “All we ever wanted was for Coy’s school to treat her the same as other little girls. We are extremely happy that she now will be treated equally.”

“This ruling sends a loud and clear message that transgender students may not be targeted for discrimination and that they must be treated equally in school,” said Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund executive director Michael Silverman. “It is a victory for Coy and a triumph for fairness.”

“The impact of this ruling should not be limited to Colorado,” said GLAAD representative Wilson Cruz. “No child, no matter where they live, should have their identity denied by their school. And no family in America should have to go to court to convince educators to treat their child with respect.”

The state civil rights division wrote that Coy’s school had treated her in a manner that was “hostile, intimidating” and “offensive.” 

Coy was labeled male at birth, but has always known she is a girl, which she has expressed since she was 18 months old. Coy’s classmates and teachers use female pronouns to refer to her and she had used the girls’ bathrooms, just like any other girl in her school.

In mid-December 2012, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed Coy’s parents that Coy would be prevented from using the girls’ bathrooms after winter break. The district ordered Coy to use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom or the nurse’s bathroom.  

Coy’s parents tried to convince the district to change the ruling and then removed her from school and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.    

In addition to TLDEF, the legal team representing the Mathis family included Michael Flynn, Lucy Deakins, Jami Mills Vibbert, and Rosario Doriott Dominguez of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

Dutch lesbians raising Turkish boy go into hiding

A Dutch lesbian couple have gone into hiding with their foster son after the boy’s biological parents said on television in Turkey that they object to the pair taking care of their child.

The matter is threatening to overshadow an official visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Netherlands next week. Lodewijk Asscher, the Dutch vice prime minister, told reporters that the issue is an internal Dutch matter and that political interference from Turkey is “inappropriate.”

The 9-year-old boy identified by his first name, Yunus, was removed from his biological parents’ care – in the Netherlands – while he was still a baby, and eventually placed in the care of the lesbian couple, who live in The Hague.

His biological mother, Nurgul Azeroglu, appeared on a Turkish television program earlier this month and called on Erdogan to intervene in the case. She acknowledged having accidentally dropped the child from a poorly fastened carrying bag once – apparently part of the reason he was removed from her care.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that two other children were also to be taken away from the family in 2008, but they then traveled to Turkey to prevent that from happening.

Prominent Turkish politicians have recently spoken out against children of Turkish ancestry being raised by Christians, gays, or others whose values are rejected by their biological parents.

Asscher praised the foster parents for taking on a “child in danger” and defended Dutch social service policies.

“The selection of a foster family in the Netherlands is a careful process,” he said. “We don’t choose foster parents on the basis of race or heritage, but on whether a child is in good hands with them.”

Child social services in The Hague said there was no specific threat against Yunus or his foster parents, but he has been kept home from school as a precaution since the interview aired.

The Hague Youth Services Agency has decided it is better for Yunus and his foster parents “to stay at another address for a time, partly in connection with the visit of the prime minister next week,” spokeswoman Tanja van Dijk said in a telephone interview with national broadcaster NOS. “For safety, and also because of the quiet that both Yunus and his foster parents of course now need.”

Asscher, who repeated several times at his weekly news conference that Yunus had been “in danger” before he was taken into foster care, said it is “exceptionally sad” that the boy and his foster family are now in hiding.

“It’s not right. People who are willing to take care of somebody else’s child deserve our admiration,” he said.

Pastor to be sentenced for kidnapping in custody dispute

A Mennonite pastor is scheduled to be sentenced in March for his conviction on a charge he helped a Virginia woman and her daughter flee the country three years ago rather than allow the girl to have regular visits with the woman’s former lesbian partner.

Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Va., faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced in federal court in Burlington, Vt., on March 4.

His attorney, Brooks McArthur of Burlington, wouldn’t say last week what sentence he would seek for Miller. He plans to file a sentencing memo ahead of the hearing.

Kenneth Miller was convicted last summer for helping Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella flee the country in 2009, several days before the girl was scheduled for a weekend visit with Lisa Miller’s former partner, Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven. It was also two months ahead of an anticipated order from a Vermont judge transferring custody of the girl from Lisa Miller to Jenkins. The Millers are not related.

A civil lawsuit by Jenkins at the conclusion of Kenneth Miller’s criminal trial is also pending. A number of the defendants, including Kenneth Miller, Liberty University and the Thomas Road Baptist Church, both in Lynchburg, Va., filed documents in court late Friday asking a judge to dismiss the civil case filed by Jenkins. They argued, in part, that the case should not have been brought in Vermont.

And Miller’s attorneys continued to fight a subpoena from federal prosecutors that he testify before a grand jury, presumably about other people involved in helping the Lisa Miller and her daughter travel from Virginia to Canada and then on to Nicaragua where they are still believed to be living.

Kenneth Miller had been scheduled to testify last week before the grand jury, but a federal appeals court in New York pushed that back.

“We do not want to put him in the position where if he testifies in front of the grand jury, he may make a statement that may be adverse to him at his sentencing,” said McArthur. “We’re looking forward to litigating the issue down in New York before the 2nd circuit.”

Prosecutors have guaranteed Miller immunity for his grand jury testimony, court documents showed. The U.S. attorney’s office refuses to discuss the grand jury proceedings.

Jenkins and Lisa Miller were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000 and Isabella was born to Lisa in 2002. The couple split in 2003. A Vermont family court awarded custody of Isabella to Lisa Miller but gave Jenkins regular visitation. 

Lisa Miller returned to Virginia, became a conservative Christian, renounced homosexuality and sought full custody of the girl. The two fought a yearslong legal battle that reached the supreme courts of Vermont and Virginia. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Ultimately, the courts agreed the case should be treated the same as any custody dispute between heterosexual parents.

During Kenneth Miller’s August trial, prosecutors used cellphone records and sometimes-reluctant witnesses to lay out a broad network he oversaw that helped Lisa Miller and Isabella travel first to Canada and then Nicaragua.

At Jenkins’ lawsuit, she maintains Miller and the others conspired to kidnap Isabella, thwarting the family court orders that Isabella spend time with Jenkins and, after the change of custody was ordered, that Jenkins was to become the legal parent.

Green Bay bishop warns voters to oppose candidates backing choice and marriage equality

Green Bay Bishop David Ricken recently sent parishioners a letter warning that voting for candidates who support what he called “intrinsically evil” positions could “put your own soul in jeopardy.”

He was specifically targeting political candidates who support marriage equality and reproductive choice, which the Roman Catholic Church believes are the two most important issues facing the world.

Ricken’s letter says the Catholic Church has a responsibility to speak out on moral issues, but his missive notes mostly issues related to reproduction and same-sex relations. His letter lists specific issues that parishioners should keep in mind when voting, including abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and gay marriage.

Roman Catholic officials in other jurisdictions have refused communion to political candidates and leaders who oppose the Vatican’s views on these issues. There are few if any contemporary reports, however, about denying sacraments to leaders who support war, capital punishment, denying health care to millions, cutting aid to the poor and policies that favor the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports the bishop’s letter does not specify who should get parishioners’ votes.

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has 304,000 members in 16 counties. The diocese has repeatedly made headlines in recent years due to revelations that officials systematically destroyed records about priests who molested children in an effort to protect them from legal authorities.

The practice emerged in a fraud case brought against the diocese by victims. Top Green Bay Catholic officials destroyed criminal evidence of child sex crimes as well as a decade’s long practice of concealing and transferring known clergy child molesters to new parish assignments, where they were free to prey on other children.