T-ball coach allegedly bribed 8-year-old to hit teammate with disability with ball

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Standing so he could be seen from the witness stand, a youth baseball player calmly told a courtroom how he beaned a mentally disabled teammate with a ball during warm-ups to knock the boy out of the game.

Eight-year-old Keith Reese said that he hit teammate Harry Bowers because his coach offered him $25 to do so.

Help give braille readers access to Harry Potter

A friend of mine, Lisa, and her 6-year-old son, Joa, are raising money for National Braille Press. I'm not sure which inspired Joa more -- his 16-month-old brother who is blind, or the fact that Joa is just a really amazing and kind-hearted person.

From Lisa and Joa's fundraising site:

We're raising $1,000 to help get braille copies of the latest Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, into the hands of braille readers as quickly as possible after its release, and at standard retail prices -- even though a braille book costs nearly three times the retail price of the print book.

It's not just about providing a popular book for a child with a visual impairment. Reading Harry Potter at the same time as their sighted friends lets young braille readers join the mainstream of American life, and being able to talk about their favorite book with their friends helps them fit in, and that helps boost their self-confidence.

If you can, please give a donation in any amount on Lisa and Joa's website, and/or send them some words of thanks and encouragement.

Red Cross utilizing inaccurate information regarding HIV risk factors

I'm wanting to put together some information to present to the Red Cross regarding their blood donation guidelines.

Currently, the guidelines state that someone may not give blood who is "a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977." Similarly, someone who has had "sexual contact with anyone described above" may not give blood.

Although MSM (men who have sex with men) were once the highest HIV risk group in the U.S., young females having sex with males are now the group with the highest rate of transmission. Also, the way the guideline is written, it is purely discriminatory and is ineffective. It does not effectively screen out individuals engaging in risky behaviors, and screens out a lot of very low-risk individuals who are MSM.

According to these guidelines:

1. A man who has ever manually stimulated another man and has had no other sexual contact in his lifetime is excluded from giving blood.

2. A woman who has had unprotected sex with 300 men in the past year is not excluded from giving blood. (Provided that none of the men told her they have had sexual contact with a man.)

3. A woman who has been married for several years to a man and who use safer sex practices, and whose husband once had protected sexual contact with a man in college is excluded from giving blood.

4. A man who has been monogamously partnered with a man for 20 years and who have only ever had sex with one another is excluded from giving blood.

5. A man who has had unprotected sex every day for the past 5 years with a woman who reports she is HIV+ is not excluded.

Can the Red Cross possibly be serious? The questions ask nothing about actual risk factors, such as whether the potential donor has had protected or unprotected sex. Or whether the potential donor has had sex with people who report being HIV+. Apparently, the Red Cross also doesn't understand how HIV is transmitted, since they use the term "sexual contact," which includes a lot of behaviors that present no risk of transmission. Yet they ignore a lot of behaviors, such as male/female unprotected intercourse, which put an individual at high risk of HIV transmission. Obviously they're testing the blood, because they aren't even considering people's sex practices for the most part. What's really infuriating is that the Red Cross is generally considered to be a mainstream health organization. Yet they're disseminating the very misleading idea that any male/male sexual contact is a high-risk activity and that no male/female or female/female sexual contact is high-risk. Every time a woman such as the one in example #2 goes through the screening process, she is essentially told that she does not have a high-risk sexual history. This does her a grave disservice.

The Red Cross needs to base their screening processes on reputable medical information. Now.

Right now I'm gathering information on other similar projects that people have attempted, so as not to duplicate efforts. Anyone who has information, please let me know.

Did Michael Jackson write this story himself?

From Reuters:

Last month a court in Santa Maria, California, acquitted the 46-year-old pop star of child sex abuse charges that had threatened to destroy his career. Jackson then went to the Gulf Arab country of Bahrain on a private visit to relax.

Um, didn't his career die of natural causes in about 1987?

Oh, is THIS what people with disabilties are supposed to look like?

Engadget, which is usually pretty progressive and hip, chose to run this stock image to illustrate a blurb about cellphone issues experienced by people who use hearing aids. Not that there's anything wrong with being an elder who looks really confused and is wearing extremely tacky clothing, but could they not have used a stock photo of any other person talking on a cellphone? I'm sure that children who use hearing aids who see this are feeling really good about themselves right now.

ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights Opposes Supreme Court Nominee Judge John Roberts

Well, so my first actual post is a reposting. How lazy is that? I thought this e-mail from ADA Watch was really important though...

Statement of Jim Ward, Founder and President of ADA Watch/NCDR:

(Washington, DC) ADA Watch/NCDR is opposed to the nomination of Judge John Roberts to a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

At a time when our Nation could have greatly benefited from the selection of a mainstream consensus nominee, people with disabilities --indeed all Americans -- should be saddened and disturbed by President Bush's choice of Judge John Roberts to fill Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Justice O'Connor did not take the side of people with disabilities in all cases, she was the swing vote on important 5-4 rulings involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including historic cases such as Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) and Tennessee v. Lane, 541 U.S. 509 (2004).

With the selection of John Roberts, President Bush is making good on his stated intention to fill a Court vacancy with a nominee in the mold of Scalia or Thomas -- Justices who have consistently ruled against people with disabilities in these and other landmark cases. If confirmed, such 5-4 votes would surely go in the other direction and reverse the historic gains of people with disabilities.

ADA Watch/NCDR is a coalition of hundreds of disability, civil rights and social justice organizations united to defend and promote the human rights of children and adults with physical, mental, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Why we are opposed to Judge John Roberts:

Narrow Interpretation of the ADA:
After the Sixth Circuit ruled that a woman with serious manual impairments was substantially limited in one or more of her life activities, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case (Williams v. Toyota Motor Mfg., Ky., Inc., 224 F.3d 840 [2000]), and Judge Roberts argued and briefed the case on behalf of Toyota. His briefs and oral argument distorted the facts of the case and minimized the extent of Ella Williams' disability.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court believed Judge Roberts's misrepresentations and decided in favor of Toyota. It also came down with a new and very strict test for disability. This test has made it much more difficult for ADA plaintiffs to prove that they are disabled with devastating impact on people with epilepsy, diabetes, mental illness and workplace injuries.

The impact of Robert's distortions is evident in subsequent decisions including Three Rivers Center for Independent Living v. Pittsburgh Public Housing Authority, which barred a Center for Independent Living (CIL) from filing suit to hold a Public Housing Authority accountable for violating Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Thus the consequences of Judge Roberts's distortions of the record have been wide-ranging: they helped to create yet another unfortunate Supreme Court precedent that has further impeded the goals of the ADA.

Judicial Activism:
Roberts' record demonstrates his inclination to strike down federal anti-discrimination statues and to further limit congressional power, narrowly construe the ADA, and restrict the ability of plaintiffs to get into federal court.

Extremist Ideology:
Roberts declared that the current Supreme Court is not conservative enough specifically in response to the October 1999 term during which the conservative majority judicial activism included the striking down of the Violence Against Women Act and throwing out an age discrimination suit on federalism grounds.
Mr. Roberts is a member of two right-wing legal groups that promote a pro-corporate, anti-regulatory agenda: the Federalist Society and the National Legal Center For The Public Interest, serving on the latter group's Legal Advisory Council.

The Federalist Society's overarching goal is to roll back domestic policy to before FDR's New Deal and its members (including Jeffrey Sutton, William Pryor, and others) have specifically targeted the ADA. The National Legal Center For The Public Interest has attacked ADA civil rights protections in numerous forums including its publication of a document entitled "Civil Rights and the Disabled: The Legislative Twilight Zone."

Narrowing of Civil Rights Protections:
After a Supreme Court decision effectively nullified certain sections of the Voting Rights Act (City of Mobile v. Bolden 446 U.S. 55 [1980]), Roberts was involved in the Reagan administration's effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court's action. The Supreme Court had recently decided that certain sections of the Voting Rights Act could only be violated by intentional discrimination and not by laws that had a discriminatory effect, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation in the statute. Roberts was part of the effort to legitimize that decision and to stop Congress from overturning it.

In private practice, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Congress had failed to justify a Department of Transportation affirmative action program. (Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 2001).

As expressed in one case where he would have invalidated a provision of the Endangered Species Act, his exceedingly restrictive view of federal law-making authority, more restrictive than the current Supreme Court's, could threaten a wide swath of workplace, civil rights, public safety and environmental protections.

In his years of service as a political appointee in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Judge Roberts also helped craft legal policies that sought to weaken school desegregation efforts, the reproductive rights of women, environmental protections, church-state separation and the voting rights of African Americans.

Haven't I seen you somewhere before?

This is the official beginning of this blog. In an attempt to consolidate my various blogging attempts, I've brought over some posts from other places and backdated them. Welcome, and enjoy.

Selective respect for life?

At least 30 people were killed in England this morning.

At least 27 people were killed in Iraq this week.

The people killed in England were killed using deadly weapons.

The people killed in Iraq were killed using deadly weapons.

The people killed in England were killed by foreigners who had not been asked by the country's government to enter the country for the purpose of detonating weapons.

The people killed in Iraq were killed by foreigners who had not been asked by the country's government to enter the country for the purpose of detonating weapons.

The people killed in England were killed by people who are believed to have disagreed with England's government and who are not believed to have known anything specific about the people killed.

The people killed in Iraq were killed by people who are believed to have disagreed with Iraq's government and who are not believed to have known anything specific about the people killed.

The people killed in England all had families and friends and communities who are now trying to understand why their loved one was taken from them.

The people killed in Iraq all had families and friends and communities who are now trying to understand why their loved one was taken from them.

I am being told to mourn the deaths of the people in England and am being told to call their killers "terrorists."

I am being told to take pride in the deaths of the people in Iraq and am being told to call their killers "heroes."