TIME Parenting

Man Says He Was Forced to Choose Between Newborn Son with Down Syndrome and Wife

Samuel Forrest Samuel Forrest's son Leo

The baby was born in Armenia, where estimated 98% of all Down syndrome newborns are abandoned annually

When Samuel Forrest’s son Leo was born Jan. 21, doctors informed him that Leo had Down Syndrome, which made no difference to Forrest.

“I looked at this guy and I said, he’s beautiful – he’s perfect and I’m absolutely keeping him,” Forrest told ABC News.

But for Forrest, a native New Zealander living in Armenia, there was one thing he hadn’t counted on. Leo’s mother, Ruzan Badalyan, issued him an ultimatum there in the hospital room, he says: It was her or Leo.

As Forrest explains on his GoFundMe page, “scores of babies are abandoned [in Armenia] each year, for reasons ranging from physical or intellectual disabilities and minor ‘imperfections’ … health professionals estimate that 98 percent of all Down syndrome babies born in Armenia are abandoned, every year.”

Forrest said, “[Badalyan] told me if I kept [Leo] then we would get a divorce.” (Badalyan confirmed to ABC News that she had given birth to a child with Down syndrome and did leave the father and child, filing for divorce about a week after Leo was born. She declined further comment.)

Forrest hadn’t been aware of the practice beforehand. “What happens when a baby like this is born here, they will tell you that you don’t have to keep them,” he said. “My wife had already decided, so all of this was done behind my back.”

A freelance contractor, Forrest was unprepared to deal with the sudden costs of being essentially abandoned in a different country with a newborn son. He set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help him return to New Zealand with Leo.

Though his initial goal was set at $60,000, the page has raised nearly $300,000 at the time of this writing, some of which Forrest says will be used to “fund facilities and programs here in Armenia that will support future parents to keep their kids despite all disabilities.” Another portion will go to the one orphanage in Armenia that regularly takes Down syndrome babies.

“After what I’ve been through with Leo, I’m not going to sit back and watch babies be sent to orphanages,” Forrest said. “As a child with Down syndrome, that becomes somewhat of a label. If we can get around this label, we’ll see that they’re normal. They’re a little different from us, but they’re still normal.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME weird

New Zealand City Shocked By Unintentionally Priapic Sculpture

Artist says he didn't mean sculpture to resemble a large phallus

Residents of Auckland, NZ aren’t so sure this sculpture of clouds reminds them of the sky. Instead, it reminds of them of something else:

“What the hell is that? It’s certainly not a cloud. It looks like a penis,” Mt Roskill resident Joy Dale told the New Zealand Herald.

Gregor Kregar, the sculptor who created the piece with his wife Sara Hughes and architect Davor Popadich, said he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. He thinks the sculpture is about clouds, vapors, and raindrops, with an emphasis on the modernity of the area, and is surprised by the public response.

“Art is out there to stir reaction,” Kregar told the Herald.

Kregar also says the sculpture will look different once the neon lighting is installed.

[NZH]

TIME New Zealand

Major Earthquake Rattles New Zealand Close to Christchurch

Kiwis experience a tremulous start to their morning

New Zealand’s South Island was jolted awake after a severe earthquake struck near its west coast on Tuesday morning.

The 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck close to Arthur’s Pass, about 60 miles (100 km) west of Christchurch, just before 7 a.m. local time, reports the BBC. It was recorded as one of the strongest seismic events in New Zealand since the 2011 Christchurch quake that killed 185 people.

More than 30 aftershocks measuring up to 4.2 in magnitude were felt by people around the area.

GeoNet, New Zealand’s natural-hazard-monitoring service, identified the quake as “severe” and has warned of more aftershocks.

“In a typical aftershock sequence, we can expect the largest aftershock to be up to magnitude 5.0,” the agency said in a statement.

GeoNet seismologist John Ristau told the New Zealand Herald it was not unusual to have earthquakes of this magnitude in Arthur’s Pass.

No damage or serious injuries have been reported across the affected area.

[BBC]

TIME isis

New Zealander ISIS Fighter Accidentally Tweets Secret Location

This screenshot shows Mark Taylor's twitter profile before it was suspended.
Mark Taylor, also known as Kiwi Jihadi (@M_Taylor_Kiwi) via Twitter This screenshot shows Mark Taylor's twitter profile before it was suspended.

He deleted 45 tweets after learning that they were geotagged

A New Zealand man thought to have been fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) inadvertently revealed his precise location by posting geotagged tweets, a security researcher revealed.

Abu Abdul-Rahman, also known as Mark Taylor, left New Zealand to join the fight with ISIS in May 2012. Soon after, he tweeted that his mission to Syria was a “one-way trip” that featured a picture of his burned passport, the Guardian reports.

Taylor has since deleted 45 tweets after learning that they were geotagged with his precise coordinates. Security researcher Jeff Wyers, who runs an open-source intelligence group called iBrado, used the tweet geo-location information to place Taylor in a specific house in the Syrian town of al-Taqbah.

Since he first traveled to Syria, Taylor has reportedly been in touch with the New Zealand passport office to get a replacement travel document but hasn’t heard back.

[Guardian]

Read next: ISIS Executed Almost 2,000 People in Syria Over the Past Six Months

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Healthcare

Illness Strikes 200 on Cruise Ship

The passenger liner Dawn Princess, operated by Carnival Corp.'s Princess Cruises, sits docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Princes Wharf in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 20, 2013.
Brednan O'Hagan—Bloomberg/Getty Images The passenger liner Dawn Princess, operated by Carnival Corp.'s Princess Cruises, sits docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Princes Wharf in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 20, 2013.

Sick passengers have been confined to their cabins

A norovirus outbreak aboard a cruise ship near Australia has left 200 passengers sick and confined to their cabins, health officials said.

Princess Cruises, which operates the ship, said it has taken measures to prevent the spread of the disease, the New Zealand Herald reports. Crew members aboard the Dawn Princess, which is en route to Australia from New Zealand, have taken measures to disinfect surfaces to prevent the spread of the disease. The ship has a doctor on board responsible for overseeing the situation and the health of all 1,500 passengers.

“It takes relatively few cases to be reported onboard for even more stringent sanitation levels to be implemented,” the company said in a statement. “The containment response worked effectively and the number of new cases declined significantly.”

Norovirus, a gastrointestinal virus transmitted through blood and urine, causes diarrhea and vomiting and lasts one to three days.

[New Zealand Herald]

TIME celebrities

AC/DC’s Phil Rudd Appears in Court on Drug and ‘Threatening to Kill’ Charges

Phil Rudd
Alan Gibson—AP Phil Rudd, drummer for the rock band AC/DC, stands in the dock in the High Court at Tauranga, New Zealand, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

Rudd is on bail and has entered no plea

Phil Rudd, the Australian drummer of AC/DC, has appeared in a New Zealand court on charges of threatening to kill and drug possession.

BBC News reports that when Rudd, 60, failed to appear at 9:00 a.m. local time, the judge issued an arrest warrant for the no-show rocker. The warrant was withdrawn when Rudd arrived just minutes later.

Rudd was initially charged earlier this month for attempting to procure a murder, but the charge was dropped soon afterward.

The musician, who has not entered a plea for the other charges, is out on bail. After his appearance, he rode piggyback on his security guard from the courthouse to his sports car.

The band’s new album, Rock or Bust, is expected to drop next month.

[BBC News]

TIME celebrities

AC/DC’s Drummer Is Innocent of ‘Attempting to Procure Murder’

ACDC Drummer Appears In Court
Joel Ford — Getty Images AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd leaves Tauranga District Court after being charged with attempting to procure murder on November 6, 2014 in Tauranga, New Zealand.

But he still faces charges of threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis

Prosecutors in New Zealand dropped the “attempting to procure murder charge” against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd on Friday morning, a day after the rocker was arrested during a high-profile police raid on his home.

The crown solicitor in the city of Tauranga cited a lack of evidence as the reason for dropping the charge, the New Zealand Herald reported.

However, Rudd, 60, still faces charges of “threatening to kill” and two counts of possession of cannabis and methamphetamine.

The sensational allegations that the famed drummer had tried to hire a hit man to murder two individuals and had threatened to kill a third were quickly picked up by media outlets worldwide on Thursday.

On Friday, Rudd’s attorney Paul Mabey blasted New Zealand police for publicly charging Rudd without first consulting prosecutors. He described the damage done to Rudd’s reputation by the move as “incalculable.”

[New Zealand Herald]

TIME celebrities

AC/DC’s Drummer Has Been Charged With Attempting to Arrange a Murder

The shocking news comes just before the band releases its new album

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd is set to appear before a New Zealand court on Thursday to face charges for attempting to procure a murder after being arrested earlier in the day by police, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

During the raid on his home in New Zealand’s Tauranga city, the drummer was also found to be in possession of methamphetamine and cannabis.

Rudd’s arrest caps what has been a somber year for the iconic Australian hard rock outfit. In September, the family of Malcolm Young, who founded the band alongside his brother Angus, announced that he would be retiring from the group due to an ongoing battle with dementia.

AC/DC burst onto the international music scene in the mid-1970s with fist-pumping anthems like Highway to Hell and It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll). Ironically, the band scored one of their earliest hits with the title track from their third album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap — an ode to vigilante justice.

The band is set to release a new album Rock or Bust in December.

TIME Music

Hear 12-Year-Old Lorde Sing a Beautiful Cover of ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon

At age 17, most people’s proudest accomplishments include a few junior varsity soccer championships or maybe a 5 on the AP World History exam. Lorde’s accomplishments at age 17 include two Grammys and a platinum-certified debut album — not to mention curating the soundtrack to the newest Hunger Games installment.

If that’s not enough to make you feel unaccomplished, then listen to Lorde’s gorgeous cover of the Kings of Leon hit “Use Somebody” from when she was just 12 years old. Back then, she was an Auckland resident named Ella Yelich-O’Connor who dropped by a local radio station to play a few songs. And, yeah, she was really good — and surprisingly emotive for such a young person.

Though this audio has been floating around the Internet for a while now, the version of “Use Somebody” is beginning to resurface again this week. We’re totally cool with that.

Read more: The 25 most influential teens of 2014

Read next: Lorde’s Mockingjay Soundtrack Features Kanye West, Chemical Brothers and Charli XCX

TIME New Zealand

New Zealand Set to Vote in General Elections Marred by Cybercontroversies

Journalist and author Glenn Greenwald, left, and Kim Dotcom attend a political forum at Town Hall in Auckland, New Zealand Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.
Brett Phibbs—New Zealand Herald/AP Journalist and author Glenn Greenwald, left, and Kim Dotcom attend a political forum at in Auckland on Sept. 15, 2014

Is the Kiwi nation becoming a bastion of Internet-generation politics?

The climate enveloping New Zealand’s parliamentary elections on Saturday could be branded anything but politics as usual.

The vote marks an end to a campaign season marred by covert Internet bullying, revelations by hackers, and that could see Kim Dotcom, a cyberoutlaw wanted by the FBI, voted into the House of Representatives.

Not even two months ago, incumbent Prime Minister John Key looked set for a comfortable third victory, but then a book release upset the remote island nation’s political equilibrium. In Dirty Politics, investigative journalist Nicky Hager revealed how top members of Key’s cabinet had spread personal information about their opponents to a vitriolic right-wing blogger. Whale Oil, as the blogger is known, then went on to fuel online hatred directed at certain public servants, some of whom ended up receiving death threats from Internet commenters.

Hager claims that the material exposes “the covert attack machine run by the National Party and its allies,” the Guardian reports, and his oeuvre has completely taken over New Zealand’s political discussion ever since. Even though Key was not directly implicated, he’s been widely berated for his feeble response, having deferred sacking those central to the scandal and denouncing Hager as a “screaming left-wing conspiracy theorist.”

Key also lashed out at the fact that Hager’s information was based on personal electronic communications allegedly retrieved by illicit means. “I think there’s a real risk that a hacker, and people with a left-wing agenda, are trying to take an election off New Zealanders,” he said.

That may not necessarily be the case, since Key and his National Party are still looking robust in the polls. Still, there’s a certain sense of the Kiwi elections are taking the shape of a cyberelectoral soap opera.

In the opposite corner stands the 6-ft. 7-in. figure of Kim Dotcom, who made a fortune from his file-sharing website Megaupload, but also drew the ire of the collective Hollywood community and FBI, who wanted him held accountable for infringing on copyright laws. After leading a lavish playboy lifestyle and being the subject of a dramatic 2012 police raid on his estate, German-born Dotcom has turned to politics. The 40-year-old has proclaimed that his Internet Party is the beginning of a global youth movement fighting for expanded freedom and privacy on the web. He is contesting the elections together with the Maori left-wing Mana party, and they look likely to win seats in parliament. Dotcom has also managed to attract international attention to his cause.

On Monday, Dotcom shared an Auckland stage with three other prime U.S. security targets — Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (the latter two via video link) — for a political forum named “Moment of Truth,” where the trio outlined how Key’s government had worked to implement a mass-surveillance program on its citizens.

Some have tried to downplay both the book release and the forum as spruiking, seeing as both took place so close to the vote. Whale Oil, whose real name is Cameron Slater, is even claiming that Hager’s source is none other than Dotcom himself. However, Hager says he would have “run a mile” if Dotcom had approached him with the leaked material.

“When a source is anonymous, like this person is, it’s possible to imagine all sorts of creepy things about them,” Hager told the Guardian. “But it is an intelligent, thoughtful person, I’m pleased to say — a nonpartisan person who I’m very comfortable working with.”

To date, Dirty Politics is Hager’s best-selling book. It remains to be seen what impact it will have on the elections, and to what extent New Zealand is turning into a bastion of politics for the Internet generation.

More than 3 million registered voters will elect 120 members to New Zealand’s House of Representatives on Saturday, with lawmakers chosen from 71 single-member constituencies and the remainder from party lists.

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