Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Japan's Recovery

To enter the exclusion zone represented by a 20-km radius around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, one must wear a protective uniform made of a papery fibre called Tyvek, consisting of gloves, mask, boot covers, and suit, all of the same protective, disposable material. Along with that protective clothing, a dosimeter is carried to register exposure to radiation.
White hot: Two fires glow like molten lava amid the devastated houses in Yamada town

White hot: Two fires glow like molten lava amid the devastated houses in Yamada town

Fully 78,000 people were evacuated from eight towns and villages, forced to leave their homes. People have been permitted to temporarily go back from time to time, to look for their abandoned pets, to gather personal papers, jewellery, expensive items that they would like to retrieve and take back with them to their temporary quarters.

And it's just as well that they do. Sometimes they enter their homes to discover that others have been there before them. That someone - who knows who? - has already assumed possession of things that they left behind in their desperately hasty departure, in the wake of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan's northeast on March 11, 2011, and then that disastrous tsunami.

Over 100,000 homeless refugees were taken from schools and gymnasiums to temporary homes, awaiting permission to return to their towns and villages and homes. In some areas there will be no return. Looters have been busy in the absence of the usual inhabitants of those towns and villages. Smashing cash machines, emptying them of their cash.

People eager enough to enrich themselves at others' unfortunate expense that they breached the heavily radioactive fallout despite the warnings, soon after the evacuation leading from the breakdown of the nuclear power plant. Japan is known and celebrated for the overall respect for law in its population.

This is clearly a miserable anomaly in social breakdown.

Clandestine opportunity awaiting the bold opportunists willing to enrich themselves at others' misfortune. And no one will ever know. At night there is an eerie silence, and dense, darkness that envelopes the area. When the sight of crumpled buildings, washed-ashore boats and smashed vehicles cannot be seen.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Extreme Adventure? You Bet!

What imagination, and curiosity, the stuff that explorers are made of. In a sense it is peculiar that so much time, funding and experimental engineering went into the exploration of space, before all the interstices of the Earth itself had been explored. The Mariana Trench is a real dip in the ocean floor, the lowest point on the surface of the Earth's crust.

At the time it was first breached in 1960 with an underwater submersible, no one had any idea that there were living organisms there, so deep, so far from the life-enhancing reach of the sun. The lowest point of the Trench is the Challenger Deep, and this is where the underwater soil was found to contain all manner of unexpected organisms, soft-walled and single-celled primitive life forms.

To get there to begin with it should be understood that the descent is a perilous one, for who can guarantee that once having touched bottom, they will safely ascend back to the top again to tell of the fantastic voyage they had undertaken and what marvels they had seen? It's an immense leap of faith to lower oneself to descend to that depth.

Imagine, a 36,000 ft-deep chasm, in the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench where water pressure is 15,000 pounds per square inch - imagine 8,000 elephants standing atop a Smart Car; somewhat like angels dancing on the head of a pin. The engineering required to build a device capable of withstanding that kind of pressure, maintaining life for those within, is beyond comprehension.

But there are those adventurous enough to respond to what they see as a challenge, to close that 50-year gap between the last descent and the present. When Jacques Piccard and retired U.S. navy captain Don Walsh voyaged below inside their bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960, they encountered another world entirely; foraminifera; single-celled protists that construct cells.

They discovered 432 different types of foraminifera in the dirt of the Challenger Deep, including algae and slime molds. Scientists believed that at such an incredible depth there would be no living organisms. Science now knows that all manner of life forms can be found living in the most extreme of environments, from worms living within icefields, to bacteria in ice-covered Antarctic lakes.

In the next short while, two men are preparing to set off for their unique underwater adventure, along with their separate crews. Each is preparing to descend in their own engineered devices, submarine vessels to carry them to the lowest depth of the world's oceanic geology. One is Sir Richard Branson, the other the film director James Cameron.

May their adventure be a satisfying one, and may they return to tell the tale.

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Substances Deleterious To Your Dog's Health - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

Guest writer - Karen Rosenfeld, Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

Saturday, 18 February, 2012


The following provides an extensive list of foods / plants that dogs should never eat. These items when ingested by a dog can cause minor to major illness, organ failure and even death.

The leaves, seeds, fruit, and bark contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Alcoholic Beverages
Any type of alcohol can be poisonous to your dog and aside from intoxication, can cause a coma or even death.

Employ caution when giving bones to your dog. Some bones can be very dangerous - as they can splinter and cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system. Bones from many types of fish are dangerous for dogs just as they are for people. The cooked bones of salmon are not harmful.

Candy containing the sweetener Xylitol
Xylitol can cause liver damage and even death.

Dogs should never have any type of chocolate. Milk chocolate is not as dangerous for dogs as semi-sweet or unsweetened bakers chocolate. Chocolate poisoning can cause irregular heart rate and rhythm, restlessness, hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, panting, muscle tremors, abdominal pain, bloody urine, increased body temperature, seizures, coma and death.

Can result in increased breathing and heart rate, restlessness and affects the central nervous system.

Dairy Products - in large amounts, small amounts are OK for most dogs
If consumed in large amounts may cause diarrhea. Some dogs are lactose intolerant. If your dog is not lactose intolerant, plain yogurt is good for your dog. A little hard cheese or cottage cheese is also good.

Fat - in large amounts, small amounts of good fat are beneficial
Butter, margarine, lard, fat trimmings and excessive amounts of oil. Ingesting any substantial amount of these fats can cause failure of the internal organs such as the liver. I do feed my dogs a small amount (1/2 tablespoon for the really little guys like Carmen and Jacob; 1 tablespoon for my dogs who weigh 15lbs to 30lbs and 2 tablespoon for all the larger dogs) of oil. A good quality oil (containing Omega fatty acids) in these small amounts is as good for the dog's health as it is for humans, when ingested in proper quantities on a daily basis. Coconut Oil in small daily amounts is also good for dogs.

Eggs - raw can be a hazard, cooked in small amounts are beneficial
Contain an enzyme called avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella, although the chance of contamination for your dog is low as a dog’s stomach acids are very strong and dogs also produce a lot of bile. You can cook the eggs to avoid this issue. Due to the avidin it is best not to give eggs every day, but a couple of times a week is fine.

Fish - in large quantities are dangerous, small quantities are beneficial
If fed exclusively or in large amounts can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. A small amount of cooked or canned fatty fish such as
anchovies, salmon, sardines, shad, smelt, mackerel are very good for your dog (on a daily basis is fine - in small amounts) as these types of fish are nutrient-rich and a good source of omega fatty acids.

Fish - Raw, can be dangerous, use caution
Raw fish can contain flukes, a parasite that infests the liver of animals including dogs. This parasite can cause liver damage and subsequently death. Granted, in some places around the world dogs are fed raw fish. Just be aware that in doing so you may put the health of your dog at risk. If you know for certain that the fish in your area is not infested then there is no threat to your dog's health. But remember, if fish is fed exclusively or in large amounts it can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. A small amount daily is fine.

Grapes, Currents
Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, lack of appetite and kidney damage. Grape seed extract is safe for dogs.

May cause panting, elevated temperature, increased heart rate, seizures and death.

Liver - in large amounts; small amounts are beneficial
In large amounts can cause Vitamen A toxicity, leading to kidney damage/failure.

Macadamia Nuts
Can cause vomiting, lethargy, hyperthermia, abdominal pain, stiff joints, lameness and tremors.

Can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting, and changes in the heart rate.

Meat - Raw can be dangerous, use caution
May contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death. Dogs are able to fight off Salmonella and E.coli much better than humans can, however some dogs are severely affected and do die. Raw pork can have worms that may be transferred to your dog by eating raw pork. Many people do feed their dogs raw meat and experience no issues. Working dogs such as sled dogs regularly consume raw meat without issue. Just take precautions - make sure the meat is fresh and has been kept in the refrigerator for no more than a few days or was frozen fresh. Reduce the risk of contamination and don't feed your dog raw pork.

Mouldy Foods
Can have varied effects on pets including vomiting and diarrhea.

Depending on the type of mushroom. The symptoms may vary - depression, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, tearing, hallucinations, defecation, liver failure, seizures, drooling, urination, kidney failure, heart damage, hyperactivity and in some cases, death.

Mustard Seeds
Can have varied effects on pets.

Onion, Chives, Leeks, Shallots are dangerous; garlic in small amounts is beneficial
Contain thiosulphate, the substance responsible for causing ‘Heinx Factor’ anemia in dogs. Can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea. The amount of thiosulphate found in garlic is much lower than in onions, in fact the amount in garlic is barely traceable! When garlic is ingested in reasonable amounts there are no harmful effects, only beneficial ones! Garlic is known for its anti-cancer, diabetes, liver, heart, kidney disease-fighting properties as well as its use as a natural flea repellent and de-wormer for dogs.

Pits from Apricot / Cherry / Peach / Plum, etc.
Can cause respiratory difficulties such as breathing, coughing and sneezing.

Plants that are toxic if ingested by dogs
Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants (ASPCA)

Potato Leaves and Stems
Can cause problems with the digestive, nervous and urinary systems.

Raisins and Currants
Can be poisonous to pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, lack of appetite and kidney damage.

Rhubarb Leaves
Can cause problems with the digestive, nervous and urinary systems.

In large quantities can cause electrolyte imbalances.

Seeds from Apples / Pears
Contain arsenic and can have a variety of bad effects on dogs.

Tea - non decaffeinated
Can have varied effects in pets.

Contains nicotine, which effects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.

Tomato Leaves and Stems are dangerous; tomatoes are fine
Can cause problems with the digestive, nervous and urinary systems.

Vitamins made for human consumption that contain iron
Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.

Can cause gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as respiratory issues such as sneezing, breathing and coughing.

Yeast Dough - raw, not baked
Can be dangerous as it will expand and result in gas, pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol -- an artificial sweetener created from birch, raspberries, plums and corn. This sweetener is found in many human "sugar free" products, such as gum, candies and other sweets. Signs of toxicity can be seen as quickly as 30 minutes after xylitol ingestion in dogs. The xylitol causes a rapid release of the hormone insulin, causing a sudden decrease in blood glucose. The following are symptoms of Xylitol poisioning: vomiting, weakness, ataxia (uncoordinated movements), depression, hypokalemia (decreased potassium), seizures, coma, liver dysfunction and/or failure. Ingestion can be fatal.

If You Think Your Dog Is Suffering From Poisoning (food, chemicals, insect/snake bites)

The following provides a list of some of the interventions that veterinarians may ask you to do, they may also request that you bring your dog in ASAP.

To induce vomiting, give your pet 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (1 tablespoon per 15 pounds of the dog’s body weight) with an eye dropper, syringe, or turkey baster by dribbling the liquid onto the back of his tongue or into his cheek pocket until swallowed. Collect any vomit and take it, along with the poison container or other substance that you think your dog may have ingested and take it to the veterinarian

To dilute caustic poisons such as pine oils, detergents, bleaches, and swimming pool chemicals, feed your dog large quantities of water, milk, or egg whites. Activated charcoal (or even burned toast) may be recommended to absorb insect repellents like DEET.

To remove absorbed poisons...absorbed poisons are substances that get on your pet’s paws and coat and are absorbed through the skin. This type of canine poisoning can happen through ingestion when the animal grooms himself. Wash the area with large quantities of water and visit your veterinarian to prevent long-term effects and discomfort. For oil-based toxins (petroleum products) use a gentle dish-washing liquid. Dust or vacuum powdery poisons away because water can activate certain toxins. If the poison is in your dog’s eye, carefully flush the eye with water or sterile saline solution.

‘Inhaled poisons’ include aerosol sprays, carbon monoxide, gases, and other fumes inhaled by your pet that you may not consider poison to dogs because you use them safely on a regular basis. Quickly get your dog into fresh air and administer Rescue Breathing if necessary.

For snakebites, carry your dog if at all possible, to prevent increased circulation of venom throughout his body via walking. Get him to an animal emergency centre ASAP.

For insect bites, administer 1 mg of Diphenhydramine (i.e. Benadryl), an antihistamine, per pound of your dog’s body weight—but do check with your veterinarian first. Applying a cold pack to the bite can alleviate swelling, but immediately seek professional medical help if you detect breathing problems. You can also wipe or spray the bite with Apple Cider Vinegar.

If you think your dog is suffering from symptoms related to poisoning from any of these foods, plants or chemicals call your veterinarian or contact a pet poison control centre right away.

Pet Poison Help Line 24/7 (800-213-6680)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Luring Sexual Predators

The right of police to use Craigslist for "random virtue testing" has been upheld by the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Sounds like a virtuous and much-needed enterprise. Bring the bastards out of hiding into the clear light of commission of felony, then arrest them. That would teach them to try to lure innocent young girls into a life of dissolution and prostitution.

Entrapment, it's called, and it's legal. And why shouldn't it be? After all, if someone is stupid enough and conscienceless enough to prey on underage girls for sex, they deserve to be punished, strenuously, in a way that will make them think twice about exercising the male proclivity to humiliate and oppress and disgustingly prey on innocent young girls.

Any man who is prepared to have sex with an underage girl most certainly deserves the punishment that the law and the courts will expose him to. His deviant sexual behaviour truly is a threat to society. Most particularly to the health, safety and physical and psychological well being of vulnerable young women.

So how does this conversation sound?
"She's only 16?"
"Well yeah. I told you that on the email."
"I thought that was just a number. I didn't know."
"It's cool. She is a great girl and she's totally good to go and she is eager and wants to please."
"Yeah, but is that all right?"
"Well no. I mean it's not the legal age of 19, but whatever."
"There are 16-year-olds walking the streets, Bob. At least this way we are trying to protect them as best we can, which is why you have to meet me first and go over the rules because we are looking out for them and their safety, right?"
That was the conversation that took place between Pai-Chih Chiang, who for the purposes of this encounter, introduced himself as "Bob" to undercover police in Victoria, as he prepared to enter a motel room for sex, in a pre-arranged encounter.

After that conversation, the officer posing as a pimp handed Mr. Chiang the motel room key. And as Mr. Chiang entered the room he came face to face with other officers who arrested him. this was a 2009 "sting" operation that had netted police this confused, obviously not-too-bright man.

Who was subsequently convicted in 2010 of communicating for the purpose of obtaining the sexual services of a person under 18.

The advertisement that appeared in Craigslist read: "Sexy, young tight bodies lookin' for fun ... girls from out of town in downtown Victoria area. Don't miss this, you'll be sorry!"

Obviously, Mr. Chiang did not want to be sorry, being one of two people who responded. Whereupon he was advised he could have his choice, a 16 or a 17-year-old.

Mr. Chiang appealed, claiming the trial judge erred when he refused to stay the charge even though police used "entrapment" techniques. But the Appeal Court disagreed. "Modern Internet facilities afford easier access to young people for individuals minded to exploit their youth and vulnerability", wrote Appeal Court Justice John Hall.

Fair enough. And if the predator is not sufficiently enthusiastic and expresses doubt about the legality of what is on offer, and it seems his conscience is slightly bothered, why then convince him that all is well, and he is entitled to proceed....

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Sublimely Ridiculous

Children are so adorable in the way that they express themselves. Of course, to get at the whole meaning of what it is they are expressing, requires the mind of a child. Failing that, an adult who understands how a child's mind works.

Before suspicions leap into action, it is always wise to speak quietly, one on one with a child to winkle out the meaning of a child's expression. That might have assisted hugely in the case of a four-year-old kindergarten child and her teacher's leap of imagination bringing the child's family to an unfortunate encounter.

This was not a child whose condition in any way might elicit alarm that she had been physically abused, there were no bruises or marks of abuse on her little body, nor was she hesitant to speak when asked to.

Furthermore, there was the very telling fact that her father, 26-year-old Jessie Samsone, faithfully appeared daily at Forest Hills public school in Kitchener, Ontario to pick up his little girl and her sibling to bring them home, a caring, nurturing father.

But little Neaveh had drawn a picture of her daddy while in her kindergarten classroom. And in that picture her daddy was holding a gun. "I'm picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I'm locked up", said Mr. Sansone, explaining to the local newspaper what he had been exposed to.
"I was in shock. This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school."
At her concerned teacher's prodding, Neaveh satisfied her teacher's curiosity by informing her that the gun was at home, and her siblings played with the gun. Not her, the gun made her fearful. Which was when her teacher dutifully called child welfare.

And child welfare called police. And police were then present at the school when this father of three young children arrived to pick up two of his oldest.

Mr. Sansone was escorted out the back of the school in handcuffs into a police car and driven to, where else, the local police station. And while Family & Children's Services took charge of the children, including the couple's fifteen-month old child, Mrs. Sansone was also brought to the station. For questioning.

Of course, the questioning of Mrs. Sansone could have been taken care of by telephone, or in the comfort of her own home, her husband alongside her. Just to verify, for example, Mr. Sansone's explanation that the gun in question was a clear plastic toy the children played with, and that he used to 'protect' them from mean ghosts attacking them at night while they slept in their beds.

Only as it happened Mr. Sansone hadn't been questioned quietly out of sight of his children in an office in the school to clarify the situation and clear up frightening suspicions. Instead, he was bundled off to the police station, stripped and searched and informed he would be remaining there overnight while the police did their duty.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Huge Responsibility

She is obviously an exceptional woman of extraordinary will and capable talents. There are many such women around the world, and generally, these are women whose spheres of influence owe much to their exposure to higher education in advanced societies where their families live with some semblance of wealth. That would not apply to women born in backward societies where women are scorned as inferior beings.

Fawzia Koofi is the first female ever elected to parliament in Afghanistan. She has stubbornly stood up to other parliamentarians who were better known as warlords and drug kingpins. Her own brothers are involved with some of these warlords in the proliferating and profitable drug trade in her country. And she has been the recipient of quite a number of death threats, some attempts close enough to be quite concerning.

She is the widowed 36-year-old mother of an 12- and a 11-year-old girl. She is concerned for her children, but she is also concerned for the future of Afghanistan's women and children. Afghanistan is one of the worst countries of the world for women to live in, where women are degraded and oppressed, denied equal status with men, and live in squalid poverty.

Women are held to be of such little value that when she was born, her mother despaired, wanting to bear a son, having already given birth to 7 children, but fearful that her husband who had taken his 7th wife, a 14-year-old girl who had just borne a son, might prefer his latest wife to her. So she left the newborn out in the sun until the following day, hoping it would die.

She lived to become a member of the country's parliament. Defiant against all odds, determined to forge ahead with her plan to represent her countrywomen's needs, and their children's futures through education and opportunities to be opened to them, she persists. There are now, with the absence of the Taliban, 2.7 million girls attending school.

The Afghan parliament has an astounding 27% female members of parliament. But dreadful brutality toward women and girls, forced early marriages, literal bondage, is the fate of many women and girls. Although much has improved for Afghan women in the urban areas, little has changed in the countryside of which there are vast stretches.

"A month ago, I met a girl who had been locked underground by her husband because she refused to go into prostitution. She was just 15, and had never even had a period. Her nails had been pulled out. There was no part of her skin that hadn't been bruised or marked in some way. They fed her only every other day. In Afghanistan, these things still happen", Ms. Koofi explained.

"Life does become heavy for me. There is a huge responsibility on my shoulders. But they [the Taliban] could get me anywhere. And I know that if they want to kill me, then it is only because I am a threat to them. That means I am succeeding." The trouble here, of course, is that it is almost inevitable that as soon as the NATO (ISAF) forces leave, as they will by 2014, the Taliban will return.

"Women have not been involved in the country's destruction. We do not have blood on our hands. We have been agents of peace, and if anyone tries not to include us in the process of peace, then it will not be easy for them."

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Redoubtable Ms. Maggi

Models do it, flaunt their bodies, wearing the latest fashions and occasionally fashions meant to shock by their body-revealing attributes.

Many young women whom nature and genetics have blessed with bodily conformations held to be sumptuously attractive aspire to the profession. Those who succeed reap enormous public acclaim, admiration and certainly not least, wealth. They become celebrities in their own right because of the pay-per-view they are able to demand as a result of their celebrity status.

So, why not a bar owner, a young, attractive, curvaceous woman who is obviously imbued not only with a graceful appearance but an admirable business sense. Italian bar owner, Laura Maggi has been able to turn quite a profit in her business by displaying herself as a public relations hit to advance her business interests.

And, it would appear, the men of Banolo Mella near Lombardy, where Ms. Maggi has her pub,named Le Cafe, appreciate her business sense of eight years' standing. Their wives do not.
"It is outrageous and should not be allowed. This town is quiet and respectable. Now we are known across the whole country because of the little amount of clothing this barmaid is wearing to serve drinks. The women in town are not very happy and we have complained to the council."
The bemused Ms. Maggi is herself not amused, professing to have been left "open mouthed" by the resulting coverage. So, evidently, have been the area men who have flocked to her establishment. They arrive in avid droves, eager to experience the pleasure of witnessing the impressive performance of a scantily-clad young woman pulling a draft of beer and presenting it personally for their double delectation:

Causing controversy: Laura Maggi, 34, who runs a bar called Le Cafe, has dominated newspapers and TV chat shows, after pictures of her dressed in barely anything appeared on the <span class=

Causing controversy: Laura Maggi, 34, who runs a bar called Le Cafe, has dominated newspapers and TV chat shows, after pictures of her dressed in barely anything appeared on the Internet

Sexy barmaid 2
Sexy barmaid

Pulling more than a pint: The women folk of Bagnolo Mella, near Brescia, which is where Manchester City ace Mario Balotelli is from, are up in arms and said that they had banned their partners from going to Le Cafe

Main attraction: On the walls of Le Cafe there are pictures of Laura, dressed in a bikini on holiday while in other snaps she is wrapped in an American Stars and Stripes flag, while others of her semi naked have been turned into a calendar

Main attraction: On the walls of Le Cafe there are pictures of Laura, dressed in a bikini on holiday - while in other snaps she is wrapped in an American Stars and Stripes flag. Yet more pictures of her, semi-naked, have been turned into a calendar

The outrage of local women expressed against this enterprising entrepreneur who knows what sells and takes advantage of her charms to sell it, is understandable. But it is, actually, aimed at the wrong target. If the women are alarmed and affronted with the situation they should take it up with their husbands, not Ms. Maggi. "What am I doing wrong? It's not like I'm nude. Sure, I wear short skirts and bra-tops but nothing worse than that."

She is, in fact, doing nothing very much wrong, given her attributes and the general loosening of society's dress codes. It is merely that the combination of her physical endowments and the more relaxed social mores with respect to women's garb constitute a winning combination for her sales of alcoholic beverages.

Italian men love to leer, to comment and to generally demonstrate their state of sexual arrested adolescence. Witness their tolerance for the escapades - now there's fodder for social outrage - of their former President, Silvio Berlusconi.

If anyone was instrumental in lowering the bar for degrading behaviour, surely it is this man who brazenly and contemptuously descended into the most hedonistic excesses while purporting to serve his country well both domestically and on the international stage.

If these women, critical of Ms. Maggi, that she has been responsible for making her little town known across the country, where were they when they might have been campaigning against the female-insulting, nationally embarrassing behaviour of a man who was elected and re-elected to lead their country - leading it as an international embarrassment?

It is telling that an online poll the results of which were published in the local newspaper revealed that 46% of respondents commented that women should be "asking themselves why their partners prefer Laura to them", defending Ms. Maggi's business enterprise.

Doubtless the respondents were preponderately male - giving the opposite gender ample reason for introspection.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

"I Miss Her"

It is pathetically sad that some women will allow themselves to be degraded and devalued by their intimate association with men who simply use women as objects. These women are searching for the assurance that they have value to a man as a companion and a focus of love, and they delude themselves into thinking that their relationship with such a man is worthwhile, when the man is not.

That kind of desperate clinging to a fantasy when the truth is as close as the last violent episode seems to bind such women to hope that things will change for them, a miracle will occur and the man who viciously oppresses them will suddenly turn into an angel of loving decorum. Inevitably, there is a dire price to pay for their emotional frailty, and it is the women who pay that price with their lives.

Convinced, because they want to believe it is true, they remain faithful to their fixed idea that things will improve, that the man who abuses them physically and psychologically really loves them and will change his attitude when he realizes how much the woman loves him, and they continue to submit to the man, until something goes badly wrong.

In the case of Carol-Ann Brunet, even when everything went horribly wrong, she remained fixated on the belief that things would work out, and her life would be rescued from the nightmare she was living. But the nightmare continued, until it finally ended with her tragic death.

Even while she was suffering dreadful agony because her lover, Dugald Jamieson, fatally stabbed her, and her life was ebbing away, she claimed that everything was all right. And that suited him very well, for he had no intention of calling attention to what had occurred, preferring to allow her to slowly expire in an agony of pain rather than seek medical treatment for her, because that would reveal that he had been in breach of his probation.

He had been arrested and charged with assaulting her on a previous occasion, and was on probation, ordered by the court to have no further contact with Ms. Brunet. The man had a lengthy record of assaulting other women as well.

They lived in Renfrew, and she evidently accepted him back in her life, ready to believe that he was remorseful for having abused her. On May 30, 2010, they had a disagreement and he plunged a knife 15 centimetres in length directly into her abdomen.

His version of the event was that she held the knife, not he, and he was attempting to take it from her when it inadvertently stabbed her. She was no longer alive to give her version of the occurrence, but the authorities parsed the evidence. Part of which was a friend who informed the police that Ms. Brunet had explained she had handed the knife to Jamieson when he threatened to kill her and she had said to him, "Go ahead then".

After he stabbed the 54-year-old woman, a grandmother of four, he ordered her to clean up the mess on the floor. Then, he claimed, they went to the bedroom and had sex. In the morning the bed was full of blood and bile and he told her again, to clean up. All that day the woman lay in the apartment, wrapped in a blanket, with blood and bile seeping from her wound.

Jamieson brought a friend over with bandages, and the friend asked if Brunet would like to go to the hospital, but she responded she was fine. Later in the evening the friend was alarmed at Brunet's condition and told Jamieson he had to call 911. Jamieson responded: "Well I don't need this kinda stuff. I gotta get the f... outta here".

The Judge hearing the case rejected Jamieson's account of an accidental stabbing. "The depth of the wound - the full length of the knife - is inconsistent with an accident", as the knife "passed virtually right through", the woman's abdomen. "What is clear is that Mr. Jamieson's main preoccupation after he stabbed her - quite aside from visiting friends - was that he didn't want to get in trouble."

And the judge handed down a 12-year sentence for killing Carol-Ann Brunet in May 2010. Manslaughter and breach of probation was the final charge, down from the original charge of second-degree murder. He had pleaded guilty to the lesser charges.

The 49-year-old man had an unsavoury reputation in Renfrew. Ms. Brunet's daughters had tried to persuade their mother to stop seeing him. One of Carol-Ann Brunet's daughters said her mother had never gotten over losing her husband in 1992 of a sudden heart attack.

"I miss her", her daughter said.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Animal Welfare Exponent

She is so astoundingly unlike any of her predecessors; unpretentious, casual, refreshing. Her presence in Canada's national capital as the wife of our current prime minister is a refreshing change. She is eminently likeable, personable and as a mother of two young children surprisingly her own person.

Most mothers, and certainly few spouses of heads of government drive motorcycles as she loves to do, and will doubtless resume doing once her husband is no longer in public office at this particular echelon of national responsibility.

She has placed herself in the public eye, but not to expose herself to the kind of adulation that one in particular of her predecessors did; rather to use her public office as a vehicle to further public interest in arts and culture, and animal welfare.

From the glimpses that the public is exposed to of this woman and her concerns she exudes the aura of a well-reasoned and balanced individual imbued with a healthy sense of humour.

Her latest foray into the public eye was to visit a senior Kindergarten class in Ottawa, for the purpose of introducing children there to the safe and correct way to interact with animals they don't know, in a public space.

"I learned that, if I ever see a dog, I don't go close to it" said Andromeda Bromwich. "I stay away from a dog that doesn't have a grown up." A valuable life lesson learned.

This was one event that fit neatly into Laureen Harper's agenda to take part in Kindness Week. She sat among the children in the class, as a husky mix was introduced to the children by a handler. The six-year-old children at Le Phare Elementary School were excited and charmed both by the dog and the elegant lady who sat among them.

"Notice how she is putting out one hand", she said to the children, as one of the students assisted in a demonstration of how to pet the dog. "It's really important to approach an animal with one hand."

This is a woman who herself emanates kindness and concern with her calming presence. Complementary to that of her husband, a more sober, somewhat removed personality in whom Canadian voters have chosen to trust.

Laureen Harper joins the Senior Kindergarten class at Le Phare Elementary School in Gloucester on Wednesday in a ‘Kindness Week’ presentation organized by the Beatrice Watson-Acheson Foundation.
Laureen Harper joins the Senior Kindergarten class at Le Phare Elementary School in Gloucester on Wednesday in a ‘Kindness Week’ presentation organized by the Beatrice Watson-Acheson Foundation. Photograph by: BRUNO SCHLUMBERGER , THE OTTAWA CITIZEN

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Oldest Plant

Botanists have something to celebrate; frozen remains of a 32,000 year-old flower discovered in an ancient animal burrow buried deeply in earth, and covered by the icy tundra was successfully germinated by Russian scientists; felt to represent the oldest ever plant grown from an ancient seed. It is a delicate, lovely plant, with fragile white flowers, a member of the campion family.

<span class=Svetlana Yashina via The New York Times" title="An undated handout photo of a plant that has been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower. Russian biologists say that they have grown a plant that is 32,000 years old from seeds buried in permafrost."

It truly is a pedigreed, certainly not primitive, plant, exquisite in its presentation. It would represent a treasure in any ardent gardener's flower bed.

A narrow-leafed campion, it was grown in a petri dish from organic material taken from the Siberian Arctic, where it was discovered. Nurtured to grow in its own familiar soil, although the environment is dramatically changed from what it was like when this flower grew in the Arctic.

The project results were published in the latest issue of The Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, produced by a team of scientists led by Svetlana Yashina and David Gilichinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences research center at Pushchino, close to Moscow.

Co-author David Gilichinsky helped bring this project to a wildly successful conclusion, but did not live long enough to enjoy full acclaim, since he died on Saturday.

Present-day campions look very much like this ancient-but-resurrected flower. Those grown today have wider petals, closer together. I

t is assumed that a rodent, during the Upper Paleolithic period - when our remote-in-time human ancestors were just beginning to communicate by speech on the way to creating a common language for their geographic areas - prepared for the onset of winter by diligently storing away seeds.

The theory, supported by the evidence at hand, is that the burrow, like others nearby, became filled with earth and particles blown by the wind, and ultimately, over time, buried under 125 feet of sediment, then permanently frozen at -7C.

A frigid river in Northeastern Siberia that at one time abounded with woolly rhinoceroses and mammoths, was where the burrow was discovered.

Similar such burrows can e found in the Canadian Yukon, in territory that escaped glaciation during the last ice age. "We've tried to grow the seeds, but they've never worked", explained Grant Zazula, Yukon Paleontologist. Who spoke of the potential of repeating the process for extinct, ancient mammals.

"We find partially-preserved mammoth carcasses in the Siberian tundra that are 30,000 years old. This raises the potential that you could have viable sperm cells and egg cells within some of those mammals." Preferably not.

Experimenting with the possibility of restoring ancient plants to take their place in a garden is one thing; previously-extinct animals roaming about at a time long past their expiration date, not so great.

And should any brilliant scientist ever decide, on his own initiative to play around with cloning homo sapiens, that would represent a true horror story. Let them all rest in history with our admiration for having pioneered humankind's place on this Earth.

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Choosing a Good Kibble For Your Dog - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

Guest writer - Karen Rosenfeld, Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer


The number of obese dogs has increased in recent years. As well, so many dogs are getting cancer and other diseases.

There are three main reasons for this downturn in the health of dogs - diet, lack of exercise, and environmental contaminants.

Your dog’s best defense against cancer and other diseases is a strong immune system. Diet plays a big role in a dog’s ability to maintain a healthy immune system. If you are feeding your dog commercial dog kibble, knowing how to choose a quality dog kibble is essential for your dog’s health and well being.

Many commercial dog kibbles are comprised of ingredients that are seriously bad for our dogs. A kibble that provides poor nutritional value, contains cancer causing and otherwise toxic ingredients provides little hope of attaining and maintaining day-to-day energy and health. In addition toxins will build up in a dog’s body over time. This puts great strain on the organs such as the liver and will eventually cause organ damage and failure. Poor quality nutrition can also lead to either being underweight or overweight / obese - either of which can also trigger the onset of disease.

Just because a product is for sale in a pet supply store or on-line through a pet supply dealer don’t ever assume that the product is actually good for your dog. Also, just because the manufacturer labels the food as ‘natural’ or ‘holistic’, does not mean that the product is made up of good ingredients. 'Natural' can simply mean the ingredients were derived from a plant or animal. 'Holistic' may mean that the product has a few vegetables in it. But the vegetables may have been rotting - not fit for human consumption so they were used for pet food. There is no law currently in place that prevents a company from saying that the ingredients they are using in their kibble is first quality - they do not have to prove that this statement is true.

Unknowingly you may be paying a manufacturer to seriously compromise the health and shorten the life of your dog. On the other hand you may be feeding your dog a very good kibble product. Unless you know a little more detail about how to discern true quality in a kibble product it is very difficult to identify good from bad. The same principles discussed in this article are also applicable to dog treats.

Before we get into the facts regarding what makes a kibble a good food or bad, I just want to briefly address the issue of cost to the consumer - you!

Let’s Define ‘Quality’ In Broad Terms

In broad terms what is meant by ‘quality’ as pertains to this discussion? Well…
  • Are the ingredients that make up the kibble inspected by authorities having jurisdiction, i.e. CFIA (for Canada) or USDA (for the USA);
  • Is the ingredient human grade or feed grade? Feed grade can contain many ingredients from less nutritional sources and many contaminants;
  • Is the ingredient antibiotic-free, steroid-free, organic…you get the idea.
So, as an example - while corn is not the best source of nutrition for dogs just because there is corn in a kibble it does not make the kibble bad. If the corn is human grade it is good quality, but if the corn is not human grade it may contain contaminants such as aflatoxins. This is one of the core principles of good vs. bad.

Please also note that just because a kibble is AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved does not mean that it is a good product. Although this group does regulate the pet food industry and the board does include some members of the US state and federal representatives it is not a government body and is partisan as it includes people directly involved in the pet food manufacturing industry. AAFCO is directly responsible for the unclear labeling on pet food products including kibble…responsible for the confusion around poor vs. good quality.

Does a Good Quality Kibble Really Cost you More than Poor Quality Kibble?

I have seen many pet supply stores and large retailers selling a poor quality kibble for the same or more than they are selling a better quality kibble. And yes, better and really good quality kibbles may be more expensive to purchase at the cash register (than inexpensive kibbles) but the actual cost of these products is not necessarily higher once you get home and open that bag of food.

What do I mean by this statement? Well, a dog kibble that is comprised of poor quality ingredients offers less digestible high quality nutrition so you have to feed your dog considerably more kibble to at least part-way meet his/her nutritional needs than you would if the kibble was comprised of quality ingredients. You will go through a 40lb bag of poor quality kibble much faster than you will go through a 30lb bag of good quality kibble.

Now Let’s Look at Good vs. Bad in Detail

What we really want to make sure of is that we don’t purchase product a) comprised of poor quality nutrition, b) minimize the carcinogens and other toxic components.

Synthetic Additives, Preservatives & Colouring Agents
Many off-the-shelf dog foods and treats contain synthetic additives, preservatives and colouring - many are proven carcinogens. These substances are added to the kibble to help stabilize the product and enhance its appearance. The most common of these preservatives are BHA, BHT, EQ (ethoxyquin), propyl gallate. Then there are artificial colouring agents and additives such as glycerol monostearate, phosphoric acid and propylene glycol (this is used in antifreeze - antifreeze kills dogs!). Read product labels - if the product you are looking at contains these ingredients put it back on the shelf! Instead look for products that contain ‘natural preservatives’ and antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and mixed tocopherols.
Minimize the Poor Nutrition and the ‘Unknown’ in Your Dog’s Diet
Once again, many off-the-shelf dog foods contain food stuffs from unknown sources. These food stuffs are cheap source fillers that provide poor quality nutrition and can be full of unknown chemicals, steroids and antibiotics, petroleum derivatives, aflatoxins, etc.

Grains and Legumes
In the last decade the percentage of grain products used in kibble has increased dramatically. Many of these grain products are added primarily as fillers. These products are included for the benefit of the manufacturer’s cost margin and profit, not for the benefit of your dog. The digestibility of many grain products is negligible. Your dog ends up consuming a lot of filler with very little nutrient value. This is very deceptive as you think you are feeding your dog enough and his stools are sizable (due to the high filler indigestible fibre content), but his nutrient intake is low. Here is a list of some of these low nutrient, cheap fillers…brewers rice, cereal food fines (leftovers from human grade cereal production - junk), feeding oat meal, grain fermentation soluble, maltodextrins, fermentation solubles, potato product (leftovers from human grade potato product production - nutritional value, nil), soy flour, corn bran, corn cellulose, oat hulls, peanut hulls, rice hulls, soybean and wheat mill run (wheat middlings), corn germ meal, corn gluten meal, soybean meal (these last three ingredients are often included as a source of protein - very poor quality protein!).

While some of these fillers are derived from the leftovers of human food processing - as the product at the end of the line, they can be full of chemicals. They can also be from non-human grade sources. If the grains/grain derivatives are not from human grade sources they will contain aflatoxins. Aflatoxins cause liver cancer. Aflatoxins grow mainly on grains but they also grow on legumes - like peanuts, walnuts and pecans. This is one reason why you will hear some people say do not give your dogs nuts! Actually it is fine to give your dog peanuts or peanut butter - they are a good source of nutrition - just make sure you are giving them human grade.

Aflatoxins can also be found in cottonseed oil, fish meal and peanut oil. Human grade foods are monitored closely for aflatoxins, if they are present the raw product (such as grain) is not allowed to be sold as human grade. There are no such regulations for animal grade foods so most commercial grade dog, cat and bird food will have some aflatoxins...the body can usually detoxify small amounts.

Another thing to consider…corn and soybeans in the USA and Canada are almost all grown from Genetically Modified (GM) seeds - the long term effect of ingesting GM food is not known.

Look for off-the-shelf dog food that specifies that the ingredients are from first grade or human grade sources. As far as grains go, whole corn is OK if your dog is not allergic to it but the other corn derivatives (i.e. corn bran, corn cellulose, corn meal are just fillers offering little nutritional value if any). Rice offers better nutritional digestibility than many of the grain products noted above…although some dogs are allergic to rice. Human grade whole oats do pack a lot of nutritional value, but again some dogs are allergic to oats. Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to rice and oats. Millets and barley for example, are also good alternatives.

High quality fiber such as the fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables is very different from the low quality fiber found in many off-the -shelf dog food products. Again, low grade fiber is added as cheap filler for the benefit of the manufacturer’s cost margin and profit, not for the benefit of your dog. Cellulose derived from dried, processed wood is the most common form of cellulose (hard to believe but true!), corn bran (GM product), oat hulls, peanut hulls, rice hulls, soybean middlings (GM product) and wheat middlings. These ingredients may also contain aflatoxins. If the product has a lot of these ingredients put it back on the shelf.

Protein should be the first ingredient in your dog's kibble…but there are issues to be aware of with protein sources too. Protein may come from poultry (chicken, duck, etc.), cattle, swine, lamb…the problem is often what goes into the kibble is not the quality cuts of meat - lean muscle tissue. Instead the animal parts that are added to a lot of kibble is the by-products - the bones, blood, intestines, ligaments, and many other parts not sold for human consumption. Here is a list of protein sources that you should avoid - again, if these are listed in the product, put it back on the shelf…beef and bone meal, blood meal, chicken by-product meal, corn distillers dried grains with solubles, corn germ meal, corn gluten meal, fish meal, liver meal, meat and bone meal, meat meal, pork and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, poultry meal and soybean meal. As these ingredients are loosely regulated they may be from 4-D animals (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), road-kill, animals euthanized at ‘shelters’ (euthanization includes the use of harmful chemicals, also the animals may have been diseased), the ingredients may also include pus, cancerous tissue, decomposing tissue, ethoxyquin, etc.

Again, look for off-the-shelf dog food that specifies that the ingredients are from first grade or human grade sources. I have heard people say dog food should have bone and blood meal in it - wrong - dogs do not require blood and bone meal, especially the fertilizer grade quality added to many off-the-shelf pet foods.

Animal and poultry fat is added to a lot of kibble. Again these are the rancid fats and oil by products that are not sold for human consumption. Waste from restaurants and food manufacturing is saved and then refined by rendering companies, who then turn around and sell it to pet food manufactures. The manufacturers add them to their poor quality kibble to give it taste and to help the ingredients bind together. The following are the ingredients you should avoid…animal fat, beef tallow, lard, poultry fat, vegetable oil. Again the source of these fats can also be from 4-D animals and the vegetable oil is likely to be poor quality and/or GM.

Sweeteners are not required in your dog’s diet! In fact they are not good for your dog. They are added to many pet foods to make the food more attractive - think about it, some of these products have a lot of fillers - no taste…so the sweeteners give the food some taste. If the product you are going to buy has these ingredients you know what to do - re-shelf it: cane molasses, corn syrup, fructose, sorbitol, sugar, di-alpha tocopherol acetate. Remember, daily intake of sweeteners is just as bad for dogs as it is for humans. Sugar suppresses the immune system - making it easier for cancer to take hold. Sweeteners are also cause of allergies, arthritis, cataracts, hypoglycaemia, heart ailments, nervous energy, tooth decay, obesity and so on. The more your dog’s health is compromised the harder it is for your dog’s body to fight cancer!

If you would like to see a more comprehensive list of ingredients to avoid you can click here.

If You Are Going To Switch Your Dog's Kibble
If you are going to switch your dog’s kibble don’t switch his food overnight. Add a little of the new food to the old food. Gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old food until the old is completely replaced by new. This process should be carried out over several days to several weeks depending on the hardiness of your dog’s digestive system. Some dogs are very sensitive to changes in their diet while others dogs are not.

I cheat on this rule as all of my ten dogs have good tolerance for food changes; if I want to try a new kibble I can do so as an immediate switch. If you have switched your dog’s food before with no deleterious affects and you know your dog’s system is hardy you can shorten the phasing in of the new food.
To Learn More About Discerning Good vs. Bad Kibble
If you would like to look at the subject (of what makes a kibble good or bad) in further depth I recommend that you take a look at the Dog Food Project’s website section on Commercial Dry Foods.

An Independent Review of 100s of Brands and Types of Kibble
If you would like to see an extensive listing of Dry Dog Food reviewed by an independent group I recommend that you take a look at the Dog Food Advisor’s website page on Dry Dog Food.

Learn More About Enriching Your Dog's Diet
If you would like to learn about more about additional ways to increase the good nutrition in your dog’s daily diet you can take a look at these articles…

If you would like to help feed Shelter Dog’s for free you can do so by clicking on these links…when you go to these sites and click on the button corporate sponsors donate kibble to homeless pets on your behalf. I click on all three sites every day.

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