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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Islamic Conversions and Healing Hearts

There are always those gentle souls who feel personally obligated to do their utmost to aid those 'less fortunate' and whose lives are miserable and downtrodden.  People who see virtue and value in a religion they are unfamiliar with and find great solace within, impelling them to share the belief and to worship alongside those to whom they give compassion in a shared and charitable view of life.

There have been more than a few men and women of conscience and good nature who have gravitated toward Islam, forsaking their original religions and traditional values to embrace that of a religion that is a way of life foreign to them but which appears to have great appeal to them nonetheless.  And they dedicate their lives henceforth to alleviating the misery of people in disadvantaged states who pray to Allah.

There is a mystique that exists where people feel that if they convey adequate emotion and sympathy they will miraculously be spared condemnation and violence by those threatening  the well-being of others whom they find contemptible for not sharing the depths of their faith.  Apart from spreading terror because of their fanatical dedication to a faith that elevates martyrs who engage in mass murder for the greater glory of Islam, terror appeals to those who thrill to the prospect of instilling mortal fear in others.

While the mild of manner and humanely-dedicated martyrs of human goodness shared among the unfortunate go about their business spending their energies to a fixed idea of lifting the spirits of the oppressed, helping to feed them and to give them hope for the future, they are viewed, despite their studied ability to speak the language of those whom they serve, and pray to the higher spiritual order of those whom they serve, with indifferent contempt by those other martyrs to terrorism.

To the horror and disappointment of humanitarian aid workers who have converted to Islam and who dedicate their lives to working among the poor and the dispossessed Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Arab and Muslim world, they are no more guaranteed respect and gratitude than any other interfering Western aid worker who will be abducted and held for ransom.  And if that ransom is not paid, their lives will be forfeit.

Just as the lives become forfeit of those Muslims who dare defy Islamist sharia law by becoming apostates, and turning to another religion, defying tradition and the outrage of those who insist they comply or face death in straying from Islamic belief.  The decapitated body of the "gentle and caring" British aid worker, Khalil Dale represents just another individual who felt compassion and the call of another religion to alter his life irrevocably.

Pakistan, the very country that breeds fanatical jihadists committed to violence and martyrdom, has taken another life.  Four months in captivity as a helpless pawn in a trade-or-perish device of captive-for-money, he was finally sacrificed to the anger of the Taliban for whom the ransom of $30-million was not forthcoming from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Khalil Dale, like others before him, was completely committed to humanitarian aid.  He was a Red Cross nurse, managing a health program in Quetta, Baluchistan province.  A man driven by his aptitude to help and heal.  Hostage-taking has proven to be fairly lucrative for the Taliban.  Not nearly as lucrative, one might imagine, as the opium trade, but fair enough. 

For his troubles in dedicating his life to the succour of the unfortunate, Mr. Dale, fine religious man that he was, ended his days wrapped in a cellophane covering, inside a plastic bag, discarded at the side of the road, outside the city where he worked to make life more palatable for the indigent ill.  A video is expected to be released shortly, of his execution.

It is doubtless meant to have instructive value to the international community.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Punishment: Death

Capital punishment, though many countries of the world are now eschewing that final, irreversible punishment for crimes against society, still takes thousands of lives each year, in countries for which criminal punishment is felt to merit death rather than cluttering up state prisons with penalties of life imprisonment. 

In some countries, like Canada, for example, which abolished capital punishment in 1976, a life-sentence for first-degree murder of police officers or prison guards will net the accused 25 years.

Those countries of the world practising capital punishment are headed by China, the most populous country in the world, where, over the last four years, thousands were executed; in excess of six thousand prisoners in 2007 alone were executed for their crimes.  Crimes punishable by the death penalty there include tax fraud, drug offences, corruption and property theft.

In order of numbers executed by the state through capital punishment, the countries are listed as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United States, Pakistan, Yemen, North Korea, Vietnam, Libya, Afghanistan, Japan, Syria, Sudan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Egypt, Indonesia.  After which the remaining countries' annual executions are in the single digits.

In Iran, capital punishment is merited for convictions of murder, rape, adultery, pedophilia, sodomy, drug traffickers, armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and treason.  About 360 prisoners met their end in 2011, most for drug trafficking.  Under the above-stated categories, political prisoners accused of acting against the interests of the state are executed, as are homosexuals.

In Saudi Arabia, offences range from murder, rape, armed robbery, repeated drug use, apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery, to qualify for the death penalty.  Executions can be effected by beheading with a sword, stoning or firing squad, as well as by crucifixion.  Between 2007 and 2010, 345 executions were carried out by public beheading.  In 2011, the last reported execution for sorcery took place.

Iraq executed 34 people in 2012 on one day alone.  The death penalty will be imposed for 48 crimes which include damage to public property as an example of non-fatal crimes.  In 2011, 313 people were sentenced to death, over half convicted of murder.  Others were charged as drug traffickers, kidnappers for ransom and rape, and three were executed for blasphemy charges.

In the United States capital punishment is related only to homicide crimes including aggravated murder, felony murder and contract killing.  Execution method varies, with the most common technique being lethal injection.  A 2011 Gallup poll indicated that 61% of Americans favoured capital punishment, with 35% opposing it.

In Yemen the death penalty is applied for offences including murder, drug trafficking, rape, sexual offences and speech or action offensive to Islam.  Adultery is punishable by death by stoning.  Death sentences are often passed after court proceedings falling short of international standards for justice at fair trial.

Iran executes a greater number of people than any other single country, including China, on a per capita basis.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's a Puzzler

Royal-watchers and their fascination with heirloom celebrity status who outrank and outperform their counterparts in the media, popular entertainment, music, dance, theatre, Hollywood through the mystique surrounding royalty, inheritance and class distinctions present a mystery.  No talent is required; birthright is a necessity. 

Popular legends help enormously and popular acclaim in support of a dynastic rule with a public willing and eager to ascribe exceptionality to the otherwise-banal.

A young woman from a financially privileged background whose sister has married into the British royal household suddenly is described as one of the "most influential people in the world", by Time magazine.  Just because a respected and popular news journal makes that pronouncement doesn't, of course, guarantee the statement has real meaning in the real world. 

But it does describe popular fascination with something, some mysterious element attracting mass popularity and appeal.

That something just happens to be a young woman - 28-year-old Philippa Middleton, popularly known as "Pippa", which doubtless helps - whose social exploits seem anything but celebrational, but which have led to her being doted upon as a social leader of elite young international celebrities; people who worship their imaginary lifestyles and lead the public to do likewise.

Her sister Catherine, now Duchess of Cambridge, married to the British heir to the throne, Prince William, gained her own wildly fond popular appeal.  Tinged, however, with respect, since she is now part of the royal institution and she will undoubtedly become the mother of a royal figure who may one day sit on the throne.  For whatever that is worth.

But Philippa, Kate's sister, single, and much sought-out by the cavalier and worldly youth of aristocratic and/or wealthy European elite, has herself become famous as she flaunts her own connections.  What she wears, how she portrays herself, has become influential in how others wish to display and comport themselves. 

She has received enough advantage to allow her a $600,000 publishing fee for a book on that vital topic: party planning. There is now ongoing a six-figure bidding altercation for a 'major' television interview, her first. 

The fickle public will doubtless soon become bored with this hollow manifestation of social prestige; utterly meaningless, but obviously a measure of notoriety beyond any connection to values having been attributed to the empty lifestyle of someone revelling in her fortuitous public appeal.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Bugando Medical Centre
A medical team from Israel’s Save a Child’s Heart, an international humanitarian non-governmental organisation, has successfully performed the first-ever paediatric open heart surgery on the youngest patient in Tanzania.

"She had a hole in her heart.  We had to stop her heart, go in and close this hole and then start the heart functioning again.  In places like Canada, you can do this operation any day. You don't let patients with the condition become six months old or even a year, without the operation.  But in Tanzania, this little girl was four years old and she could have died while being on a waiting list."

But that little girl is now healthy, and in school.  She is the child of farmers, living in a mud hut without running water or electricity.  And she had undergone what was historic surgery in Tanzania when a team of 13 doctors from Save a Child's Heart travelled to Tanzania from Israel to operate a cardiac clinic at the Bugando Medical Center in the city of Mwanza.

The Bugando Medical Center is an 850-bed hospital serving 15 million people, as best they can.  Lacking sufficient trained medical staff, pharmaceuticals, advanced technology.  Dr. Godwin Godfrey, son of a surgeon, born in a small town beneath Mount Kilimanjaro is a second-generation medical practitioner, intimately familiar with the heart-breaking difficulties of practising his profession in a developing country.

After he received his medical degree at Makerere University in Uganda he returned to Tanzania for his internship, choosing to do so at the Bugando Medical Centre.  "Most of our doctors are actually located in Dar es Salaam, the capital.  That is the biggest city and all the government offices are there.  But with me being interested in surgery, I thought if I went to work in one of the big hospitals I wouldn't get the hands-on experience that I wanted."

He did get that hands-on-experience in Mwanza, possibly more than he had anticipated, let alone wanted.  A lack of surgeons and specialists meant he was busy with pediatric cases, orthopedic, ophthalmology and neurosurgery, quite the introduction. He shifted to cardiac surgery, but there was little equipment, much less expertise.  He looked into possibly training in cardiac surgery close to home, discovering the only places in Africa were in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco or Tunisia.

But there, he was informed they had no interest in training foreign doctors.  A visiting German doctor representing a Christian charity recommended that he apply to study in Israel under a humanitarian project sponsored by the Save A Child's Heart group.  At the Wolfson Medical Centre in Holon, Israel outside of Tel Aviv, cardiac surgeons have treated over 2,800 children with congenital heart diseases, and adolescents suffering from heart-valve diseases.

As Dr. Godfrey discovered, patients come in to Israel from international destinations to undergo roughly 225 emergency operations annually.  Some 43% of the cases flown in come from Africa, 47% from Arab states, including the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Iraq.  Dr. Godfrey was offered a full five-year scholarship by Save A Child's Heart to study pediatric cardiac surgery.  And the organization helped him to train a complete surgery team to work in Tanzania with him.

"Heart surgery is teamwork," said Dr. Godfrey as he toured Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto.  "It's not just the work of a surgeon.  You need a cardiologist, an anesthesiologist, an intensive care unit internist, people to operate the heart pumps and ventilators."  On his graduation next summer from the Wolfson Medical Centre he will represent the first and only pediatric heart surgeon in Tanzania to serve a country of 43-million people.

"A child on the waiting list with a serious heart condition may wait maybe three or four years and die of complications like heart failure.  Sometimes it can be very depressing being a doctor in a poor country like Tanzania.  Too many times you see children dying in front of your eyes.  You know that you are supposed to do something, like give them medicine, but you don't have it."

In Israel at the inception of his training at the Wolfson Medical Centre the situation was completely different.  "I always used to see a lot of death.  In our department in Tanzania (Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza) you could have five or seven children die every day.  When I got to Israel to train I realized we weren't seeing any children die - even in a month."

"This was really an eye-opener.  Whatever we were doing; it was wrong.  It opened my eyes.  There is so much that we don't know.  There is so much equipment that we don't have.  There is so much medication that we don't have."  Tanzania's Ministry of Health has a waiting list of nearly 500,000 patients desperately requiring heart surgery.

"A child on the waiting list with a serious heart condition may wait maybe three or four years and die of complications like heart failure."

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

That's All Right, Then

Now, that's inspiring.  It might indeed inspire copy-catters.  Assuming that individuals who might be attracted to subterfuges of that magnitude in the commission of horrendous crimes, having the faculties to plan a web of intrigue so simple yet so complex.  And assuming that they can read.

Ved Parkash Dhingra stabbed his wife to death seven years ago.  But he was deemed through expert testimony to have been insane at the time of the murder, according to an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling.

Normally, read the court's 17-page document setting out its decision, it is a "rule of public policy", that someone who murders may not share in the victim's estate.  Makes eminently good sense.  There should be nothing approximating a 'reward' for the taking of a human life.  But since that particular psychotic outbreak has been attributed to temporary insanity, why then...

Mr. Dhingra cannot be held legally responsible for the death of his wife whom he repeatedly stabbed and bludgeoned.  Kamlesh Dhingra lost her life to her husband's rage.  He was charged with second-degree murder, but a court found him not to be criminally responsible.  He had, evidently, suffered a schizoaffective disorder.

When the trial wrapped up, Mr. Dhingra proceeded to the logical next step, having evidently recovered his senses.  He applied for his wife's $51,000 life insurance policy.  After all, he has been deprived of his wife, and compensatory benefits, though they will never, ever make up for his loss, will diminish his grief somewhat, one assumes.

Their son, Paul Dhingra, appears not to approve.  Perhaps he knows and judges his father somewhat differently than the experts.  He had attempted to block the application submitted by his father to collect that $51,000.  And an Ontario Superior Court judge believed the son to be quite correct, and supported his contention that his father was not eligible under the circumstances to collect that insurance.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in its wisdom, judged otherwise.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Testimony to Virulent Lunacy

He shudders and abhors the very idea that he can be considered unhinged.  But how else can someone be thought of who goes out of his way, deliberately and with malice aforethought to rid himself of normal human inhibitions against taking the lives of innocent beings.  Who submits himself to deadening hour after hour of repetitive motions designed to remove from his consciousness the fixed idea that murder is an unforgivable transgression.

And who carefully plans to acquire weapons, learn and practise how to use them expertly, lays out a scenario where he views himself as a warrior for justice for his community, his country, his culture and heritage and sets out to slaughter young people whom he perceives as representing an ideology prepared to surrender that culture, heritage and country to an foreign force preparing to submerge it into an alien culture and heritage.

His "gruesome" actions, according to Anders Behring Breivik, during his testimony in Oslo, were completely necessary.  Nothing less would alert and awaken his countrymen to the dire threat they were submitting to, in committing national suicide.  His protest against the inundation of Muslims emigrating in great numbers from their source countries to Europe, sounds the death knell of Europe; the mournful bells of regret ring in his brain.

Turning his mind to a solution.  He was a modern Knight Templar, jousting for the spirit and the soul of Europe.  First, his own country, Norway.  His was an act of courage, of desperate courage, seeking to rescue his country before it was too late.  If to do so he would become the servant of the Angel of Death, so be it.  He had as example, the martyrdom-fanaticism of Islamist jihadists.  If they could do it, so could he.

His cause was noble, theirs ignoble.

He used a fake police uniform to initially give confidence of his harmless, protective presence to his victims, before turning his weapons on them, in a horrible display of vengeance against those whom he blamed for his country's approaching demise.  His uniformed presence encouraged those whom he targeted to reveal themselves, before being cold-bloodedly shot.

And the real police, they were nowhere to be found, though desperate calls were being conveyed to alert authorities to the catastrophe that was occurring.  Breivik himself called police with the intention of surrendering, but there was no response.  He left a message.  "I said 'call me back when you got the right person'", he testified.

For Norway, the tragedy of one sole madman whose careful planning was able to visit upon its society an unforgettable misery.  For the authorities and the security establishment, a day of shameful regret at their lack of perception and reaction.

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Guest writer: Karen Rosenfeld, Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

Friday, 20 April, 2012


 Pet Poison Help Line 24/7 (800-213-6680)
Dogs can suffer from poisoning for many reasons - some foods are toxic to dogs, if you do not know what foods can harm your dog you may end-up accidentally poisoning your dog. Sometimes dogs are accidentally exposed to chemicals (i.e. household cleaning products), or toxins such as anti-freeze. Dogs can suffer poisoning from snake bites, ingesting poisonous plants or rodent poison, eating grass that fertilizer, herbicides or pesticides have been applied to, ingesting and/or surface contact with road salt (de-icer), etc. Some dogs are intentionally poisoned by unhappy neighbors. 
Dogs can inhale or ingest a poisonous substance. For example a dog may absorb poison by inhaling tiny air-borne particles. Toxins may enter their blood stream via surface contact with  the pads of their paws. They may directly ingest a toxic substance or may inadvertently ingest it by brushing against/walking or lying on a toxic substance and then licking/grooming themselves.
It is always better to be pro-active; accidents happen, and so too, intentional cruelty by others - by familiarizing yourself with the symptoms and treatments of poisoning you can save your dog’s life.
Symptoms of Poisoning
Absorbed, ingested and/or absorbed poisonous/toxic substances can cause a wide range of reactions such as…
  • Breathing difficulty;
  • Bleeding disorders;
  • Bleeding from various parts of the body;
  • Chemical burns;
  • Coma;
  • Death;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Drooling;
  • Elevated temperature;
  • Hallucination resulting in over-reaction to sound or light;
  • Heart and organ failure;
  • Kidney or liver problems;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Loss of balance - staggering;
  • Lethargy;
  • Mouth irritation;
  • Muscle tremor and rigidity;
  • Seizure;
  • Skin rash;
  • Swelling of the tongue;
  • Vomiting;
  • Weakness;
Some toxic substances result in immediate signs of poisoning, typically signs of poisoning are apparent within 3 days after contact with the substance. However, some poisons/toxins can be insidious - toxic load may take weeks, months or years to build up before symptoms surface.
The earlier you notice symptoms and the quicker your dog receives treatment the less the chance of permanent damage or death. But there are some poisons for which there is no cure.
Treatments to Mitigate the Effects of Poisoning
The following provides a list of some of the interventions that your veterinarian 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. Road salt is one of the most common of such substances and can cause serious and lethal damage over time. Remember, your dog walks on, lies on and licks the floor - don't use chemical-based cleaners to clean floors, other horizontal or vertical surfaces that your dog comes into contact with. Absorbed poisoning can happen through ingestion when the animal grooms himself. For oil-based toxins (petroleum products) use a gentle dish washing liquid like 'Dawn'. 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 a sterile saline solution. To remove toxins from a dog's paws you can use the following Foot Soak Recipe...
Warm Water and Iodine - Foot Soak Recipe, To Remove Toxins
Iodine is non-toxic for dogs (but should not be ingested, just used topically) and is anti-fugal and anti-viral. To remove toxins (road salt, herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides) from the surface of your dog’s paws - this soak can also be used to reduce itchy, inflamed, and other wise irritated paws…
  • Fill the container you are using with warm water;
  • Add enough iodine to make the water turn the colour of ice tea;
  • Have your dog stand in or otherwise keep their paw in the the water/iodine solution for 30 seconds
  • Then pat your dog’s paws dry.

‘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 Poisoning
(food, chemicals, insect/snake bites)
If you think your dog is suffering from symptoms related to poisoning from food, 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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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Working With Shawn Atleo

"We are not opposed to development, but we must be involved at the outset.  First Nation rights and responsibilities demand that we are full partners in discussions about exploration, ownership, participation in production, and long-term sustainability of our environment, our communities and our futures."  National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
There was Shawn Atleo, brimming with righteous confidence, addressing the Canadian Club of Toronto.  Again.  Reading them the riot act.  Literally.  For riots is what they can anticipate should they forget for one moment that First Nations peoples were, ahem, here first - back in the day.  But that day, to them, is everpresent and as current as today.

Canada, Mr. Atleo said, faces "an aboriginal tsunami", which can be averted only if and when the "newcomers" (that's everyone outside the First Nations communities) acknowledge their undying debt to the firsters, which are the aboriginal peoples of Canada.  Cooperation with First Nations is the primary step to ensuring a happy collaboration between industry and warrior tribes.

"Currently, First Nations are often the last to know about major resource development.  This relegates our communities to few options, usually resulting in confrontation.  So we end up with protests and legal battles that frustrate opportunities for everyone and deepen tensions today and into the future", he explained eloquently.

(The Taliban in Afghanistan collect 'protection' money from Afghan farmers whom they force to grow poppy crops for their opium derivatives.  Just a little diversion, a stray thought.)

Economic partnerships is what Mr. Atleo stresses.  This constitutes what he terms a 'cornerstone of true reconciliation.  "We can do things the hard way or the harder way."  The population growth rate among aboriginal people is a whopping 25%, while the general population stands at a miserable 6%.  Get the picture?

"Almost every resource development activity currently operating or planned is occurring within 200 kilometres of a First Nations' community and right in the middle of our traditional territories", said Chief Atleo.  "Canada's economic fundamentals require greater economic participation of our quickly growing population."

Lands claimed as traditional territory give First Nations the right to claim partnership with any kind of development or resource extraction.  And it imposes upon industry and the greater public within Canada an unavoidable obligation to honour the need to share and share alike with Canada's First Peoples. 

In fact, there is no territory in the country that hasn't a prior claim on it.

This is a historical moment in time.  The historically dispossessed dictating to the colonialist descendants just how the reality of the situation is to be assessed.

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 Guest writer: Karen Rosenfeld - Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

 Monday, 23 April, 2012


Dogs are frequently exposed to a vast array of toxins inside and outside the home. Many toxic substances are carcinogenic, but even if a toxic substance is not carcinogenic it can still cause problems for your dog’s health. Toxic burdens on your dog’s system weaken biological functions causing damage, and suppressing the immune system. Over time, toxins can build-up in a dog’s system causing a substantial toxic-load that can lead to many health issues including cancer. Daily exposure to the air-borne vapours, droplets, and surface residue of chemical-based household cleaners are one of the villains a dog’s system must fight to stay healthy. You can help reduce the daily stress on his/her system by making your own dog-friendly household cleaners. In addition, many of the chemicals are lethally poisonous to dogs and other animals.

The recipes provided below are also ‘green’ recipes - environmentally friendly. And one more big plus - they are not tested on animals as many standard household cleaners are!

The ingredients used in the recipes are natural products…

Baking Soda - also known as sodium bicarbonate has antiseptic and water-softening properties; it is excellent for removing stains and grease;
Lemon Juice - the juice of lemons is a natural chelating agent, natural preservative, anti-bacterial and antiseptic;
Salt - is a natural abrasive cleaner. Coarse salt offers greater abrasive action than fine salt.

Vinegar - Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties (primarily from the acetic acid and malic acid in ACV);
Water - it is best to use water that is not heavily laden with hard minerals.

Brass and Copper - In a bowl, mix ¼ cup of table salt with lemon juice to make a paste. Apply the paste to copper or brass pots and pans, let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse with warm water. Buff dry with a soft cloth.

Counter Top Stains - Rub half a cut lemon over the surface; let the juice sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

Carpet Cleaner - I use vinegar to remove all sorts of stains from carpet including blood, dirt, doggie accidents. Just spray or pour some vinegar on the stain, or fill your carpet cleaner reservoir with vinegar rather than chemical cleaning agent - let the vinegar sit for a few minutes then rub it by hand or go over it with the carpet cleaning machine. You can also use baking soda. Just sprinkle baking soda on the spot then spray vinegar on top and follow the same process mentioned above. You can also use salt to remove fresh carpet stains, such as red wine, coffee, etc. Pour salt on the stain, leave the salt until the spot dries and then vacuum up the salt.

Disinfect Surfaces - To disinfect surfaces mix 1 part vinegar with four parts water, if you would like to add a scent you can squeeze some fresh lemon into the mixture.  Or you can disinfect and freshen surfaces like wood cutting boards by rubbing a cut lemon over the surface. Let the lemon juice sit for a few minutes prior to wiping clean.

Drain Cleaner - Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the clogged drain then immediately pour ½ cup of vinegar. Vinegar and baking soda react together and fizz. Cover the drain to contain the fizzing action within the drain.  After the fizzing action subsides, pour a litre or two of boiling water down the drain. For really clogged drains, you may need to use a drain snake after the boiling water.  
Floor Cleaner - (hard floor surfaces) Mix 1 part vinegar with four parts water.  If you would like to add a scent you can squeeze some fresh lemon into the mixture.  To remove scuff marks from the floor - sprinkle the marks with baking soda and wipe clean with a warm, damp cloth.

Furniture Polish - Mix ¼ cup of olive oil, 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, apply to furniture with a soft cloth.

Glass Cleaner - Mix 2 cups water, ¼ cup vinegar and ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray on and then use newspapers to wipe down the surface for a streak-free result. For a fast-drying glass cleaner you can use this formula - but just remember alcohol is not safe for dogs to ingest so keep the spray bottle where your dog cannot get at it. In a spray bottle mix 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup rubbing alcohol. Spray on glass surface and then rub with newspaper. The alcohol smell is a little strong but dissipates as the alcohol dries.

Grease - Fill a spray bottle with plain white vinegar (you can also purchase extra-strength vinegar meant specifically for cleaning). If you do not want to use a spray you can simply dip a sponge or cloth in vinegar.  Use the vinegar to wipe down counter tops, dishes, pots and pans, cook tops, ovens, exhaust fans, etc. You can also use lemons, just combine the juice from two lemons with ½ cup of vinegar and use this to wipe down surfaces.

Insect Control - To keep household pests such as ants, spiders and fleas away, rub lemon juice or leave lemon peels in bug-prone areas such as baseboards, windowsills, kitchen cabinets.

Laundry Softener - Add a ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften clothes, linen, towels, etc. Vinegar naturally breaks down and dissolves laundry detergent - this softens the fabric.

Laundry Brightener - Lemon has natural bleaching properties, so for whiter fabrics add ½ cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle.

Mildew - Mix baking soda with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to create a paste; apply to bathroom grout, let stand for 30 minutes, then scrub.

Odor Control - Mix the juice of a fresh squeezed lemon to a ½ cup of water - pour into a spray bottle and spray.

Oven Cleaner - You will require the following ingredients to make this cleaner…
1 box (16 ounces) baking soda;
1/2 cup salt;
1/4 cup baking soda;
1/4 cup water;
3/4 cup white vinegar;
10 drops thyme essential oil;
10 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oil.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl then add just enough water to make a paste. Remove oven racks, pans etc. from the oven and preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Leave on preheat for 15 minutes then shut the heat off. Using a sponge or cloth, spread the paste on all of the surfaces (inside the oven) that you want to clean. Allow the paste to sit on the surfaces for 20 -30 minutes. Then combine the vinegar and the two essential oils in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray the vinegar solution on the surfaces that have paste and wipe clean with a sponge or cloth. Then use warm water on a sponge or cloth to wipe the surfaces clean.

Pots, Pans and Dishes - To remove caked-on food from pots and pans, sprinkle with baking soda, add water and let them soak for a few hours. The baking soda will loosen the caked-on food. You can also add a little vinegar if you want to.

Rust - Mix salt with a little cream of tartar and add only enough water to make a paste. Apply the mixture to a rust stain on metal - allow the object to sit in the sun until the paste is dry, remove the paste with a little warm water. You can also make a similar paste using lemon juice and salt…add enough lemon juice to salt to create a paste, apply the paste to the rust, rub with a soft dry cloth and then wipe clean with a little warm water and dry with a cloth. You can also soak the item in vinegar or wrap the item in vinegar-soaked paper towels - then wrap in plastic to keep the towels from drying out. After a couple of hours or days (depending on the amount of rust) once the rust is loosened take a steel-wool pad and remove the rust.

Sink Garburators - To cut odours and bacteria in your garbage disposal cut a lemon into chunks and place in the garbage disposal, turn garburator on.

Soap scum and Hard Water Deposits - Pour undiluted lemon juice on deposits, or rub a cut lemon over the resistant spots.

Stain Removal from Fabric - In a spray bottle, mix ½ cup white vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda and 3 cups water, then spray on fabric for a pre-wash laundry stain-remover. Then toss the clothing into the washing machine. To remove dirt and grease from clothes add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.

Tile Grout Cleaner - Fill a spray bottle with 1 part water and 1 part vinegar, spray the solution on the tile and scrub with a toothbrush or other narrow brush.

Toilet Cleaner - Vinegar is anti-bacterial and deodorizes. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the toilet and let sit. Then add a few tablespoons of baking soda, brush and flush the toilet.

Wall Washing Solution - Dust the wall, then mix 1 quart warm water, with ¼ cup vinegar, 2 tbs of biodegradable liquid soap. Once you have finished washing the wall with the solution wipe the wall down with plain, warm water and then wipe the wall dry with a soft towel or cloth.

Whiten Toilets, Sinks, Bathtubs, etc. - Sprinkle the entire surface with a thin layer of baking soda and let sit for 10 minutes. Then spray or sprinkle on enough water to form a paste and scrub porcelain. You can also spray with vinegar instead of water. For extra whitening power you can also sprinkle with salt in addition to the baking powder.

For more information on ways to reduce the toxins in your dog’s daily environment and to boost your dog’s immune system you can read these articles…

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Human Entertainment

Now that is truly pathetic.  How is it that a geographic area that is held by the international community to be under an oppressive siege, claiming that its people are oppressed and poverty-stricken, their basic human rights in constant peril, a shortage of fundamental necessities a way of life, yet within the Gaza Strip there are no fewer than five animal zoos.

A zoo in Gaza City painted a donkey with zebra stripes to entertain zoo goers with the notion that this was an exotic African creature, no mere donkey.  Evidently two zebras were killed during the Israeli offensive, and the zoo could not afford to replace them. 

Zoo owners have brought exotic animals through smuggling tunnels from Egypt, when Israel placed a moratorium on transport through conventional means after Hamas took possession of Gaza.

At the Khan Yunis wildlife park there is no zoo-keeper.  Ailing animals are treated remotely over the telephone by contact with veterinarians in Egypt.  Despite which, it is a popular public attraction in Gaza, overcrowded by people seeking to be entertained by the presence of wild animals from exotic locales.

There also, with the use of rudimentary taxidermy skills, the owner, Mohamed Awaida, has been embalming animals that have died.  Such as a lion that starved to death, a monkey, and a porcupine.  They are among ten animals that have thus far been preserved through taxidermy techniques taken from the Internet.

"The idea to mummify animals started after the Gaza war because a number of animals like the lion, the tiger, monkeys and crocodiles died", explained Mr. Awaida.  "So we asked around and we learned from the web how to start."

An ostrich, a tiger and a deer, kept in makeshift cages made of shipping crates and the remains of Israeli settlements which were dismantled in 2005, are seen alongside the mummified remains of other animals whose presence rounds out the offerings at the various zoos.

Mr. Awaida had abandoned his zoo during Operation Cast Lead, and the animals had died of starvation.  What remains, however, comprises, in those five zoos, a pathetic handful of animals barely maintained in dreadful conditions for the amusement of the inhabitants of Gaza.

Macabre and bizarre entertainment that nastily mocks the rights to humane existence of animals, imposed by people who claim their human rights have been broached and broken by the actions of an oppressor.

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Guest writer: Karen Rosenfeld, Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer


Diarrhea is a common ailment in dogs and cats. Just as with humans, healthy dogs and cats suffer from an ‘upset’ stomach on occasion, which then results in a loose stool or diarrhea - this is a fairly normal occurrence and is called ‘Acute Diarrhea’. Acute diarrhea is one of the body’s natural ways of removing substances that are not welcome in the body. The most common cause of this type of diarrhea is ingestion of a foodstuff that the dog should not have consumed. Although diarrhea is a natural process, it is important to monitor Acute Diarrhea and you may need to provide some healing interventions. The symptoms usually disappear within a 72-hour time period. 


The other type of Diarrhea is called ‘Chronic Diarrhea’. The underlying cause of this type of diarrhea is typically rooted in an ongoing condition in which the body is repeatedly exposed to an irritant or the diarrhea is a symptom of a medical condition.

 Common Causes of Diarrhea

  As noted above the most common cause of acute diarrhea is ingestion of food or other substances that the dog should not be eating, such as poisonous/toxic plants.

 It really is very important to make sure that your dog cannot gain access to garbage - inside the home, in your garage, yard, on walks and when on off-leash excursions. Although many foods that are consumed by humans are fine for dogs, there are many foods that a dog should never eat - at best these foods will irritate a dog’s GI tract and at worst make a dog seriously ill. Eating rotting food can also trigger diarrhea. 

  The following are common causes of acute diarrhea: 

  • Anxiety and stress;

  • Ingesting indigestible substances;

  • Ingesting too much fat in diet or the wrong type of fat;

  • Poisons/toxins - by absorbing, ingesting and/or inhaling;

  • Sudden change in food or addition of new types of food to the diet;

  • Side effect / reaction to medicine;

    Anxiety and stress;

  •  The following are common causes of chronic diarrhea:

  Allergy to food…ingredients in many commercial kibble can be a source of allergic reactions;

  • Compromised immune system;

  • Diseases such as colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, liver and kidney disease, stomach cancer, etc.

  • Parasites (i.e. infestation of worms or parasites such as Giardia);

  • Poisons/toxins - by absorbing, ingesting and/or inhaling;

  • Poor quality food;

  • Poorly functioning GI tract;

  • Too much fat in diet and /or the wrong type of fat;

  • Medications such as heart worm preventatives can cause diarrhea;

  • Over-feeding;

  • Over-vaccination.


Typical Signs that Indicate Your Animal Has Diarrhea


  Your dog is either standing at the door anxiously, or anxiously trying to get your attention to let them outdoors at a time when they would normally not be asking. Your dog starts to ask to go out multiple times (to eliminate) within the space of an hour or several hours. In either case let your dog out and watch what they do, if they eliminate take a quick look to see if their stool is normal (firm, brown) or loose.

  Your dog is straining to eliminate - although this may be a result of constipation, it is often also a result of repeated bouts of diarrhea. Diarrhea causes disruption of normal muscle contractions in the GI tract…thereby giving the sensation that elimination is required even when there is nothing left on the tract to eliminate; 

  Other symptoms include bloating, dehydration, lack of appetite, listlessness, fever.



When You Do and Do Not Need to Intervene;

  If your dog or cat seems normal after a bout of diarrhea (he/she is behaving normally, has normal energy) - just keep an eye on him / her.

  • Make sure that your dog/cat has access to fresh drinking water; watch to see if they are drinking. If they are not follow the instructions provided below under ‘Dehydration’.

  • If the diarrhea occurs just once you can continue to feed your animal as you normally would. If the diarrhea is repeatedly occurring within the space of an hour or several hours withhold food for 12 hours and then proceed to feed your dog/cat as per the instructions provided below under ‘What To Feed Your Dog/Cat’. 



You should get your dog/cat to a veterinarian right away if…


  • Severe diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours;

  • Diarrhea continues to occur for more that 3 days;

  • You see blood in the animal’s stool;

  • You observe any of the following…sluggishness, weakness, a fever, if your animal feels warm to the touch, if his/her behaviour changes or you see any other sign of dehabilitation.


At Greatest Risk

  Young (puppies and kittens) and the old or those whose health is already compromised are most vulnerable to suffering complications from diarrhea. Dehydration as a result of diarrhea can occur very quickly in these high-risk animals, putting them in immediate and serious risk.




In order to avoid dehydration make sure that your animal has access to fresh drinking water and gently encourage them to drink. Do not, however urge them from an anxious state of mind or you will further compromise their well-being.

  If you see you animal is not drinking, to entice them to drink you can offer them a clear broth. Don’t give the animal a commercially made broth as it can include a lot of sodium (salt) which will cause further dehydration, it may also contain additives such as food colouring, spices such as pepper, and other dangerous food stuffs such as onions. Instead make a broth by cooking some vegetables such as carrot, celery and parsnip with a piece of chicken or turkey breast meat and some rice in a pot of water. Bring the broth to a boil then turn the temperature down and let it simmer for an hour. Then take the broth off of the heat to cool, strain the fluid to remove all food and particles. Once the clear broth has reached room temperature you can put some in a bowl and encourage your dog or cat to drink it. Offer this broth to the animal at least 3 or 4 times a day if the animal is not drinking water on its own.

To check to see if your animal is suffering from dehydration…

  1. Pull up gently on the skin at the back of the neck;

  2. If, when released the skin bounces back quickly, the animal's hydration level is fine.

  3. If the skin does not does not go back in place or goes back slowly, your animal is dehydrated and needs medical attention right away - don’t waste time trying to hydrate the animal yourself - get the animal to a veterinarian who will probably give them a fluid injection shot right away and may put them on a saline drip. Severe dehydration is very dangerous and can lead to organ shut-down and death. 

What You Should Not Feed Your Dog or Cat if They Have Diarrhea


  • Do not feed them their normal food.

  • Do Not Feed them rice and ground beef. Many veterinarians will recommend that you feed your animal plain rice and lean cooked ground beef.

  • Rice can ferment in their GI tract, creating gas and making the diarrhea worse;

  • Also, rice moves through the digestive system quickly, and is very difficult to digest - it will only add to the next bout of diarrhea);

  • Even lean ground beef has enough fat to cause more/ worse diarrhea.

  • Do not give your dog or cat Pepto Bismal as it contains salicylates - a compound found naturally in foods and manufactured synthetically for use as a pain killer - i.e. salicylates are an active ingredient in aspirin. This will make the animal's condition worse.


What to Feed Your Dog or Cat if They Have Diarrhea


Once you have waited-out the 12 hour no-feed period you can start to introduce a small amount of the pumpkin/poultry food (recipe below). This food should be feed to the animal 3 to 6 times a day in small amounts for up to 3 days (72 hours), by which time the diarrhea should subside. If the animal still has diarrhea after 72 hours it is time to take him/her to the veterinarian.

  Pumpkin/Sweet Potato and Turkey/Chicken Recipe

  Pumpkin and sweet potato are rich in nutrients and fibre while being easy to digest; turkey and/or chicken breast meat is rich in protein and nutrients and low in fat. The combination of these ingredients are the best and only food that you should feed your animal while he/she has diarrhea.

  What you will need…

  Pumpkin - 100% pure, plain, cooked pumpkin, or 100% pure, plain, canned sweet potato. Do not use pumpkin pie filling as it will make your animal's condition worse. Pumpkin pie filling has sugar, spices and other ingredients besides pumpkin.



  Sweet Potato - you can substitute pumpkin for 100% pure, plain canned sweet potato or 100% pure, plain, freshly cooked and mashed sweet potato. 


  Plain, cooked turkey breast meat or plain, cooked chicken breast meat. Don’t use processed chicken or turkey meat - use real whole breast meat cooked and cut in small pieces or cooked ground-up breast meat. If you are using whole breast meat rather than ground - make sure you trim all fat prior to cooking. After cooking drain the meat to remove any remaining  fat. 

Using a ratio of 50:50 mix the pumpkin or sweet potato with the chicken or turkey and feed small portions to your animal 3 to 6 times a day in small amounts for up to 3 days (72 hours), by which time the diarrhea should subside.

  Additional Food Supplement


  The herb ‘slippery elm’ is the best natural anti-diarrhea remedy. It is safe for puppies and dogs of all ages and does not create any complications when used in combination with other medications (i.e. a dog is on medicine for another condition not linked to the diarrhea).

  Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries. It is used in healing salves to treat: boils, burns, skin inflammation and ulcers. It is also used as an oral medicinal to relieve coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems.

Slippery Elm contains mucilage. Mucilage is a substance that when mixed with water, turns into a lubricating gel. It works to coat and sooth the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammation. In addition, Slippery Elm triggers reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the GI tract, thereby promoting increased mucus secretion. This helps protect the GI Tract against excess acidity and ulcers.

  Slippery Elm powder is available at most health food stores and through on-line herbal suppliers. 

  There are two simple ways that you can administer the slippery elm to your dog or cat…

  One - Mix it With the Pumpkin/Poultry Food

  The dosage is ½ tsp of slippery elm bark powder for every 10lbs of body weight - just mix the slippery elm powder with the dog’s pumpkin/poultry food.

  Two - Make a Liquid Infusion 

  If you want to make a liquid infusion to administer to your cat or dog via a dropper or syringe…

  • Combine one teaspoon of slippery elm powder with one cup of cold water;

  • Bring the mixture to a boil and stir;

  • Turn the heat down and let the mixture simmer for 2 to 3 minutes;

  • Remove from heat;

  • Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature;


Administer the Slippery Elm infusion to your dog or cat 4 times per day using the following dosage for each treatment:


  • Small dogs - 1 teaspoon, four times a day

  • Medium dogs - 1 to 2 tablespoons four times a day

  • Large dogs - 3 to 4 tablespoons four times a day


Proactive Maintenance


  Once your dog is on the mend you can look at adding some healthy immune boosting foodstuffs to his/her diet. Just make sure that you only add on item at a time - this way if your dog has any sensitivity to the item it is easy to identify which new food item is causing the sensitivity.

  Adding a good quality plain yogurt is a great way to help your dog maintain a healthy flora of good bacteria in its GI tract. Just drop a spoon full of the yogurt on top of the dog’s food.


  • Small dogs - 1 teaspoon a day

  • Medium dogs - 1 to 2 tablespoons a day

  • Large dogs - 3 to 4 tablespoons a day


You can add some herbs to your dog’s daily diet to boost their immune system and build their defence against bad bacteria. 

  Calendula Flowers

  The antiseptic quality of the herb helps prevent bacterial growth, which is good news for your dog and bad news for the bacteria.




  This herb is a powerful antibiotic that prevents the bacteria from latching onto the cell walls. It is particularly useful for treating stomach and bowel ailments.




  Echinacea has antibiotic, anti-viral and immune system-stimulating properties - it is very useful for preventing bad bacteria from flourishing.

The table below provides a general guideline for herbs/spices based on your dog’s weight. The information provided in the table is an extract from Dr. Kidd’s Guide to Herbal Dogs Care.

  Daily Amounts Based on Dog’s Weight.

  Dog’s Weight

(on dog's food once/day)
1-10 lbs
a small pinch
less than 1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
1/2 capsule, 1-3 times/day
1-3 drops, 2-3 times/day
10-20 lbs
a bigger pinch about
1/4 cup, 1-3 times/day
1/2-1 capsule/tablet, 1-3 times/day
3-5 drops, 2-3 times/day
20-50 lbs
2 pinches-1 teaspoon
1/4-1/2 cup, 1-3 times/day
1-2 capsules/tablets, 2-3 times/day
5-10 drops, 2-3 times/day
50-100 lbs
2 pinches-2 teaspoons
1/2-1 cup, 1-3 times/day
1-2 capsules/tablets, 3-4 times/day
20 drops, 2-3 times/day
Over 100 lbs,
up to 1 tablespoon
up to 1 cup 3 times/day
adult human dose
adult human dose

  Caution: While certain herbs and spices do not create a hazard by themselves they can interfere with the conventional medicines. If your dog is on any of conventional medicines please make sure you consult your veterinarian before you introduce herbs or spices to your dog’s diet. The following provides a list of some of the medicines that some herbs may interfere with...

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