Ruminations

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Devil's Spawn / Innocent Offspring

"I wanted to abort. At first I refused to breastfeed him and was looking away when the doctors gave him to me. I didn't want to look him in the face, knowing where he came from."
"The third time I heard them raping her, it was during the night, and I told myself, 'This is death, I don't want to see my daughter dying, I have to go die somewhere else."
Egidie, Rwandan Tutsi
Rape divides mothers and children years after Rwandan genocide
Egidie, far right, stands with daughter Diana and son Bertrand. Diana was five during Rwanda’s genocide and was raped in a building next to where her mother was being raped. Egidie and Diana were separated for months and when they finally were reunited, Egidie was pregnant with Bertrand — whose father was one of the many men who raped his mother. The family is healing from their trauma through therapy. Photo and story by Sue Montgomery
 
"I've always felt rejected by her and he rest of the family. And now she feels responsible for the problems I'm having, and I feel guilty about that."
Angelique Uwasa, 19
Angelique Uwasa, 18, (centre) was born to Chantal Mukeshimana, who was raped during Rwanda's genocide in 1994. Both traumatized, they are trying to heal their troubled relationship which is rife with resentment.
Angelique Uwasa, 19, (centre) was born to Chantal Mukeshimana, who was raped during Rwanda's genocide in 1994. Both traumatized, they are trying to heal their troubled relationship which is rife with resentment.  Photograph by: Sue Montgomery, The Gazette
 
"I was vomiting and when I realized I was pregnant, I wanted to kill myself."
Chantal Mukeshimana, Angelique's mother
Vestine Mukangamije (left) was raped by the man who killed her husband and five children during Rwanda's genocide. Poor, homeless and still traumatized by the horrors of 1994, she leans on other rape survivors, such as Chantal Mukeshimana. (right)
Vestine Mukangamije (left) was raped by the man who killed her husband and five children during Rwanda's genocide. Poor, homeless and still traumatized by the horrors of 1994, she leans on other rape survivors, such as Chantal Mukeshimana. (right)
 
During the 100 days of the 1994 genocide that took place in Rwanda, despite the presence of United Nations Peacekeeping troops, unarmed and unable in their paucity of numbers to physically restrain the Hutus of Rwanda from attacking their fellow Tutsi Rwandans, almost a million men, women and children were slaughtered by their neighbours using crude implements to effect their murders.

The genocidaires -- as they are now called; Hutu men and boys of age -- slaughtered, pillaged and raped. Tutsi women, between 250,000 and 500,000 of them, according to Amnesty International, were serially raped throughout the months of viciously frenzied killing. The aim of the majority ruling Hutu was to destroy the presence of the minority Tutsi.

An estimated 20,000 children were born of the mass rapes. These were children who understood themselves to be different by the way in which they were viewed by their mothers, by their families; branded with shame, dreaded by both ethnic communities as representing neither one nor the other. The children were living reminders of the horrors that were compelled upon them. Many thought of their children as representing "fruit of the devil".

In the southern town of Butare, a woman named Egidie was raped during the horrors of the genocide. Her daughter, all of five years of age at the time, was kept imprisoned in another building. And the child was raped repeatedly, the mother able to hear the voice of her little girl screaming in agony and pain and fear that would not stop. Months afterward, Egidie was able to see her child again, when both survived their dreadful ordeals.

The little girl could barely manage to walk, as a result of the internal injuries done her. And that's when Egidie realized she was pregnant. Her son Bertrand, has just turned 19. Donor funding allowed for widows of the genocide to live in neat rows of houses along Rwanda's terraced slopes. Hundreds of thousands of women survived, their husbands having been butchered. They helped to raise the children of others and shared what they could.

"In the past I felt rejected and unwanted", explains Bertrand, 6-feet tall. "But my mother hadn't explained to me what happened. Now I'm trying to move on, help my mom and leave the past." If that is at all possible. Diane, the five-year-old, now is in her third year of development studies at university. She hates men. But not her father. "My father loved us, especially me", she says, smiling.

As for Angelique Uwasa, whose mother was savagely gang-raped repeatedly, the memory of which has almost destroyed her, the mother and daughter are attending meetings arranged through a local NGO, Best Hope Rwanda. At the meeting, Angelique and her mother were among dozens of other women raped during the genocide, along with their offspring of those atrocities. They are all doing their best to find hope in life, to tamp down the bitter gall of memory.

These are women and their children who live in a country where those who considered them to be enemies, less human than themselves and deserving to die horrible deaths, now live among them as they did before the madness erupted. That, in and of itself, forcing accommodation with the fact that neighbours took part in such monstrous atrocities as mass murder, rape of children and women, is bitter fruit to taint the future.

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  • Communication 101 – Ca
Dog Behaviour Assessment Scale

Dog Behaviour Assessment Scale

Introduction

Our Dogs, Our Selves

Most of us humans are not born leaders -  we must consciously work hard to acquire leadership skills  – the same is true for our canine companions.
We can become anxious and stressed in the absence of well-grounded structure and guidance – the mentoring that we require as individuals to become confident, stable beings.  The same is true for our dogs. Dogs thrive on structure. Dogs require physical and mental exercise, just as we do. Very few dogs are born leaders – most are born followers, which means that a dog is most comfortable when he /she has someone to rely on as a mentor and guide.

What Happened?

The most common trigger in the development of behavior problems is the lack of access to well-grounded mentoring and guidance. Sudden traumatic experiences can cause dog behavior problems. Poor diet can cause and contribute to dog behavior problems as can health issues that result from poor diet. Medicinal drugs can also trigger or add to behavioral problems.

Accumulated Effect

Behavior that seems inconsequential to the untrained eye, can lead to very big problems as issues can grow exponentially, resulting in very stressful incidents, for both the dog and the human. The seemingly inconsequential behavior may even be something that the human or the dog did, or did not acknowledge, see, sense, etc. But in-time the compounded consequences of the missed observation, missed guidance takes its toll.

A Simple Scale to Help You Understand Behavior Zones

Dog Behaviour Assessment Scale

Behavior Zones

Dog Behavior Scale Zone 3, Level 2Zone One is within a normal range of behavior where you simply want to ensure that healthy behavior is enabled and unhealthy behavior is not encouraged and/or does not develop.  Your puppy or dog should be happy and able to express a full range of emotions and activities without becoming anxious, stressed and otherwise reactive.
Zone Two represents the preliminary stage of adverse stress-induced behavior. Signs of insecurity, anxiety, obsession start to evidence. These type of behaviors develop due to a combination of factors including – lack of grounded structure, lack of other guidance, poor diet, traumatic events, etc.
Zone Three can occur due to a traumatic event or becasue the dog was not supported in staying within Zone One and once in Zone 2 appropriate and timely guidance was not provided – as a result escalation to Zone Two and then Zone Three occurs.
A dog that is in zone 2 or 3 is not a ‘bad dog’. A dog in zone 2 and 3 simply needs access to understanding and guidance.

Zone 1 – Low Intensity

Obedience Training Required

Dog Behaviour Scale Zone 1Zone 1 behaviors are typical of what you might expect from a puppy, teenage or adult dog who is fairly well-adjusted but does require that both you and your dog obtain some additional guidance and mentoring. By doing so you will ensure your dog acquires and maintains a normal, healthy range of behavior. You and your dog require assistance with obedience training.
A few examples of habits to be addressed and replaced with healthier behavior:
  1. Counter surfing
  2. Constant pulling on the leash
  3. If you drop an item on the floor, your dog moves in and
    grabs the item before you can pick the object up
  4. Jumping up on people or other dogs to greet them
  5. Pushing past you through door ways
  6. Passing you as you go down the stairs
  7. Running out an open door without permission
  8. Poor recall
  9. etc.
For examples of a dog experiencing Zone 1 behavior you can read:
  1. Carmen the Chihuahua’s Bio
  2. Shanny the  Alaskan Malamute x German Shepherd’s  Bio

Zone 2 – Medium Intensity

Behavior Modification and Obedience Training Required

Dog Behavior  Scale Zone 1Zone 2  presents typical behaviors exhibited by puppy, teenage or adult dogs that are not getting the guidance needed to instill a sense of ‘normal’. In the absence of this guidance he/she is starting to escalate to higher levels of excitement on a regular basis in multiple situations throughout the course of a typical day. Your dog is not showing aggressive-reactivity, he/she is simply lacking boundaries, may be over exuberant and appears (to you) to be not ‘listening’ to you. You and your dog require assistance with behavior modification and obedience training.
A few examples of habits to be addressed and replaced with healthier behavior:
  • Items as listed in Zone 1 or similar behavior…
    • Counter surfing
    • Constant pulling while on-leash
    • If you drop an item on the floor, your dog moves in and
    • grabs the item before you can pick the object up
    • Jumping up on people or other dogs to get to them and to greet them
    • Pushing past you through door ways
    • Poor recall
    • Passing you as you go down the stairs
    • Running out an open door without permission
    • Barking at people or other dogs when they pass by
    • Mild separation anxiety  – dog is not destructive, but is anxious when left alone
    • etc.
  • And one or more of the behaviors listed below or other similar behavior…
    • Dog exhibits insecurity, anxiousness – but not aggression, around specific inanimate or animate objects
    • Demanding – insists on getting attention  on demand
    • Intense pulling on the leash when your dog sees another dog, cat, squirrel, etc. – exhibiting excitement, but not aggressive-reactivity
    • Impulse to chase bicycles, cars etc.
For examples of a dog experiencing Zone 2 behavior you can read:
    1. Abby the Belgian Shepherd x German Shepherd’s Bio
  1. [highlight]Stevie the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) x Pomeranian’s Bio

Zone 3, Level 1 – High Intensity

Psychological Rehabilitation, Behavior Modification, Obedience Training Required

Dog Behavior Scale Zone 3Zone 3  presents typical behaviors exhibited by puppy, teenage or adult dogs that are not getting the guidance needed to instill a sense of ‘normal’. In the absence of this guidance he/she is frequently escalating to high levels of reactivity on a frequent and even constant basis. Your dog may be showing aggressive-reactivity, may appear to be ‘hyper active‘, appears (to you) to be not ‘listening’ to you – zones out. Your dog may be threatening to bite, may even have nipped, but has not actually bitten anyone (human or non-human animal). You and your dog require assistance with psychological rehabilitation, behavior modification and obedience training.
A few examples of habits to be addressed and replaced with healthier behavior:
  • Items as listed in Zone 1 and Zone 2 or similar behavior…
    • Counter surfing
    • Constant pulling while on-leash
    • If you drop an item on the floor, your dog moves in and
      grabs the item before you can pick the object up
    • Jumping up on people or other dogs to get to them and to greet them
    • Pushing past you through door ways
    • Poor recall
    • Passing you as you go down the stairs
    • Running out an open door without permission
    • Dog exhibits insecurity, anxiousness – but not aggression, to the point of intentional biting
    • Demanding – insists on getting attention  on demand
    • Intense pulling on the leash when your dog sees another dog, cat, squirrel, etc. – exhibiting excitement, but not aggressive-reactivity
    • Impulse to chase bicycles, cars etc
    • Barking at people or other dogs when they pass by
    • etc.
  • And one or more of the behaviors listed below or other similar behavior…
    • Complete inability to settle down the majority of the time
    • Dog exhibits insecurity, anxiousness that comes across as aggression, around specific inanimate or animate objects
    • Demanding – insists on getting attention  on demand and frequently
    • Extreme separation anxiety
    • Intense pulling and vocalization on the leash when your dog sees another dog, cat, squirrel, etc. exhibiting excitement, but not aggressive-reactivity
    • May have obsessive compulsive disorder behavior (OCD)
    • Your dog is becoming acutely destructive even when you are home
    • Your dog is chewing/destroying your boots, shoes, furniture, wall molding, etc.
    • Your dog is destroying his/her crate, chewing through drywall, doors, etc.
    • Your dog is injuring his/her self
    • Starting to be possessive / guarding – food, toys, space, people, your dog ‘owns’ you or another family member, etc.
    • Intense ‘play’ with other dogs that borders on aggression
    • Behaving in a dominating fashion with other dogs
    • Pestering, bullying and not respecting your cats 0r other non-canine animals
    • etc.
For examples of a dog experiencing Zone 3 – High Intensity behavior you can read:
  1. Tasha the Australian Shepherd’s Bio
  2. Jordie the Alaskan Malamute x German Shepherd’s Bio

Zone 3, Level 2 – Red Zone (over threshold)

Psychological Rehabilitation, Behavior Modification, Obedience Training Required

Dog Behavior Scale Red ZoneZone 3  – Red Zone presents typical behaviors exhibited by puppy, teenage or adult dogs that are not getting the guidance needed to instill a sense of ‘normal’. In the absence of this guidance he/she is escalating to high levels of aggressive reactivity resulting in biting and other injuries. Your dog may  appear to be ‘hyper active‘, appears (to you) to be not ‘listening’ to you – ‘zones out’, fixates and gets into a state-of rage. You and your dog require assistance with psychological rehabilitation, behavior modification and obedience training.
A few examples of habits to be addressed and replaced with healthier behavior:
  • Items as listed in Zone 1, 2 and 3 above or similar
  • Plus the following or similar behavior
For examples of a dog experiencing Zone 3 – Red Zone behavior you can read:
  1. Robbie the Boxer x Pit Bull’s Bio
  2. Sarah the German Shepherd x Siberian Husky’s Bio
  3. Buddy the American Cocker Spaniel’s Bio

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Climate impacts 'overwhelming' - UN

BBC News online -- 31 March 2014
Flooded pavilion in China Scientists fear a growing impact of global warming on humans
The impacts of global warming are likely to be "severe, pervasive and irreversible", a major report by the UN has warned.

Scientists and officials meeting in Japan say the document is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.

Some impacts of climate change include a higher risk of flooding and changes to crop yields and water availability.
Humans may be able to adapt to some of these changes, but only within limits.

An example of an adaptation strategy would be the construction of sea walls and levees to protect against flooding. Another might be introducing more efficient irrigation for farmers in areas where water is scarce.

Natural systems are currently bearing the brunt of climatic changes, but a growing impact on humans is feared.

Members of the UN's climate panel say it provides overwhelming evidence of the scale of these effects.

Our health, homes, food and safety are all likely to be threatened by rising temperatures, the summary says. 

The report was agreed after almost a week of intense discussions here in Yokohama, which included concerns among some authors about the tone of the evolving document.

This is the second of a series from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due out this year that outlines the causes, effects and solutions to global warming.

Analysis

The prognosis on the climate isn't good - but the doctor's changing his bedside manner with the people in charge of the planet's health.
The report's chair, Dr Chris Field, is worried that an apocalyptic tone will frighten politicians so much that they'll abandon the Earth to its fate.
There is nothing inevitable about the worst impacts on people and nature, Dr Field says. We can cut emissions to reduce the risks of catastrophe and adapt to some changes that will inevitably occur.
We have to re-frame climate change as an exciting challenge for the most creative minds.
Cutting local air pollution from, say coal, can also reduce carbon emissions that cause warming; creating decent homes for poor people in countries like Bangladesh can improve lives whilst removing them from the path of flood surges.
Some will criticise Dr Field for being too upbeat. But many politicians have gone deaf to the old-style warnings. Maybe it's worth a new approach.
This latest Summary for Policymakers document highlights the fact that the amount of scientific evidence on the impacts of warming has almost doubled since the last report in 2007. 

Be it the melting of glaciers or warming of permafrost, the summary highlights the fact that on all continents and across the oceans, changes in the climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems in recent decades.

In the words of the report, "increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts".

"Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,'' IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri told journalists at a news conference in Yokohama.

Dr Saleemul Huq, a convening lead author on one of the chapters, commented: "Before this we thought we knew this was happening, but now we have overwhelming evidence that it is happening and it is real."

Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said that, previously, people could have damaged the Earth's climate out of "ignorance".
"Now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse," he said.

Mr Jarraud said the report was based on more than 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. He said this document was "the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline".

US Secretary of State John Kerry commented: "Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice."

Infographic
Infographic

He added: "No single country causes climate change, and no one country can stop it. But we need to match the urgency of our response with the scale of the science."

Ed Davey, the UK Energy and Climate Secretary said: "The science has clearly spoken. Left unchecked, climate change will impact on many aspects of our society, with far reaching consequences to human health, global food security and economic development.

"The recent flooding in the UK is a testament to the devastation that climate change could bring to our daily lives."

The report details significant short-term impacts on natural systems in the next 20 to 30 years. It details five reasons for concern that would likely increase as a result of the warming the world is already committed to.

British winters are likely to become milder and wetter like the last one but cold spells still need to be planned for, says the UK Met Office.
Summers are likely to be hotter and drier, but washouts are still on the cards, it adds.
The assessment of future weather extremes finds the role of human influence is "detectable" in summer heatwaves and in intense rainfall.
However, the Met Office says a lot more work must be done to confirm the links.
If the study is correct, it means everything from gumboots to snowploughs and sunscreen to anoraks will still be needed.
These include threats to unique systems such as Arctic sea ice and coral reefs, where risks are said to increase to "very high" with a 2C rise in temperatures. 

The summary document outlines impacts on the seas and on freshwater systems as well. The oceans will become more acidic, threatening coral and the many species that they harbour.

On land, animals, plants and other species will begin to move towards higher ground or towards the poles as the mercury rises.
Humans, though, are also increasingly affected as the century goes on.

Food security is highlighted as an area of significant concern. Crop yields for maize, rice and wheat are all hit in the period up to 2050, with around a tenth of projections showing losses over 25%.
After 2050, the risk of more severe yield impacts increases, as boom-and-bust cycles affect many regions. All the while, the demand for food from a population estimated to be around nine billion will rise.

Many fish species, a critical food source for many, will also move because of warmer waters.

In its own words, the IPCC is there "to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts".
The offspring of two UN bodies, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, it has issued four heavyweight assessment reports to date on the state of the climate.

These are commissioned by the governments of 195 countries, essentially the entire world. These reports are critical in informing the climate policies adopted by these governments.

The IPCC itself is a small organisation, run from Geneva with a full time staff of 12. All the scientists who are involved with it do so on a voluntary basis.

In some parts of the tropics and in Antarctica, potential catches could decline by more than 50%.
"This is a sobering assessment," said Prof Neil Adger from the University of Exeter, another IPCC author.

"Going into the future, the risks only increase, and these are about people, the impacts on crops, on the availability of water and particularly, the extreme events on people's lives and livelihoods."

People will be affected by flooding and heat related mortality. The report warns of new risks including the threat to those who work outside, such as farmers and construction workers. There are concerns raised over migration linked to climate change, as well as conflict and national security.

Report co-author Maggie Opondo of the University of Nairobi said that in places such as Africa, climate change and extreme events mean "people are going to become more vulnerable to sinking deeper into poverty".

While the poorer countries are likely to suffer more in the short term, the rich won't escape.
"The rich are going to have to think about climate change. We're seeing that in the UK, with the floods we had a few months ago, and the storms we had in the US and the drought in California," said Dr Huq.

IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said the findings in the report were "profound" 

"These are multibillion dollar events that the rich are going to have to pay for, and there's a limit to what they can pay."

But it is not all bad news, as the co-chair of the working group that drew up the report points out.
"I think the really big breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about managing climate change as a problem in managing risks," said Dr Chris Field.

Infographic

"Climate change is really important but we have a lot of the tools for dealing effectively with it - we just need to be smart about it."

There is far greater emphasis to adapting to the impacts of climate in this new summary. The problem, as ever, is who foots the bill?

"It is not up to IPCC to define that," said Dr Jose Marengo, a Brazilian government official who attended the talks.

"It provides the scientific basis to say this is the bill, somebody has to pay, and with the scientific grounds it is relatively easier now to go to the climate negotiations in the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and start making deals about who will pay for adaptation."

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Altitude sickness 'two illnesses' says Edinburgh University study

BBC News online -- 31 March 2014
Climbing Climbers and skiers who suffer from the potentially deadly condition could be treated more effectively following the new insight

Altitude sickness is two illnesses, according to Edinburgh scientists.
The condition, triggered by falling oxygen levels, causes mild sickness, headaches and life-threatening problems affecting the heart, lungs and brain.

Researchers at Edinburgh University said they had shown it is actually "at least two separate syndromes".

The scientists said climbers and skiers who suffer from the potentially deadly condition could be treated more effectively following the new insight.

Altitude sickness occurs at heights above 2,500 metres.

Using a computer analysis method for grouping genes together, researchers studied patterns of symptoms among people in high altitude areas in Bolivia and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

One group experienced disrupted sleep but minimal headache, while another group only reported headaches and little disruption to sleep.

Others meanwhile experienced a mixture of symptoms.

Sleep disturbance For more than 20 years, the condition has been diagnosed using a symptom score called the Lake Louise consensus.

A score for each symptom, including headache, fatigue and sleep disturbance, is added up and a diagnosed reached.

The findings, which have been published in the PLOS ONE journal, will also be presented at an international altitude sickness meeting later this year.

Dr Ken Baillie, of The Roslin Institute at Edinburgh University, said: "For more than two decades we have thought of altitude sickness as a single disease.

"We have now shown that it is at least two separate syndromes that happen to occur in the same people at a similar time.

"Studying these syndromes in isolation will make it easier to understand the cause of each one, and to test new treatments."

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rail Thin? or Pleasingly Plump...

In the socially elite crowd of British and North American aristocrats and royalty among whom the Duchess of Windsor, (Wallis Simpson) moved, one could never be thin enough to achieve that look of
wealth, cosmopolitan sophistication and ennui that so characterized the women of her class. The expensive couturier clothing and jewels she wore simply emphasized the glamour she was acclaimed to exemplify. Hers was the world of the demi-monde; elegant beyond question, with a touch of moral ambiguity. No beauty she, but bearing a certain charismatic, louche attraction that led a monarch to choose life with her rather than a life without her, since a divorced woman could never be accepted as a consort for King Edward VIII.
Glamorous: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in Miami in 1941
Glamorous: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in Miami in 1941

Now it's not just the aristocracy and royalty that are celebrated for their lifestyle and social position; their celebrity is shared by sport figures, entertainers, actors and the wealthy who have both inherited position and wealth, and those who have achieved wealth alternately through diligent enterpreneurial skill. Where once a well-fed robust physical presence personified personal wealth, because only the rich could afford to eat well and as much as they wished to, the situation has been now reversed in our time.

Where food, particularly food that has been processed to contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt, is readily available, inexpensive and popular, leading to weight gain among society's lower classes, the working poor, the lower middle-classes, people reliant on not whole food, but food products that have undergone such alterations from their original state that their nutrient content is questionable, and the harmful substances they contain are injurious to human health, depressing quality of life leading to obesity which itself leads to early death through diabetes onset to which maladies such as stroke, heart attack, neuropathy, kidney failure, and blindness are attributed.

Oh, and of course, the unattractiveness of being overweight, sometimes hugely overweight, morbidly obese, in fact. While society admires the svelte figure and is envious of those who are casually and proudly slim, on whose forms any kind of clothing looks good, another type of illness develops in the desire to become fashionably trim. Bulimia and anorexia are addictive and unpleasant pathological conditions affecting mind and body when women in particular, as well as impressionable teens seek to severely restrict food intake in a slenderizing process that can have extremely serious health results, even leading to death.

And then, there are people who are aware of good nutrition, and avoid a sedentary lifestyle; who make an effort to lead a moderate lifestyle incorporating whole foods and physical activity into their daily routines, who are not concerned with being elegantly thin, but rather muscularly fit. These are people who may work out regularly to ensure they don't put on additional weight, retaining an ideal weight; still looking physically attractive, but not catwalk-strutting thin, nor the reverse.

Martyna Budna exposes her tiny frame on the catwalk during Mark Fast's autumn/winter 2011 collection at London Fashion Week.
Martyna Budna exposes her tiny frame on the catwalk during Mark Fast's autumn/winter 2011 collection at London Fashion Week. Photo: Rex
 
Now comes the results of new research out of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, lead by Dr. Joel Ray, a physician and researcher at the hospital, whose team of researchers analyzed 51 studies on links between body mass index and death from any cause. Their research concluded that those categorized as underweight harbour the highest risk of premature death.


Daria Werbowy and another skinny high-fashion model.

Underweight adults with a body-mass index of less than 18.5 have a 1.8 times greater risk of perishing prematurely than those with a normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, according to the results of their study. On the other hand, people classed as obese (BMI of 30 to 34.9) were 1.2 times likelier to die during a minimum five years of follow-up as compared to people bearing a normal weight. For the severely obese; those with a BMI of 35 or over, the risk rose to 1.3 times higher.

How's that for overturning common wisdom that had it that the obese and severely obese suffered because of the weight pressing in on their viscera (interior organs), and the weight they carried distributed over their body and within the cavity of their midsection causing too great a strain leading to early death. Dr. Ray agrees that the problems associated with obesity are real, but he is concerned that the worries over rising obesity rates in society risks creating an "epidemic" of underweight adults.

"Our focus as a society has been on overweight, obese and very obese, and there's no problem in our focus. It's an important public health and individual health issue. But in the process we've neglected the influence of being underweight on mortality."
"We also know that it also has the risk of potentially affecting people who are already sufficiently healthy in size, or who are so slightly overweight that it's irrelevant -- their risk of dying or diabetes isn't important."
"It's those individuals who become unintended victims of the campaign [aimed at curbing obesity]."

Being severely underweight places people at increased risk of diseases that include lung disease, cardiovascular disease such as heart failure, and falls and injuries from poor fitness and insufficient muscle mass.

Celebrity Weight Fluctuations: Stars With Ever-Changing Bodies
Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images; George Pimentel/WireImage


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Home 
Dog Psychology 101 – The Real Thing

Dog Psychology 101 – The Real Thing

Being Consciously Aware is Essential

I see and hear the term ‘dog psychology’ used everywhere – on dog trainers’ and behaviorists’ websites, on the professional group discussion boards I participate in. The word ‘psychology’ has become a trap, a catch-all, a regurgitation of misconceptions.

Thought Streaming on Auto Pilot
Most of us move through our typical day surrounded and consequently flooded by visual and audio stimulation while our thoughts flow by on auto-pilot. We have a habit of forgetting to connect back to ourselves to make deliberate, conscious choices about how we direct our thoughts and our communication.
For most of us our default state is an emotive-reactive state where we forget to be truly observant or present. We are in a state were logic is absent and omission is enabled – meaning we do not consciously see, feel, sense many of the details that surround us. This is also how most of us communicate.

When Auto Pilot Works Well
Auto-pilot is advantageous when it includes the habit of being aware, alert, observant – this is a healthy state of normal.
When auto-pilot is comprised of unconscious stream of thought and reactivity you become just what you don’t want your dog to be – inattentive, unfocused, flooded and reactive. An undesirable state of normal.

We Place Ourselves at a Disadvantage That Negatively Impacts Ourselves and Our Dogs
Dogs are, in general more connected with their senses. Dogs are much more adept and insightful communicators as they are more in-touch with their natural kit of communication tools. In addition, some dogs have heightened sensitivity – an attribute that is a real advantage when understood and properly utilized, and a dis-advantage when not recognized and not understood.

Expanding Out and Away From Our Man-Made Limitations
Our disconnected out-of-touch, and unobservant default state is further enabled by our cultural beliefs as humans – i.e. dogs cannot express emotions as humans do. Dogs have less value as beings than humans do, etc.

We Need to Acknowledge There is More
Dogs have a full range of emotions, they also have the muscular facial structure to express those emotions -  dogs do smile. Dogs feel and express joy, surprise, sadness, grief, and everything in between.  Dogs have empathy. Dogs react to stimuli much like we humans do – based on nature and nurture. Each individual (whether canine or human) has a unique combination of inherited traits, and  acquired traits shaped by environmental influences. These help to determine how we react and adjust to various situations.
Dogs form habits and associations to situations much like humans do – changing habits and associations in dogs and humans requires a similar approach.

Training for Us – The Road to Positive Change
While a dog needs some support to change his/her habits the dog is already a good communicator. We need the training to better our communication skills, our awareness, our insight in order to support conscious observation. This is how we change our default state and by so doing gain the opportunity to provide true, logical and consistent leadership to ourselves and to others.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Aftermath of Horrific Realities

"You cannot measure the consequences of war and conflict by counting the number killed. You have to count the survivors and what happened to them."
"The health outcomes aren't good."
Duncan Pederson, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health, Montreal

"We're not just starting to see PTSD, we are in the thick of it. It's an extremely big problem and we're not keeping up with the suffering."
"Will we come out of it quickly. I don't think anyone knows, but we need to work or study or do something that allows us to think of something other than death."
Naasso Munyandamutsa, Rwandan psychiatrist

"The whole thing is just so pervasive, you probably need 10,000 counsellors to even begin to make a difference. For most of us in other countries, the problem is anxiety, and this is ten times deeper than that. It's a huge challenge."
Delanyo Dovlo, World Health Organization Rwandan representative
Young people gather in Amahoro Stadium in Kigali for the 18th commemoration of Rwanda’s genocide, in 2012. Photo by Sue Montgomery/The Gazette

Young people gather in Amahoro Stadium in Kigali for the 18th commemoration of Rwanda’s genocide, in 2012. Photo by Sue Montgomery/The Gazette


The question is: How do vulnerable young children survive the horror of witnessing atrocities so brutal that their minds would be forever in a state of confused derangement over the loss of parents, siblings, extended family, leaving them as children to cope on their own and attempt to surmount that horror? Over a quarter of the Rwandan population now suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.

Each of the country's 43 district hospitals sees between 15 and 25 patients a day for psychiatric problems. Its first addiction facility, recently opened, treats 300 to 400 people a month, from age 16 and up. There are six psychiatrists serving 11.4 million Rwandans. A UNICEF national trauma survey that took place a year after the genocide took place warned of problems to come.

Of the estimated 99.9 percent of Rwandan children who witnessed violence during the genocide, 79.6 percent had at least one death in their family; 69.5 percent witnessed someone being killed or injured, and 31.4 percent witnessed rape of sexual assault. Those children in the UNICEF study are now young adults, and the trauma of their experiences has left them still struggling to understand what they experienced.
In 1994, at the Munigi refugee camp near Goma, a Rwandan child cries at his dying mother's side. Associated Press file photo
In 1994, at the Munigi refugee camp near Goma, a Rwandan child cries at his dying mother's side. Associated Press file photo
 
On April 7, Rwanda mourns the 20th anniversary of the genocide that befell it. And every April 7 there is a national recognition of the genocide, with a national week of mourning. The very churches and schools where hundreds of thousands of desperate Tutsis sought refuge, but found death instead, stand as memorials, testament, if any were required, of their torment. An estimated 300 people butchered each hour of one hundred days of slaughter.

Those young adults still struggling to understand what their young eyes were assaulted by in one hundred days of butchery where neighbours, former friends and even relatives by marriage viciously used machetes, nail-studded clubs and spears engaged on mass slaughter. Their minds cannot help but wander helplessly in the direction of the same question repeated without answer; what would make Hutus turn on that segment of the citizenry known as Tutsis?

This is an entirely different country now than it was twenty years ago. It present as clean, safe, and swiftly developing to embrace and meet all of the advanced indices the United Nations' eight Millennium Development Goals by next year. The very picture of success in living standards for Africa, achieving a list of targets agreed to by all countries in 2000; inclusive of pledges of poverty reduction and universal primary education provision by 2015.

And while the country becomes an information-technology hub, installing over 1,600 kilometres of fibre-optic cables and a 4G network covering 95 percent of the country, many among its population are barely managing to function. An estimated 600,000 people who lost both parents and have little to no access to psychological support, plagued by stress, epilepsy, unable to sleep, resorting to alcohol and drugs for relief.

Jonathan Nettal, a psychotherapist working for a Canadian NGO called Hopethiopia/Rwanda, counsels 19- to 23-year-olds how to help one another, even while traumatized. A native of Montreal whose grandparents are Holocaust survivors, Mr. Nettal teaches small groups of ten to 15 people coping skills. "So you have more calm, people are more supportive, more socially connected, and that's a huge resource in terms of post-traumatic resilience."

Think about it: how do you cope as a teen when you've just been informed you were conceived through mass rape. That venomous, self-destructive mind-flood of shame, confusion and anger must be confronted and dealt with. Mental illness in Rwanda is a dire issue, where thousands of "genocidaires" (perpetrators) live among their victims.
Egidie walks arm in arm with her son, Bertrand, who was born after Egidie was raped several times by many men during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Through counselling, they have learned to accept the horrific past and love each other. (Neither wanted their last names published) Photo by Sue Montgomery/The Gazette

Egidie walks arm in arm with her son, Bertrand, who was born after Egidie was raped several times by many men during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Through counselling, they have learned to accept the horrific past and love each other. (Neither wanted their last names published) Photo by Sue Montgomery/The Gazette


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If the Israeli presence in the West Bank, and the "settlements" from 1967 on, are the root cause of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, then why does Article 14 of the 1964 PLO Charter call for the destruction of all of Israel?
Because Judea and Samaria had no recognized sovereign, apart from the Ottoman Empire, prior to the illegal Jordanian occupation, the current Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria cannot possibly be designated as illegal.
It seems therefore that nothing Israel offers that is less than 100% of its entire land -- in other words if Israel agrees not to exist -- will affect the Palestinian Authority's willingness to make peace.
In a world ablaze, European governments and companies still see fit to boycott Israeli companies and products from the so called West Bank. The boycotting parties claim to base their actions on the fact that the West Bank is occupied territory and that the Israeli presence in the West Bank is the one true obstacle to durable peace.

It is apparently unbeknownst to them that both premises are entirely false.

In the West, the so-called "Green Line" is usually referred to when the "peace process" is being evaluated. Someone usually states that Israel should retreat behind this Green Line in order to maintain legitimacy and legality. The Green Line is allegedly synonymous with "the Borders of 1967." This is a highly misleading semantic trick. By asserting the Green Line as the borders of 1967, the case is made to sound as if this is the border from whence the Israelis started an aggressive expansion. The truth is the opposite. The Green Line is in reality the armistice line of 1949: the border where the Arab war of extermination was halted and where the Israelis finally prevented the attempted genocide of their people.

The term "occupied territories," even if not correct, is enough to nonplus the average Israel supporter and send left-wing and Muslim front groups into a twist. It is probably worthwhile to examine the legal accuracy of the term "occupied" as it is applied to the West Bank.

First, it is important to realize that the West Bank had no legally recognized sovereign prior to 1948. After the proclamation of the state of Israel in 1948, which then counted a scarce 660,920 Jewish inhabitants, Israel, literally on the day of its birth, was immediately faced with a war of extermination launched by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, complemented by Saudi Arabian forces fighting under Egyptian command and a Yemeni contingent.

During this effort to obliterate the nascent state, Jordanian forces took control of the area that had, from biblical times, been known as Judea and Samaria. The Jordanians, in 1950, changed this name to the "West Bank" [of the Jordan River], apparently in an attempt to semantically strengthen their case of "occupation" by making the territory sound as if it were a legitimate part of their East Bank. The move also appears to be an attempt to delegitimize Israel's claim to the area by de-Judaizing its name[1] -- a strategy first adopted by Roman emperor Hadrian, when he changed the country's name from Judea to Palestine, after a nomadic maritime people, the Philistines, who had been in constant armed conflict with the Jews.

Moreover, only Britain, Iraq and Pakistan recognized the Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria. The rest of the world, including Jordan's Arab allies, never recognized the Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria as legitimate, let alone legal. The same goes for the Gaza Strip, only there, it was the Egyptians who ended up illegally occupying the area after the 1948 war of extermination.

During the Six Day War of 1967, Israel was faced with another war of extermination launched by its Arab neighbors. To survive yet another attempted genocide, Israeli forces conducted, in response, a war of defense in which the Israel Air Force destroyed Egyptian aircraft before enemy troops could reach Israel's fragile borders. In the process of this defensive war, the Israelis ended up expelling the Jordanians from the part of Jerusalem they occupied and the West Bank of the Jordan River: Judea and Samaria.

Because Judea and Samaria had no recognized sovereign, apart from the Ottoman Empire, prior to the illegal Jordanian occupation, the current Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria cannot possibly be designated as illegal. After all, from whom are they occupying the area, save from the former Ottoman Empire? The area can only be correctly designated as "disputed" territories, just like Kashmir, the Western Sahara, Zubarah, Thumbs Island, and a lengthy parchment of other disputed territories.

It has been alleged -- originally by diplomats of the Arab and Muslim world, and later parroted by a gullible European political elite -- that to leave this dispute unresolved blocks not only the peace process but also the general stability of the region. Any impartial examination of facts, however, shows that the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria has no significant relationship to either the "peace process" or regional stability. It is probably just irresistibly convenient for autocrats to keep telling diplomats to focus on Israel and the Palestinian problem to throw them -- as well as their own people -- off the scent of their own questionable governance.

If the Israeli presence in the West Bank, and the "settlements" from 1967 on, are the root cause of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, then why does Article 14 of the 1964 PLO charter call for the destruction of all of Israel? "The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty. Its responsibilities fall upon the entire Arab nation, governments and peoples, the Palestinian peoples being in the forefront. For this purpose, the Arab nation must mobilize its military, spiritual and material potentialities; specifically, it must give to the Palestinian Arab people all possible support and backing and place at its disposal all opportunities and means to enable them to perform their role in liberating their homeland."

In 1964, there was not a single Israeli in Judea and Samaria, nevertheless the PLO called for the obliteration of Israel. It is this '64 PLO mentality that has pervaded the upper echelons of Palestinian administration ever since. With the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords, although PLO leader Yasser Arafat said 'yes' to peace, in the period following his actions led to the first massive wave of terror attacks, known as the "Second Intifada." In 2000, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak made Arafat an offer that shocked the world. Barak offered the PLO nearly everything it demanded, including a state with its capital in Jerusalem; control of the Temple Mount; the return of approximately 97% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, and a $30 billion compensation package for the 1948 refugees.[2] Arafat turned this deal down. In 2008, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas almost 98% of the West Bank, and again accepted nearly all Palestinian demands. Olmert too, was turned down.

It seems therefore that nothing Israel offers that is less than 100% of its entire land -- in other words, if Israel agrees not to exist -- will affect the Palestinian Authority's [PA] willingness to make peace. The Arabs rejected a plan to partition the land, they did not want peace when there were no Israelis in Gaza, the West Bank or the Jordanian-occupied eastern part Jerusalem, and have repeatedly turned down generous peace offers.

Judea and Samaria are not occupied territories, and the Israeli presence there has no relationship to the PA's willingness to make peace.

Why then would European governments and companies boycott the region? They do not boycott other comparable regions. Even more revealingly, in 2006, the EU even actively aided an occupying power, Turkey, by approving a $259 million aid package for Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus.

Anti-Israel protestors in Melbourne, Australia in June 2010. (Image source: Wikimedia/Takver)

Why these double standards and what do they tell us about the morality -- or lack thereof -- of the people who hold them?

As Thomas Friedman once wrote "Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."

[1] Wim Kortenoeven, De Kern van de zaak

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Note: Reyhaneh Jabbari is a 26-year-old woman who was convicted of murdering a man named Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi in Iran, and who has been in prison for the last seven years and is now awaiting imminent execution by hanging. Jabbari penned this letter to the mayor of Tehran several days before the Persian New Year Nowruz (March 20th). Jabbari still has no news about when the death sentence is to be carried out.
There are wounds in life than can eat away at a person like leprosy and one cannot display them. This is the house of regrets, in the Shahr'eh Ray area of Tehran. Rather, I should describe it as a mass grave. To offer treatment to the prisoners, City Hall set out to create a psychiatric area, large halls that are called Hijaria Mental Health Consultation and Psychotherapy.

They have built a wall in the middle of the main hall and they separate the cases who need therapy from the ones that do not. All the prison facilities they claim are meant to be for training -- such as clubs, libraries, cultural activities, amphitheater, co-op and a vocational training office (which adorns the logo of the department of prisons) -- are on the other side of the wall. These are only offered to people who are chosen for therapy and consulting, even if they do not really care for it. The number of people on this side of the wall fills two entire other halls. Now the social gap -- uptown vs. downtown -- is quite easily felt in prison. Uptown is pretty, green, clean and filled with places to enjoy oneself; downtown is barren, there is not even the most basic amenities. There is no space, no air, no order, no calm... no life.

Two hundred and thirty seven people are crammed in a ten meter by nineteen meter hovel. They sleep, eat and just endure there. Forget about the fact that the regulations of the department of prisons, whose article thirteen, item one clearly states that each person must have at the very least a seven square meter "roofed" physical space.

On the other side of the wall, the uptown side of the prison, three hundred people live in six huge halls, so why are those who are not in therapy not being moved to that section, when there is such overpopulation in this one?

Mr. Mayor, we have not seen many beautiful parts of Tehran designed with the a clean and proper atmosphere in mind. We urge you not to deprive the 'downtown' prisoners of culture, work and life. According to regulations, all prisoners should be permitted to use those facilities. As this is your concept, your word and your budget, we ask you at least to listen to us.

Mr. Mayor, you send eulogists to this facility for the observance of religious ceremonies, to familiarize us with the issues of chastity and religious purification and so that we can structure our lives for the future (if there is a future) on those canons so that we do not sin and do not commit any crime -- to have better lives. But are you aware that on this side of the wall, those who wish to pray in the mornings have no room to do so? Do you not consider this important for Muslims?

Mr. Mayor, you who are so enthusiastic, artistic and have the financial means, why don't you think about these conditions and solutions for everyone? Isn't it better to build a library, a well-equipped workroom, a gym or properly supplied infirmary? Although I am sure you are thinking to yourself that the person writing this letter thinks she is living in a luxury hotel, you should know that prison is our permanent home, that God has given all his creatures great or small the right to live in decent conditions, and that and no one has the right to trample on that.

I offer you greetings for Nowruz and the arrival of the New Year and hope for your change of mind with regard.
Rayhaneh Jabbari
March 2014

Background

Reyhaneh Jabbari, an interior designer, was in a coffee shop speaking on the phone about her work, a conversation which was coincidentally overheard by Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, who approached her for professional advice about renovating his office. They then set a date to meet at his office in order to see and discuss Sarbandi's renovation project.

On the day of the meeting, Sarbandi picked up Jabbari in his car. On the way to his office, Sarbandi stopped at a pharmacy, purchased an item (while Jabbari waited in the car), got into the car again and drove to his office. After arriving at their destination, Jabbari realized that the place did not look like a work place at all as it was a rundown house. Inside the house, Jabbari saw two drinks on the table, Morteza went inside and quickly locked the door from inside, put his arms around Jabbari's waist and told her that "she had no way of escaping". A struggle soon ensued. Jabbari trying to defend herself stabbed Sarbandi in the shoulder and escaped. Sarbandi died from bleeding.

Lab analysis showed the drinks Jabbari intended to serve to Jabbari contained sedatives. Regardless, Jabbari was arrested. There she was told by the authorities that the murder had been set up [by them] and was "politically motivated". Nevertheless, Jabbari was tortured until she confessed to the murder, after she was given the death penalty which was upheld by the Supreme Court. As a result she is to be executed at any moment. The Campaign to Save Reyhaneh asks that all individuals and organizations help support us in any way possible to save Jabbari. If you have any contacts or connections with media, human rights organizations, women's rights advocates or government agencies, please support Jabbari's campaign by writing to them.

Please help us save her life by signing this petition.
Nazanin Afshin-Jam
Shabnam Assadollahi
Shadi Paveh
Mina Ahadi

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A New Ring System Found in the Solar System ... Around an Asteroid!

The entire universe in blog form
March 27 2014 7:45 AM

A New Ring System Found in the Solar System ... Around an Asteroid!

Artist’s impression of the rings around Chariklo
Artist drawing of Chariklo and its rings. Click to sagittarianate.
Drawing by ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger
Quick, how many objects in our solar system have rings?
Well, Saturn, of course. Jupiter’s rings were discovered in 1979, Uranus’s in 1977, and Neptune’s in 1984. So four, right?*

Not so fast. Meet Chariklo, the fifth member of this exclusive pentaverate!
Chariklo is what’s called a centaur, one of a family of objects that orbits the Sun out past Jupiter. These are weird beasts; they’re rocky bodies similar to asteroids, but some have been seen surrounded by a fuzzy halo of gas that makes them look more like comets. This is why they’re called centaurs, in fact; half one thing, half another.
Phil Plait Phil Plait
Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies! 
There are probably a few tens of thousands of centaurs orbiting the Sun out there, and Chariklo is the biggest known. It’s about 260 kilometers (160 miles) in diameter, and most likely composed of a mixture of rock and ice. It’s far too small to ever be seen as anything other than a dot by Earthbound telescopes … but sometimes things align to unveil more information about distant objects.

Literally, in this case. A few years ago it was predicted that Chariklo’s movement around the Sun would make it pass directly in front of a relatively bright star (called UCAC4 248-108672, if you’re interested) on June 3, 2013. These are called occultations and are relatively rare but important events; by timing the duration the star is blocked, the diameter of the object can be determined. If you have several observatories at different locations watching, a rough shape of the silhouette of the object can be constructed, too (since they see different parts of the object passing over the star).

The Chariklo occultation would only be seen from South America, which put it in the path of several telescopes. When the evening came, they were trained on the distant star, waiting for it to blink out as an icy asteroid blocked its light.
dips in starlight in an occultation
The actual observations of Chariklo show two pairs of dips on either side of the main occultation, and they are mirror-images of each other ... the tell-tale signature of a ring system.
Graph by Braga-Ribas et al., from the journal paper.
What they got instead were a series of dips in light! The star faded five times in all; it was blocked completely by Chariklo itself, but before and after the main occultation were a pair of fainter ones; a weak one, then a strong one, then the main occultation, then a strong one, then a weak one.

At first you might suspect the centaur has moons; we know many asteroids have them. But look at the dips; it would need four of them, exactly lined up, with two small ones on the outside and two big ones orbiting Chariklo closer in. That’s way too much of a coincidence to ask for.
Far more likely is that Chariklo has rings.

Planetary rings are made of tiny particles like ice or rock which orbit the planet in tracks that can be narrow or wide. In the case of Chariklo there are two rings seen; a narrow one about 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) wide orbiting about 405 kilometers (250 miles) out from the planet, and a broader, thicker one about 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) wide orbiting a bit closer, 390 kilometers (242 miles) out. The broad one has about 12 times as much material in it as the narrow one, which is why it blocked more starlight.

The observations look quite good, and in my opinion these rings are real. That’s remarkable! Chariklo is by far the smallest body in the solar system known to have rings.
The obvious question is, why does it even have them? And why two?
Chariklo
Schematic of Chariklo and its rings, based on the occultation observations. The dotted lines show the shadow path over various observatories, and the green lines are the observations showing the locations of the rings. (The drawing is a best fit to the observations.) Note the shape of Chariklo itself (shown in the centaur), which is flattened.
Drawing by Braga-Ribas et al., from the journal paper
The most likely cause is from a collision; some smaller body may have slammed into Chariklo, creating a huge cloud of ice and dust that encircled the centaur. Due to complicated physics (including the fact that from the occultation observations it looks like Chariklo itself may not be spherical, but oblate, like a beach ball someone sat on) the particles could settle into a disk, orbiting the main body above its equator.

I find it very interesting that there are two rings, though. The starlight dipped a bit, then went back up to full brightness before dipping again, indicating there is a clear, clean gap between the rings, too. That strongly implies that Chariklo has a moon! As the moon orbits its parent, its gravity can constrain the rings, keeping them narrow and well-defined; this is called shepherding, and we see it in Saturn’s rings. From the occultation data, the moon would be tiny, only about a kilometer (roughly half a mile) across. Interestingly, over time several processes would tend to make the ring spread out, eventually evaporating it in a few million years. So either the rings are young or there is a moon corralling them (or both). The presence of the moon seems pretty likely then.

Not only that, but spectra of Chariklo taken over time have shown the presence of ice. A few years back that signal weakened, and no one knew why. This may have been due to the rings: They are composed of icy bits, and these new observations indicate that during that time they would’ve been edge-on to us on Earth. Normally we see them more like Saturn’s rings, more open and face-on to us, but for that brief period they would have appeared very thin, and their icy signal diminished greatly.
Looking back on all this, the astronomers who observed the occultation sure got more than they hoped for: the size and shape of Chariklo (as expected), as well as not one but two rings, and hints that there may be a tiny moon in orbit as well!

Fantastic. And we find all this because a scrap of ice and rock cast a shadow across the Earth, momentarily blocking the light from a far, far distant star. There is poetry in astronomy, certainly, and its words whisper to us about the stuff the Universe is made of. If you can read them, you can learn amazing things.
Astron
*You might think the Sun has a ring: the asteroid belt. But the shape and dynamics of planetary rings are dominated by collisions, whereas asteroids are too far apart, making collisions extremely rare. I don’t think it counts then.

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