Ruminations

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Distinguished Life

"He had the wits about him to realize he had to get the damn bag off his head if he was going to live. He crawled across the floor to where he knew there (were) some scissors and cut the thing off. He had a good deal of presence of mind for someone who's just been attacked by a much younger man. He didn't panic. He did what was necessary. Even at 101, he was not intimidated."
"He was a remarkable man with a sharp mind and a strong will to live."
Blair Seaborn, friend and neighbour of Canadian WWII veteran Ernest Cote

"Life is such that when you see these things happen to you, you try to get out. The important thing is to concentrate on how to get out of the position in which you happen to be. If you're afraid and paralyzed, you don't move. I was never afraid. I was not afraid of the landing, the D-Day landing. I was not afraid (of his attacker)."
"I was madder than a wasp, and I couldn't do a damn thing, and that's all I could do until he left. I was never afraid. I was madder than a wasp. Wasps ain't afraid; they're mad ."
"I met the British beach group. They were having elevenses. Morning tea. I asked them to have the dead bodies removed from the beach. Not a good sight for morale. I'd been told by Corps headquarters that we had to take a lot of wooden crosses over (on the landing craft). I told them to stuff it."
Ernest Cote, former soldier, civil servant, diplomat, 101
Canadian WWII veteran Ernest Cote poses on June 5, 2014 in Courseulles-sur-mer, Normandy.    JOEL SAGET / AFP/Getty Images
Born in 1913, third son of a Canadian Senator, he studied at Edmonton's Jesuit College, obtained a B.Sc from Universite de Laval, then entered the University of Alberta to study law and was called to the Alberta Bar in October 1939 mere weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War. He was shipped to England as a lieutenant in the Royal 22e Regiment, the Van Doos. Appointed to General Andrew MacNaughton's staff, rising in rank to quartermaster general to the Third Canadian Division in preparation for the D-Day invasion.

With the army as it fought through France and into Holland, he was promoted to colonel, eventually sent back to Canada to a staff position at National Defence Headquarters, in Ottawa. He left the military in 1945, was appointed second secretary to External Affairs where a 30-year career in the diplomatic service followed. He took part in the first meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, and became an adviser to the Canadian delegation involved in putting together the charter for the World Health Organization.

Ernest Cote receives Legion of Honour Award in 2004
Ernest Cote received his Legion of Honour Award from the Ambassador of France, Phillippe Guelluy at the French Embassy to Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, May 27, 2004. (Tobin Grimshaw/Canadian Press)

His ongoing career spanned various government departments and levels of personal position attainments from Deputy Solicitor General, to deputy minister in Indian and Northern Affairs and Veterans Affairs and an ambassadorship to Finland. He became governor at the University of Ottawa, and regent at the University of Sudbury. He was also a director, governor, secretary and vice-president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in the 1960s and 70s. Retired in 1975, he continued to live in Ottawa.

And it was in his Ottawa apartment in New Edinburgh on December 14 that a home invasion took place and he was attacked by a robust man half his age, who tied the aged veteran up and placed a plastic bag over his head, leaving him to die of asphyxiation. Ernest Cote felt unwilling to die at the hands of a vicious assassin; he had experienced the worst that war could throw at him, learned to negotiate his talented way around the world at the highest echelons, and decided he would go in his own good time.

That time arrived this week, and his departure is mourned by those who knew him, worked with him, befriended him, admired him and his intellectual brilliance and his courage. His assailant, as it turns out, has been identified. And, it would seem the man's attack against this noble figure was not the only time he had turned himself into a catalyst of brutal violence. That very man is now charged with the murders of three other elderly people; a retired judge and his wife and their neighbour.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

"They know where I've been and what I've been through, yes."
"I'm close to them [parents], and I want to spend some time with them."
"I don't have anything to offer on that [jail sentence]."
Rev. Joseph LeClair, Archdiocese of Moncton, New Brunswick
Ottawa Citizen

From Blessed Sacrament Parish in Ottawa to Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish in Moncton, with a stop in between at the Central East Region Correctional Centre, Lindsay Ontario, to serve two-thirds of a year-long sentence for theft and fraud. Despite having defrauded his Ottawa church of a considerable sum of money, his former parishioners still speak of him fondly as "Father Joe", and most, if they could, would welcome him back in a blink of appreciation for all he had done for them.

He took a moribund church and transformed it into a vibrant, lively place of devotion where people flocked to take up their membership once again responding to the quality of the care and compassion Father Joe extended to his parishioners. Two months after his release from prison, Reverend LeClair has a new position as assistant priest at the parish comprised of four churches around and in Moncton, N.B.

He was born on the East Coast, where his parents, now in their 80s, still live; their presence there drew him to return. This, after he'd made such a name for himself as the most popular priest in Ottawa who transformed Blessed Sacrament Parish into one of the city's most successful churches. And he didn't stop there; he hosted a Sunday morning radio show, officiated at weddings, and became a public spokesman for anxiety and depression.

He knew about those conditions, since he suffered from them, aside from being a charismatic and energetic priest. He was gifted with a golden story-telling tongue. And, it seemed, never paused in his dedication to performing his duties and then going well beyond those duties. People depended on his advice, they appreciated his care for them, they reciprocated his support for them personally, and thought he was the finest man alive in the church today.

And then an investigative journalist at a local newspaper must have got wind of someone within the parish who wasn't convinced that Father Joe was all he appeared to be and nothing more. Or less, as the case may be. A scandalous story was told of a man who was an alcoholic, a gambler, and a petty thief. Father Joe was so generous a soul, he would forgive that man's sins. That man was himself. And he denied allegations that he was anything less than a man who cared for others.

He did care for the welfare of others, for their spiritual well-being, and his responsibility to bring them to a place of comfort in the church. He wielded a special psychological power of persuasion, his status that of a man whose goodness and purity of heart raised him on a veritable pedestal. When people feel they are indispensable, that no one can perform as flawlessly as they can, and invest time and energy exhaustively, they often tend to begin to feel entitled.

Father Joe expressed his entitlement by writing cheques to himself from church accounts, by overcharging for his personal expenses, by co-opting Sunday collections, by redirecting fees for marriage preparation courses to his own bank account. An audit of his bank account discovered $1.16 million had migrated into that account between January 2006 and December 2010 with about $400,000 inexplicable in its passage to his personal account.

Eventually, Father Joe stopped declaring his innocence, and admitted that his alcoholism and gambling addiction that grew out of his depression and the stress of the work he had undertaken had led him to theft and fraud. The Archdiocese of Ottawa, after this unfortunate experience, took steps to tighten up their finance-handling to be completely accountable. But the diocese also announced that they intended to assist in his return to the pulpit.

They made good on their word. Father Joe has yet to do the same. But he has expressed remorse.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Called Criminal Medical Quackery

"We never said we were curing people and we never admitted to curing people, because we haven't."
"We don't believe that. We have an educational program here."
Brian Clement, co-director, Hippocrates Health Institute
Brian Anna Maria Clement
Brian and Anna Maria Clement are co-directors of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. (Hippocrates Health Institute)

In the opinion of Mr. Clement, his institute, licensed by the State of Florida as a massage parlour, is once again being unfairly scrutinized, found wanting, and penalized by their free-enterprise rights guaranteed under the U.S. first amendment being violated; in short they are being hounded unnecessarily and just because of some critics refusing to recognize the superior health opportunities his health team is offering to people, to take control of the quality of their lives and take responsibility for the state of their health.

So, the Florida health department has fined Mr. Clement as head of an alternative health clinic for practising, as they put it, medicine without a licence. As proof they cite his "unproven and possibly dangerous" treatment of two 11-year old girls from Ontario, diagnosed with childhood leukemia whose First-Nations rights were undermined when they were forced to under conventional medical treatment to cure that malady. What doubtless brought the situation to the attention of state licensing authorities was the investigative journalism reportage from Canada.

Not only do Canadians flock to the state during the winter months bestowing the largess of their vacation dollars, but the clinic itself sees Canadians representative of a high proportion of their client base. Florida does not appreciate its reputation being besmirched, and no doubt saw fit to react to what can only be termed negative publicity arising out of the reported operations of a charlatan claiming to have a medical degree enabling him to prescribe appropriate therapies for various diseases.

In its original Boston location, the Hippocrates Institute was 'persecuted and prosecuted' by the state of Massachusetts as well. Over claims they were capable of curing deadly diseases with wheat grass and additional alternative therapies to remedy and cure dread diseases. In the early 1980s its founder and president "unequivocally stated that her diet would make terminal cancer patients, diabetics and burn victims well", according to a state prosecutor at the time that Mr. Clement was the institute's director.

Of the two young aboriginal girls whose parents raised the $18,000 required to have them undergo a three-week assessment, indoctrination and introduction to the institute's personalized therapy designed to cure their leukemia, one little girl has died, the other, claimed her mother, is now cancer-free. The little girl has not been identified by name, only through the initials "J.J.", unlike Makayla Sault whose odyssey with traditional aboriginal medicine and the institutes's alternative medicine hastened her death.

"(J.J.'s) mom is very strong. She doesn't want her daughter to relapse in any way", said a self-styled wellness advocate from Ontario, Jane Schweitzer, who personally considers the Hippocrates Institute a superb healing clinic. As for J.J.'s mother, in an earlier interview she spoke of the place with wonder: "It's like a resort". She spoke admiringly of Mr. Clement: "What struck me most was he was not afraid of cancer. Cancer didn't shake him like it shook me", she said; little wonder, it wasn't he struggling with a cancer diagnosis.

Brian Clement
Brian Clement, the owner and director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla., tells CBC News's Connie Walker to get off his property. Licensed as a health spa and massage facility, the institute treated the two First Nations girls with leukemia. (CBC)

When J.J.'s mother was referred to the Hippocrates Health Institute, she telephoned him from McMaster Medical Centre, where she found his words reassuring, so much so she was convinced to take her daughter off the chemotherapy which medical science had proven had a 70% to 90% percent chance of successfully curing her child's cancer. When he assured her that leukemia was "not difficult for them to deal with", she was convinced. "By him saying, ‘Oh yes, no problem we can help her,’ that's the day I stopped the chemo."

Makayla Sault's parents are both pastors in an evangelical Christian church. Their preferred method of treatment for their child was traditional, a treatment called "Ongwehowe Onongwatri: yo". Sounds arcanely obscure, and it is that, perhaps impressive but it appears it is beyond explanation; not even the Institute of Aboriginal People's Health was able to clarify what it was, how it worked, other than faith in aboriginal tradition. But it, and the power of Jesus, and a stint at the institute would cure Makayla.
Hippocrates Health Institute
J.J. prepares a 'green drink' of wheatgrass and juiced raw vegetables, part of the diet recommended by the Hippocrates Health Institute. (CBC)

Except that it did nothing of the kind. J.J.'s mother too believes wholeheartedly in traditional aboriginal medicine, yet even so, she took her daughter to the 'alternative cancer treatment facility' in West Palm Beach whose license is for a "massage establishment", though its website declares its function is "to assist people in taking responsibility for their lives and to help them internalize and actualize an existence free from premature aging, disease and needless pain." This, then, is the 'educational program' that Mr. Clement speaks of.

He has, however, when his guard is down and his boastful rhetoric is most extravagantly useful -- when addressing a gullible audience of people afflicted with dire disease, persuading them that conventional medical treatment has failed them but his institute will heal them -- repeatedly claimed that his institute helped "thousands and thousands" of advanced-cancer patients heal themselves, even though their prognosis and their state of debilitation due to cancer's advance left them without hope.

His cure consists of a raw-food, vegan diet, high-dose Vitamin C, stress-relief exercises and other useful remedies to help his clients live a long and healthy life. The Florida Health Department has ordered Mr. Clement, nonetheless, to "cease and desist", levying a fine of $3,738, which certainly won't do too much damage to his bank account reflecting the $1-million combined salary in 2014 earned by himself and his co-director wife at the Hippocrates Health Institute.

In response to Florida's move, an institute spokeswoman, Vicki Johnson, stated that the citation and order were based on "hearsay allegations" extracted from derogatory investigative media reports. "We deny these allegations in their entirety and will vigorously contest these allegations through the administrative process."

And the aboriginal community in Ontario which has placed such faith in the alternative-type "natural" response through the institute? They continue to have faith in its purpose and promise, and will continue to seek out its curing therapies, alongside traditional aboriginal healing methods. In a public relations video Mr. Clement claims his institute teaches people to "heal themselves" from cancer. 
"We've had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of health care. So when McGill fails or Toronto hospital fails, they come to us. Stage 4 (cancer), and they reverse it."

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Death Stalks the Unwary

"Right now, I'm just really sad. I can't really think."
"They are sleeping, so they can't get in a fight or anything."
Andrea Miller, 17, Gatineau, Quebec

People have left letters, flowers, teddy bears and other messages of condolence at the front door step this weekend. The burned-out town home at 75 Marengere Road (apt. A) in Gatineau, where a young boy and his sister died over the weekend.
People have left letters, flowers, teddy bears and other messages of condolence at the front door step.   Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen
True, they were sleeping. As twelve-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, it is surely likely that though they loved one another they must often have quarrelled as siblings do. Their older brother, Daniel Rondeau, had been tasked with minding the twins. Something he must have been accustomed to doing, when their mother left on weekends to visit with her boyfriend, at his house out of town.

For the past year, Andrea Miller and Daniel Rondeau had been going out together. And Andrea was accustomed to being with her boyfriend on those weekends, helping to look to the welfare and security of the younger two, Gabrielle and Jacob Rondeau in their mother's absence. There's quite a gap, even with only five years' difference, between pre-teens and teens.

Hormonally, emotionally, responsibly, independently. The twelve-year-olds are emerging into their teen years, while the 17-year-olds are on the cusp of emerging young adulthood. The older sibling more aware, particularly in light of the responsibilities given him, than his young siblings. The younger ones compliant, on occasion not-so-much, to the authority of their older brother.

Could it be called a lapse in judgement, a brief hiatus, a hesitant gamble with opportunity and fate that Andrea and Daniel decided to sneak out of the house for a brief period while the younger children were in bed, ostensibly fast asleep? What, after all, could conceivably happen to imperil them, safe in their beds while the older two made off to a nearby pizza shop?

And what could be more normal than two young people companioning one another to a fast-food shop to pick up a pizza? Who doesn't like pizza? So off they went, while the children were fast asleep; the older two secure in the knowledge they'd be back as soon as it took to complete their brief mission. It's possible that Gabrielle, while in the pizza shop, experienced a foreboding, a pang of fear when an ambulance rushed past.

But that was the deciding factor, evidently, in whether to eat the pizza there, or take it back with them. They took it back with them. They returned to the house around 11 p.m., gone no more than 20 minutes. They came back to the house just in time to see firefighters withdraw Jacob and Gabrielle from an inferno and rush them off to hospital. That was on Saturday night. On Monday they died.

Andrea said afterward that she had made french fries that afternoon. The pot of oil still sat on the stove on Saturday night. "It was just oil but nothing was on or anything", she explained. Acting Chief Inspector Eric Lajeunesse with the Gatineau fire department's prevention section explained that "Even if you cooked beforehand in the same day, do not leave anything on the stove."

Alas ... too late. Daniel Rondeau and his mother Erika Cormier have been devastated by an incomprehensible loss. How each and both in turn will manage to meet their own personal challenges for their futures is an unknown. An experience no one would want to be challenged with.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mental Physicality

"Depression can no longer be described as strictly a disorder of the brain, but rather, must be understood as a series of biological changes that span the brain, genes and body."
Dr. Carmine Pariante, King's College, United Kingdom

"We all know that diabetes is a chronic common metabolic disorder with very unfavourable outcomes for many people."
"It turns out that if you have depression and you're diabetic, you have a much less favourable outcome from diabetes."
"Depression and diabetes are two companions that often march in the same direction. It's happening for biological reasons and it's a combustible mix."
"Depression doesn't last a day or two. It lasts weeks, months, or years."
"An Olympic athlete, someone who doesn't smoke, who's not obese and not living an unhealthy lifestyle, just by virtue of having this illness -- depression -- is more likely to develop diabetes."
Dr. Roger McIntyre, head, Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit, University Health Network, Toronto



Just as there are proven to be links between depression and diabetes, there are also links between depression and cancer, arthritis and other disease all of which are under study requiring additional understanding to enable medical science to find ways to stem the tide of co-morbid conditions. Depression, according to Bill Wilkerson, Mental Health International Executive Chairman, is a disorder with a physical origin and properties in the brain along with physical effects on the heart and respiratory system as well as impacting on brain performance.

Business Services: Ottawa Events - Mental Health International
The matrix demonstrates the vast reach of depression through its influence on the course of a wide range of common and serious chronic disorders. For additional information, contact bill.wilkerson@mentalhealthinternational.ca Designed by Mental Health International


Depression is capable of increasing the risk of fatal heart attacks. It does this by making the heart work harder while decreasing heart rate variability. It also impacts on the body through hormonal alterations leading to an endocrine illness or immune disorder. Depression affects metabolism, the cardiovascular system, pancreas, bones, joints, muscles, blood and immune system. That mental state has outcomes that are not isolated to mood, but clearly have a deleterious impression on the body's core functions.

Dr. Roger McIntyre stresses the influence that depression has on how other chronic disorders evolve through the biological link between depression and chronic illnesses. Chronic disorders are now recognized as the leading public health challenge to medical science and society. Studies clearly indicate abnormalities in the hormonal systems of people with depression. Metabolism, in other words, becomes improperly regulated, the abnormalities causing blood to thicken which in turn makes the heart work harder, straining the entire cardiovascular system.

Depression is linked clinically to both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And since those living with diabetes have a very high risk of dying of the results of cardiovascular illness, the circuitous nature of the connection presents a challenge to health scientists. Depression then, while leading to poor health outcomes also has the capacity to kill through those same deteriorating health outcomes. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, mental disorders reduce life expectancy by 25 years.

The goal in improving the care and treatment of depression, according to Mental Health International's executive chairman is to:
  • Save lives lost to heart disease and stroke;
  • Prevent worse outcomes for those who live with diabetes;
  • Prevent worsening the prognosis of some cancers;
  • Help counter obesity, which also threatens life expectancy gains made in the past 35 years.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Beware Health Charlatans Vultures

This is a screenshot from the website of the Hippocrates Health Institute, showing its grounds.
Screenshot from the website of the Hippocrates Health Institute
"The program is designed to sell high-priced, controversial medical treatments and holistic spa services to a captive audience of sick (often terminally) individuals who believe they have come to a world renowned medical spa."
Virginia resident complaint

"We have ... the longest history on the planet Earth, the highest success rate on the planet Earth of people healing cancer."
"We have dealt with mostly stage-three, stage-four catastrophic cancers -- a big percentage of them, probably 25 percent, have been told they're going to die. We have seen thousands and thousands of those people recover."
Brian Clement, co-director, Hippocrates Health Institute, Florida
Video grab of Brian Clement, of the Hippocrates Health Institute.
Hippocrates Health InstituteVideo grab of Brian Clement, of the Hippocrates Health Institute
"Patients told me directly of selling everything they had to come there as a last-hope treatment."
"I would get emails occasionally from a family member saying a patient had succumbed to cancer."
Steven Pugh, former director of nursing, Hippocrates Health Institute

"At the end of the three weeks, she started to really blossom, she looked healthy."
"I recommend everybody to go to Hippocrates."
Jane Schweitzer, wellness advocate, Hamilton, Ontario
Mass hysteria of belief by the health-compromised, vulnerable to promises of a cure?

Two First Nations girls from Canada, both diagnosed with childhood leukemia, both eleven years old, from different reserves in Ontario, refused conventional chemotherapy with its 80% to 90% success rate in hospital, administered and overseen by pediatric oncologists, to pursue alternative and aboriginal therapies. One little girl has since died. The mother of the second has declared her daughter 'cured'.

Their loving parents took these children out of conventional treatment; instead to be treated at the Hippocrates Health Institute, a Florida business that is state-licensed as a massage treatment centre. Their reserve had been visited by Mr. Clement who often travels widely in North America to spread the good news that his institute is a godsend to those suffering from incurable maladies; capable of curing diseases that medical science cannot.

Of course this is also a business. And the families of the two little girls were charged a fee of $18,000 to have a special diet prescribed for their children afflicted with leukemia along with the holistic spa services. The girls were put on a raw-food, vegan diet with an especial emphasis on wheat grass. "Their anti-cancer treatments are totally bogus and not backed by any evidence", according to Dr. Stephen Sagar, radiation oncologist at McMaster University.

Mr. Clement and his wife Anna Maria, co-directors of the institute, earn a fairly hefty salary each from their enterprise. Filings to the Internal Revenue Service reveal together they earned close to a million dollars in 2013, from their resort-clinic in West Palm Beach, classified by the IRS as a non-profit, exempt from tax. As many as one in three of the average number of 100 "guests" that assemble at the facility weekly arrive from Canada.

Many of these guests are cancer patients who sacrifice financially to attend the institute having given up on conventional medical treatment. Others are faithful clients who gather there to experience and learn about the raw-food vegan lifestyle. Jane Schweitzer from Hamilton, a wellness advocate, claims to know personally of many Canadians with cancer, and among them she includes doctors, who have been clients of the institute, who have moved on to life rather than succumbing to death.

She had taken her fifteen-year-old daughter there in 2012 to help with the girl's depression. At first her daughter shunned the special diet, but since then she has cleaved to the vegan lifestyle, and according to her mother has become much improved psychologically. In an interview that took place in 2011, Mr. Clement was asked "What ailments have you cured by putting your patients on a vegan diet?"

He responded with confidence by saying: "Every known disease." Cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's, according to Mr. Clement, all respond to the treatments his institute recommends, because they are all "correctable". Clearly, the public is responsive to the public relations that spin out of the Florida establishment. It earned $17.5 million in revenue in 2013. The two principals are registered by the state as nutrition counsellors.

Samantha Young, a Canadian, claims she was given mere months to live once she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After treatment at the Hippocrates Health Institute, she said, the disease simply disappeared. The power of suggestion? Who knows? There can be nothing bad about teaching people a healthy lifestyle, how to look after themselves, to eat nutritiously, eschewing convenience foods, exercising, respecting their bodies.

There is something egregiously awry when people believe, because they have been convinced by the promises of a smooth talker, to shun conventional medicine for the allure of alternative, holistic treatments with no foundation for their claims that they can produce health outcomes far superior to that of conventional medical science whose rigour of empirical evidence leaves no doubt that one is a sham, the other a trusted intervention.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

 Misfortune

"I think there is a moral obligation here."
"But this is not a criminal investigation."
Toronto Police Force investigating officer

"I believe that cab driver should have waited to make sure he got in OK."
"I believe that is part of their job when dealing with the elderly or disabled."
Shawn St.Louis, friend of Mark Stroz, deceased
Mark Stroz, at 29, was young and full of life, before he became part of a tragic story that has left those who knew him heartbroken and those who did not wondering why.
J.P. Moczulski for National Post // Facebook    Mark Stroz, at 29, was young and full of life, before he became part of a tragic story that has left those who knew him heartbroken and those who did not wondering why.
 
Mark Stroz was 29, an energetic full-of-life young man who just happened to have been born with spina bifida. His friend Shawn, in memorializing Mark, thought back to the many times they had sought out each other's company. He recalls an independent spirit, with a curiosity about many things, nature and nature's geography and uncountable wonders. Some of which he took pains to photograph. He recalls the Stroz family cottage, fishing and swimming and kayaking together and just having a good time.

Shawn too was born with that deformity of the spine that ensured both boys would never be independent of their wheelchairs for mobility. But that didn't stop Mark from taking the lead in sports. He is credited with leading his sledge hockey team in scoring. And he was interested in the public social welfare contract, in particular making wheelchair access more important as a public good in a society that cares for the welfare of all its citizens, able-bodied, and not.

Mark had been out on Valentine's Day. And it just happened to be one of the coldest, miserable nights in February this year, with the temperature dropping to minus-30-degrees Centigrade. Without accounting for the windchill factor. Add to that blowing snow. After he left his friends on their night out, he took a taxi home to the grey brick bungalow that he shares with his mother in Etobicoke, a Toronto suburb.

He was next seen at 7:12 a.m. Lying face down in the driveway of his house. Nearby sat his wheelchair, tipped onto its side. With no vital signs, the young man was formally pronounced dead at hospital. Things like this happen all the time in a large city; they happen anywhere. A quirk of fate. Elderly people slip and fall on ice and concuss or break their hips, or suffer heart attacks, or have a stroke; some catastrophe that ends their lives sooner rather than later.

In the winter months cautions are publicly expressed for men in the elder category to take care in shovelling snow; the exertion proves too much for some and they never survive a heart attack that strikes them down when all they set out to do was the perfectly ordinary. Sometimes there is no reasonable explanation for people suddenly dying, involved in pedestrian pursuits like running in a race, running on a treadmill, walking along in a crowd of people. Things happen.

Neighbours of Mark Stroz, groping to make sense of the sudden and tragic death of a vibrant young man, focus on the taxi driver. "Why didn't that cab driver wait?" one neighbour puzzled. "He died in his driveway." Neighbours recall a friendly young man they often saw out with his large dog. Or busy heading off somewhere in his car after packing his wheelchair in back of the car. People who live with handicaps find the strength and the capacity to care for themselves in sometimes surprising ways.

And when they do, they have a deserved pride in their accomplishment, breaking down perceived barriers to strike out as much as possible on their own, for themselves, a credit to their determination and their will to make the most of the life they were given. Sometimes these people don't take kindly to unsolicited advice or offers of assistance. An intrusion that dents their self-confidence.

Mark Stroz in fact, might have resented anyone, including that particular taxi driver, the courtesy of waiting to see that he entered his house that night, without mishap. Who could predict there might be a mishap, after all? With a confident young man accustomed to doing things for himself, and being independent as much as feasible.

On the other hand, people are people; some are empathetic to the plight of others, and some are not. Taxi drivers perform a professional service for which they are paid. Time wasted by offering assistance is not in their business protocol, as far as many are concerned. Some are unwilling to help an elderly passenger claiming they are themselves plagued by health problems. Some are simply disinterested.

Police have identified which taxi service had been called to drive Mark Stroz home the night of February 14, but they haven't been able yet to identify the taxi driver. Under the circumstances, the driver will not in all likelihood, be appreciative of being identified, considering the public opprobrium; for him the prudent thing is to avoid being identified.

He performed the function for which he was compensated. Anything additional would be contingent on the receptivity of the young man in the wheelchair, and of the kindly disposition of the individual expressing concern, even in simply remaining there a silent witness to a young man entering his home late at night, in miserable weather conditions.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shirking Responsibility, Risking Lives

"It's a terrible thing -- something as important as a fire truck for the community. Having a contract dispute is putting others at risk. I don't know what to say."
Darcy Ochuschayoo, Big Island First Nation

"What went through my mind? Protocol. I just thought about it and we do not respond to fires at Makwa Sahgaiehcan right at this present time."
Larry Heon, chief, Loon Lake volunteer fire department, Saskatchewan

"A lot of negativity is surrounding us and it's creating hatred amongst the communities ... we can't go back 100 years."
"It's just a tragedy and there's no one to blame in this."
Richard Ben, chief, Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation

"The bottom line is: Two children died and the adults have to sort it out."
"It clearly has to stop and it's not going to stop unless we do something differently."
Bob Pringle, Saskatchewan children's advocate
Family members of 18-month-old Haley Cheenanow want to know why she and Harley Cheenanow were left to die in a burning house. Handout

The working fire truck sitting nearby on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation reserve was bought for the purpose of bringing safety to the one thousand residents of the reserve, with their own equipment. Unfortunately, the fire truck was never configured to fit the fire hydrants on the reserve. Nor did it have a trained crew to operate it. As in no volunteers; as in no one making the right decisions; as in indifference to their own health and security. The truck simply sat outside the band mechanic's home.

So for the chief of the reserve to metaphorically shrug his shoulders in a philosophical nod to human nature inclined to leave one own's responsibility to others, the phrase that no one is at fault sounds fairly self-forgivingly hollow. Why would a reserve of one thousand souls not have a core group of people prepared to respond to emergencies such as fires when past tragedies illustrate the need for that vital volunteer function?

There was also a volunteer fire department a fifteen minute drive away from the reserve, at Loon Lake. But they no longer responded to emergency calls from the reserve because the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation had ignored previous bills entailed for the work of the Loon Lake volunteer fire brigade. So when a house on the reserve caught fire, it burned to the ground.

Despite mounting criticism, Loon Lake volunteer fire chief Larry Heon said he stands by his decision to ignore the emergency call, saying he was following the instructions of his village council and the contract signed with the First Nation. Kim Capiral / Newcap Television

An RCMP cruiser did show up at the scene, but was unable to do much about the conflagration. The unpaid bill of $3,360.89 by the First Nation reserve caused the Loon Lake volunteer fire department to respond by suspending service to the reserve. That suspension took effect three weeks before the fire took place on Tuesday. For want of hoses hooked up to the band's own fire truck, and residents of the reserve committing to using it, two infants died.

When the small house they were in burned down to its foundation two-year-old Harley Cheenanow and his 18-month-old sister Haley, lost their lives. A letter sent out by the Loon Lake village administrator had informed the band on January 30, 2015, that they would no longer be covered from that date forward. Unless, of course, their tardy response to the outstanding bill was rectified.

Evidently the band council ignored that notification just as they had ignored the invoice for services that preceded it. And the fire truck, bought five years previously, just sat there in front of the band mechanic's house, covered with snow, its purpose completely abandoned. Now, the fire chief, who also happens to be mayor of Loon Lake is "scared for my family" because of angry telephone calls and social media messages threatening Mr. Heon.

There was a time when the reserve handled its own fire-fighting. But when the large metal shed used as a fire hall burned down thirty years earlier, interest more or less died with the shed. The children were at home with their grandmother when the fire began. The grandmother managed to escape the burning home. When police arrived at 1:30 p.m. they witnessed a man, later identified as their father, rushing out of the burning home the limp bodies of two children in his arms.

The Assembly of First Nations has called for an investigation. "Our community is in mourning there right now. We need time to do that properly. We can't have distractions and innuendo", typically stated Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations vice-chief Dutch Lerat of an incident that is anything but uncommon in its details and tragic results on First Nations reserves.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Death Stalking in Winter

"You've got this irreversibility problem because the child was never going to get that door back open. And then you have the time -- it is four a.m. -- not recess during school."
Gordon Giesbrecht, hypothermia expert, professor, University of Manitoba
THE CANADIAN PRESS
THE CANADIAN PRESS    Elijah, 3, is shown in a building lobby in this undated handout photo.
 
It happens without fail, every winter somewhere in Canada. And, one suspects elsewhere in the world where winter weather is harsh and children's curiosity knows no bounds. Yet another child has died as a result of exposure to the miserable cold of winter. No, he wasn't abandoned to his fate, he was just a precocious little boy who evidently woke from a sound sleep and decided he would treat night like day and do some exploring.

All the more attractive, perhaps, because no one was about to ask what he was doing, where he was going, and to irritatingly -- as adults are wont to do -- interfere with his plan, if he indeed had a plan -- other than to do what he had done countless times before while being ushered back and forth by his mother, his father, his grandparents, his aunts. A tiny boy whom no one really suspected could be able to unlock a door. Yet he made his way through three doors, to reach his presumed goal, the out-of-doors.

Wearing a little shirt and a diaper. This has been a brutally cold February, even in Toronto. And Elijah March, who was loved and coddled and cared so carefully for to ensure that no harm would ever come to the little fellow, woke at four in the morning, took himself out of bed, out of his grandparents' apartment, to finally exit the building and freely walk about unencumbered by pestering adults, on the outside of the low-rise building. He had taken the caution of pulling on his winter boots.

At four in the morning on Wednesday, the temperature was a miserable minus-20 Celsius, and colder even than that, taking into account the windchill factor. Sometimes young children seem almost oblivious to the cold, but it wouldn't have taken long for little Elijah to feel very uncomfortable indeed. But the option of re-entering the building he had just exited wasn't open to him, since that outer door clicks firmly shut and cannot be opened from the exterior.

"I have a three-year-old. What happened here is unbelievably sad. I just think about that child being outside. Alone. And it being dark, and it is so cold and he was three -- and he comes out -- and he can't get back in the building, because the door here locks behind you. All he would want was his Mom and Dad. I always see him with his family. I have never seen that boy alone", said a neighbour, mournfully.

Video thumbnail for Toronto boy dies after wandering out into the cold
National Post: Elijah March :Toronto Police / The Canadian Press

When his grandparents awoke at 7:30 a.m. it was to discover that their tiny grandson was nowhere to be seen. They looked everywhere. Police were alerted and over 100 units including mounted police and helicopters engaged in the frantic search for the little boy. By that time he had already been out, alone, in the frigid cold for well over three hours. It took three more hours before his little body was discovered, with no vital signs, by two of the dozens of community members who also were out searching for the child.
"I think every Torontonian will feel the loss. You see the picture of that beautiful little boy. And the smile. And the video of the child going out into the cold at 4 o'clock in the morning. It really is a tragic set of circumstances."
"And it will remind all of us to go home and hug our kids a little bit more. I think we all will grieve for that child and for their family and for their community for its loss."
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair 

Freezing to death in the cold and the snow doesn't happen only to children. The very same day, a 46-year-old man who had been buried for days just metres from the door of his trailer home; inadequately dressed and covered in snow from a storm, in temperatures that dipped to -30C in Moncton, New Brunswick, where his body was discovered by his half-brother.

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Best Vegan Dry Dog Food, and Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

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Best Vegan Dry Dog Food, and Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

Best Vegan Dry Dog Food, and Vegetarian Dry Dog Food

Vegan dry dog food, vegetarian dry dog food – do you know how to select a good product? Below I take an objective, in-depth look at six of the most popular Vegan DRY dog food, and vegetarian DRY dog food products to help you understand how to choose what’s best for your dog…
An Objective Look at Six Popular Vegan and Vegetarian Dry Dog Food Products
Petguard Organics Vegetarian Adult Dry Dog Food
Ingredients: Organic Quinoa, Organic Oat Meal, Organic Ground Barley, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Dried Eggs, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Apples, Organic Peas, Organic Carrots, Organic Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, Organic Amaranth, Organic Kelp, Organic Cranberries, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Ascorbate (Source Of Vitamin C), Choline Chloride, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Alpha Tocopherol, Calciferol (Source Of Vitamin D), Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Inositol, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source Of Vitamin B6), Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Calcium Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Folic Acid, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite. Omega-3: 0.8 min. Omega-6: 4.2 min.
  • Health Check – Positive Features:
    • Organic antibiotic-free, pesticide residue-free fruit and vegetable.
    • Organic pesticide residue-free grains.
    • Organic kelp and organic flax seed – pass, assuming that the kelp is sourced from clean waters.
    • Organic sunflower oil.
    • Human food-grade ingredient.
  • Health Check Issues
    • Fruit variety insufficient, should include blue and orange fruit.
    • Vegetable variety insufficient, should include more dark leafy greens, celery, zucchini, etc.
    • Root vegetable used is potato – this product should have included a more nutritious root vegetable, i.e. as squash, turnips, sweet potato
    • Herbs, none.
    • Critically low in Omega-3 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food.
    • Contains species inappropriate ingredients.
      • Grains are a leading cause of immune system issues and other inflammatory conditions and diseases in dogs – for example – allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract and renal system problems, oral health problems, cancer, insect and parasite infestations, etc.
    • Peas contain lectin proteins which can interfere with nutrient absorption, and create auto immune responses leading to inflammation and chronic disease.
  • Vitamins and minerals added to product to ‘fortify and enrich’ the product due to loss of viable nutrients from processing.
    • Vitamins and minerals used are not organic.
      • If soured from China are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins.
      • If sourced from the USA are contaminated with GMOs.
Vdog Vegan Dry Dog Food

Ingredients: Dried Peas, Brown Rice, Pea Protein Concentrate, Oats, Sorghum, Lentils, Canola Oil, Peanuts, Sunflower Hearts, Potato Protein, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseeds, Natural Vegetable Flavor, Quinoa, Millet, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vegetable Pomace (Carrot, Celery, Beet, Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress & Spinach), Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D2 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite & Calcium Iodate), DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Parsley Flakes, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Dried Cranberries, Dried Blueberries, Preserved With Citric Acid and Mixed Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E). Omega-3: not disclosed. Omega-6: not disclosed – however, based on ingredient profile product is critically low in Omega-3.
  • Health Check – Positive Features
    • none
  • Health Check – Issues
    • VDog does not state that their ingredients are human food-grade. This is troubling as animal feed-grade ingredients are permitted to contain more, and higher levels of toxic contaminants than human food-grade ingredient.
    • Insufficient variety and quantity of nutrient dense fruits.
    • Vegetable pomice – low in nutritional value. Vegetable pomice is a by-product of manufacturing made-for-human processed foods.
    • Root vegetable content – zero.
    • Product contains high levels of salt – in fact there is more salt in this product than fruit.  Salt is best obtained from consuming whole foods – added salt content in this product is high.
    • Alfalfa – when used in small amounts alfalfa meal is an acceptable source of whole-food nutrients. When alfalfa is used as a major ingredient – alfalfa becomes a health hazard.  The saponins in alfalfa interfere with the absorption of nutrients by the body. Non-organic alfalfa is also high in herbicide residue, making it a source of toxins and carcinogen.
    • Contains species inappropriate ingredients.
      • Grains are a leading cause of immune system issues and other inflammatory conditions and diseases in dogs – for example – allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract and renal system problems, oral health problems, cancer, insect and parasite infestations, etc.
    • Lentils and peas contain lectin proteins which can interfere with nutrient absorption, and create auto immune responses leading to inflammation and chronic disease in some dogs – not an appropriate ingredient to use in large quantities.
  • Peanuts used are not organic, and are not human food-grade.
  • Natural flavor – a source of emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, and solvents, (all three are placed in the category ‘incidental additives, a category that manufacturers are not required to list/disclose. These incidental additives typically contain GMOs, toxins, carcinogens. Increases the inflammatory nature of this food produc.
  • Product is critically low in Omega-3 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food.
  • Product contains poor-source Omega-6 fatty acids that increase the inflammatory nature of this food. Canola oil is GMO, mixed tocopherols typically GMO contaminated. Source of herbicide residue, typically glyphosate. This residue is toxic and carcinogenic, inflammatory disease promoting, serotonin disrupting, dementia causing, and more. The FDA does not regulate testing for glyphosate residue in food. Interferes with absorption of nutrients and adjuncts absorption of toxins such as mercury from vaccinations, and non-organic arsenic which is present in non-organic grains such as rice, interferes with healing.
  • Citric acid (is not organic) is typically GMO, and MSG contaminated, increases the inflammatory nature of this food.
  • Vitamins and minerals added to product to ‘fortify and enrich’ the product due to loss of viable nutrients from processing.
    • Vitamins and minerals used are not organic-source.
    • If soured from China are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins.
    • If sourced from the USA are contaminated with GMOs.
    • Citric acid is a common source of MSG (a neurotoxin).
  • VDog products are endorsed by PETA. PETA does do good in educating people regarding cruelty to animals on a larger scale – i.e. animal testing, and circuses – HOWEVER when it comes to ‘pets’ such as dogs and cats PETA KILLS 98% of all healthy, adoptable dogs and cats that they ‘rescue’/ ‘save’. Take a look at PETA’s kill records for the last few years…
  • PETA’s official annual pet-killing reports as submitted to the state government of Virginia – location of PETA’s head office, and main center for their pet slaughter activities:
  • Over the span of 11 years, PETA has killed 29,426 dogs, cats, rabbits, and other domestic animals. I personally do NOT consider PETA to be an ethical organization. PETA’s endorsement of this product provides zero meaningful value to the safety of this product. Facts regarding PETS’s lack of ethics when it comes to domestic dogs, cats and other small animals you can go here – Nathan Winograd keeps an accurate, and close watch on PETA’s ongoing cruelty, you can also follow him on Facebook – I do.  You can find additional evidence of PETA’s unwarranted, unnecessary killing of dogs and cats by going here, and here, and here.  In light of PETA’s ongoing actions of animal cruelty to small animals, in my opinion, PETA’s endorsement of this product is completely inappropriate.
  • PETA supports a KILL policy for ALL Pit Bulls in shelters across North America – you can see the OpEd piece on this PETA endorsed policy as written by the founder of PETA Iingrid Newkirk by going here.
Halo Vegan Garden Medley
Ingredients: Green Peas, Chickpeas, Pearled Barley, Oat Groats, Pea Protein, Whole Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Potato, Sweet Potato, Alfalfa Meal, Carrot, Celery, Beet, Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress, Spinach, Canola Oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Dicalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dried Kelp, Natural Vegetable Flavors, Flaxseed Oil, Carrots, Dried Apple, Dried Blueberry, Dried Cranberry, Chicory Root, Taurine, Rosemary Extract, L-Carnitine, Potassium Chloride, DL Methionine, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D-2 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Ethylene Diamine Dihydriodide, Sodium Selenite). Omega-3: 1.25 min. Omega-6: 4.25 min.
  • Health Check – Positive Features, maybe…or not…
    • Sweet potato, leafy greens and herbs BUT only if human food grade – Halo does not state that their ingredients are human food-grade.This is troubling as animal feed-grade ingredients are permitted to contain more, and higher levels of toxic contaminants than human food-grade ingredient.
    • Kelp is a good BUT only if sourced from clean waters, if from i.e. China, Japan, or Hawaii the kelp is contaminated with toxins, and not beneficial. It is not clear where Halo is sourcing the kelp from.
  • Health Check – Issues
    • Alfalfa – when used in small amounts alfalfa meal is an acceptable source of whole-food nutrients. When alfalfa is used as a major ingredient – alfalfa becomes a health hazard.  The saponins in alfalfa are anti-nutrients that interfere with the absorption of nutrients by the body. Non-organic alfalfa is also high in herbicide residue, making it a source of toxins and carcinogens
    • Contains species inappropriate ingredients
      • Grains are a leading cause of immune system issues and other inflammatory conditions and diseases in dogs – for example – allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract and renal system problems, oral health problems, cancer, insect and parasite infestations, etc.
    • Chick peas and peas contain lectin proteins which can interfere with nutrient absorption, and create auto immune responses leading to inflammation and chronic disease in some dogs – not an appropriate ingredient to use in large quantities.
    • Product contains poor-source Omega-6 fatty acids that increase the inflammatory nature of this food. Canola oil is GMO, mixed tocopherols typically GMO contaminated. Source of herbicide residue, typically glyphosate. This residue is toxic and carcinogenic, inflammatory disease promoting, serotonin disrupting, dementia causing, and more. The FDA does not regulate testing for glyphosate residue in food. Interferes with absorption of nutrients and adjuncts absorption of toxins such as mercury from vaccinations, and non-organic arsenic which is present in non-organic grains such as rice, interferes with healing.
    • Product is critically low in Omega-3 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
    • Natural flavor – a source of emulsifiers, preservatives, and solvents, (all three are placed in the category ‘incidental additives, a category that manufacturers are not required to list/disclose. These incidental additives typically contain GMOs, toxins, carcinogens. Increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
    • Vitamins and minerals added to product to ‘fortify and enrich’ the product due to loss of viable nutrients from processing.
  • Vitamins and minerals used are not organic-sourced
  • If soured from China are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins
  • If sourced from the USA are contaminated with GMOs
Royal Canin Vegetarian
Ingredients: Oat groats, brewers rice, potato protein, coconut oil, natural flavors, dried plain beet pulp, tomato pomace, flaxseed, calcium carbonate, monocalcium phosphate, carrot pomace, potassium chloride, calcium sulfate, salt, fructooligosaccharides, choline chloride, taurine, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), biotin, D-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A acetate, niacin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement], trace minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate] , L-carnitine, carotene, rosemary extract, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid. Omega-3: not disclosed. Omega-6: not disclosed – however, based on ingredient profile product is critically low in Omega-3.
  • Health Check – Positive Features
    • none
  • Health Check – Issues
    • Royal Canin does not use human food-grade ingredients. This is troubling as animal feed-grade ingredients are permitted to contain more, and higher levels of toxic contaminants than human food-grade ingredient.
    • Product contains coconut oil, unfortunately the coconut oil used is not organic, nor does it seem to be human food grade – does not have the same healthful value as organic coconut oil
    • No fruit content – should include red, blue and orange fruit
    • Vegetable variety insufficient, should include dark leafy greens, celery, zucchini, etc.
    • Tomato pomice – low in nutritional value, tomato pomice is a by-product of manufacturing ketchup,
    • Root vegetable selection is lacking– should have included nutritious options such as i.e. as squash, turnips, sweet potato
    • Salt is best obtained from consuming whole foods – added salt content in this product is high
    • Contains species inappropriate ingredients
  • Grains are a leading cause of immune system issues and other inflammatory conditions and diseases in dogs – for example – allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract and renal system problems, oral health problems, cancer, insect and parasite infestations, etc.
  • Brewer’s rice – a by-product of made-for human processed food, brewers rice is stripped of nutrients, has very little nutritional value, is an inexpensive filler
  • Mixed tocopherols typically GMO contaminated. Source of herbicide residue, typically glyphosate. This residue is toxic and carcinogenic, inflammatory disease promoting, serotonin disrupting and more.  Interferes with absorption of nutrients and adjuncts absorption of toxins such as mercury from vaccinations, and non-organic arsenic which is present in non-organic grains such as rice, interferes with healing. Increase the inflammatory nature of this food product
  • Product is critically low in Omega-3 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
  • Coconut oil used is not organic
  • Product contains poor-source Omega-6 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
  • Vitamins and minerals added to product to ‘fortify and enrich’ the product due to loss of viable nutrients from processing.
    • If sourced from the USA are contaminated with GMOs
  • If soured from China are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins
  • Citric acid – a common source of MSG
Nature’s Recipe Healthy Skin Vegetarian Recipe
Ingredients: Ground Rice, Soybean Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Canola Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Dehydrated Carrots, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Inositol, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Beta-Carotene, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), Garlic Oil, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Onion Extract, Garlic Powder, Rosemary Extract. Omega-3: 0.6 min. Omega-6: 1.9 min.
  • Health Check –Positive Features
    • None
  • Health Check – Issues
    • Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex is toxic to kidneys, liver, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure can produce damage to target organs, is carcinogenic and mutagenic.
    • Onion extract – inappropriate for dogs due to thiophosphate – a substance that causes Heinz factor anemia in dog.
    • Aource of garlic is undisclosed, if from China the garlic has a high level of toxic contamination.
    • Nature’s Recipe does not use human food-grade ingredients. This is troubling as animal feed-grade ingredients are permitted to contain more, and higher levels of toxic contaminants than human food-grade ingredient.
    • No fruit content – should include red, blue and orange fruit
  • Vegetable variety insufficient, should include dark leafy greens, celery, zucchini, etc.
  • Root vegetable selection is non-existent – should have included nutritious options such as i.e. as squash, turnips, sweet potato.
  • Salt is best obtained from consuming whole foods – added salt content in this product is high, in-fact the salt content exceeds the amount of carrots in product
  • Contains species inappropriate ingredients
    • Grains are a leading cause of immune system issues and other inflammatory conditions and diseases in dogs – for example – allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract and renal system problems, oral health problems, cancer, insect and parasite infestations, etc.
  • Soy beans in this product are GMO. Source of herbicide residue, typically glyphosate. This residue is toxic and carcinogenic, inflammatory disease promoting, serotonin disrupting and more.  Interferes with absorption of nutrients and adjuncts absorption of toxins such as mercury from vaccinations, and non-organic arsenic which is present in non-organic grains such as rice, interferes with healing. Increases the inflammatory nature of this food.
  • Poor-source Omega-6 fatty acids. Canola oil is GMO, mixed tocopherols typically GMO contaminated. Source of herbicide residue, typically glyphosate. This residue is toxic and carcinogenic, inflammatory disease promoting, serotonin disrupting, dementia causing, and more. The FDA does not regulate testing for glyphosate residue in food. Interferes with absorption of nutrients and adjuncts absorption of toxins such as mercury from vaccinations, and non-organic arsenic which is present in non-organic grains such as rice, interferes with healing.
  • Critically low in Omega-3 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
  • Vitamins and minerals added to product to ‘fortify and enrich’ the product due to loss of viable nutrients from processing.
  • If sourced from the USA are contaminated with GMOs
  • If soured from China are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins
Natural Balance – Vegetarian Dry Dog Food Formula
Ingredients: Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Peas, Potato Protein, Canola Oil, Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Vegetable Flavoring, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Natural Mixed Tocopherols, Spinach, Parsley Flakes, Cranberries, L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Kelp, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B-1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2), Vitamin D-2 Supplement, Folic Acid. Omega-3: 0.3 min. Omega-6: 2.0 min.
  • Health Check – Positive Features
    • None
  • Health Check – Issues
    • Nature Balance does not use human food-grade ingredients. This is troubling as animal feed-grade ingredients are permitted to contain more, and higher levels of toxic contaminants than human food-grade ingredient.
    • No fruit content – should include red, blue and orange fruits
    • Vegetable variety insufficient, should include dark leafy greens, celery, zucchini, etc. Tomato pomice – a by-product of manufacturing ketchup, low in nutritional value
    • Root vegetable is potato – should have included more nutritious options such as i.e. as squash, turnips, sweet potato
    • Contains species inappropriate ingredients.
      • Grains are a leading cause of immune system issues and other inflammatory conditions and diseases in dogs – for example – allergies, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract and renal system problems, oral health problems, cancer, insect and parasite infestations, etc.
    • Chick peas and peas contain lectin proteins which can interfere with nutrient absorption, and create auto immune responses leading to inflammation, and chronic disease in some dogs – not an appropriate ingredient to use in large quantities.
    • Natural flavor – a source of emulsifiers, preservatives, and solvents, (all three are placed in the category ‘incidental additives, a category that manufacturers are not required to list/disclose. These incidental additives typically contain GMOs, toxins, carcinogens. Increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
    • Product is critically low in Omega-3 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food product
    • Product contains poor-source Omega-6 fatty acids increases the inflammatory nature of this food product. Canola oil is GMO, mixed tocopherols typically GMO contaminated. Source of herbicide residue, typically glyphosate. This residue is toxic and carcinogenic, inflammatory disease promoting, serotonin disrupting, dementia causing, and more. The FDA does not regulate testing for glyphosate residue in food. Interferes with absorption of nutrients and adjuncts absorption of toxins such as mercury from vaccinations, and non-organic arsenic which is present in non-organic grains such as rice, interferes with healing.
    • Vitamins and minerals added to product to ‘fortify and enrich’ the product due to loss of viable nutrients from processing.
  • If sourced from the USA are contaminated with GMOs
  • If soured from China are contaminated with heavy metals and other toxin
Are These Products Nutritionally Complete?
According to AFFCO the answer is yes. All six of the above products meet AAFCO’s ‘standards’. But how meaningful are AAFCO standards? Dig a little deeper – consider who AFFCO is, and who they represent…
AAFCO is an acronym for the American Association of Feed Control Officials. Although AAFCO promotes itself as THE ‘governing’ body for the pet food industry. AFFCO’s claim is a self-proclamation – they are a partisan organization comprised of people directly involved in  the pet food manufacturing industry. AAFCO is directly responsible for unclear labeling on pet food products including dry and wet dog food and treats. AAFCO allows toxins and carcinogens into the food that they ‘approve’. AAFCO is responsible for the confusion around poor vs. good quality dog food (and cat food) products. AAFCO guidelines, and standards are not sufficient to ensure a food product is ‘nutritionally balanced’, ‘nutritionally complete’, truly health supporting or species appropriate.
Disappointing Products – Falling Short of Expectations
In my opinion, based on the findings provided further above, these dog food products are very disappointing for many reasons…
When you think of eating a vegan or vegetarian diet the images that appear in your mind are likely to reflect a rich variety of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables – like those on this list  of appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables for dogs. A full spectrum of good quality, appropriate fruit and veggies  are an essential part of a vegan or vegetarian diet. The food products above offer poor-source and/or a very limited variety of fruits, and vegetables.
There are some very good sources of plant proteins, however the products above do NOT include any of those better quality plant proteins. The products are comprised of grains and legumes. Grains are proven to cause 160+ inflammatory diseases in dogs. Legumes consumed in large quantities on a daily basis, can cause serious gastrointestinal, and other problems for your dog.  Why aren’t these companies using better quality sources of protein? Because grains and legumes are inexpensive ;to purchase thereby ensuring that high profit margins are maintained.
The products above, are the best the pet food industry currently offers in vegan and vegetarian DRY dog food products. I cannot recommend any of these products as each of these products present serious threats to a dog’s short and long-term health.
The health of your dog depends on that very old and apt saying ‘buyer beware’.  AAFCO, the FDA and Health Canada allow many toxins, carcinogens and otherwise inappropriate ingredients to be used in pet food.
Don’t allow your dog’s health to be adversely impacted by the pet food industry’s drive for profit.
Don’t allow the pet food industry to ‘pull the wool’ over your eyes when it comes to honoring your efforts to be cruelty-free.
Animal Cruelty?
The Vegan Dry Dog Food, Vegetarian Dry Dog Food products analyzed above contain inappropriate, highly inflammatory ingredients known to degrade a dog’s quality of life by destroying his/her physical health, and mental health – this is animal cruelty perpetrated by the pet food industry in the name of profit. These dry dog foods do NOT offer the opportunity to end cruelty to animals.
If you are truly dedicated to feeding vegan or vegetarian it is necessary to invest your time and effort – there are no shortcuts. Be ready to invest the time and effort required to make your dog’s food. His/her diet should be comprised of organic, clean-sourced protein-rich plant-based, grain-free proteins; appropriate nutrient rich organic fruits, vegetables, appropriate plant-based organic fats, appropriate organic herbs and nutraceutical, and appropriate dairy products for vegetarian diets.
In an accompanying article, I look at an actual Case Study – what went right, what went wrong, and why. I discuss in further depth ethical issues and impacts – you can read that article by going here.
Don’t allow your dog to be a victim of accidental cruelty.  Get help to design the best possible, cruelty-free homemade diet if you must go vegan or vegetarian – don’t make your dog eat dry vegan or dry vegetarian highly processed dog food.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Where Empathy and Compassion Are Called For

"I can still use my arm, I can still use a computer and I can still talk. I'm thinking, if they give me a chance to stay I can still work, or I can still study."
"But still right now I’m able to move around on my own, and I’m starting to be more independent."
"Even though I’m in a wheelchair, I’m still hoping and trying to still help my family."
"We're still hoping they can allow me to stay here. I was so blessed and thankful for all my friends and church friends who came here to support me."
Maria Victoria Venancio, 29, Filipina, temporary foreign worker, Alberta
Filipina temporary foreign worker Maria Victoria Venancio (screenshot from CTV News footage)
Maria Victoria Venancio (screenshot from CTV News footage)
"She’s told me recently she’s been able to stand on her own, which from when we dealt with her car accident a few years ago was almost unimaginable.""She is working with her doctors and the University of Alberta here and actually making some tremendous progress in her mobility."
"[In the Philippines] her family lives 3 hours from a major center and the simple lack of infrastructure would present incredible challenges to her. She's becoming more independent. And here in Canada, where we have things we take for granted, like paved streets and DATS buses, she has the opportunity to progress and live a relatively fulfilling life."
Chris Bataluk, pro bono lawyer for Ms. Venancio

This young woman came to Canada under the country's Temporary Foreign Workers program, as many young women do from the Philippines, hoping to find employment and to earn their way eventually into recognition as potential future citizens by achieving permanent resident status.  Many  young Filipinas come to Canada to work as domestic aids, as minders of other people's children, leaving their own young children behind in the Philippines, hoping to be reunited with them once they've been able to settle in Canada, and to sponsor family members for emigration to Canada where they feel they will find a better life with greater opportunities to advance themselves economically.

The federal Temporary Foreign Workers program was established as a way to fill employment needs in areas where employers claim Canadians have no interest in working at those jobs. Many of those jobs fall into a professional category where there may be a shortage of such skills within the country, but many more fall into the more pedestrian category of poorly-paid unskilled labour in the service industry. At a time in Alberta when, as a result of the oil boom, many such jobs went unfilled, Maria Victoria Venancio applied to the program, to work for an Edmonton-area McDonald's outlet.

She was doing very well in her area of employment, so much so that it appeared that she was on track to a supervisory position. One day in 2011, en route to work by her usual method of bicycling, she was struck by a vehicle on her commuting route. This was no brief clip that knocked her off her bicycle and little harm done. The accident was serious enough to render the young woman a quadriplegic. And she now finds herself in a double bind. Not only has her mobility been utterly impaired and with it her prospects for future employment, but as a visitor to Canada so to speak, she does not qualify for universal health care. And since she no longer works, she is facing deportation.

Appealing to a Citizenship and Immigration hearing gave her no reprieve on the compassionate and humanitarian grounds she might have hoped for. The hearing ruled that she had no legal status in Canada. But there yet remains hope that her lawyer is determined to explore, that the Canada Border Services Agency, next in line to hear her case, will schedule a hearing to decide whether an order to send her back to the Philippines will be enforced. In her native country she would have limited access to health care.

Wheelchair-bound, her life would be even more difficult than it is in Canada, since in the Philippines, an impoverished country that cannot afford to pave all its roads and sidewalks, or to ensure that public help for the handicapped is recognized in accessible ramps and elevators, her ability to function in the public sphere would be minimal. The young woman has friends and supporters in Edmonton. She had won a modest settlement in compensation for the accident which cost her the use of her limbs. She has made application to be granted permanent residency in Canada.

She had spent three weeks in hospital at the time of the accident. The compensation she received resulting from the accident was relatively small, her lawyer pointed out, since the adjudicators found her to be partially at fault for the accident's occurrence. "She would be leaving what is essentially one of the better situations someone like her could be in and going to a very, very dismal situation", pointed out Mr. Bataluk. At the present time, she has been receiving assistance from doctors at the University of Alberta who have themselves been absorbing the cost.

The rehabilitation she has undertone has been extensive, enabling her to regain partial use of an arm, not quite enough to have her write, but sufficient to give her some degree of independence. She is also able to stand briefly. Doctors have advised her that she will always be wheelchair-dependent. But she remains optimistic about her future and that in and of itself is a tremendous boost toward the possibility of further rehabilitation, however slight.

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