Tag Archives: news

Suspicious Minds

You know that the world’s going to Hades in a hand basket when a sad story, such as the one broadcast all over mainstream media today, leaves people feeling so mixed up. Or is it just me? A woman in Nova Scotia drowned a couple of kittens last summer and got fined $5.00 for it in court today. Yeah, yeah…this initial ‘teaser’ lead bit on the radio leaves you thinking…”You crazy, sadistic b..tch! They should drown YOU”. Then, you hear the sad flip-side of the story; she fed a stray cat, fed it some more (The Cat Came Back is the song that comes to mind- Harry S. Miller 1893), and bing, bang…she’s got one cat+2 kittens… She’s poor, can’t get help from her town’s officials, and decides to euthanize the kitties in a bucket. Groan. Of course, Suspicious Minds (written by Memphis songwriter, Mark James and the last #1 hit for Elvis Presley in 1969- his last) like mine ask, ‘What cat has only two kittens’!? Maybe she lied about THAT too…and actually drowned a litter of 14. Not that it matters much, they’re all dead, regardless. But NOW, the SPCA is crying foul. They want “BIG FINES AND JAIL TIME”! said their head mouthpiece with emotion. My question? Where were you guys when this nutty, albeit well intentioned stray-cat-feeding woman was busy phoning around, trying to find someone to off the felines? Sure, “dangerous precedents are being set”, yada, yada, but NOW you’re worried that everyone is going to think it’s OK to euthanize Fluffo ’cause it’ll only cost five bucks instead of the usual $179.00 at the vet? Sigh. Then, the legal beagle for this woman (gotta be legal aid lawyer) said a bunch of really stupid things (he compared his client’s action against that of the person “who hanged that dog in Point Pleasant Park” …I can do without hearing that sort of thing). It did not endear me to the situation or to this woman…still…she’s poor…she loves the animals…a regular Doctor Doolittle ….who simply done too much. “We’re caught in a trap….”


Puzzling AIDS News Item

I don’t normally delve into the fray of world news on my blog. Today, in my BBC Daily e-mail, there was a link to a detailed feature which just made me wonder.

It seems that in South Africa, they are now using text messaging to send out info-alerts to urge people to get tested for HIV/AIDS.  The statistics associated with it are most interesting and raise questions of a philosophical nature.

There are over 43 million cell and other mobile devices in a  country of 49 million people. Almost 95% are prepaid, offering almost total communication coverage. The UN estimates that over 6 million people live with HIV in South Africa. 350,000 people in SA die from AIDS related disease each year. Zinny Thabethe, a HIV activist and organizer with Project Masiluleke, says, “South Africa is the epicentre for the global HIV epidemic.  HIV testing is widely available, but only 5% manage to get tested...most people only get a test when they are about to die.” Project originator, Gustav Praekelt, says, “this is the largest ever use of mobile phones for health information.”

(30 million messages were sent out daily in the pilot project. The pilot project revealed that National Aids Hot line calls rose from 1000 to 4000 when the system was used. The system will go live in December, sending out 1,000,000 calls a day.)

It’s not the initiative which I find disturbing. What I find hard to understand, is how and when the development and distribution of technology superseded any moral priority we may have held to  insure the survival and health of our world’s citizens.  At what point in time did society make it an easier, more obvious and appealing choice for an impoverished population in the grips of an HIV epidemic, to buy a cell phone rather than a condom? I find it paradoxical that technology has now become the default vehicle to initiate what would have been at one time,  a grass roots blood testing and education campaign.  Is it arrogant of me to wonder why an entire  population acquired cell phones before they had access to a  successful public health strategy for a preventable disease? It’s great that this project is working, but I am left wondering how the faceless giant known generically as “Technology” morphed into our social and moral consciousness as the priority in our lives. I find it unsettling and thought-provoking.

The project, by the way was developed by a group of technology firms, including Nokia Siemens Networks and HIV charities, design firms and educational organizations such as National Geographic.

CNIB Eats Crow

An interesting e-mail arrived in my box today: Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians President, Robin East wrote a searing letter to Jim Sanders (big CNIB cheese) regarding the same distasteful fund raising e-mail that CNIB sent to Canadians, some of them CNIB clients.  It was a paltry plea resplendent with Guide dogs (GUIDE DOG TRAINING IS NOT PART OF THE CNIB “SERVICES”), and an offensive query ,asking people like me and Robin East, what we would sell to save our sight. (see earlier blog I wrote entitled: Why CNIB Leaves Me Flat).  In Robin East’s letter to Jim Sanders, he asked for an apology and that CNIB withdraw this campaign immediately.  Robin forwarded the whole thing to me, therefore, I am delighted to post it here.  Here is Jim Sander’s response to Robin East:

“Dear Robin, I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter and confirm that the e-mail campaign has been discontinued. I can assure you that the content do not reflect the philosophy and service practice of CNIB. I have released the following statement and would welcome any additional comments which you or your members may have.

I do sincerely apologize for the content and also for any negative impact that this letter has had on individuals. Your letter will be brought to the attention of the Board.

Here is the statement:    On behalf of CNIB, I wish to let you know that the fundraising campaign to which you refer has been discontinued. The message it portrayed was inappropriate.

We are reviewing CNIB’s marketing operations and associated creative materials to ensure that future marketing and fundraising efforts better reflect the CNIB philosophy, service, model and the views and experiences of people who are blind and living with vision loss.

Since I am the signatory to the letter, I do take full responsibility and extend my personal apology.


Jim Sanders”

Hmm. Sounds to me that Jim’s eating crow. Did someone say Damage Control? Do I see Jim’s litttle blind butt roasting at the CNIB Board Bar B Q? Do ya think they’ll drop some people (like Robin and me) from the mailing list in the future?

THIS JUST IN!!! Jim Sanders appologizes to angry chief executives of Canadian Guide Dog schools…

Why CNIB Leaves Me Flat

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Jim Sanders, national CNIB president. I doubt that Jim actually hit ‘send’ himself. This e-mail was soliciting money. It was probably spun out by the CNIB fund raising elite PR machine to everyone within the CNIB data bases, including clients. I don’t fault any organization for being creative with fund raising initiatives. This thing? It offended me to the point where I wrote Jim an e-mail letter this morning. Let me explain the nature of ‘Jim’s’ request.

The e-plea was colourful and filled with lovely photos of guide dogs and blind people with guide dogs. the header stated, “Harnessing Independence begins with your generous support”. It went from bad to worse by asking the question, “How much is your Independence worth to you? Dear Helen, close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you’ve lost your sight”  Hmm, Jim. You’re too late, done deal, been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I AM blind! Then, to really annoy me, it went on to claim that “37 % of Canadians would sell everything they owned to keep their sight.”  I don’t know or care if this is statistically valid. What I DO know, is that these kinds of claims propagate the erroneous assumption that blind people are miserable with their lot. Hey Jim, I’m OK being blind, my life is not horrible, so don’t yammer this defeatist nonsense which only entrenches public misconception about Persons With Disabilities. As for the clever references to guide dogs… “and when we’re ready, some of us may even get a guide dog” …blah, blah, blah, resplendent with pics of the dogs with CNIB clients who are in the CNIB  photo op pocket,  I could vomit. You and I both know (though apparently you’re still milking the sensibilities of a confused public who do NOT KNOW)  that CNIB does NOT train guide dogs nor do they financially support guide dog training. Why go down that murky road, Jim? Why not spend some of your PR money  on CNIB client services (ya gotta know that expensive glossy hard copy of this pitch for donations will be sent out to thousands of Canucks).  I walked into my local CNIB office a couple of weeks ago looking to BORROW a tape recorder. My two recorders are broken, and my Hadley School for Blind Spanish assignment is due. Did I get some of that CNIB ‘support’? No, Jim. I left with bubkis and went home to e-mail Senora Good-Krochuk that I am tostada with my Spanish until further notice. When someone stopped me on the street later that day and asked, “Is that a CNIB dog?”, I promptly took 15 minutes of my time to explain to the deluded individual that ” THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A CNIB DOG!!! CNIB HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GUIDE DOG TRAINING!!! THEY DON’T PROVIDE A SCINTILLA OF THE STUFF TO THE BLIND THAT THE PUBLIC ERRONEOUSLY THINK THEY DO!!!!” Sigh. Jim, I am so dissapointed with this sordid pathetic e-mail. You can bet that I am going to encourage people to respond to it’s lack of respect for people like me…happy, hard-working, tax-paying citizens who happen to be blind. And how, you ask Jim? I’m going to suggest to them that they make their charitable contributions elsewhere...like any guide dog training school, and my pick would be, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind in Manotick Ontario (613-692-7777 link on blogroll).  maybe they should e-mail you about their displeasure too…. jim.sanders@cnib.ca oops, I think I just did. Have a nice day.

Brand New Day

The best part of going to bed at night, is the assurance that I will wake up to a new day and a fresh start.  No matter how horrible a day has been,  I can start a new one with the feeling that the day before has been erased.  A clean slate, Tabula Rosa and all that.   I woke this morning singing ‘Brand New Day’. Van Morrison does a better job, I am certain, however I felt the urge, given the day I had yesterday.

Yesterday, I woke at 4 am to the unmistakable sound of Lucy (our cat) vomiting.  Sigh. I got up and took care of my little calico. This involved cleaning up, cooking brown rice to settle her stomach and giving her fresh water (in Opal’s dish,  of course).  The radio news really put a spin on my mood too. It seems that a man was stabbed and decapitated  in an unprovoked attack by a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Alberta.  It’s been a violent week in this world.  Unitarian Universalists in Tennessee were killed in their church by a shooter who did not approve of our UU ‘liberal views’.  I mourn with my fellow congregants.  In local news,  a  bus driver was attacked on her bus by a man who tried to sexually assault her.

I thought that work might reset my mood. It did not. My computer coughed up a cyber hairball and refused to operate. The arthritis in my hands, neck and spine seemed intolerable.  Step out, I thought. I saddled Opal and off we went.  I am in desperate need of orthotics and new shoes. I know this because of the shooting pain in my feet as I walk. No wonder I’ve been so cranky lately! Opal and I went to purchase a small birthday gift for my sister at the mall. In Basket Emporium, we stood near the counter and waited for assistance. A shopper came into the store and exclaimed, “You’re beautiful!”.  Her comment was meant for Opal, of course.  I replied, “thanks, but I have a sweetie”.  She  did not seem to appreciate my humour.  It’s all about the dog some days. I just happen to be the woman attached to the end of Opal’s harness.  I hobbled home and prayed for the day to end. Mercifully, it did.

So, when I woke this morning, the promise of a better day was intoxicating and induced me to sing. I tried “A New Day has Begun”  (from Cats), but I could not recall the lyrics and it brought Celine Dion to mind, which is deffinitly not the way to start anyone’s day. I chose Van’s tune…”Brand New Day”.


THIS JUST IN!!! WISEADVICE chief, HRM, is now allowing one more group of a select thousand people to witness the incredible site in her home.  “It all started a week ago, on a  Sunday morning”, says the queen of Crisis Central.  “Opal yawned and emerged from her bed around 5 am.  The sound of coins clinking alerted me to…this incredible site!!!  There, on her bed,  45 pennies and 7 nickels, all in a little pile.”  When word got out,  crowds started to gather outside the residence.  By Tuesday afternoon, Mounties had to be called in to control the pandaemonium.  “By early this morning, I found $387.00 in change (mostly silver dollars) where Opal had slept.  The phone is ringing off the hook! Everyone wants to know what I feed my dog.  Purina offered me a new car if I put up their poster next to her bed and let them take some snapshots…I’m holding out for a chauffeur too.”  A private security detail has followed Wiseadvice and her dog everywhere, and at all times.  It seems that hopeful locals are shadowing them, in hope of “poop scooping” a small fortune. Prime Minister Steven Harper is said to be sending a representative from Revenue Canada.  Life has been turned upside down in this sleepy port city. We asked Wiseadvice’s neighbour,  Poprah Minfrey to comment.  “This is the best thing that could have happened here. It tops the ‘jesus face’ that showed up on the wall in the ladies room at the Vimy Legion Hall last Easter. Frankly, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer lady. She always has a word of advice for people. The dog? I agree with the CBC radio poll. The dog gets to keep 50% of whatever she generates.  Fair is fair, eh?”

Horrific Animal Cruelty Incident…How did this happen?

Yesterday, the media broke a story here in Nova Scotia, that has everyone reeling.  Reports revealed that over one hundred animals, including 80 cats and 27 dogs, were rescued from a site which had been operating as some sort of ‘animal shelter’ in Port Hastings, Nova Scotia.   The SPCA had been trying to investigate this situation for several months.  It was not until last Sunday, that they had the legal authority to search the premises.  When their team of workers, along with RCMP officers, entered the Celtic Pet Rescue centre, they were horrified to find two building full of animals in deplorable conditions.  Cats and dogs were lying about in toxic filth. The stench of ammonia was so bad, that some of the workers were not able to proceed.   A number of animals were found dead.  The basement was filled with sewage where animals lay. Cats were so encrusted with feces, that their colour could not be determined until they were taken away and bathed for hours. A dog and her nine puppies were found in a crate, hidden by boxes, nursing her pups.  It was estimated that many of the animals had not been attended for over sixty hours.  SPCA workers were shocked (and they don’t shock easily) by the scene.  They had anticipated a rescue of 30 or so animals and ended up with a scene they had not expected or prepared for. The situation necessitated two trips to remove the animals.  The cats and dogs were taken to sites in Halifax and Dartmouth, for the most part, and work began to evaluate their condition and treat them.  Nine cats were found to have Feline Leukemia. The response has been overwhelming from concerned animal advocates.  Even people who are not big animal lovers have expressed sadness and concern, upon hearing the news.  Offers of veterinary care, donations, and requests to adopt have poured in.  Of course, the first question on everyone’s mind, is HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  The woman who was granted a license to operate an ‘animal shelter’, has not been charged yet, though public outrage will undoubtedly result in a careful investigation on the part of the authorities.  It is expected that charges will be laid. Background information on the operator of this ‘shelter’, is sketchy.  The SPCA is the only organization that has the right to actively investigate and seize animals in such circumstances in Nova Scotia.  Their resources are limited and their powers are also not extensive.  The woman who applied for, and received a lisence to operate this place, is reported to have met standards to open.  How and why conditions deteriorated is unknown.  Without legal authority, it was not until recently that the SPCA were granted a warrent to enter, even though they had requested permission to examine the site, and were denied. They could not act.  If an adult is suspected of physical abuse or neglect of a child, the system moves very quickly.  Obviously, society’s conscience and values, do not provide for the same intense scrutiny and care for animals,  as it does for children. We can’t seem to strike a balance. Comment?