Why are we surprised at the crisis in Burma? It’s a familiar power struggle.
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Autism Spectrum Disorder
Someone I met in one of my Facebook groups, upon finding out I have autism, told me that she has a 9-year-old family member, a little girl, who has Asperger’s. She wanted to know what advice I could give to her family and what I might say to the little girl herself. I’ve actually been asked this question before, and I thought I would dedicate a post to it.
It’s hard for me to think what I’d tell a little girl with Asperger’s. See, I’d never even heard of Asperger’s or autism until I was an adult. So at age 9, all I knew was that I didn’t quite fit in at school or anywhere else.
People tend to think kids with autism aren’t interested in making friends. For me, the opposite was true. I was just about obsessed with making new friends. When I was 7, we moved to a new town. My brother and I were staying with our grandparents, and they brought us to visit our parents at the house where we’d be moving to. A group of curious neighborhood kids came wandering over. When I spotted them, I started jumping up and down, screaming, “Kids! Kids! Kids!” I grabbed my grandmother’s hand and pulled her over towards the kids.
In my memory now, I can see the kids looked startled and sort of taken aback, but at the time I didn’t notice the expressions on their faces. I just kept jumping and yelling and waving excitedly as my grandmother asked the kids their names and then introduced them to me. When we eventually moved in, I became part of the neighborhood kids pretty quickly and they were my playmates for many years. Later one of them told my brother that, when they’d first met me, they thought I was “retarded” and they’d been sort of scared.
I mostly played with the younger kids in the neighborhood. There were a few who were my age or older, but socially I was more at the level of the kids who were two or three years younger than me… my younger brother’s age. I didn’t think of them as younger than me at all. At school, I did have friends. In kindergarten, first and second grade, it was all about playing on the playground and it seemed like everyone was friends with everyone else. You could play on the monkey bars or build a sand castle with someone without even knowing their name.
But in third grade, kids were starting to notice who was a little different and who was the most “popular.” Girls were already starting to pay attention to clothes and hair styles. When I was invited to sleepover parties, the other girls spent less time playing, and more time gossiping and dancing to music videos. I wanted no part of it. I still just wanted to play. In my neighborhood I played Barbies and My Little Ponies and pretend games like School and House. I had a few weird “special interests” as well… I was obsessed with orphans and orphanages (I used to watch the movie version of the musical “Oliver” over and over) and “olden days” (I loved the “Little House On The Prairie” books.) I loved playing pretend games that were based on these two subjects. I found one friend who was somehow interested in the same things I was, and we played together constantly.
In third and fourth grade I no longer really played with the other kids besides that one friend, although I was in Brownies and considered the other Brownie girls my friends. I was still invited to their birthday parties and things. But these were the grades in which the kids were starting to notice I was different. I also noticed I was different, but I sort of blamed it on them. I thought the other kids were trying too hard to be cool and act like teenagers, and I was happy just being a kid. I also did some peculiar things that I had no clue were weird. For one thing, I loved to read, almost to the point of obsession. I hated math and science (yes, this goes against the stereotype of people with autism) and had a terrible time sitting through these subjects. So I devised a plan. In the morning I would get a book from the bookshelf, and hide it behind the toilet in our classroom bathroom. When it was time for a subject I didn’t enjoy, I’d get up and go into the bathroom, where I’d sit on the toilet and read. It never occurred to me that the teacher would notice me disappearing for 20 minutes every time math rolled around.
I also amused myself by pouring my Elmer’s Glue on my desk, letting it dry, and then scraping it off with my scissors, because for some reason it was a great sensory feeling for me. If you’ve never scraped dried glue off a desk with scissors, you should try it. But it has to be a thick layer of glue, or else scraping it off the desk will feel more like nails on a chalkboard. But I digress…
Fifth grade was where things got really hard. (Don’t worry, I’m not planning to tell you my entire autobiography… I’m getting to a certain point.) The school district had built a new school, and many of the kids I’d gone to second, third and fourth grade with were transferred to the new school. This included my one best friend who I played Orphans and Olden Days with, as well as my Brownie friends. At the same time, a lot of kids from other schools in the district were transferred to my school. I had been put into what would now be called “Gifted and Talented,” which meant I was in a class for “smart” kids.
Most of the kids in my fifth grade class had come from other schools. They took one look at me and pegged me as a “nerd.” They made fun of me every day. It would have been one thing if they had just ignored and excluded me… that would have been painful enough. But they actively tormented me. A group of them would surround me at recess and start making fun of my clothes, my hair (it was uncontrollably frizzy and wild at the time) and anything I said or did. I had never encountered bullying before. It broke my heart.
Our Brownies troop had also been discontinued, because it would have been Girl Scouts at this point and for some reason there was not enough interest to create a group. So I no longer had that built-in social experience. Keep in mind, I was undiagnosed, and been identified as gifted, so there were no social skills groups or counseling or mentoring or anything else available to me. The teachers seemed to feel sorry for me, but felt it was my fault for not trying harder to fit in.
My mom tried to help me by picking out clothes she thought were fashionable and trying to do my hair, but she, too, grew frustrated with me for not trying harder. I still played with the neighborhood girls after school, but that also irritated my mom because they were younger than me and I “should” have been playing with kids my own age, taking interest in fashion and hair and music and whatever it is girls that age are supposed to find exciting.
At the same time, adolescence was starting to get its icy grip around me, which meant even more heartache and pain. I got yelled at for not wearing a bra. (It was so uncomfortable, plus in my mind, in which I tended to have strict categories for things, a bra was something for an adult or teenager, not for a kid, and I still saw myself as a kid.) I got yelled at for not putting on deodorant. (That also fell into my category of teenager and grown up stuff.) My face was starting to break out in acne. My mom made me wash my face with this horrid smelling orange antibacterial soap. It was so harsh, it dried out my skin, leaving white flakes around my nose that gave the kids something else to make fun of me about. It did not get rid of the acne, though, leaving my mom to comment. “It’s like you make yourself ugly on purpose!”
So you see, it is hard for me to think of what I might tell a 9-year-old girl with Asperger’s, because my own experience sucked. There was one thing that helped me get through fifth and sixth grades. At my school there was a special education class. Most of the kids in the class were younger than me. I don’t know if that was just a coincidence, or if they just didn’t offer special education beyond fourth grade at that school. Somehow or another, a few of the little girls in the special ed class befriended me. I was always alone at recess, either just wandering around or sitting on the concrete reading a book, and one day they just walked up and started talking to me. I remember being a little nervous at first… but then realizing they were not much different from other kids. They were friendly, and playful, and funny. I became somewhat like a big sister to them. I played outside with them every day, helped them stay out of trouble, and defended them from the other kids’ teasing. I loved them.
My parents hated that I had found these new friends. They tried to discourage me from playing with them. They couldn’t come out and say, “You can’t play with the special ed kids,” but they just said things like, “Why don’t you hang out with the girls in your class,” and “Other kids will think you are weird” (which they already did anyway) and “If you spend time with those kids you’ll become more like them.” Maybe they noticed I was like “those kids” in many ways, and they didn’t understand it. One time I gave the girls my phone number and told them they could call me. When one of the girls called while I wasn’t home, my mom took the message. She told me. “If that is one of your special ed friends, don’t call her back. Don’t get that started.”
At school, though, I was encouraged to stay friends with the girls. The teachers thought it was nice that I’d befriended them and that I took care of them and played with them. One of my proudest moments ever came one day in the sixth grade. The school was starting a recycling program, and sixth graders were supposed to go to the other classes around the school and explain the recycling program to them. I offered to go to the special ed class where my friends were. When I walked into their classroom, my friends shouted greetings to me. Their teacher said, “It’s Angel! One of our favorite people!” I was bursting with pride, and I’ve remembered it for the rest of my life.
What would I say to the family of a girl (or any kid, I suppose) with autism or Asperger’s? I might say don’t put too much time and effort into trying to get them to look and act like everyone else. If you work too hard at making an autistic child “indistinguishable from their peers,” you risk turning them into a shadow of themselves. I would ask adults in the child’s family to focus on bringing out the child’s personality and strengths. The most important thing might be to make home and family a haven for the child. As they grow up, they will face situations where they may feel like they don’t fit in or they may be nervous about doing the right thing. Home and family can be a place of true acceptance and love.
Of course you still want to teach your child manners, social skills, and life skills, and don’t just let them do whatever they want. But avoid shaming them for things like stimming, or not participating in the things their peers enjoy. Let them be who they are. Encourage strong relationships with other relatives and family members who are accepting of them. A positive home and family can make a huge difference.
Also, help them find their community, their “tribe.” I still struggle with this as an adult. In my late teens and early twenties, trying to find a place to belong and be accepted led me into all sorts of hazardous situations. Helping your child find their place in the world might involve figuring out their interests and strengths and then running with those. If she loves to read, the local library could be an awesome resource; she could join book clubs, or be a volunteer. This would help her to form more positive relationships, with peers as well as with caring adults.
This may also involve looking outside of her chronological age group. If she is happiest talking with adults, then having an adult mentor through a local organization, having a volunteer job where she can have safe and positive adults around her, or “adopting” an elderly person at a nursing home may be very fulfilling for her. The important part is that she feels like she is part of something and she feels accepted and important.
On the other hand, if she seems to really long for more friendships with kids her own age, then you might want to spend more time helping her find those friendships. There are now play groups and social groups for kids on the autism spectrum. Activities outside of school might also help. If she loves physical activity, joining a gymnastics class can help her make friendships based on that shared interest, putting less focus on the things that are different.
I should also point out that schools are (hopefully, at least) different now. Teachers are more aware of bullying and of ways to make their classrooms safe and accepting environments. Teachers should be focusing on teaching all of the students to be kind and respectful of one another, and to appreciate differences. One of the things I hated most in school was when the teacher said, “Find a partner,” and all of the other kids hurried to be with their friends. I was left standing awkwardly alone, to be placed with whoever else was leftover or to be put into a group of three. Teachers can pre-choose partners and groups based on who might work well together, or encourage kids to meet others by having them randomly choose a shape or bracelet out of a bag and then find others with the same shape or bracelet.
To sum it all up, the most important advice I’d give to parents, teachers, and other family members is to give a child with autism or Asperger’s a place to belong. Help them find their strengths and interests. Build upon their personality instead of trying to get them to tone it down enough to blend in. The best things you can give any kid are a feeling that they are loved and appreciated, that they have a place where they belong, and a positive self image. These gifts can go a long way as they go out into the world.
All that being said, I think I’ve led an awesome life so far, in many ways. My childhood was rougher than it should have been. But because I was used to having to work a little harder than other people in order to accomplish things, and because I was used to dealing with anxiety to get through so many parts of everyday life, I’ve become stronger than many adults I’ve known.
When I was in high school, I still hadn’t been diagnosed with autism, but I’d been put in special education and my mother had been told by the psychologists that they thought I might have “some sort of retardation.” They told my mom I would never learn to drive, never get a job, never go to college, and never live independently. Well, I’ve done all that and more! It took me until I was 23 to get my driver’s license, but now I drive everywhere. It took me until I was 25 to start college, but I got a Bachelor’s degree. Last year I got my first full time teaching job, and moved into my first apartment, where I live alone.
I have a service dog who helps me with some of my social anxiety issues, and I have a kitten I found last fall under a building at work. Animals are one of my special interests, and I volunteer at an awesome rescue farm, where I get to spend time cuddling with goats and geese and pigs and sheep. I’ve gotten to have some cool adventures over the years, such as taking several cross-country trips by Greyhound bus or by Amtrak train (which sounds like torture to many people but it was a lot of fun for me) and spending a year in AmeriCorps working with at-risk children. Whenever I think of something I’d like to do, I do some research and find a way to do it.
So, to the kid with Asperger’s… I don’t really know how valuable my advice is, but after some thought, here is what I would say: This is not something you need to hide, or overcome. You can learn about your Asperger’s and figure out the tools that can help you do your best. You may meet some rude people along the way, but the friends you make will be the “diamonds in the rough,” the really amazing and good-hearted people you’ll feel so lucky to know. You may have some hard times in your future, but you can also have some awesome experiences if you look for them.
Finally, you may sometimes wish you could be an ordinary kid. But what you have is an extraordinary brain, and with it you can lead an extraordinary life. That is something special.
We weren’t planning to cover this story until the Associated Press confirmed that Aaron Alexis, the shooter believed responsible for the recent mass shooting at the Navy yard, “had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems.”
This is proof that Aaron Alexis was on psychiatric drugs, because that’s the only treatment currently being offered by the Veterans Administration for mental problems. Alexis’ family members also confirmed to the press that he was being “treated” for his mental health problems. Across the medical industry, “treatment” is the code word for psychiatric drugging.
Nearly every shooter has a history of psychiatric drug use
As Natural News readers well know, the vast majority of mass shooters in U.S. history have all been on mind-altering psychiatric drugs. Those prescription medications create feelings of detachment in people, making them feel like they “playing out a video game” rather than acting out in the real world.
See a list of some of the other shootings where the perpetrators were taking psychiatric drugs in this Natural News article.
Not coincidentally, Aaron Alexis was also “obsessed with violent video games,” reports The Telegraph. Violent video games allow potential shooters to “rehearse” their first-person murderous rampage actions, reinforcing the actions in their brain neurology. It makes the act of killing seem normal, if not habitual.
This combination is repeated over and over again in violent mass killings: psychiatric drugs + video games = mass death.
Press once again lies about the AR-15
Of course, a mass shooting also needs to have a firearm present, but even facts surrounding those claims are now proven to be widely and inaccurately reported by the mainstream media — an institution which has now utterly abandoned the concept of fact checking in its rush to get the story out. Not only has the media had to retract its initial claim of the identity of the shooter, it also turns out that there was no AR-15 used in the shooting at all.
“Federal law enforcement sources told CNN Tuesday that authorities have recovered three weapons from the scene of the mass shooting, including one — a shotgun — that investigators believe Alexis brought in to the compound,” reports CNN. “The other two weapons, which sources say were handguns, may have been taken from guards at the Navy complex. The sources, who have detailed knowledge of the investigation, cautioned that initial information that an AR-15 was used in the shootings may have been incorrect. It is believed that Alexis had rented an AR-15, but returned it before Monday morning’s shootings.”
Regardless of the shooter’s weapon of choice, it also turns out that once again he chose a “gun-free zone” to carry out his crime, knowing full well that no ordinary citizens would be able to return fire, giving him plenty of time to carry out his mad killing plan.
This is another characteristic of recent mass shootings: they have all taken place in gun-free zones. Such zones are obviously the preferred targets of mass killers who seek to minimize their own risk of being taken out by return fire.
Finally, it is worth noting that the SWAT team which eventually shot and killed Aaron Alexis most likely did so with an AR-15 rifle, proving that AR-15s are extremely useful in protecting the public when deployed in the hands of someone who has the best interests of the public in mind. The actual rifle model used to kill Alexis has not yet been released, so it could have been something else, but there is no question that SWAT team members were well armed with AR-15-style tactical rifles and that such rifles in the hands of those men unquestionably served a positive role of protecting the public.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.naturalnews.com
Our nation is struggling to comprehend yet another horrific act of violence. We are searching for answers to understand what prompted a 21-year-old man to brutally murder nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, after the church had welcomed him into its Bible study group on the evening of June 17.
Much of the media coverage has focused on Dylann Roof’s white supremacist Facebook posts and racially charged comments made before the shootings — all of which reveal intense hatred that is hard to imagine in someone so young.
If early reports are accurate, Dylann Roof is another kid from another troubled family who fell through the cracks of our society. We know that he struggled with and never finished high school. It appears that he drifted, unemployed, living on his own from the time he was 15 years old. We know he had prior brushes with the law for trespassing and drug use, and it appears that he may have witnessed significant and frequent violence in the house he grew up in with his father and step-mother, who eventually separated in 2008.
Dylann Roof’s defense team may attempt to use his background as they build their case to defend him, but it is unlikely to be a successful strategy. It does not appear that Dylann Roof was psychotic or delusional at the time of the shootings. It seems that he knew exactly what he was doing, and reports indicate that he has expressed no remorse for his actions.
But regardless of whether his background provides an effective legal defense, there are important lessons to learn from his story. Dylann Roof developed into an emotionally troubled young man who found an identity and a distorted sense of purpose in a belief system that fomented hate and glorified violence. And while we may never know the exact combination of factors that formed his character, it is very likely that the neglect and abuse he probably suffered during childhood set the stage for the expression of an ugliness that is difficult for most of us to imagine.
Dylann Roof must be held accountable for his actions. And our nation must continue discussions about gun control and race relations. But if our goal is to prevent future acts of violence — if we hope to build healthier, more tolerant communities — then we must also ask ourselves a very simple question. How did we fail the 15-year-old boy he once was? He wasn’t born a killer and he wasn’t born with the type of hatred that would later fuel the murder of six women and three men who happened to be African American. Whether or not we feel sympathy for him because of the depression, anxiety, loneliness, or torment he may have experienced growing up, our failure to pay attention to how he became a killer will prevent us from reaching other kids at risk of following a similar path.
We need to recognize this type of hatred for what it is, a sign of severe emotional disturbance. And we need to take more responsibility for those around us who seem to be suffering — before their pain becomes unbearable and is turned inward against themselves or outward as it seemingly did with Dylann Roof. Think about this for a moment. Does someone who is mentally healthy commit unprovoked, premeditated murder? This type of overwhelming, all-consuming hatred cannot exist within an emotionally healthy human being.
Anger is a normal human emotion. And hatred can be an understandable reaction to abuse or trauma or loss. We can all imagine the hatred a victim might feel toward the rapist that attacked her or the rage a soldier might feel toward the insurgent who killed a battle buddy. As we heal through abuse or trauma or loss, we must move beyond hatred or we will most certainly become consumed by it. But if we are a 15-year-old kid living on the streets with little or no supervision, no guidance, and no love . . . if we find drugs and hatred before we find a healthy alternative, it is easy to imagine how hatred can twist our thoughts and shape our actions.
Some might accurately point out that not all kids from deprived or harsh backgrounds turn out to be racist or violent. Thankfully, we humans are complex creatures. Some of us have the capacity to overcome obstacles and find opportunities. But capacity doesn’t equate with certainty, and not every kid has the right combination of internal resources and good luck that allow someone to overcome a lousy roll of the environmental, familial, or genetic dice.
Others might say that it isn’t our responsibility to look out for, provide assistance to, or care about the kids who go astray or have severe emotional problems or who are abused and neglected. Ironically, had Dylann Roof wandered into the Emanuel AME church feeling scared and alone, the men and women he found there would have most certainly offered support, concern, and care. They would have accepted the responsibility for a lost soul and they would have responded to his suffering.
As we mourn the loss of those who died and we look for answers and hope for solutions, we have an opportunity, and perhaps an obligation. Future tragedies can be prevented if we pay attention to the signs of emotional suffering–in ourselves and those we love–and, if we take responsibility for reaching out to those in need, to those who are falling through the cracks. Children are not born hating themselves or others. It is our collective responsibility to give them other options.
Barbara Van Dahlen, named to TIME magazine’s 2012 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, is the founder and president of Give an Hour, a national nonprofit providing free mental health services to the military and veteran community. Give an Hour is now leading the Campaign to Change Direction, a collective impact effort to change the culture of mental health in America.
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Sourced through Scoop.it from: feeds.huffingtonpost.com
Cast in bronze, Hachiko sits in a position of prominence befitting a storied daimyo or prime minister, right next to the busiest intersection in Japan, if not the world.
As the oft-told story goes, the famed golden-brown Akita would greet his master, professor Hidesaburo Ueno of Tokyo University, outside Shibuya Station at the end of every day as he returned from work.
After the professor died suddenly in 1925 of a stroke, Hachiko continued to wait patiently outside the station for his master day in, day out for another nine long years, until his own demise.
This enduring loyalty earned Hachiko the respect and affection of the Japanese public and led eventually to his immortalization in bronze in Shibuya and in modern Japanese folklore, as the embodiment of the unbreakable bond between man and his best friend.
Hachiko was also a dog for his time. Born into 1920s Japan, he lived through the prewar period when Japan’s leaders were busy whipping up a nationalistic storm about fealty to the Emperor and nation to support their military aims in Asia. Hachiko came to symbolize this “dogged” and blind loyalty.
By the standards of the Shibuya pooches of today, who daintily walk in his comparatively very large footsteps, Hachiko would probably be a long way from being considered even remotely kawaii.
Photos from back in the day reveal him to be a mangy-looking mutt with lopsided ears and a grumpy, forlorn face (perhaps understandably, considering his predicament). Yet he was loyal, and that was enough — at least back then.
Today, it is unlikely Hachiko would survive nine hours wandering around Shibuya crossing on his own, let alone nine years. If he managed to avoid being run over by an impatient taxi driver, he would likely be promptly picked up by Tokyo’s animal control division. And then his chances of survival would be very, very slim.
More than 204,000 pets — 82 percent of the total taken into public “animal shelters” that year — were euthanized in 2010, according to the latest available government figures. Just under 52,000 of these animals were dogs; the majority were cats.
In that same year, less than 29,000 abandoned pets — 11 percent of arrivals — were successfully re-homed.
In the U.K., in contrast, just over 7,000 dogs were euthanized in 2011, even though more than 126,000 were abandoned — a rate of less than 6 percent. The euthanasia rate for animals in Canada based on responses from just over half of the country’s shelters in 2010 was 36 percent.
Such comparisons highlight Japan’s very low rehoming rate and beg the question of why so many pets end up being put down.
Hiroyuki Satake, deputy director of the Tokyo metropolitan government’s Animal Protection and Consultation Center in Setagaya Ward, says it is an uphill battle convincing the public to adopt abandoned pets, although things have improved slightly in recent years.
“Japanese people are in the habit of going to a pet shop and buying a puppy. In Tokyo there are no puppies brought to the pound and so we only have adult dogs to re-home. People don’t want an adult dog — they want to get a dog when it is still young.”
Satake adds that even out of the small number of dogs that are successfully rehomed, the majority are not taken in by members of the public as family pets, but are mostly picked up by volunteers working for any number of Japan’s private animal shelters.
One such shelter is ARK (Animal Rescue Kansai), established by Briton Elizabeth Oliver in 1990. One of most well-known and respected animal shelters in Japan, ARK has been something of a trailblazer in the field of animal rights in Japan. Oliver was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) by the queen last year for her services to animal welfare and civil society in Japan.
ARK currently houses about 180 cats and a similar number of dogs at its sanctuary in Osaka Prefecture, with around 30 more animals staying in ARK-registered foster homes in the Tokyo area.
A large number of the animals the shelter takes in are handed over by older people who are no longer able to look after them, Oliver says. “We get a lot of dogs from people in their 60s and 70s. Often they have to go into hospital and can’t take their dog with them.”
Oliver believes the root of this problem lies with the pet shops, which will only sell puppies. “I’m not against older people adopting animals, but if they go to a pet shop, the only animal you can get is one which is very young. If they come here [to ARK], we would say, ‘Well, take a dog which is 6 or 7 years old.’ ”
Oliver adds that in her native England the pet culture is very different and it is common for people to adopt older animals.
“People are more realistic in the U.K. If you are a certain age, you would be thinking to adopt something older. I think in Japan people just see cute puppies.”
ARK also takes in a lot of dogs from hoarders and what she calls “balcony breeders” — amateurs trying to make some quick yen breeding from home but who fail to sell the dogs.
Animal hoarders are people who keep an abnormally large number of domestic pets in their home despite lacking adequate space to house the animals or the ability to feed or look after them properly.
Hoarders are often mentally ill people who have an unhealthy, obsessive attachment to their pets and are unable to comprehend the suffering they are causing.
Recently six miniature pinschers were brought to the ARK shelter after the owner was apprehended by the authorities.
“She was a hoarder type and she had abused the dogs. The animals hadn’t been properly fed,” Oliver explains. “Amongst those six, two have died already. One, a so-called puppy, was about 8 months, but looked about 1 month. It weighed only 560 grams — the weight of a kitten.”
Walking the streets of Tokyo, you could be forgiven for thinking Japanese pets are the luckiest in the world. In many cases, they probably are.
Veterinarian Midori Wada from Daktari Animal Hospital in Tokyo says she is often impressed with how conscientious and devoted most pet owners in Japan are.
“From personal experience interacting with patients and their respective owners, a pet is family, not a family pet,” she says. “If an animal has an incurable disease, Japanese owners tend to be very devoted and they will do whatever they can to prolong the pet’s life rather than euthanize, so they can be together for one more day.
“We have patients who are hospitalized for months. The owners come to visit on a daily basis and I experience the strong human-animal bond and medical miracles that come from not giving up in our hospital.”
Wada adds that the responsible attitudes of many pet owners also make it possible to administer preventative treatment. Even people with completely healthy pets will diligently pay for vaccinations every year, as well as general health checks that include a variety of tests from a physical exam to a blood test — and even a CT scan.
Yet Wada also believes Japanese pet owners can at times go too far and overindulge their pets, which can create problems down the road.
“We have many pet owners who treat animals too much like people, making them good parents to their pets, maybe, but becoming too obsessed with them at the same time,” she says. “I’m used to seeing Louis Vuitton carriers, baby strollers, and a dog’s diet including Kobe beef and Yubari melons, which cost upwards of $50 per fruit.”
Wada says that sometimes this over-the-top treatment can result in serious medical issues for the animals. Forcing dogs into clothes in the very hot summer months can cause matted fur and skin problems, for example, and an imbalanced diet can lead to obesity.
As with any other fashion craze in Japan, ground zero for this pooch-pampering obsession is trendy Shibuya and neighboring Harajuku. Boutiques selling designer doggie clothes and accessories are now almost as common a sight as high school girls dressed up as “gothic Lolitas.”
Dare to imagine it and these shops have probably got it: ripped designer jeans for the Chihuahua, a heavy-knit English duffle coat to keep the Pomeranian warm in winter, or a Buzz Lightyear costume for the miniature dachshund — because, of course, he loved the film.
There are doggie necklaces, bracelets, hats, bootees, socks, carry bags, push chairs, nappies — even a bandana with a built-in gel cooling pad for those scorching summer months. And if money is no object, Chanel, Dior, Hermes and Gucci now have luxury dog product lines in Japan.
Then there are the service industries — pet theme parks, restaurants, cafes, hotels, swimming lessons, grooming sessions, manicures, massages, facials, and even special pet-only spa resorts. One can’t help but wonder who is enjoying themselves here — the dog or the owner?
And if old, noble Hachiko was raised from the dead and ambled once more through his old stomping ground, what would he make of the spoilt brand of toy dogs that crowd the area today? Would he even recognize them as being of the same biological order, let alone species, as himself?
For better or worse, Japan is in the throes of a pet boom and there is serious money to be made. In a climate of general economic stagnation, the industry is proving to be remarkably recession-proof, with the pet business estimated to be worth over ¥1 trillion a year and growing by the day. The nation’s total pet population is now a staggering 22 million — that’s over 5 million more than the number of children under 15 in Japan today.
No one can complain about an industry doing well, and a pet — just like a human — loved too much is better off than one not loved at all. But sadly, as the pet population grows, so does the number of animals that fall through the cracks.
For some pets that end up in the Animal Protection and Consultation Center in Tokyo, rehoming is not even attempted and they are sent to their death after only seven days.
“We observe the animals and decide if the chance of rehoming is high or low,” says Satake, the center’s deputy director.
Factors taken into consideration are the health, age and character of the animal, such as whether or not it is overly aggressive.
“If the odds of re-homing are good we keep it here for a long time, but if they are low then we quickly destroy the animal,” says Satake.
“The decision is ultimately made by one of our staff and it is hard for that person. They must themselves decide on life or death for the pet. This is a heavy burden for them to carry.”
In cases where animals are put down, the method of euthanization is one which has largely been abolished in the West: gassing by carbon dioxide.
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) strongly criticized the use of carbon dioxide to put down animals in a recent report, citing the suffering it inflicts.
“Concerns over the humaneness of CO2 stem from its association with breathlessness and hyperventilation,” the report says. “At high concentrations, CO2 dissolves in the moisture of the animal’s airways producing carbonic acid that causes irritation and pain in the animal’s nose. Induction to unconsciousness is accompanied by escape attempts, licking, sneezing and increased movement or agitation indicating exposure is distressing.”
Satake says that carbon dioxide gas is still used in Japan because in the past the number of stray animals was even higher. This made it impractical to euthanize animals individually, such as by lethal injection, whereas with gas a large number can be killed simultaneously.
Satake acknowledges that the system currently in place is not ideal, but says changing to a more humane method would cost a lot of money.
“The truth is the most current method is not carbon dioxide but anesthetic gas,” he says. “There is a machine available which uses this gas, but it is very, very expensive. We want to buy this machine and change to this method, but it’s too costly.”
Currently, Shimonoseki city in Yamaguchi Prefecture is the only municipality in Japan that euthanizes its animals using anesthetic gas.
Another option for euthanizing unwanted pets would be to give them an intravenous injection of a barbiturate or anesthetic agent, inducing death through an overdose.
The WSPA regards an IV injection of a 20-percent pentobarbital solution (a barbiturate) as the most humane method of euthanizing cats or dogs as it induces “rapid loss of consciousness” and causes no “distressing side effects.”
Pentobarbital is also commonly used in conjunction with other drugs for the execution of criminals for capital crimes in some U.S. states.
However, Satake sees obstacles to such a hands-on method being introduced in Japan.
“In the case of giving an injection to each animal, well, it can lead to mental problems for the individual who has to do the killing, so we want to avoid direct methods such as injection,” he says. “In the case of a machine, well, the person can avoid directly handling the animals.”
Tucked away in a corner of the car park at the Animal Protection and Consultation Center — the place where the unwanted pets of Tokyo are processed before being sent to the gas chambers in Jonanjima on the outskirts of the city — is a small shrine.
Here, the staff of the center from time to time burn sticks of incense and say a prayer for the souls of those pets who never found a home — pets who never got to roam, free but lonely, like mangy Hachiko through the crowded streets of Shibuya to bum a stick of yakitori or a pork bun from a friendly passer-by.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.japantimes.co.jp
Richard Black, US Virginia Senator
RT: Lavrov touched on many issues in his speech, including what he called the revival of Cold War by the NATO countries, which how the current Russia-US standoff is often being described. What are your thoughts on this assessment?
Richard Black: He did well by reviewing the history of what is taking place in Ukraine. He said to go back and recall that the roots of the conflict arose from the rapid expansion of NATO eastward to where it threatens the Russian border. There is no question that this is accurate. He said that he wanted to implement the Minsk agreement in order settle the disputes with Ukraine. But he did remind people that it was not Russia, but it was the Western-inspired coup d’état, which began the problems in Ukraine. That was a good reminder to people of how this started. He did touch on a couple of things that are happening in the Ukraine that have been problematic, and he said the suppression of linguistic minorities is a problem, because earlier on the new Ukrainian government did away with Russian as a second language. He also mentioned the current ongoing removal of monuments to heroes of WWII, which refers to some of the Russian monuments within the Ukraine.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.rt.com
Minister of Finance in the Second Republic, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, said yesterday the International Monetary Fund, IMF, borrowed money from Nigeria in 1974.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: allafrica.com
On Friday, the Education Department rescinded Obama-era guidelines on how universities and colleges address campus sexual assault, putting “interim rules in place,” the AP reports.
The guidelines, known as the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, required schools to lower the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence used in criminal court to a preponderance of evidence, in line with studies that have shown sexual assault is exceedingly common, false reports are rare, and rape is underreported and rarely prosecuted. The Education Department also rescinded the 2014 Questions and Answers on Title IX Sexual Violence, replacing it with their own interim Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct that allows schools to use “the evidence standard or a clear and convincing evidence standard.”
Sourced through Scoop.it from: theslot.jezebel.com