Friday, July 13, 2007

Iams Healthy Naturals?

Iams has followed everyone else in introducing a supposedly healthy dog food (which makes you wonder what's wrong with their original formula). It is advertised as being full of fresh ingredients and vegetables. So what's in it?

Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice, Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp (sugar removed), Natural Chicken Flavor, Dried Egg Product, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dicalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Beta-Carotene, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Flax Meal, Apple Pomace, Dried Carrots, Dried Peas, Choline Chloride, Dried Spinach, Dried Tomato, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), L-Carnitine, Rosemary Extract

Brewers Rice? That's the stuff thrown out of distilleries when they are done producing liquor. Fresh? Skip down to the end of the list for the veggies, which are found in smaller quantities than the vitamin supplements or even the salt.

I've begun cooking for my own dogs. I'm still working out the recipe, but its something like this: ground chicken parts, brown rice, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, broccoli, millet. Sula was suspicious of the carrots, but she got over it. And within days all three of the dogs had unbelievable coats and skin.

Ethics administrator quits, then is rehired to avoid law's requirements

From the Times-Picauyne:

By Robert Travis Scott
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Board of Ethics on Thursday let its chief administrator quit his agency job and then rehired him in a new capacity to avoid a requirement under a newly passed ethics law that he disclose clients in his private law practice...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Urgent news from the mayor's office



NEW ORLEANS, LA (July 10, 2007) The City of New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board is using mosquito fish to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding in unattended pools throughout the city.

"We've been using aerial photographs to pinpoint locations of abandoned pools throughout the city," said Steve Sackett, Mosquito and Termite Control Board Research Entomologist. "It's vital to the city's recovery for us to reduce the probability of disease transmission by treating as many pools as possible".

Post-Katrina, the residents of New Orleans are concerned about the vast number of swimming pools throughout the city that were not maintained and restored. The Mosquito and Termite Control Board is devoting substantial effort to locate and treat swimming pools that were left abandoned after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Immediately following the storms and the flooding the followed, the board began using mosquito fish to eliminate mosquito breeding in swimming pools and other large containers.

Mosquito fish are prolific breeders, producing 75-100 young every two months, and will last for years in a pool. The fish are excellent predators of mosquito larvae and will eliminate mosquito production once they are established. In March of 2006, the Mosquito and Termite Control Board partnered with Operation Blessing, a faith-based organization to provide funding for fish, supplies, and volunteers to inspect and treat pools. Since then, more than 5,000 pools have been inspected, and more than 2,000 have been treated.

The board is also placing signs at the pools where the mosquito fish have been introduced, asking the public not to treat the pools with bleach or other substances, as it may kill the fish and allow mosquitoes to breed. One pool can produce thousands of mosquitoes if left unattended. Mosquito numbers in most areas of the city have been fairly low, and mosquito samples are sent to the Louisiana Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory each week, where they are tested for West Nile virus and encephalitis. To date, all results have been negative.

The city is asking residents in the New Orleans Metro Area to also play their part in the prevention of mosquito breeding by cleaning and maintaining their pools. Citizens also can help in this effort by removing water-filled containers such as buckets, tires, flower pots, etc from their yards and neighborhoods. To report an abandoned pool, call the City Information Hotline by dialing 311 or (504) 658-2400.



I went to see Sicko yesterday afternoon to escape the heat. Michael Moore has always annoyed me, which is quite an accomplishment, because I actually agree with most of what he says. Yet he manages to say it in ways that inspire me to disagree.

Sicko is nothing like his earlier films. Not as snarky, not as Moore-centric, and much more emotionally affecting, perhaps because it deals with all of our lives. Of course, as someone with a pre-existing health problem, most of the film played like a horrible recurring nightmare. There were moments when it made me feel as if I should just give up, or leave the country.

The one false moment comes when Moore loads his sick subjects into a boat and attempts to go to Guantanimo Bay to get treatment from the American doctors there. He seems surprised that they can't boat in, and then figures they can go to a Cuban hospital instead, since they are already there. His "gee whiz" bumpkin act seems completely put on. But, I've actually visited the hospital where everyone is treated, and have to say: it really is that good. The Cubans decided long ago to invest their few resources into health care, not just to care for their own, but also to market their services to other countries. They develop and sell drugs around the world, and people from other countries routinely fly into Cuba to consult with doctors there.

Anyway, by the end of movie, my back was killing me. So today I'm trying to hunt down an accupuncturist.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On crime and keeping promises

Earlier this week I was asked to write about the Dinerral Shavers case for the Times-Picayune; the op-ed appears in today's paper. I haven't been able to find it online, so until I find the link, you can read the whole text here:

Six months ago, on Jan. 11, the people of New Orleans marched on City Hall to protest an epidemic of violent crime. There were 3,000 of us, according to local reports, or 5,000, if you believed the out-of-town press. And each person marching was there for the thousands of others who would have been there if they could.
        We wanted change. We wanted to feel safe in our city. We wanted leadership from our silent leaders. Mayor Ray Nagin vowed that fighting crime would be his daily priority.
        One of the speakers that morning was Nakita Shavers, a sophomore political science major at Florida A&M. Two weeks earlier, she had lost her older brother Dinerral. Her family had been mourning in Baton Rouge, but drove down to join the march, having no idea that they would arrive to find thousands of New Orleanians united. Nakita spoke of her desire to return to her city after she graduates, to become a community leader, to create change. "But I'm worried," she added, "that there won't be a city to return to."
        A few weeks later I accompanied Nakita to the district attorney's office, were we met with the assistant district attorney assigned to the case. Nakita had decided to take a leave of absence from school, in order to follow the progress of this case through the court system, and to work with a series of school programs and youth music clinics that had emerged from the march. The assistant DA assured us that this case was a lucky one: they had already made an arrest; they had established a motive; they had a gun and statements from witnesses. "Usually we don't ever get any of that," the assistant DA said.
        Of course, there were still unanswered questions. Chief among them was the issue of when they might be able to get a ballistics report on the gun. The Police Department's crime lab had been destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and the evidence had to be sent out of town for testing. "How long can it take?" I asked. Three months? Six months? We were assured it would not take that long.
        What about witness protection? That, we were told, doesn't really exist. "It's witness assistance," we were told. Was there any chance of the case not going to trial? No chance, we were told.
        Nakita attended every hearing in the case, as well as several other cases. She met with other victims and survivors. She heard, time and time again, of cases that collapsed or disappeared into black holes of continuances and 701 releases. And yet, remarkably, she remained faithful. Just days before the case was dismissed I sat with her as she assured a concerned Swiss journalist that she felt certain she would see justice in the case.
        This is not how a 20-year-old girl should have to spend her sophomore year.
        Then last week, the district attorney's office announced that the suspect in Dinerral's killing would not be prosecuted. The case had collapsed.
        How did everything fall apart?
        Six months later, the case still rested on the testimony of a single underage witness, who was now refusing to testify. A ballistics test on the gun -- found beneath a nearby house two days later -- showed it was definitely the gun used to kill Dinerral, but there were no fingerprints on it or any other way to link the gun to the suspect.  No one else  on the scene was being called as a witness, for reasons that are were unclear.
        While there were some key players who offered Nakita support--Warren Riley and Councilman James Carter, to name two--the overall sense was that one of chaos.  Other players in the case gave contradictory information, including reports that there were, in fact, no ballistics back on the gun.  In the end, it seemed as if the prosecution was working with less than it had started with, so it was easy to understand why the young witness might feel reluctant to put herself and her family on the line.
        It has been a startling education for those of us, like Nakita, who have been lucky enough to be sheltered, until now, from the realities of the criminal court system and violent crime. And as the violence in our city continues to climb, we continue to wait in the presence of our strangely mute mayor, who has yet to make good on the promises he made Jan. 11.
        Nakita will return to school in Florida this fall, and eventually she will make good on her promise, to come back to New Orleans, and continue the work she has unexpectedly already started.
         Perhaps, by   then, the city will have found some way of righting itself, to prove itself worthy of her faith and her return.

Ken Foster of New Orleans is an author and one of the founders of His e-mail address is