Thursday, April 7, 2011

Taste for murder

That's a murder of crows in the Ottawa area. Hitchcock anyone?

This is a sickening display of ignorance and assumptions.

Taken from the Ottawa Citizen:

Aslam and a friend signed up for the rally in London Sunday with the help of her friend's father, who is a Conservative.

About 30 minutes after she arrived, she and her friend were approached by two officials and were asked to go outside the door, she told Postmedia News.

One of the men was dressed in a "nice" sweater and carried a clipboard, the other wore a dark suit with a red lapel pin. The man in the suit was also wearing a radio earpiece and a wire in his sleeve, according to Aslam.

Once there, she said the man with the clipboard disappeared and the official wearing the suit ripped off the Conservative stickers that had been previously given to them "and ripped them into pieces."

"He said, "You are no longer welcome here,'" she said. Aslam and her friend were upset and wondered what had gone wrong.

"He said, "We know you have ties to the Liberal party through Facebook.'"

Taken from

Awish Aslam, a second-year political science student at the University of Western Ontario, told CBC News that she and a friend were trying to attend a rally with Harper on Sunday in London when they were asked to leave by an RCMP officer.

She said the officer told her that she was being removed because of her ties to the Liberals on Facebook. She had a photo of herself and Ignatieff, which was taken at a Liberal event a few days earlier.

The Conservative leader didn't answer whether his party was screening people who are registered to attend party functions.

"I think it is better when you are turning people away than when you can't get people to come," Harper said. "But I don't want to comment on individual cases."

Just because this student had her photo taken with Ignatieff, doesn't mean that she will cause trouble and be disruptive at a Conservative rally. She was only trying to get a better idea on each party's platform so that she could make a well-informed choice.

Monday, April 4, 2011

With prosthetic leg, horse is hitting his stride

Taken from the Ottawa Citizen

ARGYLE, Texas — In a scene worthy of a Walt Disney film, a trio of protective llamas, two curious goats and another miniature horse crowd around while a tiny prosthetic limb is fitted to Midnite’s deformed hind leg.

Bob Williams strokes the 4-year-old miniature horse, puts head to heart for a "bonding moment," gives him a smooch and turns him loose.

Midnite takes a few tentative steps and then breaks into a joyous gallop, weaving among the other once-neglected creatures at Ranch Hand Rescue, a nonprofit sanctuary started by Williams for special-needs animals.

After ProsthetiCare of Fort Worth, Texas, designed and donated the $14,000 artificial limb, a video of Midnite’s first ramble on his new leg became an Internet and TV sensation.

"When he took off, it was literally a miracle," said Dona Schroetke, an Argyle, Texas, councilwoman and member of Ranch Hand Rescue’s board of directors.

Williams can only shake his head in amazement — at both Midnite the unlikely celebrity and the outpouring of touching e-mails and phone calls from around the world.

A mother still grieving her son’s suicide three years ago thanked Williams and Midnite for giving her "a moment of hope."

A woman relayed a message to Midnite from her mentally challenged sister: "Midnight is so beautiful my heart goes out to midnight get well midnight i want you to run like the wind, love erin."

And a 9-year-old Denton, Texas, girl who will have a leg amputated in April, came to meet the little horse. After the operation, she wants Midnite to make a hospital visit.

"Watching Midnite run gave her hope," Williams said.

Midnite’s first stop on his road to recovery was at the Humane Society of North Texas after a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy seized the horse from a family who said they could not afford to care for him, said Sandy Grambort, the agency’s equine and livestock coordinator. The owners said the horse had injured his leg, but veterinarians think he was probably born with a deformity, she said. "He was miserable and extremely depressed. He was standing all the time because he had such a hard time getting up when he laid down," said Grambort, so she called Williams.

Soft-Ride Equine Comfort Boots, a small San Antonio company, helped by donating one of its padded horse orthotics normally used when hauling an animal, Grambort said.

Williams said he took the idea to the next step after he saw a TV show about fitting a baby with an artificial limb.

He called ProsthetiCare. Lane Farr initially thought it was a crank call.

But then he became intrigued.

"It was a huge challenge. A human patient can give you feedback, but with a horse, you’ve got to get it right. I think God had a little hand in it," said Farr, director of operations for the company, which was founded in 1992 by owner Tim Goldberg, who lost a leg in a rock-climbing accident.

Farr, a former University of Oklahoma football player whose father was an amputee, studied videos on horse mechanics and came up with a two-piece clamshell device with gel cushioning that fastens together with Velcro straps. It has a rolled rubber "hoof" so Midnite can keep his gait, Farr said.

At the second fitting of the prosthesis March 22, Midnite accepted it like a horse that was born to run.

"We just planned on him being able to walk, and he took off as soon as he realized it was there. It was almost like he was thanking us," he said.

"I had no idea it would blow up the way it did. I had a friend in Manchester, England, and he saw it on the BBC. We were just donating to a great cause. We didn’t do it for publicity."

But the horse world has taken notice.

"I’ve gotten five calls from horse lovers with injured animals. Usually when a horse goes lame, they have to put it down, and this might help save some of them," Farr said

"We just did what we do. Ranch Hand Rescue had the ingenuity to make this happen."

It’s easy to see where that ingenuity comes from at American Pet Spa and Resort, a kennel operation co-owned by Williams and Marty Polasko on the edge of Argyle, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth.

Housed in a complex styled after an Old West town, the kennel bills itself as a vacation destination for pets, featuring satellite TVs in every stall, landscaped exercise yards, two saltwater swimming pools for dogs, and online cameras so owners can keep an eye on their animal.

Polasko, a former engineer, manages the 23-employee kennel business, and Williams, who formerly worked in human resources for Motorola, runs the nonprofit sanctuary.

Ranch Hand Rescue specializes in abused, abandoned and neglected animals, and the sanctuary houses about 70 animals that include four other miniature horses, potbellied pigs, chickens, ducks, turtles, sheep and goats.

Most were seized by law enforcement agencies from neglectful owners.

Midnite’s "miracle" will surely help the cause, Schroetke said.

"It’s like he knows he has a mission," she said. "He’s going to be a great ambassador."

But his rehabilitation will be a long process.

"It’s expensive. He’s had huge medical costs and requires a lot of care. It takes two people to put the prosthesis on and take it off. We have to massage his atrophied leg every day until he adjusts to it," said Williams, who adds that all the publicity has resulted in a few donations.

"I didn’t do this for notice. We just love animals, and we want to save the ones we can."

Later that night, he went to rescue a potbellied pig.

Friday, April 1, 2011