Category: Government

More on that Aflatoxin alert.

This is important!

The FDA has announced that Midwestern Pet Food is expanding its recent recall to include more brands and over 1000 lots of its dog and cat foods because they contain potentially deadly levels of aflatoxin.

FDA is aware of at least 70 deaths and 80 illnesses in dogs who ate the affected products.

So informed me at the start of an email received in the early hours of this morning (yesterday).

You will recall that we had a post back on January 2nd about aflatoxin. This is a further report.

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Deadly Dog and Cat Food Recall Expands: More Brands, Over 1000 Lots

Important: Illustrations not complete. Additional images will be added if or when they become available.

January 11, 2021 — The FDA is alerting consumers that Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. is expanding its recent recall to include over 1000 lots of Sportmix and 2 other brands of dog and cat food because they contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxin.

As of this date, FDA is aware of more than 70 deaths and 80 illnesses in pets that have eaten the affected products.

This is an ongoing investigation. This count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected.

What’s Recalled?

On December 30, 2020, Midwestern Pet Foods announced a recall of nine total lots of Sportmix pet food products.

  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
    Exp 03/02/22/05/L2
    Exp 03/02/22/05/L3
    Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
    Exp 03/02/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 50 lb. bag
    Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 44 lb. bag
    Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
    Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
    Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
    Exp 03/03/22/05/L3

On January 11, 2021, the company expanded its recall to include all pet food products containing corn that were made in the firm’s Oklahoma plant and that expire on or before July 9, 2022.

More than 1000 lot codes are affected, so they are not listed individually.

Lots of the following pet food products have been recalled if the date/lot code includes an expiration date on or before “07/09/22” and includes “05” in the date/lot code, which identifies products made in the Oklahoma plant:

  • Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, 40 lb. bag
  • Pro Pac Performance Puppy, 40 lb. bag
  • Splash Fat Cat 32%, 50 lb. bag
  • Nunn Better Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Protein, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 40 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 16.5 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 33 lb. bag

Lot code information may be found on the back of bag and will appear in a three-line code, with the top line in format “EXP 03/03/22/05/L#/B###/HH:MM”

About Aflatoxin

Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus and at high levels it can cause illness and death in pets.

The toxin can be present even if there is no visible mold.

Pets are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people, who eat a varied diet, pets generally eat the same food continuously over extended periods of time.

If a pet’s food contains aflatoxin, the toxin could accumulate in the pet’s system as they continue to eat the same food.

Pets with aflatoxin poisoning may experience symptoms such as sluggishness, loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes, gums or skin due to liver damage), and/or diarrhea.

In some cases, this toxicity can cause long-term liver issues and/or death.

Some pets suffer liver damage without showing any symptoms.

Pet owners whose pets have been eating the recalled products should contact their veterinarians, especially if they are showing signs of illness.

There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning.

However, pet owners should always wash their hands after handling pet food.

What to Do?

Affected products may still be on store shelves, online, or in pet owners’ homes.

Pet owners should stop feeding their pets the recalled products listed above and consult their veterinarian, especially if the pet is showing signs of illness.

The pet owner should remove the food and make sure no other animals have access to the recalled product.

Contact Midwestern Pet Foods Consumer Affairs at 800-474-4163, ext. 455 from 7 am to 4 pm CT, Monday through Friday, or by email at info@midwesternpetfoods.com for additional information.

Further information regarding this recall can be found in the related FDA Bulletin.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

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As always, please share this food alert as widely as possible.

More on a healthy gut!

A continuation from yesterday!

I wasn’t going to post anything today but then in response to Val Boyco’s comment: “Good stuff Paul. Thank you! Please do more research and share here 💛 My gut will thank you!” I did do some more research and quickly came upon another article that was published recently and is worth of a read!

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How to prepare and protect your gut health over Christmas and the silly season

December 20, 2020

By


Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University

Disclosure statement
Claus T. Christophersen receives funding from NHMRC and WA Department of Health. He is a co-author of The Gut Feeling Cookbook linked in this article – all proceeds from sales of this cookbook go directly back into supporting our research, no personal financial interest.It’s that time of year again, with Christmas parties, end-of-year get-togethers and holiday catch-ups on the horizon for many of us — all COVID-safe, of course. All that party food and takeaway, however, can have consequences for your gut health.

Gut health matters. Your gut is a crucial part your immune system. In fact, 70% of your entire immune system sits around your gut, and an important part of that is what’s known as the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which houses a host of immune cells in your gut.

Good gut health means looking after your gut microbiome — the bacteria, fungi, viruses and tiny organisms that live inside you and help break down your food — but also the cells and function of your gastrointestinal system.

We know gut health can affect mood, thanks to what’s known as the gut-brain axis. But there’s also a gut-lung axis and a gut-liver axis, meaning what happens in your gut can affect your respiratory system or liver, too.

Here’s what you can do to bolster your gut microbiome in the coming weeks and months.

Read more: Gut health: does exercise change your microbiome?

How do silly season indulgences affect our gut health?

You can change your gut microbiome within a couple of days by changing your diet. And over a longer period of time, such as the Christmas-New Year season, your diet pattern can change significantly, often without you really noticing.

That means we may be changing the organisms that make up our microbiome during this time. Whatever you put in will favour certain bacteria in your microbiome over others.

We know fatty, sugary foods promote bacteria that are not as beneficial for gut health. And if you indulge over days or weeks, you are pushing your microbiome towards an imbalance.

For many of us, Christmas is a time of indulgence. Shutterstock

Is there anything I can do to prepare my gut health for the coming onslaught?

Yes! If your gut is healthy to begin with, it will take more to knock it out of whack. Prepare yourself now by making choices that feed the beneficial organisms in your gut microbiome and enhance gut health.

That means:

  • eating prebiotic foods such as jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions and a variety of grains and inulin-enhanced yoghurts (inulin is a prebiotic carbohydrate shown to have broad benefits to gut health)
  • eating resistant starches, which are starches that pass undigested through the small intestine and feed the bacteria in the large intestine. That includes grainy wholemeal bread, legumes such as beans and lentils, firm bananas, starchy vegetables like potatoes and some pasta and rice. The trick to increasing resistant starches in potato, pasta and rice is to cook them but eat them cold. So consider serving a cold potato or pasta salad over Christmas
  • choosing fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables
  • steering clear of added sugar where possible. Excessive amounts of added sugar (or fruit sugar from high consumption of fruit) flows quickly to the large intestine, where it gets gobbled up by bacteria. That can cause higher gas production, diarrhoea and potentially upset the balance of the microbiome
  • remembering that if you increase the amount of fibre in your diet (or via a supplement), you’ll need to drink more water — or you can get constipated.

For inspiration on how to increase resistant starch in your diet for improved gut health, you might consider checking out a cookbook I coauthored (all proceeds fund research and I have no personal interest).

Good gut health is hard won and easily lost. Shutterstock

What can I do to limit the damage?

If Christmas and New Year means a higher intake of red meat or processed meat for you, remember some studies have shown that diets higher in red meat can introduce DNA damage in the colon, which makes you more susceptible to colorectal cancer.

The good news is other research suggests if you include a certain amount of resistant starch in a higher red meat diet, you can reduce or even eliminate that damage. So consider a helping of cold potato salad along with a steak or sausage from the barbie.

Don’t forget to exercise over your Christmas break. Even going for a brisk walk can get things moving and keep your bowel movements regular, which helps improve your gut health.

Have a look at the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and remember what foods are in the “sometimes” category. Try to keep track of whether you really are only having these foods “sometimes” or if you have slipped into a habit of having them much more frequently.

The best and easiest way to check your gut health is to use the Bristol stool chart. If you’re hitting around a 4, you should be good.

If you’re hitting around a 4, you should be good. Shutterstock

Remember, there are no quick fixes. Your gut health is like a garden or an ecosystem. If you want the good plants to grow, you need to tend to them — otherwise, the weeds can take over.

I know you’re probably sick of hearing the basics — eat fruits and vegetables, exercise and don’t make the treats too frequent — but the fact is good gut health is hard won and easily lost. It’s worth putting in the effort.

A preventative mindset helps. If you do the right thing most of the time and indulge just now and then, your gut health will be OK in the end.

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That book that Claus refers to, the one on the gut Gut feeling: Mindful menus for the microbiome is here. It looks a very good book.

Well Val (and many others), did you find this interesting? It was a rhetorical question because I know that you did.

I will continue to republish these posts and, especially, the one on exercise. Because as I have often said: Diet and exercise are key!

Onwards and upwards!

Where is your dog coming from?

Bringing a dog into the USA.

Jean and I had the radio on, BBC Radio 4, yesterday morning and were listening to You and Yours. They had an item on puppies and the fact that at this time of the year, and especially this year, the number of puppies being brought in was very high.

Here is the background to the piece:

Instagram puppies; Gambling Act; Student Stress

You and Yours

There’s been a surge in puppies coming into the UK from oversees and animal welfare charities are worried about it. The Eurotunnel has put limits on the amount of dogs that can come through in one vehicle. We look at how puppies are advertised on social media and bred in countries like Russia and the Ukraine.

The former boss of Skybet, Richard Flint, reacts to the government announcement of a review of gambling laws. What can online betting companies do to make gambling fairer and safer?

We’ve been hearing how students have been struggling with their courses and accomodation in the pandemic – we hear from a father worried about his daughter in her first year, and she joins us too.

And, the number of house sales falling through because mortgage companies have downgraded valuations is rising. Are buyers just offering too much in the housing market boom?

Presenter: Peter White
Producer: Lydia Thomas

So turning to the USA here are the rules and regulations for importing dogs.  From the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

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Where is Your Dog Coming From?

The rules for bringing your dog into the United States depend on where you are coming from. Written or oral statements and any documents must be in English or have an English translation.

Different types of rabies exist in many mammals, but CDC focuses on importing dog rabies into the United States from certain high-risk countries. CDC experts collect and analyze rabies information around the world to determine a country’s risk for rabies.

Dog rabies was eliminated in the United States in 2007 and is under control in some other countries. However, many others do not have it controlled, and dogs coming from these countries can import this disease into the United States.

Dogs coming from a high-risk country will need a rabies vaccine certificate. High-risk countries have the greatest chance of importing dog rabies into the United States.

Photo credit: Audilis Sánchez, CDC
  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Ghana (high-risk country) for any period of time. Before returning to the United States, your dog must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate. Be sure to get your dog vaccinated before you travel and take the papers with you.
  • Example: You are purchasing a puppy from Russia (high-risk country) on the Internet. Before entering the United States, your puppy must have a valid rabies vaccine certificate.

Dogs coming from a low-risk or no-known rabies risk (free of dog rabies) are NOT required to have a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or oral statements that the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth.

Photo credit: Michelle Decenteceo, CDC
  • Example: Your adult dog lived in the United States (no-known–risk country) and visited Mexico (low-risk country). This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Mexico is low risk for dog rabies.
  • Example: Your puppy has lived in Germany since birth and is coming to the United States. This dog does NOT require a rabies certificate, because Germany has no-known risk for dog rabies.

In addition to CDC regulations, you must comply with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and your destination state’s regulation, which are often more strict than federal regulations. Please be aware that dogs imported for commercial (resale or adoption) purposes have additional requirements from USDA.

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Going back to that item on BBC Radio there was reference to a YouTube video of an illegal import from Russia.

Here it is:

Last week Love Island’s Molly Mae and Tommy Fury posted photos of their new pomeranian puppy from Russia, Mr Chai. But just a few days later they announced the devastating news that Mr Chai had died following health complications and it’s an all too common problem, when dogs from puppy farms are sold to unsuspecting families. Vet Dr Scott Miller joins us to make sure you know how to spot the signs of a reputable breeder if you’re thinking of getting a pet, alongside Sadee Slater – the victim of an irresponsible breeder.

Staying safe is more than luck; it requires research and care, and a whole lot more!

The most common human infrastructure.

Is the fence!

I saw this article yesterday on The Conversation and thought it was very significant and, as a result, worthy of sharing with you.

But first a picture of the Australian dingo.

By Henry Whitehead – Original photograph, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Taken from an article on WikiPedia.

Here is that article from The Conversation.

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Fences have big effects on land and wildlife around the world that are rarely measured

November 30, 2020

By , Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California Santa Barbara,

and

, Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley,

and

, PhD Candidate in Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley.

What is the most common form of human infrastructure in the world? It may well be the fence. Recent estimates suggest that the total length of all fencing around the globe is 10 times greater than the total length of roads. If our planet’s fences were stretched end to end, they would likely bridge the distance from Earth to the Sun multiple times.

On every continent, from cities to rural areas and from ancient to modern times, humans have built fences. But we know almost nothing about their ecological effects. Border fences are often in the news, but other fences are so ubiquitous that they disappear into the landscape, becoming scenery rather than subject.

In a recently published study, our team sought to change this situation by offering a set of findings, frameworks and questions that can form the basis of a new discipline: fence ecology. By compiling studies from ecosystems around the world, our research shows that fences produce a complex range of ecological effects.

Some of them influence small-scale processes like the building of spider webs. Others have much broader effects, such as hastening the collapse of Kenya’s Mara ecosystem. Our findings reveal a world that has been utterly reorganized by a rapidly growing latticework of fences.

Connecting the dots

If fences seem like an odd thing for ecologists to study, consider that until recently no one thought much about how roads affected the places around them. Then, in a burst of research in the 1990s, scientists showed that roads – which also have been part of human civilization for millennia – had narrow footprints but produced enormous environmental effects.

For example, roads can destroy or fragment habitats that wild species rely on to survive. They also can promote air and water pollution and vehicle collisions with wildlife. This work generated a new scientific discipline, road ecology, that offers unique insights into the startling extent of humanity’s reach.

Our research team became interested in fences by watching animals. In California, Kenya, China and Mongolia, we had all observed animals behaving oddly around fences – gazelles taking long detours around them, for example, or predators following “highways” along fence lines.

We reviewed a large body of academic literature looking for explanations. There were many studies of individual species, but each of them told us only a little on its own. Research had not yet connected the dots between many disparate findings. By linking all these studies together, we uncovered important new discoveries about our fenced world.

Early advertisement for barbed wire fencing, 1880-1889. The advent of barbed wire dramatically changed ranching and land use in the American West by ending the open range system. Kansas Historical Society, CC BY-ND

Remaking ecosystems

Perhaps the most striking pattern we found was that fences rarely are unambiguously good or bad for an ecosystem. Instead, they have myriad ecological effects that produce winners and losers, helping to dictate the rules of the ecosystems where they occur.

Even “good” fences that are designed to protect threatened species or restore sensitive habitats can still fragment and isolate ecosystems. For example, fences constructed in Botswana to prevent disease transmission between wildlife and livestock have stopped migrating wildebeests in their tracks, producing haunting images of injured and dead animals strewn along fencelines.

Enclosing an area to protect one species may injure or kill others, or create entry pathways for invasive species.

One finding that we believe is critical is that for every winner, fences typically produce multiple losers. As a result, they can create ecological “no man’s lands” where only species and ecosystems with a narrow range of traits can survive and thrive.

Altering regions and continents

Examples from around the world demonstrate fences’ powerful and often unintended consequences. The U.S.-Mexico border wall – most of which fits our definition of a fence – has genetically isolated populations of large mammals such as bighorn sheep, leading to population declines and genetic isolation. It has even had surprising effects on birds, like ferruginous pygmy owls, that fly low to the ground.

Australia’s dingo fences, built to protect livestock from the nation’s iconic canines, are among the world’s longest man-made structures, stretching thousands of kilometers each. These fences have started ecological chain reactions called trophic cascades that have affected an entire continent’s ecology.

The absence of dingoes, a top predator, from one side of the fence means that populations of prey species like kangaroos can explode, causing categorical shifts in plant composition and even depleting the soil of nutrients. On either side of the fence there now are two distinct “ecological universes.”

Our review shows that fences affect ecosystems at every scale, leading to cascades of change that may, in the worst cases, culminate in what some conservation biologists have described as total “ecological meltdown.” But this peril often is overlooked.

The authors assembled a conservative data set of potential fence lines across the U.S. West. They calculated the nearest distance to any given fence to be less than 31 miles (50 kilometers), with a mean of about 2 miles (3.1 kilometers). McInturff et al,. 2020, CC BY-ND

To demonstrate this point, we looked more closely at the western U.S., which is known for huge open spaces but also is the homeland of barbed wire fencing. Our analysis shows that vast areas viewed by researchers as relatively untrodden by the human footprint are silently entangled in dense networks of fences.

Do less harm

Fences clearly are here to stay. As fence ecology develops into a discipline, its practitioners should consider the complex roles fences play in human social, economic and political systems. Even now, however, there is enough evidence to identify actions that could reduce their harmful impacts.

There are many ways to change fence design and construction without affecting their functionality. For example, in Wyoming and Montana, federal land managers have experimented with wildlife-friendly designs that allow species like pronghorn antelope to pass through fences with fewer obstacles and injuries. This kind of modification shows great promise for wildlife and may produce broader ecological benefits.

Another option is aligning fences along natural ecological boundaries, like watercourses or topographical features. This approach can help minimize their effects on ecosystems at low cost. And land agencies or nonprofit organizations could offer incentives for land owners to remove fences that are derelict and no longer serve a purpose.

Nonetheless, once a fence is built its effects are long lasting. Even after removal, “ghost fences” can live on, with species continuing to behave as if a fence were still present for generations.

Knowing this, we believe that policymakers and landowners should be more cautious about installing fences in the first place. Instead of considering only a fence’s short-term purpose and the landscape nearby, we would like to see people view a new fence as yet another permanent link in a chain encircling the planet many times over.

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This is something that I hadn’t hitherto thought about. I suspect that I am not alone.

There are many aspects of the fence that warrant more careful thought. I will close by repeating what was said just a few paragraphs above:

There are many ways to change fence design and construction without affecting their functionality. For example, in Wyoming and Montana, federal land managers have experimented with wildlife-friendly designs that allow species like pronghorn antelope to pass through fences with fewer obstacles and injuries. This kind of modification shows great promise for wildlife and may produce broader ecological benefits.

Another option is aligning fences along natural ecological boundaries, like watercourses or topographical features. This approach can help minimize their effects on ecosystems at low cost. And land agencies or nonprofit organizations could offer incentives for land owners to remove fences that are derelict and no longer serve a purpose.

We are never too old to learn!

 

It’s all too much, or it could be!

This year, 2020, has been unlike any other year.

I am not saying anything new but just reiterating what has been said before: 2020 is going to go down as the year from hell! And I don’t think that is too strong a word!

Part of it are the news stories that sweep the world: Covid-19; Brexit; Climate change; up until yesterday what was President Trump going to do in his last few weeks; etc; etc.

Also part of it is the way that news and more news and, yes, more news is flashed around the globe. Most of it bad news as we all know that bad news sells!

Finally, part of it is the new world of social media especially messaging on a smartphone. President Trump isn’t the only one to communicate greatly via Twitter.

Now, speaking personally, I couldn’t have got through this year without Jeannie and our dogs.

Pure bliss!

But, nevertheless, something has changed and Mark Satta has written an article that tries to explain things.

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Three reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it

By Mark Satta, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Wayne State University.

November 18th, 2020

An endless flow of information is coming at us constantly: It might be an article a friend shared on Facebook with a sensational headline or wrong information about the spread of the coronavirus. It could even be a call from a relative wanting to talk about a political issue.

All this information may leave many of us feeling as though we have no energy to engage.

As a philosopher who studies knowledge-sharing practices, I call this experience “epistemic exhaustion.” The term “epistemic” comes from the Greek word episteme, often translated as “knowledge.” So epistemic exhaustion is more of a knowledge-related exhaustion.

It is not knowledge itself that tires out many of us. Rather, it is the process of trying to gain or share knowledge under challenging circumstances.

Currently, there are at least three common sources that, from my perspective, are leading to such exhaustion. But there are also ways to deal with them.

1. Uncertainty

For many, this year has been full of uncertainty. In particular, the coronavirus pandemic has generated uncertainty about health, about best practices and about the future.

At the same time, Americans have faced uncertainty about the U.S. presidential election: first due to delayed results and now over questions about a peaceful transition of power.

Experiencing uncertainty can stress most of us out. People tend to prefer the planned and the predictable. Figures from 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes to 20th-century Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein have recognized the significance of having certainty in our lives.

With information so readily available, people may be checking news sites or social media in hopes of finding answers. But often, people are instead greeted with more reminders of uncertainty.

As Trump supporters denounce the 2020 election results, feelings of uncertainty can come up for others. Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images

2. Polarization

Political polarization is stressing many Americans out.

As political scientist Lilliana Mason notes in her book, “Uncivil Disagreement: How Politics Became Our Identity,” Americans have been increasingly dividing politically “into two partisan teams.”

Many writers have discussed the negative effects of polarization, such as how it can damage democracy. But discussions about the harms of polarization often overlook the toll polarization takes on our ability to gain and share knowledge.

That can happen in at least two ways.

First, as philosopher Kevin Vallier has argued, there is a “causal feedback loop” between polarization and distrust. In other words, polarization and distrust fuel one another. Such a cycle can leave people feeling unsure whom to trust or what to believe.

Second, polarization can lead to competing narratives because in a deeply polarized society, as studies show, we can lose common ground and tend to have less agreement.

For those inclined to take the views of others seriously, this can create additional cognitive work. And when the issues are heated or sensitive, this can create additional stress and emotional burdens, such as sadness over damaged friendships or anger over partisan rhetoric.

3. Misinformation

Viral misinformation is everywhere. This includes political propaganda in the United States and around the world.

People are also inundated with advertising and misleading messaging from private corporations, what philosophers Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall have called “industrial propaganda.” And in 2020, the public is also dealing with misinformation about COVID-19.

As chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov put it: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

Misinformation is often exhausting by design. For example, a video that went viral,Plandemic,” featured a large number of false claims about COVID-19 in rapid succession. This flooding of misinformation in rapid succession, a tactic known as a Gish gallop, makes it challenging and time-consuming for fact checkers to refute the many falsehoods following one after another.

What to do?

With all this uncertainty, polarization and misinformation, feeling tired is understandable. But there are things one can do.

The American Psychological Association suggests coping with uncertainty through activities like limiting news consumption and focusing on things in one’s control. Another option is to work on becoming more comfortable with uncertainty through practices such as meditation and the cultivation of mindfulness.

To deal with polarization, consider communicating with the goal of creating empathetic understanding rather than “winning.” Philosopher Michael Hannon describes empathetic understanding as “the ability to take up another person’s perspective.”

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

As for limiting the spread of misinformation: Share only those news stories that you’ve read and verified. And you can prioritize outlets that meet high ethical journalistic or fact-checking standards.

These solutions are limited and imperfect, but that’s all right. Part of resisting epistemic exhaustion is learning to live with the limited and imperfect. No one has time to vet all the headlines, correct all the misinformation or gain all the relevant knowledge. To deny this is to set oneself up for exhaustion.

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That last section, What to do?, is full of really sensible advice. In fact, the American Psychological Association has an article at the moment that appears to be freely available called Healing the political divide.

I intend to read it.

It finishes up saying:

Scientists must strive to share their research as broadly as possible. And they don’t have to do it alone. Organizations like More in Common work to conduct research and communicate findings to audiences where it can have the greatest impact.

Advocacy is essential as well. Other countries that have made strides in addressing the political divide relied heavily on government-led reconciliation efforts. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for example, in South Africa, has been fundamental in addressing disparities and conflict around Apartheid.

Were the United States to consider similar, government-backed efforts, psychologists must be part of the call to do so. And the behavioral expertise of the field would be central to success.

“The collective mental health of the nation is at risk,” says Moghaddam. “Just as we should rely on epidemiological science to tell us when there is a vaccine ready for mass use, we have to rely on psychological science to guide us through these mental health issues.”

And following an election that, for many, has felt like the most polarized of a lifetime, this piece seems critical. “ This is what our profession is all about,” says Moghaddam.

Good advice especially if you can take time off just losing oneself in nature.

Dawn behind nearby Mt. Sexton. Taken from our deck on the 21st August, 2019.

Enough said!

The rise of dogs!

Mr and Mrs Biden are very fine dog owners.

As the BBC News website reported yesterday:

A Joe Biden presidency means the return of a long-held tradition of pets in the White House.

The President-elect and his wife have two dogs at present: Champ and Major. They are German Shepherds. Champ, who was then a puppy, was given to Joe Biden in 2018 by his wife. Major was fostered and then adopted, also in 2018, from the Delaware Humane Association.

Joe Biden with Major. Courtesy of The New York Times.

Here is another picture of the two dogs. This time featuring Mrs Biden.

Courtesy of Yahoo News.

So GSD Major will be the first shelter dog that from January, 2021 will reside in the White House.

The 2020 presidential election is bringing a slew of firsts into the White House: the first woman vice president, as well as the first Black woman and person of South Asian heritage to hold the position. The first first lady to continue working a full-time job. The first Jewish spouse of either a president or vice president.

But President-elect Joe Biden is bringing yet another first this January: The first-ever shelter dog will now reside in the White House.

Whatever one thinks about the current politics it is brilliant that dogs are back in the White House.

Maybe President-elect Biden should think of a more formal role for Champ and Major!

The fireman!

This is a guest post from Doug.

Not that long ago, in came an email from Doug Goodman, an author, wanting to offer a guest post. Of course, I said ‘Yes’. This is a little bit about Doug.

Doug Goodman is the writer of the Zombie Dog Series, which was inspired by his time as a cadaver dog handler. The fourth book is Ghost Dog. For similar stories, you can follow him at his dog-owning, horror-writing, family life blog is dgoodman1.wordpress.com.

Anyway, I guarantee you will enjoy his post.

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The Fireman

They call me the Fireman, that’s my name. Making my rounds all over town, putting out all flames.” – George Strait

Most people don’t realize it, but I co-habitate with a Fire Marshall. He is the unauthorized, unknown Fire Marshall of Kemah Oaks. He seeks out all fires, whether they are barbecues or fire pits, and he tells people they should put out the flames. It’s hot! It’s dangerous! You could get hurt!

He doesn’t yell or shout, either. No, he isn’t the kind of fire marshall who is going to raise a ruckus about codes and dictates. He will walk around you back and forth and stare at you, and if that doesn’t work he will whine. The whine can be annoying, but it’s better than kicking the fire over or barking at you.

Yes, my fire marshall is Koda. All dogs have eccentricities. Some dogs don’t like the touch of grass on their paws. Mine doesn’t like fire in any sort. I’d say something bad happened with his previous owner, but my brother is his previous owner, and he never burned the dog.

Still, my fire marshal is willing to help out the neighborhood at any time, day or night. He has warned me about the dangers of every brisket I’ve ever smoked, even when it was pecan wood and he was slathering over it.

My wife’s fire pit is the worst. He HATES and FEARS the fire pit. I think it’s the open flame. Smoke is one thing, but those yellow and orange tongues are another. Last year I was able to buy birch wood. It smelled really good, and it made this beautiful crackling sound. I wanted to sit outside every night burning birch. Koda knew that was against code and fought me on it. Poor guy. His owner’s too dumb to know the danger of a fire. I’d remind him I once earned a Fireman Chit in Boy Scouts, but he can’t read printed language.

Today is no different. Our backyard neighbors are burning something. They don’t realize how lucky they are. The top photo shows him doing his duty, protecting them from the confines of our backyard. This one is even better:

You know he means business when he sits down. That’s not irony or sarcasm. Things get important to him when he sits.

I bet he’d love to go over and stare and whine at them until they put out their fire.

So if anybody needs me to bring Koda to their house to check on a fire, let me know. I won’t charge anything, but if you want to repay him, he really likes mint dog treats.

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I have said it many times before and hopefully I will have the chance to say it many times in the future: Our dogs are the epitome of friendship, companionship and even unconditional love to us. 

This wonderful story from Doug underlines the relationship that millions have with their dogs!

Purple Mountains

This is a film that all should watch!

Now again this has nothing to do with dogs and I would be the first person to say that there are still some people out there who are not convinced that global warming is a major result of human activity.. But none other than the Union of Concerned Scientists are persuaded that humans are the major cause. See their website here. (From which the following is taken.)

Every single year since 1977 has been warmer than the 20th century average, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001, and 2016 being the warmest year on recorded history. A study from 2016 found that without the emissions from burning coal and oil, there is very little likelihood that 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record would all have happened.

And further on in the article, this:

Scientists agree that today’s warming is primarily caused by humans putting too much carbon in the atmosphere, like when we choose to extract and burn coal, oil, and gas, or cut down and burn forests.

Today’s carbon dioxide levels haven’t been seen in at least the last 800,000 years. Data assembled from Antarctic ice core samples and modern atmospheric observations.

So on to the film.

My son, Alex, sent me the following email on the 7th October.

Hi Dad

This is a really interesting film about climate change in the west coast mountains, USA.  A bit skiing related but a good watch !

Lots of love

Alex

Included in the email was a link to the film available on YouTube.

The film is just under one hour in length and a great film to watch as well as having a clear, fundamental message: All of us must act in whatever ways we can if our children and grandchildren are to have a future. Indeed, do you believe you have another twenty or more years to live? Then include yourself as well.

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About The Film
Professional snowboarder and mountaineer Jeremy Jones has an intimate relationship with the outdoors. It’s his escape, his identity, and his legacy. But over the course of his 45 years in the mountains, he’s seen many things change: more extreme weather, fewer snow days, and economic strain on mountain towns.
Motivated by an urge to protect the places he loves, Jeremy sets out on a physical and philosophical journey to find common ground with fellow outdoor people across diverse political backgrounds. He learns their hopes and fears while walking a mile in their shoes on the mountain and in the snow.
With intimacy and emotion set against breathtaking backdrops, Purple Mountains navigates America’s divide with a refreshing perspective: even though we may disagree about climate policy, our shared values can unite us.

Please, please watch the film!

Thank you!

Dog Food Advisor, again.

This is one from Sunshine Foods and high levels of Aflatoxin; whatever that is!

This alert came in on October 8th but this has been the first opportunity to republish the warning.

The original document is online but the full text is presented for you here.

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15 Pet Food Brands Recalled Due to High Levels of Aflatoxin

Moldy Corn Containing Aflatoxin

October 8, 2020 — Sunshine Mills, Inc. is expanding its recall of 15 brands of pet food that were made with corn that contained high levels of aflatoxin.

What’s Recalled?

The following brands and products are affected by this recall:

The lot codes can be located on the back of each bag.

About the Expanded Recall

This is an expansion of the recall initiated September 2, 2020, after an investigation along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that additional corn-based pet foods produced between April 3 and April 5, 2020 may contain corn from a single load of corn with elevated levels of aflatoxin.

No illnesses have been reported in association with these products to date, and no other Sunshine Mills, Inc. pet food products are affected by this announcement.

Sunshine Mills, Inc. has chosen to expand its voluntary recall to include these additional products as a precautionary measure in furtherance of its commitment to the safety and quality of its products.

About Aflatoxin

Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring mold by-product from the growth of Aspergillus flavus and can be harmful to pets if consumed in significant quantities.

Pets with aflatoxin toxicity (aflatoxicosis) may show symptoms of illness including sluggishness or lethargy combined with a reluctance to eat, vomiting, yellowish tint to the eyes or gums, diarrhea, and in some cases, death.

Pets experiencing any of these symptoms after consuming the recalled products should be seen by a veterinarian.

Where Were the Products Sold?

The affected brands were distributed in retail stores within the United States.

Principle Super Premium Natural Dog Food is exported exclusively to a distributor in Japan. Sortsman’s Pride Maintenance Adult Formula Dog Food is also exported to a distributor in Japan and Colombia.

Retailers who received the recalled lots have been contacted and asked to pull any remaining inventory of these lots from their shelves.

There are no other Champ®, Field Trial®, Good Dog, Hunter’s Special®, Old Glory®, Paws Happy Life®, Pet Expert, Principle, Retriever®, River Bend, Sportsman’s Pride®, Sprout®, Thrifty®, Top Runner® or Whiskers & Tails products or other lot codes of these products affected by this voluntary recall.

What to Do?

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products should discontinue use of the product and may return the unused portion to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers may contact Sunshine Mills, Inc. customer service at (800) 705-2111 from 7AM to 4PM Central Time, Monday through Friday.

Or by email at customer.service@sunshinemills.com for additional information.

The expansion of this voluntary recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to the FDA’s “Report a Pet Food Complaint” page.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Lifesaving Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

There’s no cost. No spam ever. Cancel any time.

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As is said every time, please share this post with all your dog-carer friends wherever they are. There are many products affected. Please be careful. Dogs are too precious for this aflatoxin toxicity or, indeed, being fed any other bad food.

Twelve on twelve!

A look, courtesy of my daughter, at Sarah Nicolls’s 12 Years project.

Again, this is not about dogs, well not in a direct way. But, indirectly, it affects all of us, young and old, and, inevitably, it affects our dear dogs.

I’m writing this in response to something that came my way as an email sent from my daughter’s company, SOUND UK. The company holds to the view that: Sound UK produces extraordinary musical encounters for all.

Sarah Nicolls has her own website and on her About page this is what she presents.

My name is Sarah Nicolls. I am a visual artist who makes pictures with language, books with pictures, prints with type, and animations with words. I combine image, visual narrative, and time in prints, books, and ephemera that are often research-based. I am interested in urbanization, local history, climate change, the history of science and technology, alternative economies, found language, and the history of publishing. I have written a collection of self-help aphorisms, I publish a series of informational pamphlets, and I organize a range of participatory walks and programs around the series.

My recent books include an examination of the history of greenhouses, and a study of the stories we tell ourselves about disappearing islands, both real and imagined. My  limited edition artist books are in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others.

For twelve years, I ran the studio programs at the Center for Book Arts in NYC, organizing classes, public programs, readings, and talks, coordinating publications, running residency programs, and teaching interns. I learned everything I know about letterpress and bookmaking while I was there. Now I teach at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design, and work on a variety of projects.

I also do illustration and design work for individuals and institutions. Do you have an interesting project in mind? Contact me here, I welcome commissions and collaborations.

Well back to Sound UK. This is Sarah.

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“What she does should be happening every week of the year” The Guardian

Acclaimed pianist and composer Sarah Nicolls’ new Inside-Out Piano project 12 Years was inspired by the 2018 IPCC Special Report saying we had just 12 years to radically change our behaviour to save the planet. Starting on the second anniversary of the report, 8 October, Sarah launches 12 nights of online performances.

With her striking vertical grand piano, Nicolls combines original music and recorded speech in an absorbing performance. Piano melodies and textures interweave with phone calls between three fictional characters challenging each other to either worry less or do more. We hear from environmental experts, survivors escaping from a wildfire and a glacier melting, eloquent speeches from Greta Thunberg and finally the sound of hope emerging. There is humour and humanity as well as time for reflection.

On selected nights leading climate scientists will also join Sarah for exclusive post-show discussions online, specifically to talk about what we can all do.

See list of speakers below.

“This should be prescribed viewing/watching/listening for anyone even remotely concerned with the welfare of our planet.” Ciaran Ryan, Galway Jazz Festival

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Plus, if you would care to listen to a track on Sarah playing her piano, then feel free:

I’m bound to say that I am reasonably hopeful of living another twelve years but, at the same time, reasonably expectant that life could become very interesting indeed!