The Puppy Burners

A Las Vegas woman and her accomplice appeared in court again last week accused of plotting to burn down her pet shop, with the intention of killing all 27 puppies inside.

These contenders, for the most heartless assholes of the year, each face 31 criminal charges including arson, conspiracy and burglary as well as 27 counts of attempted cruelty to animals – one count for every puppy that may have died if their plan had succeeded.

The accused

A huge crowd of protestors was there to greet them as they made their 3rd appearance since their arrest in February. One of the protesters was eventually ushered out of the county justice centre by armed marshals after she confronted store owner Gloria Eun Hye Lee with angry words.

“When you intentionally attempt to burn to death 27 puppies, what do you expect?” said Gina Greisen, head of Nevada Voters for Animals, an advocacy group.

Puppies 1

Lee stands accused with a man called Kirk Bills of deliberately setting fire to her store, Prince and Princess in January. However, firefighters luckily got there in time and managed to save all of the puppies, which are now with a local animal shelter. The fire was initially a mystery until someone discovered surveillance footage, which captured the entire crime. In the video, Bills is seen carrying red petrol cans when Lee lets him into the Prince and Princess pet shop around 1am on the 27th of January. Bills poured the petrol around the store and puppy kennels, while Lee collects files from the office and takes out some empty petrol cans. The two then leave through the back door after Bills lights newspapers and starts the fire.

The judge acknowledged that emotions were running high. So Lee and Bills were allowed to leave from the back entrance of the court. Although if they are indeed guilty of such a dreadful crime, having to face an angry crowd must surely be regarded as less stressful than being deliberately locked inside a burning building and almost burned to death like the puppies.

“I can presume she’s going to go to prison for this,” prosecutor Shannon Clowers said during Lee’s first court appearance. “This is absolutely, 100 percent egregious.”

Puppies 2

Both Lee and Bills, who had an outstanding arrest warrant when he was arrested for this crime have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them, which could potentially see them imprisoned for decades. Last Wednesday Judge David Barker also pushed the trial back, to the 14th of July, to allow for a new hearing scheduled for the 5th of May, to hear a claim that the original court indictment against them was flawed. So there is now a chance that both may actually walk free on a legal technicality in May. Until then both Lee and Bills will each remain in jail unless someone pays their $310,000 bail.

The above story will have undoubtedly stirred a few emotions among doggy people, particularly those from my own neck of the woods in Turkey. I have wanted to discuss this as a more general issue, perhaps taking up an entire post – but knowing my friends fall generally into the lets do all we can for the street dogs of Turkey and those who couldn’t care less, I have tended to sit on the fence in an attempt to not alienate one side or another.

I have my own theories on this subject and will certainly write about it in the future. However, before I lift my head above the parapet and describe the issue as I see it in more depth, I invite anyone with an opinion to get in touch and let me know your own thoughts: Is what happens now in Turkey good? bad? could it be improved and if so how? So let me know your views, I know they are out there as I am regularly asked to write a post on the subject. Anyhow please comment below or send me a Twitter direct message, or simply send me an email to the usual address above.


Hindsight

In a week when the oldest recorded message in a bottle was discovered, I wonder what it would be like to send a message the other way, back into our past. What would we tell our younger selves and indeed the world?

A message in a bottle tossed into the sea off Germany 101 years ago and believed to be the world’s oldest was found by a surprised fisherman only last month. The beer bottle containing the scribbled message on a modest postcard dated May 17th, 1913 was pulled out of the Baltic sea, off the northern city of Kiel. The Danish postcard written by a man called Richard Platz had two German stamps on it and a polite message asking the finder to post it on to his address in Berlin.

Message in Bottle

Holger von Neuhoff of the Maritime Museum in Hamburg said: “This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle still intact.” Researchers then set about identifying the author and managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who still lives in Berlin. “It was almost unbelievable,” Erdmann said after she was able to hold the brown bottle last week in Hamburg, “that was pretty moving,” Erdmann confessed. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”

Von Neuhoff said researchers were able to determine based on the address that it was 20-year-old baker’s son Richard Platz who threw the bottle in the Baltic while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913. A Berlin-based genealogical researcher then located Erdmann, who never knew Platz, her mother’s father who died in 1946 at the age of 54.

Hang Mandela?
The day Nelson Mandela died, the British Prime Minister David Cameron described him as “a hero of our time.” Indeed, there cannot be many people out there, who doubt that he was. However, shortly after Mandela’s funeral, images began to surface on social media of the “hang Mandela” posters created by the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) in the 1980s.

It is hard to fathom nowadays, but the British Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher did indeed describe Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) he represented as terrorists. Moreover, along with Ronald Reagan’s administration in the US, they actively supported a policy of “constructive engagement” with the apartheid government in Pretoria rather than sanctions against an ally they believed was tempering the spread of communism in Africa. Indeed, it was probably this policy in particular that kept Mandela incinerated on Robben Island, off Cape Town for longer than was necessary.
Hang Mandela
This dark chapter of apartheid support has long since been swept under the political carpet, but it’s not forgotten by those of us who spent some of our spare days and nights among the activists manning the non-stop picket outside South Africa House, in London’s Trafalgar Square, which ran continuously for years. These days it won’t surprise anyone to discover that few people will now openly admit to even being a member of the FCS, like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, let alone admit they actually had a Hang Mandela poster on their bedroom wall or wore one of the thousands of badges and T-shirts that were made for that particularly nasty little campaign.

There was initially some speculation that David Cameron was once seen wearing one of these vile badges. Although it is now generally accepted that he had little or no role in that particular FCS campaign, despite the fact a 23-year-old Cameron did enjoy a trip to apartheid South Africa in 1989, whilst Mandela was still in prison, on a “fact-finding mission” funded by Strategy Network International (SNI). This lobby group was formed in 1985 specifically to fight against the imposition of sanctions on apartheid South Africa.

Hindsight or Foresight
Like many people, there have been times in my life, when I had wished I could have put back the clock and done something quite differently to change one particular situation or other from my past. We are all imperfect and flawed. It has always been a part of the human condition, to make mistakes but then to hopefully learn from them.

In 1913 German power was at its apex and it was more than capable of dominating Europe and influencing world politics for decades to come if only Kaiser Wilhelm II hadn’t succumbed to his jingoistic hatred of Britain and plunged his country in to a ruinous war. Just how ruinous would have been inconceivable to Richard Platz, the 20 year old, who threw the bottle into the sea that same year. I wonder what Platz would have told his younger self if he had been given that chance on his death bed in 1946?

By then Berlin had all but been levelled by the Red Army after the German people were dragged into yet another disastrous war. And yet, there may well have been no Red Army, because there would have been no Russian Revolution fermented by the deprivations of war, and Hitler may well have been more interested in his gift for art, rather than the twisted politics he picked up in the trenches of World War One. So the map of Europe, and for that matter the world may well have looked like quite differently if the old Platz had also used the opportunity to warn the world against reacting, as it eventually did, to that single shot fired into an Archduke in Sarajevo in 1914?

Although less dramatic, a similar thing could also be said about Boris Johnson. Given the chance again how quickly would Johnson, now into his second term as London Mayor, be to rush into the arms of that nest of precocious bigotry: the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) in the 1980′s?

Perhaps more importantly, will enough people even remember his past, when the Conservatives finally decide, whether or not to give him his shot at becoming party leader and therefore, quite possibly Prime Minister, once Cameron steps down? So it remains to be seen whether the voting public continue to be entertained and fooled by the bumbling Boris buffoon act and his serial gaffes and affairs, for which he is famous; or will some of us think twice about voting for a man, who once not only advocated apartheid and capital punishment, but also by association, wanted to see Nelson Mandela hanged?