Heaven Preserve Us From Animal Lovers!

For years my mantra has been: Heaven Preserve Me From “Animal Lovers.” I labelled the above image, “Stupid Girl,” for that’s exactly what she is. Kissing a crocodile/alligator, (even a small one, as that is) especially while in the water with it, is both a crazy and highly egotistical action. If she were to try that stunt in five years, when the creature’s grown to two or three times its present size, it could well prove the last thing she ever does.

After working as an Inspector for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for well over a decade I came to dread the phrase, “animal lover,” as it never failed to denote a nutter who, after declaring their undying love for animals, would usually continue with the comment, “I can’t abide people, but I love animals.”

Those same types would happily knit sweaters for newly-shorn sheep, while seated at the base of the guillotine relishing the execution of some poor folk found guilty of eating bacon for their breakfast.

“That poor sweet pig, it must have suffered so!”

Now don’t misunderstand me. I’ve nothing against your average pet owner. I’ve spent most of my life working with animals and owned numerous ‘pets’ over time. No, it’s people and organisations like PETA that get right up my nose.

I’ve never been a fan of PETA. For the uninitiated (and I include myself as I can seldom remember the meaning of acronyms) PETA stands for ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’. It sounds a worthy cause, but then so does the Hunt Saboteurs Association, and they’ve been guilty of hammering six inch nails through the top rail of farm gates, with a view to maiming the hunt horses as they jump over, so while it’s okay to have a worthy cause, too much of it can lead to forms of terrorism. After all, Islamic State think they have a worthy cause, too, but in the 21st century no sane person finds slaughtering non-believers a suitable method of pressing home their point.

“Animal lovers” flock to PETA in their droves. The organisation is best remembered for its war on fur back in the dark ages of the seventies. Since then they’ve turned up at various nefarious animal centres to protest at the way we, as a society, treat other species – mainly those we consume with vigour after a roasting on the barbie. Indeed, so incensed is Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder and president of PETA, that she’s made a will bequeathing her body to PETA to be used as they feel appropriate, but with the following suggestions by the bequeather:

‘That the “meat” of my body, or a portion thereof, be used for a human barbecue, to remind the world that the meat of a corpse is all flesh, regardless of whether it comes from a human being or another animal, and that flesh foods are not needed;

That my skin, or a portion thereof, be removed and made into leather products, such as purses, to remind the world that human skin and the skin of other animals is the same and that neither is “fabric” nor needed, and that some skin be tacked up outside the Indian Leather Fair each year to serve as a reminder of the government’s need to abate the suffering of Indian bullocks who, after a life of extreme and involuntary servitude, as I have seen firsthand, are exported all over the world in this form;

That in remembrance of the elephant-foot umbrella stands and tiger rugs I saw, as a child, offered for sale by merchants at Connaught Place in Delhi, my feet be removed and umbrella stands or other ornamentation be made from them, as a reminder of the depravity of killing innocent animals, such as elephants, in order that we might use their body parts for household items and decorations;

That one of my eyes be removed, mounted, and delivered to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a reminder that PETA will continue to be watching the agency until it stops poisoning and torturing animals in useless and cruel experiments; that the other is to be used as PETA sees fit…”[1]

There’s more, but I had to stop there as I was feeling slightly nauseous and have no wish to cause my readers a similar uncomfortable reaction. And that’s the problem for me: these people, who lump themselves under the rather dubious heading of “Animal Lovers”, have an innate ability to make me feel queasy. They seem to lose all rationality in their quest to make us conform to their standards and beliefs.

While never championing the conditions to be found in most slaughterhouses anywhere in the world, including those in the so-called ‘civilised’ nations, it’s my view that animals ending their lives in such places would not suffer less if they had become a meal for a pack of hungry hyenas, coyotes, or a even a solitary brown bear or mountain lion. It’s what these people tend to forget. A pig, cow, or any other animal is only one link in a vast food chain, as indeed are the PETA folk themselves. We humans try to avoid ending up as breakfast for some other beast by ensuring we keep well away from anything that may find us tasty, but a few unfortunates do end up as meal tickets for crocodiles, sharks, and other carnivores stronger and toothier than ourselves. We regularly hear of their plight in the news media:

A BRITISH tourist is feared to have been eaten by a crocodile after he was pulled underwater by the reptile at a popular surfing spot in Sri Lanka. Eyewitnesses said the man, who is believed to be aged 25, was seen frantically waving his hands after being dragged into a lagoon known locally as Crocodile Rock. Local police were joined by navy and army units in a search of the shore and surrounding area, which is known for its large crocodile population. Some of them grow up to 17ft long. It is thought the man, who has not been named, had been on holiday with four friends when tragedy struck…

…In April this year, a 13-year-old girl was dragged away by a crocodile while on a day out with her family at Sri Lanka’s Pulnewa Lake, in Galnewa. In July 2016, a Sri Lankan man aged 60 was killed in a crocodile attack while he was fishing. Two years earlier a woman aged 57 died in another croc attack.

Last night the Foreign Office said: “We are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing.” [2]

There can be no doubt that much animal cruelty is perpetrated in intensive rearing establishments and abattoirs. Those who campaign for better conditions deserve our support. PETA tries to tell us we shouldn’t eat or wear anything from any animal and that we should all be vegans, but how long before they, or some other organisation for the ‘Save The Corn’ campaign decides we shouldn’t be eating plants? Sounds stupid? Rest assured, there’ll be some human beings somewhere who’ll decide it’s the wrong thing to do – that we’re causing plant suffering.

PETA’s latest crusade is against sheep shearing.

“What’s wrong with that!” I hear you cry.

PETA has decided it’s time we stopped wearing wool. They have video evidence of Australian sheep shearers cruelly treating sheep during the shearing process. Okay, I can believe that could happen, but surely that’s good reason to tighten the regulations on sheep shearers, not leave the poor sheep to sweat out the hot summer weather in their heavy woolly coats. Now THAT would be cruelty to sheep. [3]

I have first-hand knowledge of sheep shearers. While working on a research unit at Liverpool University some years ago I had charge of a flock of some hundred or so of the beasts. Every year the shearers would arrive from Australia or New Zealand. They mostly come from Australasia because that’s where most of the world’s sheep are, and they travel round the planet in perpetual summer, shearing flocks as they go.

I got to know some of them quite well and I can honestly say I saw nothing to cause me concern while they were shearing my flock. I’d certainly have had something to say if they’d mistreated my animals.

Humans can become callous when their work involves dealing with living creatures day in, day out. It’s important that sufficient animal welfare inspectors are available to watch out for cruelty in any place where animals are kept, whether as part of the food chain, or for sport, or any other activity. I’ve witnessed blatant animal cruelty among some of the world’s top show jumpers, when their mounts haven’t quite made the grade demanded of them. It’s not just those in the lower tiers of society who are guilty.

Governments used to be responsible for policing animal cruelty via environmental health department inspectors and government veterinarians. Charities like the RSPCA and other SPCA organizations around the world do their best but are woefully inadequate. As an Inspector for the RSPCA my ‘patch’ covered an area of over two hundred square miles with a populace in excess of one million.

Over recent years the numbers of government inspectors have been dramatically reduced. Governments are shirking their responsibilities. It’s here that PETA and other charitable organizations need to be protesting, but they’d rather create headlines for themselves by bizarre, publicity-seeking, acts…

Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president,
making her point

…rather than the humdrum petitioning of politicians.

But then, that’s “Animal Lovers” for you.

[1] “Ingrid Newkirk’s Unique Will” PETA.org

[2] “Horror as British tourist ‘is snatched by crocodile and dragged into lagoon’” Daily Express, September 14th 2017

[3] “Forget fur – is it time to stop wearing wool?” Guardian, September 24th 2017

Are Western Leaders Scared To Defy Donald Trump?

Americans hate to be disliked. There’s a section of American society that cannot comprehend why, when their military invades another country, the populace fails to shower them with kisses and candy. In order to rationalise this in their minds Americans have deduced that the only possible reason these people hate them is because they themselves aren’t American.

Unfortunately, they got it wrong. In reality the caption should read:

“They Hate Us ‘Cause WE ARE Us.”

The title “Hero of the Week” must surely go to Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish foreign minister who, apart from the unfortunates who were victims of it, was the only member of the United Nations to be forthright in her condemnation of Donald Trump’s disgraceful apology of a speech given to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

“It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.”

If any criticism could be leveled at Ms Wallstrom it is merely that she didn’t go anywhere close to far enough in her condemnation of Trump’s bellicose utterances. His language brought discredit on the office of President of the United States, and on the United Nations. No American president has ever publicly threatened to totally destroy another nation, and probably the last foreign leader to do so was Adolf Hitler. Venezuela’s foreign minister described Trump as the “New Hitler,” after the U.S. president called that country’s government “a corrupt socialist dictatorship,” and threatened ‘action’ against it.

Apart from Margot Wallstrom, the only other voices raised in protest belonged to Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, an ally of Venezuela:

“I am not surprised that a multi-millionaire like Trump attacks socialism. Our struggle will always be ideological and pragmatic.”

Where were the protests from the European contingent? Silence reigned, at least publicly. Macron only commented mildly on Trump’s assertion that the Iranian nuclear deal was:

“…one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”.

By saying:

“Renouncing it would be a grave error.”

As the U.S. presidency of this unhinged ego-maniac progresses it’s hard not to notice how western politicians are falling into line behind him. Barely a vertebra of backbone exists between the lot of them. Are they really too scared to stand up to this monster? It’s obvious to anyone with even a whiff of intelligence that the man is no more capable of sanely leading the free world than a hungry shark could teach a school of herrings to dance a hornpipe.

For too long now Europe, in the guise of NATO, has willingly provided an aura of respectability to America’s misguided military adventures in the Middle East. It has resulted in the destruction of civilizations many thousands of years older than the fledgling U.S.A., the deaths, maimings, rapings, and displacement of tens of millions of innocent human beings, and it’s still ongoing to this day.

To all that slaughter and misery, not just in the Middle East but affecting many here in the West – in Paris, London, and many other cities throughout Europe – Trump would add the “total destruction” of a nation comprising over twenty-five million people. Can that possibly be considered the action of a sane person? Do our European representatives have the right to sit on their hands – to do and say nothing in rebuke? Is Margot Wallstrom the only one with the balls to denounce Trump, while all the men show themselves up to be eunuchs?

Kim Jong-un’s regime is brutal, but his people know no other leader. They are conditioned to protect their homeland against the Western devils:

One of many anti-American propaganda posters in North Korea

They hate the West not because of any innate jealousy of our lifestyles, but because we’re the ones who, given the opportunity, would take their country away from them.

“They Hate Us ‘Cause WE ARE Us.”

If the West is drawn into a conflict with North Korea, they will fight with every man and woman they have. The only way to stop them will be nuclear weapons. That will annihilate much of South Korea, possibly Japan also, and likely bring Russia and China into a World War against the West.

But Trump wouldn’t let that happen. Or would he? Bellicose grandstanding eventually reaches a point where the only alternatives are to back down or “put the money where the mouth is” – to “put up or shut up.”

Egomaniacs like Trump can’t abide losing face. They’d sooner destroy the world than appear to show weakness. Unfortunately, given the example of the U.N. Assembly it seems unlikely other Western leaders will step in to stop him.

Roll Up! Roll Up! “Houston, Texas”: The Great Reality TV Show!

West Bengal, August 22nd 2017

Hurricane Harvey has captured the West’s attention, mainly due to blanket coverage by the news media. It’s been hard to escape this drowning of a city, short of liberal use of the ‘Off’ button on the TV remote. While it’s to be expected that the American media would focus on this catastrophe in the home country, there was less excuse for blanket coverage from European channels, to the near exclusion of worse problems elsewhere in the world.

But why, you may ask, should we not participate in this sad spectacle of Americans forced from their homes and into the nightmare scenario of overcrowded ‘shelters’, with little hope of any home to return to once the waters have subsided? Why should we not feel the pain and suffering of others, share with them across the airwaves, or internet, our bond of love and affection for these fellow human beings in their hour of need?

There’s one good reason: deliberate media selection. Our news media selected Hurricane Harvey on a daily basis as the ‘désastre du jour’, while almost totally ignoring a hugely greater weather calamity that was occurring simultaneously eight thousand miles away from Texas, in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Twelve hundred people are known to have died, four million displaced, and while the BBC News did run a ‘special’ on Saturday, it was while most Brits were out shopping or watching the afternoon sport.

Does it matter? The mass media coverage of Harvey and Houston won’t change anything one iota. It still continued to rain. Prayers had no obvious effect on the weather, unless they made it worse, which is of course impossible to judge. All in all, the suffering of people in Houston was to most of us no more than a reality TV show at its best, an ongoing form of entertainment that only palled when the rain stopped falling, the crocs, snakes, and fire ants began to disperse, and North Korea carried out another nuclear test that caused yet more frothing at the mouth from Donald Trump.

The painful truth is that the media gives us what we want. The sight of a huge conglomerate like Houston being systemically torn apart by nature is way more exciting than a load of perceived peasants, far away across the globe, drowning in their own paddy fields. After all, the latter is a relatively common occurrence…

…and they don’t have a life-size Barbie doll in four-inch heels gawping at them from the sidelines. Nothing attracts media cameras like a Barbie doll in four-inch heels striding nonchalantly into a disaster zone.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-un is becoming more and more frustrated. No amount of threats, hydrogen bombs, or missiles aimed at Washington are proving effective in gaining him the respect he desperately wants from other world leaders. One has to feel a certain sympathy for North Korea’s diminutive leader. Even without being a nutcase, having a stature as wide as it’s long doesn’t easily draw respectful friends. One only has to consider the governor of New Jersey…

…Chris Christie, to understand that.

North Korea’s leader is angry. On his doorstep for the last sixty years have been thousands of U.S. troops and a vast assortment of technologically advanced military hardware. And it’s all aimed at him. To add insult to injury, every summer the U.S. and South Korean military stage wargames just to antagonise Kim and show off their military prowess. It’s enough to make a half-crazed, short-assed, dictator execute his uncle and assassinate his half-brother.

An even bigger wasp in the honeypot is another half-crazed, wannabe dictator on the other side of the world from North Korea, who believes his nation is the best, and the goodliest, and has God on its side – despite the fact that God was nowhere to be seen in the last Korean conflict, or Vietnam, or Iraq, or Libya, or anywhere else on the planet where the U.S. has tried to plant its military jackboots, along – of course – with its accursed flag.

Donald Trump is desperate to have a war, but it will have to be the biggest and best war the world has ever seen. For Trump, anything less would be a failure. His conundrum is how to achieve it and keep America intact. China, Russia, North and South Korea, and every other nation on earth could be obliterated, yet “frankly, my dear, Donald wouldn’t give a damn.” But he promised, “America First!” and by God and the whiskers of Steve Bannon, he’s not going to let his people down.

Even as these words are being typed a ‘Breaking News’ BBC banner proclaims, “US defence secretary warns any threat to US or allies by North Korea will be met by “massive military response”. ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis is gearing up for battle.

There’s a bevy of old and wise sayings: “every cloud has a silver lining;” “it’s darkest before the dawn;” “the sun always shines on the righteous;” “there’ll be bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover.” They were all invented to help us look on the bright side. After all, if Kim Jong-un does manage to land a hydrogen bomb on America it’ll prove the quickest way to dry out Houston.

And just think what a media spectacle that would make.