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The dead dog that changed colour twice

London Jack after being restored to his original colour


From the Victorian era until after World War Two, charity collection dogs were a popular sight in British train stations. They continued their charitable calling even after death.

“Though dead, Jack is still on duty and solicits a continuance of your contributions in support of his good work for the Orphans.” So reads the plaque in London Jack’s glass display case at the Bluebell Railway museum.

The black retriever has spent almost a century – eight of his living years and a further 83 years as a stuffed corpse – collecting for good causes.

Once famous for patrolling London’s Waterloo station, he was one of a group of celebrity dogs who made thousands of pounds for charity from the mid-Victorian era until the 1950s.

He and others like Brighton Bob, Bruce of Swindon, Chelmsford Brenda, Wimbledon Nell and Oldham’s Rebel mixed with commuters, sometimes boarding trains on their own to encourage more giving by passengers. They barked, “shook hands” and performed tricks for money, their exploits frequently reported in the national and regional press.

“They were cuter than human beings and people responded to that,” says Jan Bondeson, author of Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities. “There were very many postcards printed of them.

“If the dogs were docile enough, they were allowed to walk around the stations on their own. But some were tethered in case they walked in front of a train.”

This was not the only risk they faced. In 1896, a gang of criminals picked up Tim, an Irish terrier who worked at London’s Paddington station, and held him upside down over a suitcase, shaking him to free up the coins from his collection box. When released, he bit one of his assailants on the calf.

Some dogs were less than honest themselves. Initially they collected coins in their mouths and gave them in, but secure boxes had to be tied to them after a journalist for a Christian magazine discovered in the 1860s that Brighton Bob was using some of his money to buy biscuits at a bakery.

The dogs, usually looked after and trained by railway staff, proved popular and lucrative. For this reason there was a whole line of London Jacks. The first, who came into service in 1894, disappeared in 1899, but was later found in a house in Soho, where he was being held by criminals, after a boy heard barking and informed the police.

He retired, died and was stuffed and put on display in a cabinet with a slot for coins at the front. “From his glass case at Waterloo station, he still appeals to the passengers who pass by,” reported the Sphere newspaper in 1901. His son took over and was said to stop and look at his late father whenever he passed by.

The fifth Jack – the one now on display at the Bluebell Railway Museum in East Sussex – was born in 1917 and started collecting in 1923. He made more than £4,000 to help maintain an orphanage for railwaymen’s children in Woking, Surrey.

He wore, and still wears, a large collection of medals on his back, a silver one awarded for every £100 raised and a gold one for every £500.

In 1924 he was photographed with Jackie Coogan, the child star of Charlie Chaplin’s hit comedy film The Kid, as he passed through Waterloo. The event caused a shortage of luggage porters, who rushed to view the meeting of celebrities.

By 1930, Jack’s eyesight was going and he retired. The press showed him demonstrating to his successor how to board a train safely with a collection box.

He died the next year. He too was stuffed and mounted in a cabinet. But strangely at some stage during his journey from Waterloo to the Bluebell Railway, which bought him in 1967, he changed colour.

Find more canine portraits – including collecting dogs such as L Magill’s portrait of Tim (above) – on BBC Your Paintings

For many years he was regarded as a golden, rather than a black, retriever. A drawing of him featured on a first-day cover sent in 1979 is coloured yellow.

“He was in a case for a number of years and must have become bleached by the light over time,” says Colin Tyson, who edits the Bluebell Railway’s quarterly newsletter.

Jack went for a restoration five years ago and was dyed black once more after the taxidermist discovered that, judging by his roots, he was not a natural blond. He returned to the Bluebell Railway, where he still collects. For a while his takings went on funding his own renovation costs. Now these are paid off, he collects for Woking Homes, on the site of the old orphanage, which cares for retired railway staff.

“People go to a museum like ours expecting to see preserved locomotives and carriages, not preserved dogs,” says Tyson. “But Jack is very popular, especially with the kids. Maybe they expect him to raise a paw when they put a coin in.” He doesn’t.

Most of the stuffed former station dogs have disappeared or are in private ownership. The most prominent of those still on display is Station Jim, who died aged just two in 1896. He remains in a case on platform five of Slough station. A spoof Twitter feed shares his imaginary observations.

Jim was part of what Bondeson calls the “golden age” of station dogs. By the time Britain’s railways were nationalised in 1948, numbers had dwindled. An Airedale terrier called Laddie, who worked at Waterloo until 1956, is thought to have been the last to work the platforms. Stuffed animals were also gradually removed.

“Under the more corporate British Rail, they didn’t want things like dead dogs in stations,” says Tyson. “But animals like London Jack and Station Jim are a proud part of our railway heritage. They helped a lot of people.”

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Obsolete strategy in chokehold death

People participate in a demonstration against the death of Eric Garner after he was taken into police custody in Staten Island. Joel Graham photographed the demonstration, and captured this image of Garner’s friends and family rallying alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton.


Editor’s note: Errol Louis is the host of “Inside City Hall,” a nightly political show on NY1, a New York all-news channel. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

The tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD a fatal scuffle caught in all its horror in a video shot by a bystander is, in part, the product of a nationally recognized police strategy, broken windows.” It may have outlived its usefulness in many parts of New York.

Garner, a father of six, was allegedly a low-level street hustler, a “buttlegger” illegally selling cigarettes one at a time or in packs without taxes applied. When police approached and tried to arrest Garner — something they’d done before — the man jumped up, complaining that he had no goods on him, had not been dealing and didn’t want to be hassled.

The cops swarmed Garner, with at least one appearing to choke Garner and press on his neck as he gasped, eight times: “I can’t breathe.” You can see the disturbing video here. He died shortly afterward.

As the video went viral, community protests and vigils mounted. A central issue in the protests is the fact that the video shows one officer, Daniel Pantaleo grabbing Garner by the neck and pressing down on his head and chest, in apparent violation of a police rule that bans such choke holds.

“Members of the New York City Police Department will not use choke holds,” Section 203-11 of the NYPD Patrol Guide says. “A choke hold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.”

Two of the officers involved in the incident have been assigned to desk duties with their guns taken away. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton has promised a “top to bottom” retraining of every member of NYPD in how to arrest people, as well as a review of the department’s use-of-force policies. Bratton has also met with the FBI in anticipation of a possible federal lawsuit alleging that Garner’s civil rights were violated.

Choke holds were banned 20 years ago after the death of a young man, Anthony Baez, who was killed in a confrontation with police after a football he was tossing with friends hit a police car. The officer who choked Baez to death was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison. Bratton was recently re-appointed to the top post after a long stint in Los Angeles, giving the latest incident an eerie deja-vu quality.

Despite the ban on choke holds, new incidents continue to pile up: The NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board received more than 1,000 complaints about the use of choke holds between 2009 and 2013, but punished only nine officers, none of them with anything more serious than a loss of vacation days.

The Rev. Al Sharpton has vowed to press the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio on the investigation of the Garner case, which has been turned over to the local district attorney.

But the larger question remains: Why was a team of six officers enforcing an almost laughably low-level crime like selling loose cigarettes for 50 cents apiece?

The answer lies in New York’s dramatically successful experiment with battling an out-of-control crime wave in the early 1990s, much of it built on a “broken windows” theory first developed by criminologists George Kelling and the late James Q. Wilson and laid out in a famous 1982 Atlantic Monthly magazine article.

The idea is shorthand for a phenomenon known to sociologists: Leaving an otherwise safe building with an unfixed broken window signals to criminals that nobody cares about the property, which quickly becomes a haven for prostitution, drug dealing and serious crimes.

With murders back then hitting more than 2,000 per year, NYPD cops were told by Bratton to stop waiting for the next 911 call and tasked with enforcing seemingly minor “quality of life” matters like public urination, panhandling and vandalism that made people feel unsafe.

The strategy provided an immediate payoff. Cops doing quality-of-life patrols in the subways discovered that people jumping the turnstile (entering without paying) often turned out to have drugs, guns or outstanding warrants.

Most turnstile-jumpers weren’t dangerous felons, but it turned out that dangerous felons often didn’t bother to pay the fare. So enforcing small violations helped catch truly dangerous criminals.

Even more important, when streets and subways began to feel safer, more people used them — and the very presence of more law-abiding citizens always acts as a deterrent to crime (it creates more witnesses who are likely to point out the bad guys to cops or actually intervene to stop certain kinds of crimes).

Bratton, an architect of the broken windows revolution in policing, appears to be going back to his old playbook during his second tour as commander of the NYPD: So far this year, officers have arrested 240 subway performers, who do such things as break dance and perform backflips on moving trains.

But the Garner case shows it may be time to revise, reduce or scrap broken windows policing, at least in some neighborhoods.

When Bratton became commissioner for the first time, in 1994, the city had just finished a year with 2,420 murders. The number last year was just 333. The subways aren’t out of control, the break dancers aren’t carrying weapons, and low-level cigarette hustlers aren’t causing the kind of disorder the city weathered in the 1990s.

As Garner is laid to rest and the cops involved get whatever fate the court system has in store, the NYPD should re-evaluate how much force and attention it needs to train on low-level crime in a much safer city.

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After Dodd Frank system still broken

Four years after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law’s enactment, problems remain in the financial system, critics say.

Editor’s note: Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, is in his fifth term representing North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District. He was recently selected as chief deputy whip and also is on the House Financial Services Committee, where he is chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

in 2007 and 2008, the American economy suffered through its greatest crisis since the Great Depression. The Treasury Department estimates that from 2007 to 2009, the heart of the Great Recession, more than 8.8 million American jobs disappeared and more than $19 trillion in household wealth was lost.

In response to the crisis, the federal government took steps to reform our financial system, most significantly, passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Signed into law by President Barack Obama four years ago Monday, this bill was designed to improve accountability and transparency in our financial system, ensuring we never again face a financial crisis of this magnitude.

Regrettably, Dodd-Frank has done little to address the root causes of this crisis. Instead, by institutionalizing bailouts and undermining a competitive and fair marketplace, this law has joined Obamacare as another example of big government overreach that has ultimately done more harm than good for the American people.

Wall Street reform law only half done

At 849 pages, Dodd-Frank touches nearly every aspect of our financial system, from capital ratios of large financial institutions down to new rules on the credit cards most Americans have in their wallets.

Dodd-Frank has only grown larger since Obama signed it. Much of the statutory text tasks Washington bureaucrats with writing nearly 400 rules. As of the first of this month, law firm Davis Polk reported 45% of rulemaking deadlines have been missed.

Since its enactment, Dodd-Frank has imposed $21.8 billion in compliance costs while producing regulations that require nearly 60 million hours of paperwork with which to comply, according to estimates by the American Action Forum, a center-right policy institute.

These compliance costs can be devastating to small community banks and credit unions. Often they are the only financial institutions serving small towns and rural areas such as those throughout my district in western North Carolina. Assuming these small institutions can withstand this Dodd-Frank-induced regulatory onslaught and stay in business, they will join larger banks in passing these added costs along to consumers, driving up the cost of borrowing and reducing access to much-needed credit.

Among the great indignities of the financial crisis:American families were footing the bill for the massive taxpayer-funded bailouts of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other large financial institutions while struggling to scrape by in the broken economy. In 2009, Bloomberg estimated that the U.S. government and other federal agencies had committed nearly $13 trillion to support these failing institutions. The nearly $13 trillion represented 90% of the U.S. gross domestic product for 2008.

In signing the law, Obama claimed that never again would the American people foot the bill for these large firms. Yet amazingly Dodd-Frank does not just fail to end these bailouts, it cements them into law and greatly increases the likelihood the American people will be stuck with the federal government’s bailout tab again in the future.

In addition to an alphabet soup of new agencies, such as FSOC (Financial Stability Oversight Council) and OFR (Office of Financial Research),Dodd-Frank also gave us the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a uniquely (some might say dangerously) unaccountable addition to our federal bureaucracy. Designed with the noble goal of consumer protection, the agency was given significant power to regulate financial offerings but was designed in a manner to leave it free of oversight from both the White House and Congress.

Among the agency’s accomplishments is its qualified mortgage rule that has negatively affected credit availability in the mortgage market. The rule has especially harmed those who have typically struggled to access credit in the past, women and minorities. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Board showed roughly one-third of black and Hispanic borrowers would not qualify for mortgages under the rule.

Even more troubling is the bureau’s latest project, the National Mortgage Database. In an apparent effort to make the National Security Agency jealous, this database will track individual Americans and their personally identifiable information, including the most intimate personal and financial details, going back as far as 30 years.

And this does not even begin to address the consumer agency’s management failures that have led to claims of discrimination and retaliation against minority employees going unpunished andspending $216 million to renovate its rented office space.

Put simply, Dodd-Frank is but another failed big government reform just like Obamacare, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and the stimulus. When will this administration realize more government does not solve problems, it is the problem?