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No lawyers for Swiss animals

A setback for animal-rights activists in Switzerland: 

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a proposal to introduce a nationwide system of state-funded lawyers to represent animals in court. Animal rights groups had proposed the move, saying that without lawyers to argue the animals' case, many instances of cruelty were going unpunished.

But the measure was rejected by around 70% of voters in a referendum.

U.S. "regulatory czar" Cass Sunstein wrote in favor of establishing something like this as a law professor, which led to hunting rights activists Saxby Chambliss and John Cornyn holding up his senate confirmation for a time. It's a safe bet that Sunstein won't touch anything like the Swiss proposal with a ten-foot poll now that he's actually in government, but it would still be interesting to know his thoughts on it.

On a slightly related note, I have a short piece in the last print magazine about circumstances under which animals observe human national borders.   

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Image

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Another disputed election. Another crackdown.

This time it's Togo:

Togo's top opposition candidate said Monday that security forces have been provoking demonstrators with force, a day after the group staged protests claiming last week's presidential election was rigged to favor the son of the country's longtime dictator.

Anti-riot police sealed off the sandy alleys leading to the headquarters of the opposition party, stranding the country's opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre outside for more than an hour in a tense standoff days after the disputed vote.

The 57-year-old Fabre vowed Sunday to take to the streets every day to protest what he says was a fraudulent election, saying he would only stop when the police had exhausted their stock of tear gas or killed him.

From Kenya to Zimbabwe to Iran to Sri Lanka, the seemingly fraudulent eection followed by mass protest and government crackdown is becoming a familiar pattern. While Togo is unlikely to command international media attention long enough to get a "color" designation, it seems to fit the mold. 

The optimistic view of all these bloody post-elections is that opposition movements are becoming bolder about challenging fraudulent results. The bad news is that except for the original color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, the authorities always seem to win these confrontations. 

ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images