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By Robert A. Vella

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse!

And, for good reason.  Little mouses get preyed upon by a bunch of bad-asses these days.  The mountain lion (a.k.a. cougar, puma) is an ambush predator, concealing itself behind cover for a chance to leap upon an unsuspecting animal wandering into its kill zone;  although, a vigorous defense will likely scare it off.  The tiger is the consummate hunter, overpowering its victims with sheer strength, sharp claws, and a deadly powerful bite.  The bear is an opportunistic omnivore and an unusually surly beast who becomes most vicious when challenged by a perceived rival.

The Lion

From:  Wal-Mart Suspends a Controversial Shoplifting Punishment

Until recently, a first-time shoplifter caught in any of about 2,000 Wal-Mart stores got a choice: pay hundreds of dollars, complete an education program and all will be forgiven—or don’t and potentially face prosecution.

Corrective Education Co. and Turning Point Justice, Utah-based companies that provide the programs, emerged in recent years as alternatives to the often-overtaxed criminal justice system. They spare law-enforcement resources and hold offenders accountable without leaving the scar of a criminal conviction, their supporters say.

But Wal-Mart Stores Inc., one of the biggest clients of Turning Point and Corrective Education, suspended the programs earlier this month as more local officials questioned the legality of asking people for money under threat of criminal sanctions, though it said it found the programs effective at reducing shoplifting and calls to police.

The move followed a ruling from a California court in August finding that Corrective Education’s program violates state extortion laws.

The Tiger

From:  Justice Department rolls back guidance on fining poor defendants

The Justice Department on Thursday rescinded a tranche of agency-issued “guidance documents” that explained and interpreted policy across a range of issues, including a 2016 memo that cautioned courts against the burdensome enforcement of fines for criminal offenders.

The document crunch comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has spent the better part of a year reversing Obama-era policies and legal interpretations, aligning the Trump Justice Department with administration priorities of deregulation and a “return to the rule of law.”

[…]

The documents were identified by a Justice Department task force operating under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in March and were listed in a statement issued by the department late Thursday. The Justice Department did not provide specific reasoning behind the dissolution of each document.

Advocacy groups were quick to criticize the elimination of the guidance around fines and fees levied against poor defendants.

In the March 2016 “dear colleague” letter, sent to state court administrators and chief justices across the country, Justice Department civil rights officials wrote that the guidance was “intended to address some of the most common practices that run afoul of the United States Constitution and/or other federal laws and to assist court leadership in ensuring that courts at every level of the justice system operate fairly and lawfully.”

The letter does not prescribe new policy and cites case law to back up mandates like “Courts must consider alternatives to incarceration for indigent defendants unable to pay fines and fees.”

“This is a disappointing decision that supports criminalizing poverty,” said Lauren-Brooke Eisen, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said of DOJ rescinding the 2016 memo. “Fees and fines are frequently levied against individuals who can’t afford to pay. It’s a perverse, profit-based framework that helps spin the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”

The Bear

From:  Putin critic Navalny clears first hurdle in bid for Russia presidency

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny cleared the first hurdle on Sunday toward taking part in next year’s presidential election, even though the central election commission has previously ruled him ineligible to run.

Navalny, 41, is a fierce opponent of President Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to win re-election in March, extending his 17 years in power.

On Sunday Navalny, a veteran campaigner against corruption among Russia’s elite, won the initial support of 742 people at a gathering in a district of Moscow, above the minimum 500 required to initiate a presidential bid.

“There is no large-scale support for Putin and his rule in this country,” Navalny told the gathering, describing himself as a “real candidate” for the election and threatening a boycott of the vote by his supporters if he is barred from running.

But Navalny now needs to be officially registered as a candidate by Russia’s central election commission, which has previously said he is ineligible due to a suspended prison sentence that he says was politically motivated.

Navalny has been jailed three times this year on charges of repeatedly organizing public meetings and rallies in violation of existing laws. He says the Kremlin is deliberately trying to thwart his political ambitions.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in October that Navalny’s conviction for fraud in 2014 was “arbitrary” and ordered Moscow to pay him compensation.

Update – 12/25/17 by TSJ:  Putin critic Navalny barred from Russian presidential election

It’s a dangerous world out there, little mouses.  Be careful.

8 thoughts on “Lions, Tigers, and Bears… oh, my!

  1. Oh MY indeed! But for the sake of contrast, I want to throw this into the mix Robert, if I may?

    Certain mice species would have good reason to fear lions, tigers, and bears, but perhaps not Naked Mole-Rats or several other exceptionally advanced insects like Army Ants or the Giant Asian Hornets who have highly advanced, evolved Eusocial and Superorganism skills where sheer overwhelming numbers (with ONE mission) takes out or incapacitates those species/animals bigger than they! 😀 😉

    Not all ‘little guys’ are disadvantaged. Woot woot!

    Liked by 4 people

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