A Stay for Virginia Ex-Governor

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Jess Bravin reports for the WSJ:

WASHINGTON--The Supreme Court Monday granted former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's plea to avoid prison while he pursues a last-ditch appeal of his convictions on federal corruption charges.

Mr. McDonnell was sentenced to two years' imprisonment following his January conviction on what federal prosecutors characterized as a "quid pro quo bribery scheme" with a Virginia businessman seeking to promote a dietary supplement product.

In an unsigned order, the justices said Mr. McDonnell need not report to prison while he prepares his Supreme Court appeal, which the justices will then consider whether to hear.
Chief Justice Roberts issued a stay pending consideration of the government's response last Monday.  He then referred the stay application to the full court, which granted it today.

This post back in 2012 discusses the quirks of the jurisdiction of individual Justices and the full Court to issue stays.

News Scan

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CA's Death Penalty Delay Put on Trial:  In a case that may head to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument this morning in its review of a Los Angeles federal judge's 2014 ruling declaring California's death penalty unconstitutional due to "systemic delays" that render the practice, in the judge's determination, arbitrary and unconstitutional.  Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News reports that U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney concluded in the case of Jones v. Davis, involving a convicted murderer who has been on death row for two decades, that California's death penalty has transformed into "life in prison, with the remote possibility of death."  Attorney General Kamala Harris has urged the appeals court to reverse the decision despite her opposition to the death penalty, pointing out that any delays in reviewing a death row inmate's appeals "are meant to ensure legal protections to avoid mistakes."  Attorneys for death row inmates argue that the problem is not fixable; though CJLF legal director Kent Scheidegger emphasizes the state of Virginia's success in fixing their system and the execution of the D.C. sniper in less than six years.  Another factor for delays in executions is the ongoing legal challenges to the state's lethal injection method that, when resolved, will allow 17 death row inmates who have exhausted all legal appeals to receive immediate execution dates.

Houston Cop Ambushed at a Gas Station:  A Houston deputy was ambushed and killed Friday while refueling his car a gas station when a gunman unloaded the entire clip of his .40 caliber pistol at close range, unleashing a total of 15 shots into the officer.  Fox News reports that 47-year-old Deputy Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran, was shot in the back of the head by 30-year-old Shannon J. Miles, who then stood over the officer's body and unloaded his remaining ammo.  Miles, who has a lengthy rap sheet, was identified through surveillance footage, and a .40 caliber pistol found in the garage of his home was determined through ballistics to be the murder weapon.  His mother claims her son's innocence, insisting that the two were shopping together at the time of the shooting.  An attorney for Miles says that Miles indicated to officers that he was not involved and is expected to plead not guilty.  The motive for the crime is still unclear.

Kate Steinle's Murder Prompts Some Cooperation:  The July 1 death of a young woman at the hands of an illegal immigrant with a criminal record has prompted four Bay Area counties - Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin - to agree to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when inmates flagged by the agency for possible deportation are about to be released.  Tracey Kaplan of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Alameda County has already notified ICE of almost 100 inmates over the past seven weeks, 20 of whom federal agents have taken into custody, while Contra Costa County is notifying federal authorities of only those inmates who have committed serious or violent crimes.  Immigrant-rights advocates argue that notifying ICE of pending releases undermines immigrants' trust in police, and the sheriff of San Francisco, the sanctuary city this heated political issue spawned from, "has no plans to cooperate with ICE."  Two months ago, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant with a long criminal history, including five deportations, as she walked along a pier in San Francisco.  The immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been released by San Francisco authorities without notifying ICE.

The End of Seriousness

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I was initially going to introduce this post as off-topic, but on second thought, it is regrettably relevant to C&C's subject matter.  We deal here with crime and punishment.  These are serious topics, and discussing them presupposes a level of seriousness in the conversation.

There is now evidence that the level of seriousness needed for intelligent debate has vanished  --  or, more correctly, has been forfeited.  You will not be surprised to learn that the origin of this step back to ignorance is academia.

The University of Tennessee  --  hardly a fly-by-night operation  --  is now urging its students to pretend that they cannot tell the difference between boys and girls, and, if they must pretend they know it anyway, that their speech elide the distinction.

Here's the start of the story:

In the boldest endorsement of a growing national trend, the University of Tennessee is urging incoming students and teachers to junk references to "he," "she," and "them," in favor of gender-neutral "ze" and "xe."

The University has helpfully published a chart for those who have trouble getting their Minds Right.
Adam Liptak has this article in the NYT.  The first two paragraphs read:

Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question from the Supreme Court bench since 2006. His majority opinions tend to be brisk, efficient and dutiful.

Now, studies using linguistic software have discovered another Thomas trait: Those opinions contain language from briefs submitted to the court at unusually high rates.
From that opening, the headline of the article, and the prominent picture of Justice Thomas, readers would likely get the impression he is very different from any of his colleagues on this measure.  Here are the actual numbers from further down the article:

Over the years, the average rate of nearly identical language between a party's brief and the majority opinion was 9.6 percent. Justice Thomas's rate was 11.3 percent. Justice Sonia Sotomayor's was 11 percent, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 10.5 percent.
In other words, Justice Thomas is barely different at all from Justice Sotomayor and not much different from Justice Ginsburg, a result very different from the initial impression formed by the top of the article.  Liptak's characterization of Justice Thomas's rate as "unusually high" is particularly questionable.  On any measure, one of the nine has to be highest, and the fact that Justice Thomas's number happens to be a smidge higher than the next highest does not come close to justifying that characterization.

News Scan

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Parole Recommended for Charles Manson Follower:  Parole officials announced Thursday that, after 43 years in prison and 30 parole hearings, they have decided that it is safe to free one of Charles Manson's followers.  Don Thompson of the AP reports that 72-year-old Bruce Davis, serving a life sentence for two counts of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery in the slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea in 1969, has had similar parole recommendations blocked three times, once by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and twice by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Brown has stated that Davis is still a danger to the public despite his age.  Though Davis was not a participant in the highly-publicized murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others, "the lesser-known slayings are plenty to keep him behind bars," says Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John Morris.  Gov. Brown will decide on Thursday's recommendation in approximately five months.

Tourist Robbery Points to Rise in SF Property Crime:  San Francisco is experiencing a dramatic rise in property crime this year, exemplified by the Tuesday robbery and shooting of a tourist from Thailand over his camera.  KTVU reports that "smash and grabs" and muggings have become increasingly popular among criminals, who are attracted to small but valuable items such as cameras, cell phones and iPads as a quick way to make money and spend little or no time behind bars.  Many in law enforcement are pointing fingers at Prop. 47, the ballot measure passed by voters last November which reduces shoplifting and grand theft to misdemeanors, so long as the value of the stolen item is less than $950.  Since San Francisco is known to be lenient toward such crimes, career criminals are "gaming the system," says San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.  With property crime up 20 percent in the city compared to the same time last year, Suhr urges amendments be made to current laws to ensure criminals do the time for their crimes.

Previously Deported Illegal Immigrant Accused of Sexual Assault:  Pearland, Texas police are in the process of tracking down a previously deported illegal immigrant sex offender who allegedly sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl with Down syndrome at her home on Monday.  Jerome Hudson of Breitbart reports that 25-year-old Jesus Atrian, a family friend of the victim, was previously deported to his native Mexico for a prior conviction of indecency with a child in August 2014, for which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years of probation and required to register as a sex offender.  He was then released to ICE officials who reportedly deported him to Mexico.  Police are concerned that he has absconded to Mexico and are asking the public for help locating him.

The U.S. Supreme Court has released the last of its scheduled summer orders lists.  The orders in these lists are generally routine, and this one is no exception.

Among the most routine of orders are the denials of rehearing petitions.  There have been some cases where "rehearing" was granted to a case that was never literally heard in the first place.  That is, some cases turned away at the threshold (certiorari denied) have been taken back up after another case changed the relevant law.

But when was the last time the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case after full briefing and argument and then granted rehearing to reconsider its decision?  I can't remember a single case, and I've been doing this a long time. Yet lawyers keep filing the petitions.

Today's list denied rehearing in Glossip v. Gross.  The August 10 list denied rehearing in Davis v. Ayala.

Rehab Flops

We are often told that alternatives to prison will do as well to protect us, will cost less, and will mark a step forward in our humanity.  Leading the list of alternatives is more "investment" in rehabilitation.

Only one thing.

An expert with the Heritage Foundation (which disagrees with me on sentencing reform), spills the beans.

Not So Strong After All

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Today's New York Times reports on a new study questioning the results of many headline-grabbing psychological studies. The authors report that more than half of the studies they examined could not be replicated to the same effect as the original studies.  As the article mentions:

The new analysis, called the Reproducibility Project and posted Thursday by Science, found no evidence of fraud or that any original study was definitively false. Rather, it concluded that the evidence for most published findings was not nearly as strong as originally claimed.

"Less than half -- even lower than I thought," said Dr. John Ioannidis, a director of Stanford University's Meta-Research Innovation Center, who once estimated that about half of published results across medicine were inflated or wrong. Dr. Ioannidis said the problem was hardly confined to psychology and could be worse in other fields, including cell biology, economics, neuroscience, clinical medicine, and animal research.

This is hardly surprising news to anyone in the field who's been paying attention but it's good news that it's getting some widespread attention.  There is an epidemic of Overclaim Syndrome in many parts of psychology that desperately needs the antidote of modesty.  

News Scan

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Albuquerque School Hired Fugitive Pedophile:  A man being considered to become second-in-command at Albuquerque Public Schools in New Mexico was revealed Wednesday as a fugitive on the run from police in two states, facing multiple outstanding child sex abuse charges in Colorado.  Joseph J. Kolb of Fox News reports that 50-year-old Timothy Martinez was hired in June as the district's deputy superintendent using the alias Jason Martinez, but quit abruptly in August after dodging multiple fingerprint and background checks.  He faces charges of sexual contact with a boy under the age of 15 and 16, which prompted his resignation at Denver Public Schools in Colorado.  He was released on bond before relocating to New Mexico, though he was barred from leaving Colorado.  Martinez was personally appointed by the district's current superintendent, Luis Valentino, without submitting a resume, though Valentino denies knowledge of the allegations.  Martinez was arrested Wednesday when he returned to Denver.

Court Rules Illegal Immigrants Have 2nd Amendment Rights:  In the case of United States v. Meza-Rodriguez, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit determined that illegal immigrants have Second Amendment rights.  Awr Hawkins of Breitbart reports that in August 2013, Mexican national Mariano Meza-Rodriguez was arrested, found to be in possession of a .22 caliber cartridge but lacking documentation, and was subsequently indicted.  He challenged the indictment, claiming it "impermissibly infringed on his rights under the Second Amendment of the Constitution."  Judge Diane Wood ruled, relying on the language in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), "that all people, including non-U.S. citizens, whether or not they are authorized to be in this country, enjoy at least some rights under the Second Amendment."

LA Police Officer, Victim Dead After Shooting, Stabbing:  A Louisiana police officer was shot and killed Wednesday when he responded to a triple stabbing that killed one woman and injured two others, after which the suspect crashed his car into a convenience store and barricaded himself in an office demanding a fight.  Fox News reports that the suspect, 35-year-old Harrison Riley Jr., is the cousin of the slain officer, 51-year-old Henry Nelson, and shot the officer with his own handgun.  The violence began when 40-year-old Shameka Johnson, among the deceased, and 34-year-old Shurlay Johnson, her sister, intervened in an argument that Riley was having with his wife.  When Officer Nelson arrived, a fight between them ensued.  Nelson is the second Louisiana police officer killed in four days and the fifth in four months.  Riley was arrested after a two-hour standoff and faces charges of first-degree murder, first-degree murder of a police officer, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, criminal damage to property and resisting arrest.

BLM, the New Fascism

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It's not like we've never seen shouting down opposing speakers.  We saw plenty of it, circa 1930's Germany.

We saw more today, courtesy of Black Lives Matter.  The person they shouted down was the black, female, liberal Democrat who is the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser (not that it was any better when they did it to two white men, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley).

The Washington Post has the story:

Dozens of protestors shouting "black lives matter" interrupted D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser's address late Thursday morning on how to stem the rising number of homicides in the city.

Bowser (D) planned to announce a wide-ranging, $15 million plan to boost both community programs and police presence in response to a 36 percent spike in killings this year. But protesters linked to a nationwide movement that has mobilized over allegations of police misconduct erupted at her first mention of putting more officers on the streets. 

Let's do a quick-hitter of what we've learned so far about the top reasons to reject the mass sentencing reduction parading as "sentencing reform," and about why, instead, we should preserve the  system of honest and sober sentencing that has helped reduce crime by half over the last generation. 

It's depressing that we should even have to make an argument to safeguard a huge benefit all our citizens have enjoyed, particularly those most at-risk  --  and those who will disproportionately suffer if we lose focus and slide back to the failed, crime-ridden policies of the past.

But you do what you gotta do.  Here goes.
The death penalty battle today has largely become one of grass-roots supporters versus elitist opponents.  The anti side has the big bucks donors, near unanimity in academia, and a press that often regurgitates uncritically all the propaganda the Soros-funded "Information Center" can pump out.

Our side has the common sense of regular folks.

In Nebraska, the organized and well-funded opposition flooded the unicameral legislature with its message and got a repeal bill passed over the governor's veto.  A sparsely funded effort to gather signatures for a referendum promptly began.  Grant Schulte has this report for AP on today's announcement that they got enough signatures.  Bill quotes part of it in his post, which was posted nearly simultaneously with the original version of this one.  More after the break.
The Associated Press reports that Nebraska voters have given enough signatures to put the legislature's death penalty repeal bill on the ballot next year.  Indeed, the petition drive gathered tens of thousands more signatures than were necessary to prevent the bill from taking effect at all.

An organization campaigning to reinstate Nebraska's death penalty after lawmakers repealed it in May said Wednesday it has collected more than enough signatures to suspend the law before it goes into effect and place it before voters in 2016.

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty, which was heavily financed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and his family, said it had gathered 166,692 signatures from all 93 of the state's counties. Nebraska's unicameral Legislature had voted to repeal capital punishment over the objection of Ricketts, becoming the first traditionally conservative state to do so in 42 years.

The pro-death penalty group needed roughly 57,000 valid signatures from registered voters to force a statewide referendum, and double that number to immediately halt the death penalty repeal going into effect. They appear to have exceeded the 10 percent of registered voters hurdle needed to block repeal pending a November 2016 ballot measure on the issue.

I contributed to the petition drive, and I look forward to contributing next year to defeat the high-handed legislators, of whichever party, who wanted to trade justice for puff pieces the newspaper.

William Sousa has an article in the City Journal with the above title, subtitled, A response to Broken Windows critic Bernard Harcourt.  Sousa is the co-author, with George Kelling, of an NYPD research report on the efficacy of Broken Windows policing.

For the better part of two decades, Columbia University law professor Bernard Harcourt has been on a personal crusade against Broken Windows policing, criticizing both its theoretical underpinnings and its policy applications. A close look at Harcourt's work, however, reveals not only the weaknesses of his arguments but also his lack of attention to other research findings that conflict with his own. His portrayal of Broken Windows policing, it turns out, is fundamentally inaccurate and incomplete. In effect, Harcourt creates and then fights a paper tiger.

By way of background, Broken Windows is a policing tactic that emphasizes the police management of minor offenses. The authors of the Broken Windows hypothesis--George L. Kelling and the late James Q. Wilson--always maintained that Broken Windows policing should encourage proper discretion on the part of officers. Kelling in particular has discussed the importance of discretion when it comes to maintaining order, as in a recent article in Politico, where he indicates that arrest should be the last option when managing minor offenses.
The misrepresentation of Broken Windows policing as "zero tolerance" policing, encouraging arrests for minor offenses, is an important element of the campaign against it.  When you can't win with the truth, you have to make stuff up.

News Scan

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News Journalists Killed on Live TV:  Two Virginia TV news journalists for WDBJ7, a reporter and a cameraman, were shot and killed on live television Wednesday morning, allegedly by a disgruntled employee.  Fox News reports that following the shooting of 24-year-old Alison Parker, 27-year-old Adam Ward, and an interviewee, who survived a gunshot wound to her back, Virginia State Police homed in on 41-year-old Vester Lee Flanagan, a former employee of WDBJ7 who went by the name Bryce Williams, while he was driving on the freeway.  The suspect refused to stop, ran his vehicle off the road and crashed, and then fatally shot himself.  Flanagan, who was fired from the station several years ago, made several posts on social media following the attack, including a first-person video he took during the murder and remarks about Parker's "racist comments" and his anger over Ward reporting him to the HR department.  He was reportedly angered by the Charleston rampage that occurred at a church in June, in which a white man gunned down nine black churchgoers. 

Father Loses Efforts to Remove Daughters from Sex Offender's Home:  The Nebraska Court of Appeals rejected a man's attempt to gain custody of his two teenage daughters after his ex-wife married a registered sex offender, who served four years in prison for the attempted sexual assault of his 15-year-old stepdaughter from a previous marriage.  Joe Duggan of the World-Herald Bureau reports that the girls' mother, who won primary custody of them after the 2004 divorce, moved in with the sex offender in 2011, marking her second relationship with a sex offender.  Her first occurred shortly after the end of her first marriage, and the man was later convicted of sexually assaulted her 5-year-old daughter, who is not party to the current custody dispute.  Nebraska law does not require automatic removal of children from homes shared by sex offenders so long as the count finds that there is "no significant risk of harm," which was supported by the girls' mental health therapist, testifying that there "appeared to be good boundaries" in the home.  No testimony was offered from a mental health specialist who interviewed the sex offender to determine risk of recidivism.

Lawsuit Settlement Allows Deportees to Return to U.S.:  Six of the nine illegal immigrants who filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol in Southern California of using coercive tactics to pressure them into voluntarily leaving the U.S. were allowed to return to the U.S. Tuesday.  Tatiana Sanchez of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the lawsuit was filed by the ACLU in 2013, stating that the illegal immigrants, all of whom are Mexican nationals with U.S.-citizen family members, were deprived of their right to be heard by an immigration judge before they signed documents authorizing their deportation.  ICE officials say that voluntary returns to home countries "remain an important option" for illegal immigrants and coercion is not tolerated in the agency.  The president of the union that represents San Diego Border Patrol agents also denies any coercion, trickery or force involved in their interactions with the immigrants.  The immigrants who were returned will be allowed to stay with family members while their cases are handled by immigration court, "a process that can take several years."

Separation of Church and State, Then and Now

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There was a point in our history when it was accepted that there is, and ought to be, a pretty clearly defined separation between church and state.  The Framers thought one Church of England was enough.  Almost all of them were Christian, but did not want religion, theirs or anyone else's, thrust upon others.

Liberals were avid fans of this view of things  --  until they found out that the opposite view could advance their agenda.

My, how times do change.

News Scan

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Dallas Police Face Unfair Discipline, Stress:  Officers in the Dallas Police Department have been taking longer to respond to 911 calls, partly due to officers being "mentally beaten down," according to the head of the Dallas Police Association.  J.D. Miles of CBS DFW reports that the association's president, Ron Pinkston, says that many of the 3,000 officers he represents "are moving slower because of concerns over safety and fears about violating department policies."  Dallas Police Chief David Brown attributes new training requirements to the slower responses to priority one calls, which at eight minutes and 13 seconds is the highest it has been in three years.  Ultimately, there is a lack of motivation within the force due to the fear of doing the right thing coupled with the fear that "nobody's going to support them."

Illegal Immigrant Carjacks Woman Minutes After Release:  An illegal immigrant, who had previously been deported, violently carjacked a woman 30 minutes after his release from jail.  Josh Fatzick of the Daily Caller reports that 24-year-old Guaynar Cabrera-Hernandez was released last Monday from the Montgomery County Detention Center in Washington, D.C., and approached a woman in a parking lot while wielding a knife and a brick, put the knife to her throat, forced her out of the car and hurled the brick at her before speeding off in her vehicle.  He struck again two days later, throwing a bottle at the head of a 68-year-old woman and taking her vehicle, crashing through a security gate with police in pursuit and apprehended when he attempted to flee on foot.  Cabrera-Hernandez was arrested in 2007 for being in the country illegally, and then again in 2011 for which he was subsequently deported.  According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Cabrera-Hernandez's past crimes did not meet the agency's "civil immigration enforcement priorities."  Currently, he is wanted in Maryland for an outstanding armed carjacking warrant and is in custody.

Prop. 47: 'A Well-Intentioned Blunder':  In this column on the San Diego Source, Thomas D. Elias acknowledges that Proposition 47, a ballot measure passed by a 60-40 margin last November that downgrades several felonies to misdemeanors, is a bad policy that endangers Californians.  With crime statistics for the first half of the year pouring out from around the state showing, to name but a few, a 47 percent increase in car burglaries in San Francisco and a 12.7 percent increase in overall crime in Los Angeles, "this measure looks worse and worse."  The consequences of Prop. 47, as Elias points out, are plentiful.  Criminals are adjusting their practices by stealing less than $950 worth of goods to avoid a felony charge. Enrollment in drug treatment programs have dropped now that addicts are relieved of the pressure to kick their habits, knowing they'll never do serious time.  Persons with prior convictions of crimes such as carjacking, armed robbery, child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon are not facing jail time because those crimes qualify for misdemeanor status for new non-violent offenses.  "Now it's time for legislators to fix this flawed measure," says Elias.

Along with Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, Md. has become an epicenter of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  It took root in Maryland in the Freddie Gray case, in which a black drug dealer died in police custody after having been transported  --  under still not clearly known but possibly negligent, or worse, conditions  --  in a police van.  Both black and white police officers have been charged in the death by States Attorney Marilyn Mosby. This was back in April.

Rioting immediately ensued.  The Mayor declared that there needed to be "space to destroy."  Baltimore's rate of violent crime took off.

Six days ago, in mid-August, the Baltimore Sun announced:  "Baltimore records 211th homicide, equalling total for 2014."

It's  not telling tales out of school to observe that the huge majority of Baltimore murder victims are black (it's possible that nearly all of them are, I don't know).  In the wake of the galvanizing of the BLM Movement, and the ensuing fusillade of criticism of the police, there are now dozens more black murder victims in that unhappy city than in decades. 

Is there a lesson here?

Homeless, Therefore Start Shooting

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While decent people are outraged by prosecutorial lying, no one even bats an eyelash when defense counsel spin their yarns.  It's what they do.  The basics are easy:  The client is almost always guilty; telling the truth is thus the fast road to jail; therefore make something up.  That's how it works.  Whether it should work that way is another matter, but that is for a different entry.

This is by way of introducing today's AP story about the Jihadist who attempted, but was foiled at, mass murder on a French train. Kent wrote about it here and here.  The would-be killer, Ayoub El-Khazzani, has now lawyered up.  Counsel's name is Sophie David, and this is what she has to say:

"He is dumbfounded that his action is being characterized as terrorism," said [Ms.] David, a lawyer in Arras, where the train was rerouted to arrest El-Khazzani -- now being questioned outside Paris by anti-terrorism police.
He described himself as homeless and David said she had "no doubt" this was true, saying he was "very, very thin" as if suffering from malnutrition and "with a very wild look in his eyes."

For sure.  When you're homeless, the thing to do is grab an assault rifle and go to town.  Why would anyone think otherwise?

But wait, there's more.

News Scan

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LA Trooper Shot and Killed:  A Louisiana state trooper responding to reports of a possible intoxicated individual driving erratically, stopped Sunday afternoon to assist a man whose pickup truck had run into a ditch and was shot in the head when the man emerged from the truck with a sawed-off shotgun.  The trooper died of his injuries Monday morning.  Fox News reports that 43-year-old Senior Trooper Steven Vincent, a 13-year veteran of the state police, was shot by 54-year-old Kevin Daigle, a man whose record includes multiple DWIs and other arrests he refused to discuss.  The incident, caught on dash cam video, came to an end when two or three drivers stopped immediately, wrestled the gun out of Daigle's hands and handcuffed him with the officer's pair.  Daigle faces several charges, including first-degree murder of a police officer.  He is also being probed in the death of his roommate, found deceased on Monday, to determine whether he may have a connection to the homicide.

Last Month the Bloodiest in NY Jails:  New York City's jails surged with gang violence in the month of July, making it the bloodiest month behind bars in 15 years.  Reuven Blau of NY Daily News reports that records show a total of 21 slashings and one stabbing occurred last month in the facilities, with 16 of those incidents involving members of the Bloods, Crips or Latin Kings.  These figures have increased from last year, which only saw an average to seven slashings and stabbings in a month.  Prison officials believe that continued gang disputes on the streets are spilling over into the jails, and have also been openly critical of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte's reform to reduce the number of inmates placed in solitary confinement, which is thought to be contributing to the increased mayhem.

No Clear Answer for Crimes Spikes in U.S. Cities:  "There really is no particular reason," said LAPD's central division Captain Mike Oreb regarding Los Angeles' 12 percent spike in overall crime, with violent offenses rising more than 20 percent, a pattern that is resonating with major cities nationwide.  Haya El Nasser of Al Jazeera America reports that Los Angeles prosecutors and law enforcement officers are pointing fingers at a change in the crime reporting system and, most especially, to Prop. 47, a voter-approved initiative passed in November that downgrades certain felonies, including drug possession and theft, to misdemeanors.  However, Los Angeles does not stand alone in this trend, as Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Dallas, St. Louis, San Antonio, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., are all reporting double-digit surges in murders in the first half of this year.  When asked if the numbers signify a reversal of decreasing crime trends the country has been experiencing for decades, president of the Police Foundation, Jim Bueermann, says "I don't think we really know."

Sex Offenders, Convicted Murderers Among CA Uber Drivers:  Uber, a ridesharing company that has given taxi drivers stiff competition, is accused of hiring drivers with criminal histories, including sex offenders and a convicted murderer, detailed in a consumer-protection lawsuit filed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.  Mario Sevilla of KRON 4 reports that the complaint says that among the drivers that passed Uber's self-described "industry leading" background check were several registered sex offenders, a kidnapper, identity thieves, burglars and a convicted murderer who was hired less than seven years after being paroled, going on to provide 1,168 rides.  Gascon says that the company cannot "unfairly claim it is rigorously checking the background of its drivers" unless those drivers are put through the same fingerprinting process required of taxi drivers in California.  An Uber spokeswoman voiced her disagreement with Gascon's complaint, claiming that the process used by taxi companies is not "an inherently better system for screening drivers than our background checks."

Mixing politics and the power to prosecute is the fast road to tyranny.  That is one reason I have been unstinting in my criticism both of Eric Holder's politicization of DOJ and of the reckless grandstanding by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby in the Freddie Gray case, see here, here, and here.

Even Ms. Mosby, however, looks good by comparison to the federal prosecutors whose jaw-dropping unethical behavior resulted in well deserved judicial rebukes from both the federal district court and, now, the Fifth Circuit (opinion here).

It's impossible to summarize in a single sentence the extent or the sleaze of the prosecutors' stunts, but let me start by saying that they essentially tried a prominent federal case against seven New Orleans police officers  --  four of them black or Hispanic  --  by tweet, then repeatedly lied about it.

Sal Perricone, a high-ranking prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office, using a fake name, posted commentary on Nola.com, the website of the Times-Picayune, that (in the words of the Court of Appeals) "castigated the defendants and their lawyers and repeatedly chastised the New Orleans Police Department as a fish 'rotten from the head down.'"

Perricone was joined in this outrageous misconduct by Jan Mann, the first assistant to the U.S. attorney.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Karla Dobinski, a veteran of Holder's Civil Rights Division, also posted inflammatory commentary under at least one assumed name. Ironically -- appallingly -- Dobinsky was part of the DOJ "taint team" in this case. As such, she was assigned to protect the civil rights of the indicted defendants. 

The whole appalling story is here.

On the evening of June 17 of this year, white supremacist Dylann Roof, after sitting in a black church for about an hour, pulled out a Glock .41 handgun with hollow-point bullets and murdered nine black people who had been in a prayer and Bible study group. No sane person doubts either that he did it, that he knew what he was doing, that he thought about his actions, or that the motive was anything other than racial hate. It was a 21st Century mass lynching, there is no other honest name for it.

South Carolina, like the great majority of states, has the death penalty.  Even if it should be abolished in the future because of the risk of executing the innocent, or because it is (or is said to be) employed  discriminatorily against African Americans, or because it takes a long time and costs a lot, will any abolitionists come off their "facts-never-matter" stance to support its use in this utterly clear and grotesque case?

They've done it before.  In the Oklahoma City bombing, a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found that a majority of those typically against capital punishment on principle supported it for Timothy McVeigh.  The crime was just too much of an assault on the basics of civilized life.

Isn't that also true here?  Have we not reached the point in America where we are going to say no to lynching  --  to say no and mean it? To understand that the country has passed a turning point toward ensuring dignity regardless of race? To understand that even if in the case of the "ordinary" mass murder we should accept a prison term, we have come too far and paid too much to do that here?

As a general matter, tolerance, understood as a generous turn of mind, is a good thing. But it depends on what we are being asked to tolerate.  There should be no tolerance for Dylann Roof's attempt to drag America back to a hideous past.  I will be looking for abolitionists to do some of the critical, reflective thinking they say they value and, in this case, support the death penalty.

Update On French Train Story

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As often happens, the initial report on the attack on the French train was incorrect in a few particulars.  It looks like four people heroically stopped this apparently terrorist attack:  two American servicemen, one American civilian, and one Frenchman. Sam Schechner and Julian E. Barnes report for the WSJ:

Authorities praised two U.S. military members and their friend who tackled and subdued a man armed with guns and a box cutter on a Paris-bound train Friday as it sped through Belgium, breaking up what could have been a deadly terrorist attack.

The three Americans were seated on the train when they heard a gunshot and breaking glass, according to accounts from one of the men and a U.S. official briefed on the attack.

Crouching behind their seats, the Americans, who are childhood friends, decided they had to act. Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23 years old, ran toward the gunman and tackled him.

"I told him to go, and he went," Alek Skarlatos, 22, a member of the Oregon National Guard who had been deployed in Afghanistan, said Saturday.

Darren Boyle has this story, with the above headline, in the Daily Mail of London.

Two unarmed US Marines on board a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris foiled a terrorist attack after a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle, wounding three people.

The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire. Fortunately, two US Marines were nearby and overpowered him before he could massacre passengers.

The suspected terrorist had at least nine full magazines of ammunition holding almost 300 rounds. He was also carrying a knife.

Unfortunately, one of the Marines was shot and is believed to be in a critical condition. It is feared that he was shot in the neck by the gunman.
Two unarmed Marines took down a guy with a Kalashnikov, saving God knows how many lives.  Now there is a profile in courage.  Let us pray for the wounded hero.

Update:   The headline now reads, "Unarmed US Marines foil suspected terrorist attack onboard high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris after they take down Kalashnikov-wielding Moroccan gunman known to intelligence services"

Update 2:  Turns out they aren't Marines, but the essential parts of the story are correct.  See next post.

The Lies at the Base of "Black Lives Matter"

The "Black Lives Matter" Movement took root a little more than a year ago in Ferguson, Mo.  A white policeman, Darren Wilson, shot a blameless and unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, as Brown had his hands up, trying to surrender (hence the Movement's first slogan, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot").  Thereafter, Wilson walked up to Brown, now prone, and, as noted in stories briefly recounted in this New Yorker article, shot him in the back.

Or so is the fable.  It's a pack of lies, and was from the day it started. The point of BLM was never to tell the truth, so when the truth came out  --  as it did in two grand jury investigations, including one by Eric Holder's Justice Department  --  it was dismissed. The point was always something different:  To intimidate the police and thus benefit criminals.

There's evidence that it's worked.  Police work has become more fraught.  Some cops say they're pulling back.  When the State's Attorney indicts the police and the city's mayor says rioters must be given "space to destroy," what were we expecting?  We should have been expecting, e.g., Baltimore, and a spike in murders coast-to-coast, which is what we got and are getting.

The wretched irony in this is, of course, that black lives do matter, and that blacks, who disproportionately bear the brunt of poverty, depend more than better-off whites for the basic protection policing provides.  In part for that reason, I repeat the following entry on PowerLine, a bitterly humorous tribute to the insidious deceit and tragic carnage of "Black Lives Matter."

News Scan

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Teen Girls to be tried as Adults in Stabbing:  Two 13-year-old Wisconsin girls are to be tried as adults in the 2014 stabbing of their friend, whom they were attempting to murder as a sacrifice to a fictitious horror character.  Greg Moore of the AP reports that the two girls, both 12 at the time of the crime, plotted in advance to lure their friend, Payton Leutner, into the woods during a sleepover, where they repeatedly stabbed her.  They did to win the favor of Slender Man, an imaginary character that has proliferated online in recent years.  The two girls told police that they believed they would be invited to live in Slender Man's mansion in exchange for killing Leutner, who miraculously survived the attack despite being stabbed 19 times.  Both girls pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and face 65 years in prison if convicted as adults.  An appeals court could move the cases to juvenile court, where the two, if convicted, would be released with no supervision or mental health treatment at the age of 18.

No Protests for Murder of 9-year-old in Ferguson:  A nine-year-old girl was shot and killed while doing homework on her mother's bed in Ferguson, Mo. Tuesday evening, yet a Wednesday night protest was concerned only with the officer-involved shooting of an armed suspect who pointed a gun at police.  Fox News reports that whoever fired a gun through the home of Jamyla Bolden has not been identified, though the girl's relatives believe police are focusing on a person of interest who likely targeted the wrong house in the fatal drive-by shooting.  Bolden's mother suffered a non-fatal gunshot wound to the leg and was released from the hospital Wednesday.  

Crime Up in Riverside County:  The total number of violent and property crimes reported to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department increased in the first six months of 2015 compared to the first six months of 2014.  Brian Rokos and Ali Tadayon of the Press Enterprise report that the latest statistics reveal a 6.3 percent increase in violent crimes and a 2.2 percent increase in property crimes.  In just the unincorporated areas of the county, violent crimes have risen more than 15 percent while property crimes have jumped 7.7 percent.  A possible reason for the uptick, says LA area law professor Steven Lurie, is the "twin influences of Prop. 47 and realignment."  Prop. 47, approved by voters last November, downgrades certain felonies to misdemeanors and realignment, or AB 109,  transferred thousands of so called  "non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual" offenders from state prison to county jails, forcing Riverside County to release thousands of inmates early to accommodate criminals no longer eligible for prison.  Prop. 47 has been in effect for less than one year, and the sheriff's department will wait to assess a full year's worth of crime data before weighing in on specific impacts of Prop. 47 alone.

Community-based Chaos

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James Panero has this article in the City Journal with the above title.  It is subtitled "The de Blasio administration has all the wrong answers on the homeless mentally ill."

For New Yorkers who remember the bad old days, the recent reminders of an era when urban pathologies ruled the streets can be jarring. Back when times were tough, residents of my neighborhood on the Upper West Side passed by abandoned graffiti-covered lots, crunched red-capped crack vials under their feet, and worried about when Larry Hogue, the "Wild Man of 96th Street," would make his next appearance. Now some of this sense of foreboding seems to be coming back.


In a comment to Bill's post on marijuana, Oscar asks why CJLF does not take a position on marijuana legalization.  I've explained this before on the blog, but readers come and go, so it won't hurt to explain it again.

On the Wonderfulness of Pot...

CJLF takes no position on marijuana legalization.  At present, it is illegal everywhere in the United States.  States that purport to legalize it can pass whatever laws they care to, but under the Supremacy Clause, federal law prevails over contrary state law.  In the struggle for civil rights, this was considered a good thing, but that was then.

Not that it matters a whole lot.  Simply smoking a joint has been de facto legal for decades.  Yes, if you do it on the police station steps, that might be a problem, but short of that....

Still, we have the never-ending and much-fabled "national conversation" about pot.  We are advised that we should base our views on facts, not emotion or prejudice.

Sounds good to me.  Here's today's fact, from the Associated Press, reporting out of Seattle:  "Fatal crashes involving marijuana double in Washington."

I guarantee you that this fact will make no difference.  The push to legalize, and thus increase the use of, pot has zip to do with public health, although it is often and aggressively put in those terms.  It's about ideology, pure and simple.

Wiping a Server

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Following up on Bill's post, it really is too bad that C&C doesn't have its own server, because I would very much like to use one of these.  We don't do ads on this blog, but I will tell you where to get this one.

The statute Bill referred to is the one involved in the Supreme Court's "fish overboard" case of last term, Yates v. United States.  See this post.

Yates limited the reach of the statute regarding "tangible objects" to those which "record or preserve information," not including fish, but that won't help Mrs. Clinton.  Emails and the servers that hold them are squarely within the statute as interpreted by Yates.

Playing dumb about what it means to wipe a server is about as convincing as the immigrant who speaks fluent English until the questioning gets tough and then suddenly can't understand a word.

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