Investigators have recovered the bulk of the premium wine bottles stolen from The French Laundry on Christmas Day, according to the Napa County Sheriff's Office. No arrests have been made.How big a truck do you need to steal 300 grand worth of wine?* * *The wine, with an estimated retail value of about $300,000, was reported missing Dec. 26 after an employee discovered someone had broken into the famed Yountville Michelin-starred restaurant. The suspect - or suspects - broke into the building sometime after 2 p.m. on Christmas Day, Pike said. The alarm system had not been set.
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Federal agents on Thursday arrested powerful New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) on federal corruption charges, stemming from payments he received from two New York City law firms.
Jennifer Queliz, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York, confirmed Silver was in custody Thursday morning. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the charges.There is an interesting federalism question on the constitutional basis for federal prosecution of corrupt state officials. It generally hinges on some tenuous connection with mail or interstate commerce. In my view, a corrupt official denies the honest people of the state equal protection of the laws. The bribe-payor gets special treatment that the honest people do not. That is, of course, why he pays the bribe. I haven't gotten any takers for my view yet.
Whatever the basis, prosecuting corrupt state officials is one of the most important functions of federal law enforcement. Some valiant prosecutors do go after crooks who hold their purse strings, but we cannot expect that as a matter of course.
How long would it take for a Western journalist to blame the Charlie Hebdo murders on French colonialism and journalistic insensitivity to the feelings of Muslims? Not nearly as long, I suspected, as it would take a journalist in the Muslim world to blame them on the legacy of Mohammed and Islam.
And I was right. It took less than four hours for an associate editor of the Financial Times, Tony Barber, to post a piece on the website of his august publication blaming the journalists and cartoonists of the satirical French magazine (and the two policemen as well?) for their own deaths. Here is what he originally wrote and posted, though he later edited out the final clause:[Charlie Hebdo] has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims . . . [This] is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo . . . which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.
According to this perverted logic, if the relatives of the 12 murdered men were now to storm into the offices of the Financial Times and shoot 12 staff members because of the considerable provocation offered by Tony Barber, it will prove only that Barber had just been stupid.One wonders whether Mr. Barber is also a zealous advocate for the general defense of provocation in its traditional sense of reducing the crime of men who find their wives in bed with a paramour.
That aside, there seems to be an epidemic of hand-wringing taking place rooted in the innate desire to understand what compels people to commit such horrific acts of violence. Such a desire is, what modernity calls, natural and perhaps inexplicable: We know that reasonable people do not wish to commit such atrocious crimes. But that, of course, assumes that the radical terrorist mind is reasonable.
Police officers took a bit of a hit this year, dropping six points on their "very high or high" rating, but they didn't change rank, still fourth of eleven. It would tempting to attribute the drop to the highly publicized cases of late, but pharmacists had a drop nearly as large with no obvious cause.
The public seems a bit more cynical overall, with every occupation surveyed but one moving in the negative direction. The one, believe it or not, is lawyers, with a small (and statistically insignificant) uptick of 1%. Lawyers are still pretty low, though, seventh of eleven and only 21% "very high or high." Frankly, given what some members of my profession do, I can't blame the people for that opinion.
Car salespeople and members of Congress bring up the rear.
And the most trusted of the professions ... ?
The largest theater chains in the U.S. have decided not to play Sony Pictures' controversial comedy "The Interview" on its planned Dec. 25 opening, said two people with knowledge of the matter.
The appeals-court panel ruled that, in order to be found guilty of insider trading, a defendant must know a tip was illegally disclosed in exchange for a reward of "some consequence." The court also dismissed prosecutors' contention that career advice or friendship constituted a reward, saying that, under that logic, "practically anything would qualify."
Now the narrative [by "Jackie," the alleged University of Virginia rape victim] appears to be falling apart: Her rapist wasn't in the frat that she says he was a member of; the house held no party on the night of the assault; and other details are wobbly. Many people (not least U-Va. administrators) will be tempted to see this as a reminder that officials, reporters and the general public should hear both sides of the story and collect all the evidence before coming to a conclusion in rape cases. This is what we mean in America when we say someone is "innocent until proven guilty." After all, look what happened to the Duke lacrosse players.
In important ways, this is wrong. We should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, U-Va. should have taken her word for it during the period while they endeavored to prove or disprove the accusation.
The presumption of innocence is an anchor of liberty. But liberty just ain't that important when Political Correctness is running the show.
For those of us who prefer the "or not" option, including myself and Ms. Wilhelm, the answer is to do the opposite. Tomorrow, let us forget politics, crime and punishment, and other heated issues and enjoy the day with our families. Give thanks - with the "to whom" broad enough to accommodate everyone at your home - and have a joyous holiday.
(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.This great-grandfather of the Due Process Clause was signed by King John -- at swordpoint -- almost 800 years ago, along with many other promises. Copies of the great charter were made and sent to the various counties of England, and one of those copies, from the Lincoln Cathedral, is presently on exhibit at the Library of Congress.
Update (11/13): Justice Scalia's opening address at the Federalist Society Convention was on Magna Carta and its importance in the development of constitutional law.
Update 2 (11/15): Justice Scalia's address is now available online.
(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. - See more at: http://www.bl.uk/magna-carta/articles/magna-carta-english-translation#sthash.QZ07c2XJ.dpuf
Justice Scalia will deliver the opening address. Justice Alito will speak at the black-tie dinner.
The annual Rosenkranz debate will be on collection of phone records and the Fourth Amendment with former Attorney General Michael Mukasey against former ACLU President Nadine Strossen.
Mr. Mukasey will also be on the panel put on by the Criminal Law Practice Group (of which I am a executive committee member and former chairman). He will be partnered with the notorious Prof. William G. Otis, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center (and sometime blogger). John Malcolm of Heritage Foundation and Marc Levin from Texas Public Policy Foundation are also on the panel, with Judge William Pryor moderating.
The Civil Rights Practice Group's panel also has a criminal-law related theme, sexual assault on campus, and unfortunately it is scheduled at the same time. I would especially like to hear Heather MacDonald. (Pardon me if I duck out, Bill.)
Former Senator and D.C. Circuit Judge James Buckley will close out the event.
Memo to burglars: My home will be occupied in my absence, and the occupants are armed.