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U.K.'s New Foreign Secretary

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Incoming PM Theresa May has chosen the outspoken pro-Brexit former mayor of London Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.  This article in the WSJ by Gabriele Steinhauser, Michael Wright, and William Horobin notes that Mr. Johnson had some undiplomatic things to say about certain continental European leaders during the campaign.

The primary relevance of the Brexit controversy to this blog is the propensity of the EU to meddle in domestic criminal law policies of nations, primarily its members but also nonmembers including the United States.

The outcome I would like to see is a "two-tier" Europe where Britain and other countries that are fed up with the Eurocrats can belong to something like the old European Economic Community (commonly known as the Common Market) that preceded the EU.  That would be a purely free-trade organization that would keep its mitts off domestic policy, including especially issues of crime and punishment.

I hope the appointment of Boris Johnson is a step in that direction.

Vigilantism in the Phillipines

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Here is what happens when government defaults on its primary obligation to protect people from crime.  Trefor Moss reports for the WSJ:

Mr. [Rodrigo] Duterte, the long-serving mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines, was sworn in as president on Thursday, having comfortably won elections in early May after pledging to wipe out criminals. He advocates the killing of suspected lawbreakers and has publicly backed vigilante death squads estimated to have killed over 1,000 people in Davao.

"Kill them all," Mr. Duterte told a rally in March, referring to criminals and suspects. "When I become president I'll order the police and the military to find these people and kill them." During the campaign, Mr. Duterte said 100,000 Filipinos would die during the coming purge.

Mr. Duterte has tapped a loyal lieutenant from Davao, a former city police chief, Ronald Dela Rosa, to head the national force starting Thursday. Mr. Dela Rosa recently told reporters the president's target of stamping out crime in six months is achievable, as long as drug suspects are relentlessly pursued.

"They will be given the right to remain silent--forever," he said.
Backlash is building worldwide against the blasé attitude toward crime that has become fashionable among affluent people who live and work in safe neighborhoods and are rarely touched by the consequences. 

Protecting people from crime is the number one domestic function of government.  Everything else is secondary.  If we don't dump the mush-headed nonsense and get back to tough, proven measures that really work, we are only going to see more vigilantism as well as more victimization.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases this morning involving the reach of federal law under the Commerce Clauses of the Constitution.

Taylor v. United States, No. 14-6166, deals with one of the broadest laws for extending federal criminal jurisdiction to seemingly local cases, the Hobbs Act.  Any robbery affecting interstate commerce is within federal jurisdiction, and given the post-1937 definition of interstate commerce, that is a very broad sweep.  In today's case, any robbery of drug dealers can be a federal offense.

RJR Nabisco v. European Community, No. 15-138, involves civil suits under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  The Court puts some limits on this much-misused procedure, blocking civil RICO suits where the acts are all outside the United States.
Ben Mathis-Lilley reports for Slate:

Unrepentant mass killer Anders Breivik's isolated confinement in a three-room prison suite furnished with a treadmill, a refrigerator, a DVD player, a Sony PlayStation, a desk, a television, and a radio constitutes "inhuman or degrading treatment" under the European Convention on Human Rights, an Oslo court has ruled. The court instructed Norwegian authorities in nonspecific terms to relax the restrictions imposed on Breivik and ordered the government to pay his legal fees, which total about $50,000.
Some people argue that we should emulate Europe in our treatment of criminals.  In my view, Europe is a contrarian indicator.  If Europe does X, that makes X somewhat more likely to be a bad idea.

Thanks for the tip to our frequent commenter "notablogger," who notes, "I wish this were a story in the Onion.  Alas, it is not."
Valentina Pop reports for the WSJ:

A United Nations court sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to 40 years in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. He will appeal the ruling.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Thursday found Mr. Karadzic guilty of 10 out of the 11 counts, including genocide for the Srebrenica massacre and criminal responsibility for the shelling of Sarajevo, during a nearly four-year siege on the city. He is the highest-ranking official the court has convicted since its establishment in 1993.
Forty years is a life sentence, given that Karadzic is 70, but it's not enough for genocide. 
Two months ago, I denounced an NYT hatchet job misrepresenting one of the cases Cruz handled in the Supreme Court when he was Texas Solicitor General.  Now we have this article by Jonathan Mahler. 

This time the focus is on the case of José Medellín, one of the perpetrators of one of the most horrific gang-rape murders in the history of Houston.  I know a lot about this case.  I wrote three briefs in it before we finally delivered this scum-of-the-earth his just deserts.  Cruz rightly touts his role in this effort as a major accomplishment, but Mahler views it through the Times's partisan, polarized "all the news that fits our agenda" lens.

As with the previous post, let me note that CJLF takes no position in the Republican primary and endorses no candidate.  We care about the truth.  It is painfully evident that Mahler and the NYT do not. 
What do you get in Germany for luring a pregnant woman into the woods and burning her alive?

14 years.

The San Bernardino Massacre

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I have held off commenting on the San Bernardino massacre until more was known.  Today's WSJ has a number of articles on the emerging picture and the policy dilemmas we faced as we decide what to do to reduce the risk of such horrors.

France Kills A Murderer

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AP reports:

The Belgian extremist suspected of masterminding the deadly attacks in Paris died a day ago along with his female cousin in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, French officials said Thursday, adding it was still not clear exactly how he died.

The body of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, was found in the building targeted Wednesday in the chaotic, bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis and was identified based on skin samples, the Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday.

Congratulations, France.  Well done.

Now stop criticizing us when we kill our murderers.

Multiple Terror Attacks in Paris

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The face of pure evil showed itself again in Paris today.  Stacy Meichtry, Inti Landauro and Thomas Varela report for the WSJ:

PARIS--Terror swept the French capital late Friday as a series of attacks--in a bustling nightlife district and outside a soccer stadium--left more than 100 people dead in one of the bloodiest assaults in the country's history.

The sheer scale of the mayhem--six separate attacks--left authorities reeling. The government declared a state of emergency, sending military forces onto the streets of Paris, sealing off roads and reinstating border controls. Sirens blared across the city as police and emergency workers rushed to respond.

On Trial for Speech in France

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The Europeans love to lecture us for the supposed human-rights violation of punishing murderers sufficiently for the crimes they have committed, but a trial under way in France threatens one of the most fundamental of genuine human rights, freedom of speech.

Marine Le Pen is on trial for making a speech.  What did she say?  Henry Samuel has this article in the London Telegraph.  In 2010, Ms. Le Pen had this to say about mass prayer sessions being held by Muslims in the streets at the time:

"I'm sorry, but for those who really like to talk about the Second World War, if we're talking about occupation, we could talk about that (street prayers), because that is clearly an occupation of the territory," she said during the meeting.

"It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighbourhoods in which religious law applies, it is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people."
Poorly chosen words?  Sure.  A crime?  Not in any country that understands what liberty is all about.
Is the US Attorney in Manhattan bucking for the Well, Duh! Award?

Rebecca Davis O'Brien, Christopher M. Matthews and Farnaz Fassihi report in the WSJ:

A former president of the United Nations General Assembly and five others were accused Tuesday of engaging in a bribery scheme, part of what federal authorities said was a wider probe into corruption in the top ranks of the international body.

"We will be asking, is bribery business as usual at the U.N.?" said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, at a news conference announcing the charges.
The more difficult question comes later in the story:

Messrs. Ashe and Lorenzo could be shielded by diplomatic immunity in certain circumstances, but the complaint said they can be prosecuted for crimes outside the scope of their official positions.
That is not my understanding of diplomatic immunity, but I don't pretend any expertise on the subject.

Which Prisons to Visit?

Pope Francis has arrived in the United States, having said that he will meet with, not just the powerful, but the "marginalized," including prison inmates.

One might ask a couple of questions here.  One would be how US inmates got where they are.  And the answer would be by committing crime, usually violent crime. Another might be whether the Pope plans on meeting with the inmates' victims, and the answer is "no" (at least "no" so far as has been announced). Victims, I guess, can do without Papal grace.

But the question I want to ask is aptly discussed in today's Washington Post editorial. It asks why the Pope bypassed prisoners in Cuba  --  and instead had a cordial, smiling meeting with the tyrants who put them there in order to muzzle dissent, rather than because they committed any crime, as that word is understood in the United States and the rest of the Free World.

Thus, the Post notes: explain Pope Francis's behavior in Cuba? The pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.

Pope Francis met with 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who holds no office in Cuba, but not with any members of the dissident community -- in or outside of prison. According to the Web site, two opposition activists were invited to greet the pope at Havana's cathedral Sunday but were arrested on the way. Dozens of other dissidents were detained when they attempted to attend an open air Mass.

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.

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.

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