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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

China Sentences Man to Death for Espionage, Saying He Sold Secrets

BEIJING — In a sign of China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to combat espionage and other security threats, the government said it had sentenced a former computer technician to death for selling 150,000 classified documents to foreign spies, according to state media reports on Tuesday.

The man, Huang Yu, 41, worked for a research institute specializing in cryptography in Chengdu, a city in southwestern China

He sold the materials, which included military codes, from 2002 to 2011, making about $700,000, the state-run broadcaster China Central Television reported. The government did not specify which spy agencies he had assisted.

Mr. Huang’s death sentence was the first known case of a Chinese citizen’s receiving the death penalty for espionage since 2008, when the government executed a biomedical researcher and a distant relative of his, accusing them of passing secrets to Taiwan.

The trove of information Mr. Huang is accused of selling, including 90 top-secret documents, is one of the largest known leaks in China in recent years, national security experts said.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has sought to rally the public behind the cause of catching foreign and domestic spies. Last week, China celebrated its first National Security Education Day, and security officials have established an anti-spying hotline.

In 2014, Mr. Xi signed a counterespionage law to more extensively track foreign spies and Chinese citizens who assist them. Last year, the government approved a sweeping national security law, broadening the definition of what constituted a violation.


Source: The New York Times, April 19, 2016

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