Updated Jul 28, 2018

The big picture: Earth's fiercest capital punishment debates

Police officers gather to remove activists during an anti death penalty protest in front of the US Supreme Court. Photo: Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A top British official has given the U.S. permission to pursue the death penalty against "The Beatles," two British ISIS fighters responsible for the 2014 execution of American journalist James Foley, The Telegraph reports.

Why it matters: The decision by the United Kingdom's home secretary, Sajid Javid, has drawn the ire of human rights groups and politicians for breaking the U.K.'s longstanding policy of opposing extradition of criminals that could face the death penalty. It's one of several capital punishment debates that have sprung up recently in countries all over the world.

What's happening:

  • In the United States, Nevada's plan to execute convicted murderer Scott Dozier using fentanyl, the drug at the heart of the opioid crisis, has been postponed after a pharmaceutical company filed a lawsuit. Anti-death penalty activists have made it difficult to obtain the necessary drugs for lethal injections, forcing the 31 states in which capital punishment is legal to seek alternatives, often in secrecy.
  • In Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to end a 42-year moratorium on capital punishment for drug smugglers, citing public demand for executions in response to rising gang violence and narcotics abuse, reports the AP. The European Union and other countries have warned Sri Lanka that an end to the moratorium will prompt trade retaliation.
  • In Kenya, where the last execution was conducted in 1987, a former beauty queen has been sentenced to death for stabbing and killing her boyfriend, reports Independent Online. Kenya's mandatory death sentence for murder and armed robbery was declared unconstitutional last year, but courts still have the ability to use capital punishment at their discretion.
  • In Japan, which is one of three OECD members (along with the U.S. and South Korea) that still use capital punishment, the execution of seven members of a deadly cult has renewed questions about the transparency of the death penalty system, reports The Japan Times. Japan's Justice Ministry has a history of keeping its process veiled in secrecy, and even today refuses to disclose how death row inmates are chosen for execution.

The bottom line: The number of countries that have executed criminals each year for the past decade has wavered between 18 and 25. Even in 2018, with all that has been done to improve human rights advocacy worldwide, the death penalty debate rages on.

Go deeper: American support for the death penalty jumps in 2018

Go deeper

Tech can't remember what to do in a down market

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Wall Street's two-day-old coronavirus crash is a wakeup alarm for Silicon Valley.

The big picture: Tech has been booming for so long the industry barely remembers what a down market feels like — and most companies are ill-prepared for one.

Brace yourself for a coronavirus outbreak

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Public-health officials’ warnings about the coronavirus are sounding increasingly urgent, with one top CDC official asking the public yesterday "to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad."

Reality check: Other administration officials, including President Trump himself, were more subdued in their assessments. But underneath those tonal differences, the reality of the coronavirus is the same: It spreads quickly, and has already spread to many countries, making it likely to start spreading here, too.

Exclusive: Pro-Trump group plans post-Super Tuesday blitz on Democrats

Democratic presidential hopefuls take the debate stage in South Carolina. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is preparing to unleash a series of targeted, swing-state attacks on the Democrats most likely to face President Trump after Super Tuesday, people familiar with the group's plans tell me in an exclusive preview of its strategy.

The state of play: The group has been tracking favorable/unfavorable ratings in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania for 2020 candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg — under the theory that if Trump wins each of these six states he would win re-election.