Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A New Year's Prediction for the Mideast

I am a historian, not a tea-leaf reader. But every now and then the two occupations experience a harmonic convergence. This coming year, a randomly selected group of Americans will stand in emotionally numbed silence, listening to “Taps” being played at a military funeral. They will be mourning the loss of a family member or friend killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. The White House will launch yet another Arab-Israeli peace initiative. These talks will try to shield the Jewish State from its soon-to-be Arab majority. This diplomatic effort will collapse just as past attempts to remake reality in this troubled region have. The nuclear threat posed to Israel by an unstable Pakistan’s already existing nuclear arsenal will steal global attention from Iran’s pretensions to build one.
Oops. I’m rambling off topic. The afore-mentioned list is not prophecies, but near certainties. Actually, my New Year’s prediction for the Middle East is this.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Torry Hansen, the Sheriff and Justice American-Style

What do we know about Ms. Torry Hansen, the woman who returned her seven year old adopted son to Russia, alone, alleging that the child had threatened to burn down the house? She is a registered nurse, a single parent, and apparently a woman with a malicious streak. The Tennesseen reports that Ms. Hansen, feuding with a neighbor in 2006, planted a neon-painted trailer on the property, loaded with camera surveillance equipment and sensor-controlled lighting, and trained it on the neighbor's house.  

But what confuses me most about this incident, is the fact that the Tennessee sheriff handling the case says that he has been unable to question the woman, because “she refuses to talk.” I’m neither a lawyer nor criminal justice expert.  Perhaps that is why I can’t for the life of me understand what is really going on.  Who decides whether a person suspected of a crime, who “refuses to talk,” will be awakened in the middle of the night, have the front door battered in by rifle-ready police in SWAT gear, be dragged off to an interrogation room in the sub-basement of the police station, with wrists handcuffed to a chair, and cigarette smoke blown in the suspect's face?