As The Screw Turns: Criminal Interrogations

 

During his state senate years, one of the legislative accomplishments of Barack Obama was pushing a bill through the Illinois congress that requires video taping all interrogations in a homicide investigation.

This is nothing new. Other states, such as Minnesota and Alaska have been doing that for some time, and Texas has a similar law. Many individual departments, pursuant to arm-twisting from various civil rights and lobbying groups, have also initiated video cameras for interrogations in major cases. The premise: Criminals are the good guys, cops are the bad guys.

To the average citizen, it all sounds reasonable.

– A valid, well executed interrogation on video is valuable as evidence in court.

– The omnipresent camera protects the accused from undue coercion and abuse.

– Detectives are held to strict standards with no wiggle room for variance

– False confessions are lessened

– Provides good reality television shows.

That all sounds nice on the surface. But there is more to it than keeping cops in line. We must also consider protecting potential victims of crime.

Besides eye-witnesses, snitches and forensic evidence, a good confession is the most valuable element in sealing a conviction against someone who had committed a dastardly …

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Movie Reviews 2

 

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
It’s a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s a romance story. Actually, it’s all three.

Remember Javier Bardem, who won the Oscar for his portrayal of the psychotic killer in “No Country For Old Men?” Imagine him with a haircut, walking up to two beautiful American women in a Barcelona restaurant who he never met before, and politely asking — with his Spanish accent — if they’d like to join him for a weekend where they could have fun and make love.

That sets the stage for one hour and 36 minutes of a fabulous movie about damaged relationships, unpretentious love and people daring to take chances. I generally don’t care for empty-headed “chick flicks,” but trust me, this one doesn’t fit that category. It’s sure to flop at the box office, which means it’s of no interest to the youth audiences. But it is of interest to serious movie goers who still seek that rarely made attention-grabber, rife with great acting and interesting twists in a story that passes the time quickly because you stay so engrossed.

For the guys, it’s about Scarlett Johansson, Patricia Clarkson and Penelope Cruz, each playing crisply different characters, each beautiful, …

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IF PRESIDENTS WERE APPOINTED

 

 

Let’s get down to bare bones. The question most important in this election year: Who is the most qualified?

Throughout my personal and professional career, I was taught — as most of us were — that achievement and experience is most important in the screening process when applying for lofty positions of great responsibility. Past deeds is the greatest barometer by which to measure one’s abilities and to forecast the future performance of any candidate.

The election process often ignores these issues. Instead, a campaign race becomes a media event laden with hired screamers, manipulated rallies, sound bites, charisma, spin and speech making while paying little attention to one’s history of accomplishments, or lack of them.

So, let’s look at this election in another mode. Imagine, for a moment, the office of President of the United States is not an elected position. Rather, he/she is the CEO of the nation, and selection is by committee that reviews the resume’s of each candidate before naming the new leader of the free world.

Screening is whittled down to two finalists. We’ll call them, Candidate A and Candidate B. Party affiliation is irrelevant, as is race, gender and ethnic heritage. All that matters …

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TIME TO END AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

 

“Affirmative action was never meant to be permanent, and now is truly the time to move on to some other approach.”

 

— Susan Estrich, author, feminist

 

Sure to be accused of flip-flopping, John McCain says he now favors a proposed referendum in Arizona that would ban affirmative action. This reverses a position he took ten years ago.

Critics will say it is politically motivated to shore up his conservative base. But it’s also a risk. Such a position may alienate him from whatever minority support he hopes to garner.

Truth is, times change, and McCain has changed with it.

Every time a political candidate changes a position, the press has a field day while opposing candidates seize the opportunity for finger-pointing. Mitt Romney had a rough time explaining his former pro-choice views, claiming he was persuaded over the years to alter his position on pro-life. Everyone who has been a major candidate for president, including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, has been accused of “flip-flopping,” as though it’s a sign of unstable leadership. That’s not always the case.

Some candidates sway with the prevailing winds and change their positions for no other reason than to pander for block …

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SHIPPING PIRATES POSE A DEADLY THREAT

In May of this year, a Danish tugboat operator named Colin Darch was piloting his craft out of the Red Sea when heavily armed pirates approached in two small boats and began screaming and firing weapons. Though he made a gallant attempt to resist, the thugs boarded the tugboat and took the crew hostage for six weeks until a ransom was paid by the company’s owners, reportedly at $700,000. Interviewed later, Darch said his “heart sank” when the assault began.

In April, the French luxury yacht, Le Ponant, was seized off the coast of Somalia where thirty people were taken hostage. A reported two million dollars in ransom money was paid for their release.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, seventy-one vessels have been boarded in the first six months of 2008, 190 crew members were taken hostage, seven were killed and another seven are missing, and presumed dead. Over 2,463 acts of piracy were committed around the world between 2000 and 2006. Their goal: food and supplies targeted as foreign aid, cash, personal belongings of passengers, and ransom money. The most hazardous routes are along the Nigerian and Somali coastlines of Africa, Indonesia and the Gulf of Aden …

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CHANGE? BE WARY

There’s an old saying that warns, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

Warren Harding rose to the presidency in the wake of WWI, when an electorate was dismayed at the Democratic reign of Woodrow Wilson. America wanted change. We got it. It backfired. Historians generally consider Harding as one of the worst presidents ever.

In 1968, the nation was tired of the five-year quagmire in Viet Nam, plus many years of civil unrest and too much federal spending. Lyndon Baines Johnson would surely be a loser if he ran again, so he bowed out. Hubert Humphrey was seen as an extension of Johnson. He didn’t have a chance. The country wanted change! America got what America wanted.

We got Richard Nixon.

Six years later, it was all over. Nixon disgraced the presidency and became the first to resign from the Oval Office. Gerald Ford made a gallant effort, but his pardon of Nixon was too much to bear for a jaded electorate. The opposing party portrayed him as an extension of Nixon. America wanted change! And, it changed indeed.

We got Jimmy Carter.

The peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, who had served only one term …

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MAMA MIA

If you enjoy musicals and pure entertainment without a heavy plot, be sure to see “Mama Mia,” the movie version of the hit Broadway play. Twas refreshing, for once, to sit through a picture with seeing cars smashing, bullets flying, buildings destroyed, blood gushing and sex oozing.

The story line is simple enough. Raised on a Greek island by a formerly rebellious mom who never disclosed the identity of her father, a bride-to-be locates three men who might be her father and invites them to her wedding.

The draw, of course, is the versatile talents of singing, dancing, acting Meryl Streep who seemingly is incapable of a poor performance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her with another Golden Globe, or even an Oscar for this one.

Twenty-two year-old Amanda Seyfried is delightful as the young bride-to-be, full of life, fun, energy and a voice to go with it. She’s bound to go far in the movie world.

Next best, were the lady buddies of Streep’s character (Mama), played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski…you’ll recognize them when you see them.

Two of the three possible dads were funny, believable and engaging in their roles, though they are …

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