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Country: Europe, DE, Germany

  • Joan Casey - Italy VacationVery good guide for getting from place to place (options for transfers from train station or airport to city also). Recommended some good budget restaurants. The book is about 90% accurate on where to find things and makes good suggestions on what to look at in the first place. Used in conjunction with audio downloads for a grat 2 week trip to Italy in Jan 2013.
  • Rita Sydney - Clearly lays out a bad situationSome recent events: During the Occupy protests a policeman goes down a line of seated, bound demonstrators and methodically pepper sprays them in the face. After the Boston Marathon bombing there are tanks in the street and the entire city is locked down to search for one man.

    How has this become a part of "to serve and protect," the stated mission of many police departments?

    This book takes the reader through the process which in the last 30 years has militarized the police into agents of punishment and terror. It all started with SWATT teams and the drug wars.

    The idea of the SWATT team was developed in L.A. by Daryl Gates during the turbulent 1960's as a way to deal with extreme situations that might involve stand-offs and hostages. The original purpose of the team was lost as they became more popular. By 2005 there were approximately 50,000 to 60,000 SWATT raids in the U.S. that year. Most often they were used to serve warrants for non-violent crimes.

    With no small part played by the media, in 1968 a majority of Americans feared the country was headed towards anarchy although only 28% felt that crime was up in their own community.

    Nixon's cynical fear mongering proved useful to his political purposes; even more useful was to tie all crime to drugs. This focus on drugs in Reagan's years became good vs. evil and those born evil only fit to be controlled and punished. Clinton had to prove the Democrats were not soft on crime and Obama has continued the policies of his predecessors.

    Presidential rhetoric resulted in specific policies that helped turn us-cops into battles with them-criminals.

    In 1988 the Byrne grant program sent billions to police departments as a way for the White House to impose it's crime policy on local law enforcement. It created regional narcotics task forces that drew cops from all agencies within a jurisdiction. There was no oversight or accountability; the task forces became roving bands of drug cops. (In '89 more task forces were formed that coordinated the military with law enforcement; SWATT teams were often trained by active duty military.)

    Clinton's COPS program in 1994 was talked up as providing community policing but there was no definition of what this would look like. Funds were used mostly to militarize.

    The 1033 Program, part of the 1997 Pentagon Bill, was set up to provide military equipment to police departments. There was even a 800 number and a catalog to show what the military could provide. In FY 2011 half a billion dollars of military property was "reutilized" this way. (L.A. county has 4 semi-trailers on standby to beat other police departments to the gear made available.)

    Equipment included M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, night-vision goggles; airplanes and helicopters were offered as well as armored personnel carriers. Even communities between 25 and 50 thousand people would obtain this military equipment in the spirit of macho me-too-ism.

    Drugs were money makers for police departments when forfeiture laws started giving state and local agencies who cooperated with the Feds a cut from the sale of confiscated assets after drug convictions.

    The terror inflicted by SWATT teams has been made possible by the Supreme Court which over 30 years has virtually gutted the protections of the 4th Amendment. Essentially, all SWATT team entries are no-knock and as violent and brutal as the cops like.

    There are many, many "mistakes" -- wrong addresses, misinformation from informants (whose tips are not checked), careless incompetence. When innocent people end up dead in these raids there's no liability for the police even when millions are then paid in wrong-full death cases. Because no records are kept, the extent of the botched deployment of SWATT teams is not known; nor if they are even effective by any measure.

    Experts say that those who want to be on SWATT teams are the very people to keep off because the attitude on many teams is: "Why serve an arrest warrant to some crack dealer with a .38? With full armor, the right s*** and training, you can kick ass and have fun!" As one team member said: "You get to play with a lot of guns. That's what's fun."

    In pursuit of that fun it's open season on peoples' pets. Dogs are wantonly killed even when chained or leashed. Cops will "kill pets while merely questioning about a crime in the area."

    A few police officials won't use SWATT teams. They know that for most drug related arrests it's safer and more effective to not invade buildings. But they are the rare exception.

    The SWATT teams have to justify their existence so they are now routinely used for victimless, non-violent situations: friendly poker games, massage parlors, strip clubs. They are now even part of the enforcement of regulatory laws (Consumer Protection Agency has it's own SWATT team). It's called mission creep but what is does is "it creates violence out of non-violent crimes."

    The author shows how out of control this cops-as-soldiers situation is by describing a drug policy conference at the Hoover Institution moderated in part by Joseph McNamara who as police chief of San Jose, California had the lowest crime rate with the smallest per capita police department in America.

    The information McNamara elicited from participating officials -- mayors, police chiefs, DAs, judges -- showed systems where no one had overall authority or responsibility to require accountability as the community's law enforcers became increasingly militarized and brutal.

    This conference that showed a self-perpetuating system was held in 1997; in the 15 years since then the situation has not improved.

    The author makes clear that he's not anti-cop or anti-SWATT team. He just raises the concern of where this blurring of policing with the military can lead. He worries that the U.S. is perhaps already a "police state writ small" since police officers' power and authority is near complete. (How else describe a recent occurrence in Rochester, New York when 3 youths waiting for a bus to a school event were arrested when they wouldn't dispurse at the command of a cop.)

    The book ends with some suggestions for how to reign in the police but the author is not sanguine that this can happen without people becoming better informed and outraged. He's certainly doing his part in spreading the word.
  • brobox - Wife loves itWe are trying this before buying a complete induction cook top. So far the NuWave has been fantastic. Do check to make sure your cookware will work. If a magnet sticks to the bottom, it will work. Most aluminum cookware will not, but stainless steel and cast iron works fine.

    Unbelievable how fast it cooks and with no heat. That is very important for us living in Florida with a constantly hot kitchen and high A/C bills.