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Quoting Miguel Naughton <[log in to unmask]>:

> All this condemnation being dumped on Dan is strange indeed.

Indeed.

As I have often advertised, I have lived in Europe ca. 2 yr.s (and many
more lie down the road).  Mostly in Northern Europe.  Yes, many police
departments feature uzi-toting officers.  This unnerved me, I will admit,
when I first visited Italy.

And yes, there often are riot police at certain types of demonstrations/
strikes.  This, however, is largely in response to a long tradition of
violence accompanying demonstrations (at least certain types).

I even visited a riot in Berlin once, the 2000 edition of the annual May 1st
riot.  They brought in something like 6,000 extra police from all over
Germany to supplement the indigenous police force.  There were
armored personal carriers, armored vans, water cannon tanks, well
armored police (fully-body plastic armor, shields, helmets, etc.), but, as
far as I could see, no guns.  It was fun.  Met a few young women, too.

I was only stopped twice, however, by the German police (in Nuremberg),
both times in the same night, and, amusingly, both times by the same
pair of officers.

The first time I was taking two other Americans from my youth hostel to a
beer garden at a park one night.  But it was closed.  Just as we were
leaving the park, a cop car pulled up, responding to reports of suspicious
activity in the park.  None of us had our passports on us.  But I explained
what we were doing (in German), and the let us on our way.

Later that night we were hanging out at a square.  Some other youth were
hanging around drinking and playing music.  Neighbors must have been
annoyed, b/c the same cops pulled up.  They recognized us, and firmly,
but politely, recommended that we ought to return to the youth hostel (they
must have been suspicious that we showed up at both places, but not
having any evidence of mischief, had to let us go).

Has it helped that I speak German?  Probably.

Obviously others have experiences different from mine.  But I always grew
up believing America was better than other countries.  One of these ways
it was better was the greater liberty of both its citizens and guests.  For
example, we aren't required to carry national identity cards at all times
(which is standard in most other countries around the world).  Or that
police have to have probable cause to stop you.  Or that you're innocent
until proven guilty.

Of course, as I have grown older I have realized, that not all our ideals are
universally practised.  Nonetheless, this country by and large is
improving.  For example, while thousands of Arabs in America have been
detained, mass internments such as those in WWII of Americans of
Japanese descent have not happened.  Unfortunately Al-Qaeda's great
victory thus far has been to cause this country to limit some of its
freedoms.

BTW, such provincial comments as those expressed telling Dan to go
home if he doesn't like it disgust me.  You should be ashamed of
yourselves, those of you who wrote them.  The rest of the world stopped
and grieved with us on 9/12 (with national minutes (and in the case of
Ireland and perhaps a few other countries, a whole day) of mourning,
etc.), and this is how you thank them?

El Scorpion

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