A traveler can be virtually anywhere in the world in under 24 hours. This is great for commerce but such mobility comes at a price. Formerly exotic diseases are also just flight away from anywhere in the world. Sooner or later, massive epidemics will make it to large Western population centers and spread. Not a matter of it but when. Fortunately, thus far, the really bad diseases with no vaccines or effective treatment are not all that easily transmitted person-to-person. Eventually it will happen and that is the price we will have to pay for our interconnectedness.
Have you noticed that when it comes to robbery, burglary or theft, the most police do is show up and write a report for insurance companies. It's just too hard to catch the bad guys. So when you call the cops, more than likely, a well-dressed young man wearing a paramilitary uniform will show up at your house. He will ask a few questions, say a few words about how much of a jungle it is out on the streets and give you a number where you can retrieve a report to submit to your insurance company, if you want to make a claim and have your premiums "surcharged"...a new term describing how State Farm makes its money back on any given claim, no matter how many times you have paid on time or never made a claim at all. Then he will hop into the cruiser and go to the next administrative task. Meanwhile your goods are being fenced at a complicit pawnshop in the ghetto or sold directly to other residents in the same 'hood. Some of them become wholesalers and your property may change hands several times. Either way, you ain't seeing your lawnmower again.
The reason your property will not be returned is that catching real criminals is too hard and once caught many of them are released an interminable amount of times before serving any time. While they serve time, they hone their skills so they can more proficiently steal in the future. It is a way of life for criminal. Jail or prison is only one stop along the way. The criminal justice system in most of the western world actively sides with the criminal by making it almost impossible to stop them. You catch a guy breaking into your car, you shoot him or render him insensate with your fists and YOU are going to jail. The choirboy or his equally lovely family will sue your insurance company and make out like the banditry that they represent. You will go to jail for the rest of your life. It's easier that way. Laws do nothing to stop criminal behavior. More often than not, they serve to keep law-abiding citizenry in line. You know, like the old song says, "Step out of line the man come and take you away." Cops are heavily bureaucratized. Just like the rest of our civilization. They know who the criminals are. We all do. But we can't go after them. It's easier to prey on law abiding citizenry, issuing tickets for minor offences, rather than go after the bad guys.
Below follows a brief history of law enforcement in the United States. Notice that it has always fallen upon the citizenry to combat crime. Big Police, just like Big Pharma, is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The City of Boston establishes the first system of law enforcement in the 13 colonies. Called the "night watch," officers served part-time, without pay.
The City of Boston hires the first full-time, paid law enforcement officers in the 13 colonies.
September 24, 1789
The United States Congress creates the first Federal law enforcement officer, the United States Marshal. Thirteen U.S. Marshals were appointed by President George Washington.
October 22, 1791
Sheriff Cornelius Hogeboom of Hudson, New York, was shot as he attempted to serve a writ of ejectment becoming the first known law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Texas creates what was later to become the Texas Rangers, the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in America.
Police departments in Boston and Chicago issue uniforms to their officers.
The City of Boston becomes the first police department to issue pistols to their officers.
April 14, 1865
On the day he was shot by the assassin John Wilkes Booth, President Abraham Lincoln approves the formation of what is now the United States Secret Service.
April 12, 1870
Jacksonville, Florida, Officer William Johnson becomes the first African American police officer to be killed in the line of duty.
November 2, 1870
Thomas J. Smith, of Abilene, Kansas, becomes the first of more than 480 Police Chiefs to die in the line of duty.
April 1, 1878- April 28, 1881
Notorious outlaw Billy the Kid kills six law enforcement officers in New Mexico: Deputy James W. Bell, Sheriff William Brady, Deputy James Carlysle, Deputy George Hindman, Deputy Marshal Robert Olinger and Deputy Robert Beckwith.
October 26, 1881
Legendary Lawman Wyatt Earp, along with his brothers Virgil and Morgan and John Henry "Doc" Holliday, win the Wild West era's most famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
May 6, 1886
Eight Chicago, Illinois Police Officers were mortally wounded during a labor dispute that became known as the Haymarket Riot.: Mathias Degan, John Barrett, Timothy O'Sullivan, Timothy Flavin, Thomas Redden, Nels Hansen, George Miller, and Michael Sheehan.
December 15, 1890
Six officers with the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs are killed attempting to arrest the Sioux Indian leader, Sitting Bull: Sergeant James Little Eagle, Sergeant Charles Shavehead, Private Paul Akicitah, Officer John Armstrong, Officer David Hawkman and Lieutenant Henry Bullhead.
December 16, 1891
City Health Dept. Inspector Marie Owens is appointed to the Chicago Police Department as a police officer assigned to the Detective Bureau, becoming the nation’s earliest-known female sworn law enforcement officer.
The first national police group is formed, the National Chiefs of Police Union, which would later become the International Association of Chiefs of Police. For the first time, police leaders met regularly to share ideas.
Future President Theodore Roosevelt begins his three-year term of Police Commissioner in New York City.
Fingerprinting is first used in the United States by law enforcement.
The Berkeley (CA) Police Department becomes the country's first agency to have all patrol officers using automobiles.
Anna Hart, a jail matron for the Hamilton County (OH) Sheriff's Office, becomes the first female law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
Federal Agent Eliot Ness begins his legendary law enforcement career and is picked to lead a group of agents nicknamed "The Untouchables": Marty Lahart, Sam Seager, Barney Cloonan, Lyle Chapman, Tom Friel, Joe Leeson, Paul Robsky, Mike King and Bill Gardner.
October 3, 1929
Eight Correctional Officers are killed at the Colorado State Penitentiary — the most ever to die in one incident at a correctional institution: Raymond Brown, John Eeles, E G Erwin, J W McClelland, C Walter Rinker, Charles Shepherd, Robert Wiggins and Myron Goodwin.
The single deadliest year in law enforcement history, with 282 officers killed.
January 2, 1932
Six lawmen were killed as they attempted to apprehend two suspects wanted in the murder of Greene County Marshal Mark Noe: Greene County Sheriff Marcell Hendrix, Deputy Ollie Crosswhite, Deputy Wiley Mashburn, Springfield Police Chief Detective Tony Oliver, Detective Sidney Meadows and Officer Charley Houser. This incident became known as the Young Brothers Massacre.
John Dillinger and his gang murdered ten law enforcement officers — more than any other outlaw. They were responsible for the deaths of Officer Howard Wagner, Trooper Eugene Teague, Sheriff Jesse Sarber, Sergeant William Shanley, Patrolman William O'Malley, Patrolman Martin O'Brien, Officer Francis Mulvihill, Chief Franklin Culp, Detective Henry Perrow and Undersheriff Charles Cavanagh.
The last year in United States history in which fewer than 100 police officers were killed in the line of duty. Ninety-eight officers made the ultimate sacrifice in 1949.
November 22, 1963
Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit is shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald assassinates President John F. Kennedy.
Betty Blankenship and Elizabeth Robinson of the Indianapolis (IN) Police Department become the first female police officers in the United States to work as patrol officers on the street. The pair are transferred from administrative assignments after meeting with Chief of Police Winston Churchill and asking to be put on street patrols.
April 6, 1970
Four California Highway Patrolmen, James Pence, Roger Gore, Walt Frago and George Alleyn died in a 4 minute gun battle with two heavily-armed suspects. The Newhall Incident, as it became known, reverberated throughout the law enforcement community and led to major reforms in training procedures, firearms use, and arrest techniques.
Seven Correctional Officers were killed during the riots at the Attica State Prison in upstate New York: William Quinn, Edward Cunningham, John D'Archangelo Jr, Richard Lewis, Carl Valone, Ronald Werner and Harrison Whalen.
Police start wearing soft body armor to protect themselves against handgun assaults.
September 20, 1974
Officer Gail Cobb of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., is shot and killed while attempting to apprehend a robbery suspect. Officer Cobb is the first of 41 African-American female officers to be killed in the line of duty.
February 28, 1993
Four Special Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) were killed attempting to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas: Todd McKeehan, Robert J Williams, Conway LeBleu, and Steven Willis.
September 13, 1994
Public Law 103-322 authorizing American Flag to be flown at half-staff on May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day, was enacted into law.
April 19, 1995
Timothy McVeigh explodes a truck bomb that destroys the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast kills 168 people, including eight Federal law enforcement officers: Agents Cynthia Brown, Paul Broxterman, Paul Ice, Donald Leonard, Mickey Maroney, Kenneth McCullough, Claude Medearis and Alan Whicher.
September 11, 2001
The deadliest day in law enforcement history occurred when 72 officers were killed while responding to the terrorist attacks on America.
The Department of Homeland Security is formed to lead the unified national effort to secure America.
And now we know where we have come from and where we are headed. So next time you get robbed, go ahead and call the police. It can't so much harm, but don't expect that call to do much good either.
As a lapsed Roman Catholic, lapsed for reasons I will not get into here on Good Friday, the election of Francisco as pontiff has energized me spiritually. With all the nihlism in pop culture, the vacuous leaders who provide no leadership that doesn't lead to some sort of financial or electoral reward, Jorge Mario Bergoglio who patterns himself after St. Francis of Assisi, a saint who eschewed material things as a measure of success and took special care of people and animals on the street, is a breath of fresh air.
I have always appreciated High Mass in Latin as a part of living history. I imagine that if time travel were possible, if you visited a Cathedral after Constantine declared Christianity State Religion, you would be able to follow along. That is comforting in a work that changes dramatically each hour at literally the speed of light, as information circled the globe and our brains. But lately, perhaps before the Vatican II watershed or after John Paul, mass, to me, became less of a celebration and more of a wrote exercise that took place while I would have rather been sleeping, relaxing or maybe even knocking back a beer. The same people appear each Sunday, drone on through the same liturgy and fight like hell to get out of the parking lot at the end of the prescribed hour - not a minute more or the building fund will fail after the Bishop takes his cut. Money, politics and Big Religion are very ugly things. We need them, but they tarnish quickly.
Perhaps the Humility of Francisco will be short lived. Sometimes the best intentions burn out too quickly because they fall on rocky ground or get smothered by weeds. You don't need to wash feet. There are so many ways I cannot go into all of them in a thousand pages so I am going to concentrate on two things we can all do - smile more and think before you speak ill of anything unnecessarily. Just remember, as I pledge to do myself, where there area two or three of you gathered in my name, I am there....
Election of a new pope in the Roman Catholic Church is always an exciting, anticipated event. One reason is that so few popes have actually presided over the RCC in the last 2,000 years. Only 263, some say 255 with the same man holding the office during different times - including Francis have held the RCC Crosier (shepherd's staff). Incredibly, all popes trace their lineage back to St. Peter. Jesus was obviously a good judge of the character and nature of a man because while John was called the Beloved Disciple, he named Peter the Rock of the Church. Christ clearly knew how to separate friendship from leadership ability.
Papal history has been a tumltous one throughout the years. That is to be expected in an organization that spans over 2,000 years. Peter, the first pope, was crucified upside down by Roman authorities upon his request as he did not see himself as worthy to be hung upright like the Sanhedrin has Christ executed. That is a far cry from Pope John Paul's esconcement in the popular "Pope Mobile" as a method to protect himself from Soviet puppet Turkish assassins. Over the next two millennia, there were significant successes and failure in the office. At times there were two pope such as the Great Schism from 1378 AD to 1417 AD. Nor were popes hesitant to use military force to enforce orthodoxy as when Pope Innocent III ordered the slaughter of fellow Christians in Bulgaria during the Albaginsian Crusade. The Bogomil's lands material wealth were taken and the people either executed or forced into harsher serfdom. Other pope's sold plenary indulgences to wealthy people to send poor people out to fight in the Holy Land Crusades to die for their sins.
The individual catholic was regarded as a cog in a vast eccelastical machine - never to question anything. Serfs were sold with the land they lived on. They had to follow both Civil and Regligious Law. Woe to the serf that failed to adhere strictly to either one - he or she could easily find themselves at the end of an inquisition that lead to some of the most fiendish methods of execution devised by man. The church maintained an iron grip lock on material wealth, salvation and interpersonal relationships. This was not to last forever, however.
Lest we focus on on the negative, through the actions of popes, the RCC managed to preserve vast amount of and even greater amount of ancient knowledge that was lost in antiquity. Ironically, it was reexamination of this knowledge, coupled with the Black Plague that made the individual important once again. Originally seen as cheap labor for working the fields and fodder in wartime, the implacable economic laws of supply and demand. Now that there were fewer people in the world, they became more valuable. They were paid more, had more freedom and were generally better educated. This led to the Rennissiance and produced and explosion of some of most well know works of art in history. It also led to free thinking political reformers who began to assert the rights of man as something innate and tangible. Then the Big Split came - with Henry the VIII, Martin Luther and Calvin. Much more blood was to be spilled in the "name of Christianity" but eventually different Christian sects managed to flourish and overt state-sponsored religious violence waned. Even when nominallay Christian Nations fought each other in WW I and II, they fought for nationalistic reasons - not religious ones. In modern times, we still see violence between Irish Catholics and Protestants and certain African sects, especially in Uganda. However, these instances are much the exception rather than the rule. Most modern Christian violence involves demonizing different sects so as to poach their membership and funding.
Which leads us to to Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or better known now as Pope Francis. The Modern Pope is more a public relations administrator that a theological dogma apologist. He has to balance the decay of the old world and its institutions like the Vatican Bank's role in money laundering and it needs to expose rotten core participants that sexually prey upon young people.
The RCC and the Papacy exist in no small part because of divine providence willing that it continue. But that is not enough now that people truly have choices and free will. The people will decided to support it or not. As a lapsed catholic, I ask everyone, even athiests, to pray for the success of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis. If he succeds, the world will be a better place for us all.