FIFA election postponed?


It seems unbelievable, but FIFA’s presidential election is scheduled for this Friday, and it hopes to go on with it in spite of the mass arrests of some of its executives on Wednesday. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) wants the election postponed, and from an American’s point of view, it’s hard to see how anything but a postponement could take place. There have been no charges against long-time FIFA President Sepp Blatter (yet), but it seems to be accepted wisdom in the football world that he’s as corrupt as any of his underlings.

Who still supports Mr. Blatter?

Mr Blatter has the support of Africa and Asia – the two big voting blocs needed to win an election. The question is whether, in the next 48 hours, people will be tempted to switch sides to the only challenger, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein.

There will be intense lobbying now among the 209-member associations. There is huge appetite amongst the European nations for change at the top, but whether they can convince the rest of the world remains to be seen.

It’s all very amazing, really. These guys at FIFA and the guys who run the International Olympic Committee keep very lofty company and deal in millions of dollars, and they’re either not very smart about hiding their behavior or they are so bloody arrogant they think they don’t need to.

FIFA? Corrupt? Surely you jest!

Multiple FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland..

As leaders of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get keys and proceeded upstairs to the rooms.


The charges allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to three law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case. The charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, and officials said they targeted members of FIFA’s powerful executive committee, which wields enormous power and does its business largely in secret.

This can’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who follows international football (soccer, to us American plebes). There have been rumors of bribes paid by potential World Cup host countries to members of FIFA for years and years. They became louder when the Cup hosting duties were awarded to Russia for 2018 and especially Qatar for 2022.

The selection of Qatar was widely questioned because of the tiny emirate’s blistering heat, human rights record and lack of history in the sport, along with the close ties of its ruling family to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who is expected to win re-election this week.

Blatter has not yet been charged and may not be. If not, a lot of people in the football world will be disappointed, as he’s been fighting corruption charges for years. One of the reasons for those charges is FIFA’s behavior after it did an internal investigation of the Cup awards for those years.

Last year, FIFA closed its own internal investigation, saying there was no corruption in the World Cup bidding in a 42-page summary of a report by Michael J. Garcia, a former U.S. attorney for Manhattan.

Garcia resigned in protest over FIFA’s refusal to release his full 430-page report, which he filed in September, and he has expressed deep frustration that a nondisclosure agreement bars him from publicizing his own findings.

I don’t know, but if an organization’s chief investigator is angry that his full report has been withheld from public view, my suspicion is that it’s got less-than-complimentary things to say about the people who commissioned the investigation.

Memorial Day, 2015

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Picture from the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Picture from the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation

Timberlake, Lewis G, b. 09/05/1924, d. 08/24/1993, CAPT, CEC, USN, Plot: CT2 G-435, bur. 08/31/1993

Alford, James J, b. 03/16/1928, d. 12/20/1996, US Marine Corps, PFC, Plot: CT3-K300347, bur. 01/23/1997

Thanks, Dad and Uncle Jim.


Weekly washing day

Weekly washing

Saturday is towels and clothing, Sunday is sheets. If I feel ambitious, I do another load of dog rugs and towels. Then she turns her nose up at them for a day or two after they’re put back down in her spot.

The law is an ass

I don’t know whether to fault the judge or the prosecutor for the failure to find guilty a cop who stood on the hood of a car and fired fifteen shots through the windshield at two unarmed black people. Was the judge just willful, or did the prosecutor fail to prove that any of those fifteen shots and the other 34 Officer Brelo fired were the ones which killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams?

[Judge John P.] O’Donnell said he believed Brelo caused some of the fatal wounds — four shots would have killed Russell and seven would have killed Williams — but that other officers must have as well.

O’Donnell said a voluntary manslaughter conviction would require that Brelo’s shots alone were the causes of death or the final wounds tipped the balance between life and death.

O’Donnell spent nearly an hour explaining his decision, even using mannequins marked with gunshot wounds. Brelo could have been convicted of lesser charges, but O’Donnell determined his actions were justified following the chase, which included reports of shots fired from Russell’s car, because officers perceived a threat.

I don’t know the law well enough to say the judge was mistaken in his assertion that to convict Brelo of voluntary manslaughter the prosecution had to prove his shots alone were the causes of death. I do think if that’s true then the law needs to be modified, because it seems to me when a man is acting as part of a group and uses deadly force as do others within the group he should be liable for his actions with the group.

I really find it hard to believe a judge could conclude that standing on the hood of the car and firing point-blank through the windshield after some 100 shots had already been fired at the vehicle and its occupants was justified. How? Why?

I think this cop was just pumped up with adrenaline. I also think the Cleveland Police Department desperately needs to train its personnel better. Jumping on the hood of a car after chasing it for miles is pure bravado, not sensible policing.

Kansas nasty

Ever since Sam Brownback left the Senate to run and become Governor of Kansas, the poor and middle class in that state have been overtaxed and underserved. The latest injury is a law the Kansas legislature wrote and the Governor signed which limits the amount of money welfare recipients (who aren’t getting huge sums from the state anyway) can withdraw using their welfare debit card at an ATM to $25 a pop. This presents several problems for the poor recipient: first, the idiot legislators themselves seem never to have used ATMS, or they’d know the machines don’t distribute money except in $20 increments. No $5 bills are stocked. Second, each usage of the card in the machine generates a fee for the bank that owns it. The more cash is required (know anyone whose rent is $20? I didn’t think so), the more fees are generated, which means less money for the recipient to spend on food and shelter.

The Washington Post posted an article about this law in its Thursday editions online, which caused such a ruckus that the Governor “hastened to assure a reporter” that the law didn’t come from his office. Ah, the newspaper’s editors say, but you signed it. With fanfare.


Now the state’s politicians are being heavily scorned, and they’ve learned that they could lose up to $102M in federal block grant money because

The Social Security Act requires states to ensure that recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, “have adequate access to their cash assistance” and can withdraw money “with minimal fees or charges.”

The Kansas law clearly limits access to benefits, and it would require recipients to pay frequent withdrawal fees, thus violating the rules as stated above. Now the state politicians are running away from the legislation as fast as they can.

One hopes the nasty mean-minded self-righteous jerks amend or reverse the law very soon.

The Ruptured Duck

In this case I mean the airplane, not the lapel pin. Each has its own history. The plane, a B-25 bomber, was about to fly on the Doolittle Raid in 1942. According to its pilot, Ted Lawson, while practicing takeoffs and landings on land there was a minor accident during which the plane’s tail scraped the ground on takeoff. Lawson landed the plane and when he came back to it he discovered someone had scrawled “ruptured duck” on its fuselage. Inspired, he found a crewman who could draw, a Corporal named Roger Lovelace, and got him to paint the famous Ruptured Duck caricature on the nose of the plane. In an odd twist, Lovelace had a minor accident and didn’t fly on the Tokyo raid.

You can see the insignia on the side of the fuselage above the two standing figures behind my right shoulder. This is not Lawson’s plane; that one was ditched in the East China Sea. The Japanese later recovered the nose section and displayed it in Tokyo.

From Events

Where’d you go today?

The Pacific Aviation Museum. Two humongous aircraft hangars full of aircraft, engines, a small theater, a café, dioramas, and the story of Pearl Harbor right in the middle of the harbor on Ford Island. If you saw “Tora! Tora! Tora!” or “Pearl Harbor” you saw the red-and-white control tower which fronts Hangar 37, the building devoted mostly to the events of December 7, 1941. Around the building and about 1/4 mile away is Hangar 79, which houses Korean War and Vietnam War aircraft, including a MiG-15 and a MiG-21, Cobra and Huey helicopters and a DC-3, one of the most-loved airplanes of the 20th century. Officially called the Dakota by the Brits and the Skytrain by the Americans, it acquired the nickname “Gooney Bird” (nobody remembers why) and is still in use in some countries today.

There’s an exhibit in Hangar 79 which runs through July of this year called “National Memories” (.pdf) which is meant to commemorate the friendship between China and the US during World War 2. This is the first American showing; it’s already traveled through Mainland China and Taiwan. One of its exhibits is a Curtiss P-40E Warhawk. These planes were part of Lt. General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers, a squadron of US Army, Navy and Marine pilots who were technically part of the Chinese Air Force. They fought extremely well from 1941-1942 and were credited with 296 kills of Japanese aircraft, all the while losing only 14 pilots.

Here I am in front of the Warhawk:


You, Senator? Really?

Leaving aside the merits of his decision to join an already-overflowing field of candidates for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States in 2016, the problem the US faces which Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina feels he’s best equipped to solve is this: “I’m running because I think the world is falling apart.”

As Charlie Pierce says, this will be “a presidential campaign based almost entirely on existential terror.”

That’s probably right. With Senator Graham, though, it may be as simple as his sense that his friends Joe Lieberman and John McCain ran and now it’s his turn in the barrel. If that’s the case, can Senator Ayotte of New Hampshire be far behind?