May 27, 2015 archive

Remember Anthrax?

Pentagon accidentally sent live anthrax to as many as nine states, officials say

by Spencer Ackerman

Wednesday 27 May 2015 16.20 EDT

The Pentagon has conceded it accidentally shipped samples of a live bioweapon across nine states and to a US air base in South Korea.

In an extraordinary Wednesday admission, the Pentagon revealed what it called an “inadvertent transfer of samples containing live Bacillus anthracis,” or anthrax, took place at an unspecified time from a US defense department laboratory in Dugway, Utah.

Nine unspecified states received samples of the bioweapon, which can be fatal if untreated. One sample was also sent to Osan air base in Pyeongtaek, about 65km south of Seoul.

The Pentagon is aiding with a Centers for Disease Control investigation, Warren said, and “out of an abundance of caution” stopped additional anthrax shipments from its stockpiles. Such shipments are supposed to involve only inactive or dead bioweapons samples.

Pentagon officials would not say more about when the shipment occurred, who was the official responsible nor how inadvertent it was, given that the shipment appeared from Warren’s account to be part of a bioweapon detection initiative.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that a facility in Georgia exposed staff to anthrax after conducting an experiment into the prospect for mass spectrometry providing “a faster way to detect anthrax compared to conventional methods.”

While it is unclear if the two incidents are related, the CDC placed a moratorium on facilities’ transfers of anthrax while it improved safety procedures.

So who was doing the bribing?

So when I told Richard about the FIFA scandal and why it is such a big deal he thought I was daft, wonkers.

Uhh… ok, I’ve just run out of British synonyms for crazy, but you’ve got to understand that Dad is a Turn Left fan and can hardly be expected to understand that Football is a game you play with your feet.

I’m hardly more advanced in my insularity because I think it’s the most boring game in the world, the exact antithesis of Pro Basketball which is also boring but at least you score every once in a while (like every 2 seconds or so) and is 30 minutes shorter, not counting ‘extra’ time.

But the beautiful game’s charms are not lost on 90% of the world and I do my best to play along which is why I was shocked, shocked I say, to learn there was corruption! in the very highest echelons of what is not only the most popular, but the most profitable sport of all (Quick quiz- what is the most valuable sports franchise?  The New York Yankees?  Wrong.  They’re only the second most valuable, the most valuable is Manchester United.).

Anyway Richard asked- ‘so who was doing the bribing?’ as if there were some larger entity than FIFA enticing them to take action against their own best interests (assuming those interests to be the integrity of the sport and not their own pockets).

Well, I think extortion is a more appropriate term in this case.  There is no one bigger than FIFA, there are a bunch of smaller interests seeking favor and you have to pay to play.

Interestingly enough the indictments offered so far have nothing to do with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, or Quatar’s use of slave labor to construct its venues, or rampant match fixing; nor are they expected to interfere with the election of Sepp Blatter to his 5th term as president.

So here’s a roundup of current developments from Isvestia (or is it Pravda, I always get those two mixed up).

Another Body Blow for FIFA, and for Sepp Blatter

By JERÉ LONGMAN, The New York Times

MAY 27, 2015

Mr. Blatter, 79, is expected to win a fifth term as FIFA’s president on Friday, but he presides over an organization covered in the soot of dishonor. Several FIFA officials were arrested Wednesday morning in Zurich and accused of widespread corruption dating to the 1990s.

Mr. Blatter was not charged. Still he remains wildly unpopular, except among his enablers – corporate sponsors like Coca-Cola, Adidas and Visa, and docile national soccer federations – who have for too long looked the other way as the money and the favors flowed.

As long as Mr. Blatter remains in power, “FIFA will lack credibility and its image will be tarnished, and so it will lack authority,” Michel Platini, who heads UEFA, the European soccer confederation, told the French sports newspaper L’Équipe.

Mr. Blatter has quadrupled FIFA’s revenue and maintained power and support by doling out hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to each of the world’s 209 national soccer federations. Each federation gets one vote for FIFA president. The money paid to them is often loosely accounted for, though, and many suspect it builds the personal wealth of soccer officials as much as it builds soccer fields.

Serious charges have been levied against Mr. Blatter for years. In 2002, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, then FIFA’s secretary general, accused Mr. Blatter of financial mismanagement and wrote that he ran FIFA “like a dictatorship.”

Such caustic words have always bounced off Mr. Blatter like a header off the crossbar. He has never admitted wrongdoing. FIFA’s marketing arm went bankrupt in 2001 after paying millions in bribes, including to Mr. Blatter’s predecessor, João Havelange of Brazil. Mr. Blatter was cleared, but FIFA investigators questioned whether he knew or should have known about the payments.

When public reproach became too stinging, Mr. Blatter created his own celluloid reality. In 2014, FIFA spent $27 million on a hagiographic movie about Mr. Blatter, with Tim Roth starring in this bit of pulp fiction. Recently, he compared himself to a mountain goat, telling a Swiss newspaper: “I cannot be stopped. I just keep going.”

Mr. Blatter’s preferred method is to sweep scandal under a threadbare carpet. When Jack Warner, a FIFA power broker from Trinidad and Tobago, resigned in 2011, accused in a bribery scandal, Mr. Blatter halted any further investigation of Mr. Warner.

FIFA never bothered to interview a referee, Ibrahim Chaibou, who officiated a number of apparently fixed matches before and after the 2010 World Cup. And Mr. Blatter oversaw the release of only a tepid summary of his chief ethics investigator’s report into the much-criticized bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The tournaments were awarded to Russia and Qatar in a process rife with accusations of bribery and vote trading.

Much more to come.


The Breakfast Club (Desperado)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Golden Gate Bridge opens to the public; U.N. Tribunal indicts Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic; the British Navy sinks Nazi Germany’s battleship Bismarck; Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

“If I was to really get at the burr in my saddle, it’s not politics – and this is, I think, probably a horrible analogy – but I look at politicians as, they are doing what inherently they need to do to retain power. Their job is to consolidate power. When you go to the zoo and you see a monkey throwing poop, you go, ‘That’s what monkeys do, what are you gonna do?’ But what I wish the media would do more frequently is say, ‘Bad monkey.'”

Jon Stewart

On This Day In History May 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 27 is the 147th day of the year (148th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 218 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1813, former President Thomas Jefferson writes former President John Adams to let him know that their mutual friend, Dr. Benjamin Rush, has died.

Rush’s passing caused Jefferson to meditate upon the departure of the Revolutionary generation. He wrote, We too must go; and that ere long. I believe we are under half a dozen at present; I mean the signers of the Declaration.

A Rift

Despite their close friendship, Jefferson wrote that he and Adams were often separated by “different conclusions we had drawn from our political reading.” The two maintained their friendship despite their political differences until 1801, the year that Jefferson became president. As Jefferson wrote Mrs. Adams: “I can say with truth that one act of Mr. Adams’s life, and one only, ever gave me a moment’s personal displeasure.” By this, Jefferson was referring to last-minute political appointments made by Adams just before Jefferson succeeded him as president. Jefferson wrote that the appointments “were [selected] from among my most ardent political enemies” who could be counted on to work against his executive authority. Jefferson admitted to “brooding over it for some little time,” and during this period, they ceased writing one another.

A Reconciliation

When Jefferson retired from the presidency in 1809, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration that Adams and Jefferson worked to create, took it upon himself to renew their suspended friendship. He had no success until 1811, when one of Jefferson’s neighbors visited Adams in Massachusetts. The neighbor returned to Virginia with the report that he had heard Adams say, “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him.” In response to these words, Jefferson wrote Dr. Rush: “This is enough for me. I only needed this knowledge to revive towards him all of the affections of the most cordial moments of our lives.” He asked Rush to persuade Adams to renew their correspondence. A letter from Adams was forthcoming, and they continued to write until their deaths.

This reconciliation began a rich correspondence that touched on myriad topics, from reminiscences about their contributions to the young nation’s history, to opinions on current political issues, to matters of philosophy and religion, to issues of aging. Their letters were also lighthearted and filled with affection. Jefferson wrote, “I have compared notes with Mr. Adams on the score of progeny, and find I am ahead of him, and think I am in a fair way to keep so. I have 10 1/2 grandchildren, and 2 3/4 great-grand-children; and these fractions will ere long become units.”

A Lasting Legacy

After fifteen years of resumed friendship, on July 4, 1826, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other. Their deaths occurred — perhaps appropriately — on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Unaware that his friend had died hours earlier, Adams’ last spoken words were “Jefferson still survives.”

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (Crucial Delay)

Mad Men

Who knows what the topic is but on the panel are- Felonius Munk, Mike Yard, and Rashida Jones.



This week’s guests-

Rand Paul should be on just long enough to hit what Charlie Pierce calls the Sanity Limit.  You listen to Rand for about 5 minutes and nod your head and say, ‘that makes sense.’

And then he says something totally insane.

Rand is the epitome of a mixed bag of nuts, but he did something really valuable recently that many people dismissed at the time and still don’t understand or give him credit for, and that is of course his 10 and a half hour mini-filibuster against the USA Free-dumb Act and straight up extension of the Patriot Act.

These people are down on him because his filibuster was short and didn’t look at all like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith (which is in some ways about Jimmy’s psychological disintegration).  What they don’t realize is that it was exactly long enough to delay the business of the Senate so that when it did come up the choice was between the House proposal and nothing.

Fortunately we ended up with nothing since the House Bill is terrible and Obama (who has not sought a last gasp further 90 day authorization as far as we know) and the NSA have been forced to start shutting down the mass spying program.

So yay Rand!  Credit where due.  Now, about the market disciplining bigots.

Rebel Wilson’s web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.