Posts Tagged ‘Fifa’

Letter From New York 06 02 15 Muddling through…

June 2, 2015

It’s been downright chill in New York City today and I wish I had worn a wool sweater instead of a cotton one. I am heading this evening up to Hudson; Alana, my friend who is the owner of my favorite bistro, The Red Dot, is having a special Japanese meal at the restaurant and asked me if I could be there for it. Hard to say no to such a good friend so I am up tonight and back tomorrow.

When I get to the cottage, I may have to turn on the heat, as it will be chiller there than it is in the city. If I weren’t coming back to the city in the morning, there’d be a Franklin stove fire in my future.

What is not in the future for Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, is more time as head of FIFA. I subscribe to VICE News and its news of the resignation popped up on the upper right corner of my screen while I was on a conference call. The paper trail is moving closer to him in regards to the corruption scandal. His right hand man, Jerome Valcke, apparently was a recipient of a letter that links him to the alleged $10,000,000 bribe for the World Cup to be held in South Africa.

Bruce Jenner has now officially become Caitlyn Jenner, doing so with a splash in a Vanity Fair spread. She gained a million twitter followers more quickly than Obama did when he launched @potus. As someone who remembers her when she was Bruce and the triumphant Olympian, I can only imagine what a journey this has been for her. So public a life, so private a journey.

Last night on the Yangtze River, a river cruise ship named the Eastern Star or Oriental Star, depending on how you translate its Chinese name, was sailing through a storm when high winds struck and the ship capsized. So far, only fourteen people have been found alive of the 456 aboard. One survivor, a cruise director, floated fifty miles downriver before rescue.

There was no distress signal and the first realization of the disaster was when a few survivors reached shore and raised the cry.

Most of the passengers were elderly Chinese on holiday.

The Patriot Act, with some revisions, was resuscitated on the Hill today and will go to President Obama for his signature, which he has pledged to do. I have some mixed feelings about this. I have friends who rant that the Patriot Act has turned us into a police state while others are equally adamant that it is absolutely necessary for protection.

The process has elevated Rand Paul who worked against it and weakened Mitch McConnell, who thought it should be passed without revisions. Somewhere along the line he miscalculated the misgivings of his fellow Senators.

To me, whatever you think of Snowden, he revealed some unsavory aspects to our spying that have left, at least me, uncomfortable.

The situation in Syria is deteriorating. IS has begun to encroach upon Aleppo and non-IS affiliated rebels are accusing Assad of using his air force to support IS against them. Which in the convoluted realities of Syria today might actually be true.

A meeting of anti-IS countries concluded a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry attending by video link. Everyone agreed more needs to be done but didn’t seem to come up with any concrete steps beyond muddling along in the same way they currently are.

Which is what we’re doing, muddling along through one of the great crises of our time.

The EU seems to be muddling along through the Greek crisis, with more meetings scheduled for tomorrow. The EU financial ministers can’t seem to get their arms around the political realities on the ground in Greece.   Greece is living through a Great Depression experience and is desperate, which is why Tsipras was so overwhelmingly elected. He promised to change that and Greece needs some positive changes.

In a startling rewrite to biology books, the endangered smalltooth sawfish, has found away to avoid extinction. They have now seemed to have mastered “virgin births.” Seen occasionally in animals in captivity, it is not entirely unknown but what happens to men when women can experience “virgin births?”

On the train going up north, it has been a frustrating ride. North of where we were, a Metro North train had become disabled and we waited thirty minutes for the track to be cleared. I will probably arrive in time for dessert. But so it goes when you travel the rails, in America.

Letter From New York 05 29 15 Riding up the Hudson, ruminating on the world…

May 30, 2015

It is a stunningly beautiful day as I ride the train north, having slipped out of town early. To my left, the Hudson runs wide with sun glints coming off the silver grey surface of the water. It is sunny and warm, with a soft breeze blowing with low humidity. Saturday will probably be like this though there is rain in the forecast for Sunday with cooler temperatures.

My mood is better today; I feel less weighted by the world and its events. I feel more accepting that there is ONLY so much I can do individually and that as long as I feel I am doing that, I can breathe a little easier.

It is still a crazy world. In my home state of Minnesota, a Muslim couple was picking up their son at the home of one of his friends. While waiting for him in the car, they were approached by a woman with a rifle who forced them out of the car and marched them at gunpoint to the house where they told her their son was so that they could prove it to her.

The boy was there.

The woman is facing charges of assault, terroristic threats, terroristic threats-reckless endangerment and maybe some more.

This kind of occurrence just strikes me as so un-Minnesota like. You know, Minnesota nice, it’s baked into us.

She must have skipped that part of the cultural indoctrination.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is being charged with lying to the FBI about cash withdrawals from banks that allegedly were going to “Individual A.” Apparently, Hastert was paying hush money to a man for inappropriate behavior years ago when he was a schoolteacher and a wrestling coach. Everyone who knows the Former Speaker is shocked as he always was a “stand-up” kind of guy.

He has made no statements but has resigned from his law firm and from the Board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

In reading about this I was reminded that the Speaker of the House is second in succession for the Presidency. The thought of John Boehner being two heartbeats away from the Presidency is sobering, at least to me.

In the midst of probably the worst sports scandal in the last century, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected. While it seems unbelievable to me, he had a lot of support from Africa and South America, enough to propel him back for another term. The aftershocks of this affair will continue for a long time and there may be more arrests.

Cuba has been taken off the list of states that sponsor terrorism, paving the way for the normalization of relations. Visiting Cuba is on my bucket list, has been since I read Hemingway who had a home there.

Dressed in a burka, an IS devotee blew himself up at a mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing four, including himself.

In Pakistan, gunmen hijacked buses and ended in a battle with security forces. Nineteen civilians were killed.

North Korea, widely suspected of the hack attack against Sony Pictures, has something called Bureau 121, a cadre of 6000 hackers devoted to discovering ways to create digital trouble. Apparently, many of them operate out of China, some in the basement of well-reviewed restaurant.

Not a happy thought.

Out in California Michael Jackson’s fantasyland named “Neverland“ is for sale for $100,000,000. But now it’s called Sycamore Valley Ranch. It’s a stunning place for those who have a spare hundred mil.

The rain ravaged states of Texas and Oklahoma are going to be receiving drinking water from the breweries of Anheuser-Busch, which halted production of beer at one plant in Georgia and switched to canning drinking water, which is desperately needed. At least thirty-seven are dead in the two states.

Amazon is planning to create its own private label for a variety of foods. Called Elements, its first products were diapers and baby wipes. It is also opening data centers in Ohio that will employ about a thousand people. Amazon just keeps on growing…

Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road, a dark Internet site for the sale of drugs, was sentenced to life in prison today.

The train is rolling into Hudson and I need to gather my things up and make my way over to my car for the short drive home before dinner at the Dot!

Letter From New York 05 28 15 Things that make me cringe and things that make me smile…

May 28, 2015

I both look forward to the moment in the day when I write my blog and also dread facing the blank digital piece of paper on my screen. Usually, it’s a time to wrap my head around the world and do a bit of sorting out.

Today I am feeling a bit more dread than usual and I’m not sure why. Is it because I have fears about the state of the world today and don’t want to face the news? I’m doing one post a week, at least, on my field, media. I post it on LinkedIn then, too, and it’s been getting some reads.

The media today is filled with the FIFA fallout. Some brands are nervous but no one has cancelled yet while everyone is watching to see what everyone else is going to do.

I wake up in the morning, most days in the city. I have my morning cup of coffee, having cut down from three to one and, with the background of city noises, read from the New York Times and generally take a look at the news on my BBC iPhone app.

Finding out that Boko Haram is using girls they have captured as suicide bombers doesn’t brighten my day – at all. Nor does the plight of women in most countries. Today there was an article on how Tunisian women have endured years of violence, cruelty and rape from the police of that country. The Indian rape problem is well known and well documented and mostly not spoken about there.

Though the Brits have just named the first female Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. Good for them.

There are things in the news that brighten my day. The French have passed a law that rooftops on new buildings must either have a garden or be equipped with solar panels. That makes me smile.

It doesn’t make me smile to know that Putin has declared military deaths a state secret – another step in his plans to keep the lid on Ukraine. Independent researchers using YouTube, Google Street View, Instagram, Twitter and Russia’s version of Facebook, have concluded that the Russians are conducting military moves in the rebellious east. It’s been done by the Atlantic Council, a Washington based research center. It’s all open source data and that’s the kind of thing that makes Vladimir seethe.

Not making me seethe was a glowing report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, on today’s Royal Garden Party for 8000 held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The Queen, accompanied by a bevy of her family, wandered around greeting people, including a 92-year-old survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Queen will visit there when she makes a state trip to Germany. It sounded so British and regal and so comforting and very, very far away from the fighting that is consuming other parts of the world.

500 bodies were exhumed from mass graves in Iraq while IS killed twenty more at the ruins of Palmyra.

Perhaps we should feel better that the Al Qaeda chief in Syria has no plans to attack the West? He has received instructions from Al Qaeda central, wherever that is, not to but if the bombing keeps up, who knows?

What is also fearsome out there in the world is Mother Nature. People are digging out in Texas even as it continues to rain. In India, 1500 have died in the current heat wave and hospitals are being asked to make victims of the heat their priority.

And lest we forget, aid has still not reached some of the remoter parts of Nepal, which is now trying to get back to some normalcy though it will take years. Classes are being held under tarps, with the first weeks devoted to play and talking about the earthquake that ravaged the country. Many schools were destroyed and those standing have been used as shelters. Three million people are homeless in Nepal. The World Food Program has hired 20,000 porters to carry supplies to where the roads have gone.

$423 million was pledged to Nepal but only a little over $9 million has arrived.

In the tech world, Yahoo will have to face a class action lawsuit for spying on people’s emails in order to better target advertising. Google is going deeper into Virtual Reality.

What is not virtually real but actually real is that I need to clear up and go off to a meeting.

It’s a wild world out there. I think a martini is in order.

Letter From New York 05 27 15 FIFA in trouble with Germany “a bordello”

May 27, 2015

It is a warm day in New York City, a day that started cloudy and is ending with sun shining down. In not so very long, I’ll be off to a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen to meet my friend Caroline Ely for a drink. It’s been awhile since we have seen each other and time to catch up.

While drinking my morning coffee, the news was being splashed all over the place that FIFA officials had been arrested early in the morning in Zurich, Switzerland. The Swiss made the arrests in an understated way, giving the men time to dress and gather their belongings and, in at least one case, had the hotel staff hold up a sheet to shield the arrestee from the news people who had started to gather.

It’s another blow to FIFA, an organization that has been dogged by rumors of corruption for years. American officials are seeking the extradition of a number of FIFA officials for having taken over $150,000,000 in bribes, “year after year, tournament after tournament,” according to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

In Texas, hundreds have been ordered to evacuate after at least fifteen people have died in weather related accidents, as storms pounded the state with torrential rains. Oklahoma, too, is suffering from the pounding from Mother Nature, who, my friend and writer, Howard Bloom, has pointed can be a b**tch.

The Republican race for the Presidential nomination has become more crowded now that Rick Santorum, last seen in 2012, has thrown his hat into the ring also. There will be enough of them soon that they can form their own team though I don’t think they will want to as they’ve got some intense competition going on between them. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana set off a storm when he tweeted that Rand Paul was unfit to be Commander in Chief.

I don’t see the two of them cooperating on the field of play.

Jindal is only thinking about joining the Republican fray but it’s likely he will. Rand Paul is already in.

The Vatican has declared that the Irish vote to constitutionalize same sex marriage is a “defeat for humanity.” I feel a little defeated that they feel that way.

The Queen, Elizabeth II of Great Britain, arrived today in great pomp and circumstance to deliver “The Queen’s Speech,” which she has done sixty times during her reign. Before she arrives, the Houses of Parliament have their basement swept by the Queen’s Guard to ensure there is no Guy Fawkes in waiting. He led the Gun Powder Plot in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament.   He has a day named after him in England.

What the Queen said was dictated by what Cameron wants but it gets said with such grand style.

Tony Blair, once Great Britain’s Prime Minister, has been, for the last eight years, the envoy to the Middle East. He will step down next month. He resigned to Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN. He had been working on the behalf of the Quartet [Great Britain, the European Union, the United States and Russia]. Diplomacy gets complicated.

Angela Merkel is the most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes, ruling a country that has now become known as “the bordello of Europe.” Germany legalized prostitution in 2002 and a huge sex trade has built up worth $16 billion a year. There are fancy places for the prostitutes to practice their trade and sex tourists load onto busses and head for Germany. It doesn’t seem to bother Angela much.

Also in Germany, there was an evacuation of part of Cologne today when WWII bombs were found undetonated while working on a construction project. Apparently happens not infrequently. Something like a thousand bombs were defused last year. They are a hazard out in the North Sea where wind farms are being built. Clearing bombs is more than a cottage industry in Germany.

I had coffee with a friend this morning who told me that Germany blew up two “dirty” nuclear bombs during the final days of the war. I had never heard that and when I attempted to research it, I found stories about it, including one that Hitler was a German traitor, actually an Illuminati and he did what he set out to do, break Germany’s back.

There is a lot out there on the Internet and it’s not all true or pretty. Beware.

And now I am going to publish this and head for drinks with my friend Caroline.

Letter From New York 02 17 15 Also with a lighter note…

February 17, 2015

This morning I woke up in Manhattan, in the pied-a-terre that I have here. For a moment, as the alarm was going off, I was sure that I was in my bedroom in the cottage and only slowly realized where I was. It was interesting to have that sense of momentary confusion. The Bose radio at the cottage is ivory; the one in New York is grey. Seeing the grey Bose reminded me where I was.

With bright sun blurting down on the city and with the temperatures in the twenties, it felt positively balmy.

The apartment is on the Upper West Side and my meeting was on the Upper East Side so I jumped in a taxi, being met with one of the most garrulous taxi drivers I have encountered for quite some time. We had a romping conversation about the weather and the newly posted speed limit in the city. You cannot drive faster than 25 miles per hour and only 10, which I didn’t know, at cross walks.

Following my morning meeting, I made my way to one of my favorite places, Café du Soleil, at 104 and Broadway and had French Onion Soup and grilled salmon for lunch, with a good, cold, crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. While eating I chatted with Jeff, who like me, was seated at the bar. When not chatting with him, I read the NY Times on my iPhone.

It was a pleasant ninety minutes. Finishing, I returned to the apartment to do today’s blog and then I am off to drinks with a friend and a screening of a documentary about Pope Francis, the man who will, I am sure, one day be a saint.

As usual, the world is not a pretty place.

In Ukraine, the fragile truce is not holding near Debaltseve, the vital rail hub. Nearly 8000 Ukrainian troops are pinned down there, surrounded by rebels and fighting for their lives. Neither side seems to want to honor the truce in this strategic town.

The US has said that it is not in the interests of anyone to wage a proxy war with Russia in the Ukraine, a sign, perhaps, that this country is considering carefully whether it will supply any arms to Ukraine.

In another side effect of Ukraine, Fifa has awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018. It is now wondering if they made a mistake, given that by 2018, if things continue as they are, Russia will be an international pariah. Not that that will change Russian policies.

Hungary, which has been leaning towards Russia for some time now, was rewarded with a gas contract, showing that it pays off to play nice with Vladimir [Putin].

In Paris, a Jewish journalist, Zvika Klein, walked around for ten hours with a camera. He caught all the anti-Semitic things said or done to him on video. It is disturbing.

The Boko Haram detonated bombs that killed 8 in Nigeria, while attacking Cameroon at the same time. Cameroon responded and claims to have killed 86 of Boko Haram, which, by the way, means “western education is forbidden.”

Having made such a splash with the burning to death of the captured Jordanian pilot, IS has now burned at least 45 to death in a captured town in Iraq.

In a much lighter note, and we know we need lighter notes, Chelsea Handler tweeted a topless photo of herself from Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Not that I wanted to see her topless but evidently she has a penchant for showing skin.

The market is back over 18,000 today as hope rises that some deal will be done with Greece.

And our favorite international bon vivant, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on trial for pimping, has had the prosecutors in the case recommend his acquittal. It is up to the judges. The prosecutors never wanted to move forward in the first place but were overruled by the judges.

Mad Men, our favorite show about that wonderful time, the 1960’s, will be honored by having Don Draper’s suit, fedora and bar cart put on display at the Smithsonian!

As we go into the final episodes, Don Draper’s future looks uncertain. Mine, however, for at least this evening, is rock solid. I am off to drinks and a screening.