Sunday, June 1, 2014

Last Call For A Qatar-ized Wound To FIFA

The current and growing scandal in the world's most popular sport this time?  Qatar's winning 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting bid got a boost from the outright bribery perpetrated by ex-FIFA official Mohamed bin Hammam, a guy so crooked he was banned from FIFA for -- now get this -- bribery.  Qatari officials have maintained bin Hammam was acting on his own accord.  New documents unearthed by the London Sunday Times says not only did Qatar's World Cup bid committee know what bin Hammam was up to, they're the ones who fronted him the $5 million he used for the bribes in the first place.

Deadspin's Sean Newell:

Bin Hammam, Qatar's top soccer official, was banned from world soccer in 2011 when he was caught trying to bribe his way into the FIFA presidency. The ban was later lifted on appeal, but he was not cleared of the charges. Qatar football has always maintained that he was not a member of the bid committee and was merely a rogue agent who, it turns out, just happened to be very helpful to the bid. The documents the Times received—which includes emails, faxes, bank statements—show a close tie between bin Hammam and the Qatar bid committee.

Following the money trail, it's easy to see how he hoped to gain favor for the 2022 bid.

Buying support across Africa was central to Bin Hammam's strategy because the members of CAF exerted collective influence over how its block of four Exco members should vote. Several of the officials he paid held seats on CAF's ruling executive committee and another nine currently sit on standing committees of the Fifa executive.
Bin Hammam was able to secure votes with "lavish junkets" and straight-up cash. According to the Times at least one of these junkets with money goodie-bags was actually paid for by the Qatar bid. In 2009 bin Hammam hosted three key voters, and 35 other soccer officials in Doha, all on Qatar's dime.

In addition to these junkets, Hammam also made payments totalling up to $200,000 to accounts "controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations" who were key to securing a pro-Qatar vote. Payments were made from 10 slush funds and bin Hammam's daughter's account.

Needless to say, FIFA's got a massive problem on its hands now.  There's already talk of holding a re-vote if the allegations against bin Hammam and Qatar's World Cup bid committee are true, and that's completely beside the point that migrant workers building Qatar's World Cup facilities are dying by the hundreds in construction accidents and heat-related casualties.

Remember, the country Qatar beat out for the 2022 World Cup?

The United States.  Things just got real.

The Cost To Breathe

This week President Obama is expected to announce new EPA rules to regulate coal plants under EPA authority, and it's going to be the next war between Big Energy and those of us with lungs.  The GOP, bought and paid by these interests will stop at nothing to destroy the EPA totally.  But it turns out that the Clean Air Act, which gives the EPA authority over regulating the air we breathe, is actually saving America trillions of dollars -- yes, trillions with a "t" -- in health care expenses.

As a part of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, Congress required the EPA to conduct "periodic, scientifically reviewed studies to assess the benefits and the costs of the Clean Air Act." In other words, Congress wanted to know whether the Act "was worth it." The initial report in what is now a series was released in October 1997. The evaluation provided a detailed retrospective analysis of costs and benefits from the years 1970 to 1990 and showed that the overwhelming benefits obtained from compliance with the Act far outweighed the costs of implementation.

How much?

The EPA concluded that the total monetized health benefits from the Act during the 20-year period ranged between $5.6 and $49.4 trillion. The central estimate for benefits was $22.2 trillion. During that period, the costs to comply with the act were estimated to be approximately $0.5 trillion. Thus the net direct benefits were between $5.1 and $48.9 trillion, with a central estimate of $21.7 trillion. The benefit-cost rations were 43.4:1 for the central estimate and 11:1 and 97.8:1 for the extreme estimates. Who among us has an investment that has performed this well?

The second prospective EPA cost-benefit analysis was released in March 2011. The results of this study reflect the vast improvements in our understanding of the effects of particulate matter on the risk of premature death. These improvements are a direct result of the publication of large epidemiological studies and emphasize the importance of continuing research in this area. In addition the second prospective report adds several endpoints such as changes in visibility due to improved air quality, a better understanding of the relationship between peaks in fine particle concentrations and acute myocardial infarcts, and better mathematical modeling of air quality. Any way one may choose to interpret these data, benefits consistently outweigh costs by very large margins.

The projected benefits are attributed primarily to reductions in the concentrations of ground-level ozone and fine particles. The EPA estimates that in 2020 the Clean Air Act amendments will result in a 17 percent reduction in the direct emissions of small particles, or a reduction from 6,368 to 5,297 tons. While reductions in the emission of these primary particulates are a positive development, the most significant reductions in the total concentration of fine particles are attributed to reducing sulfur dioxide emissions.

Reductions in premature deaths are the most important source of the monetized benefits associated with the Clean Air Act amendments. By the year 2020 the scenario predicted by the amended Act avoids 230,000 premature deaths among adults age 30 and above each year. The model also predicts avoiding the deaths of 280 infants each year. The monetary value of these two causes was set at $1.7 trillion for adults and $2.5 billion for infants. Reductions in the number of cases of bronchitis, asthma, myocardial infarction, and other health effects contribute to the predicted $2 trillion in annual benefits by the end of this decade.

Yeah.  Trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives each year,  Thanks to the government.

Now think about what Republicans want to do to the Clean Air Act and the EPA.

Complain About Everything And Anything

So yesterday we found out that President Obama worked to bring home one of our soldiers, captured as a P.O.W. in Afghanistan for five years.  But because Obama did it, he must be attacked by Republicans.

“Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (Okla.), said in a joint statement.

Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred.

The law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests.

Before the current law was enacted at the end of last year, the conditions were even more stringent. However, the administration and some Democrats had pressed for them to be loosened, in part to give them more flexibility to negotiate for Bergdahl’s release.

A senior administration official, agreeing to speak on the condition of anonymity to explain the timing of the congressional notification, acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.

That's right, Republicans are now lining up to accuse the President of being weak and encouraging more soldiers to be captured, and I guess they're now willing to start treating this as a Constitutional crisis or impeachment proceeding or something.

To recap Republicans care about our troops or something, but EVERYTHING IS ABOUT OBAMA.

But you know what?  The reason President Obama didn't inform Congress is that they would have blocked the deal and prevented Bergdahl's release, like they did in 2012, as Steve M. explains:

In July 2012, Rolling Stone published a story about Bergdahl by Michael Hastings. Hastings noted that negotiations for a prisoner exchange were taking place, but were meeting resistance, particularly from Republicans, who planned to demagogue the issue if the released happened before the November election: 
According to White House sources, Marc Grossman, who replaced Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was given a direct warning by the president's opponents in Congress about trading Bowe for five Taliban prisoners during an election year. "They keep telling me it's going to be Obama's Willie Horton moment," Grossman warned the White House. The threat was as ugly as it was clear: The president's political enemies were prepared to use the release of violent prisoners to paint Obama as a Dukakis-­like appeaser, just as Republicans did to the former Massachusetts governor during the 1988 campaign....

The tensions came to a boil in January, when administration officials went to Capitol Hill to brief a handful of senators on the possibility of a prisoner exchange....

So yeah.   Republicans are going to spend all summer attacking President Obama for this.

Please proceed, gentlemen.
Related Posts with Thumbnails