I have this strong image of Sepp Blatter and Neymar Jr. riding the same paddy wagon on the way to the hoosegow.
I know, I know, innocent until proven, etc. But I cannot control my imagination.
Blatter is being investigated for chicanery within FIFA.
Neymar Jr. is being investigated -- not for diving, but for tax evasion involving his family business.
I picture them in the same van, riding up the river.
(Not sure what river. The Amazon? The Limmat? Never mind, it's an analogy.)
Neymar is antsy, as a first-time offender.
Blatter is stolid, having feared this moment, in his dark 3 AM moments, for many years.
It's like the scene in the classic movie, "The Unforgiven," where the kid is blubbering to Clint that he's never killed anybody before. (Blatter is no Clint, but let it pass.)
"Geez, Mr. Blatter, I never thought it would come to this. I figured, I get away with stuff on the pitch, my family can file what we want on tax forms."
Blatter is silent.
"Plus, Mr. Blatter, we all saw how you guys did it. Millions of dollars to Havelange and his son-in-law. Jack Warner making poor old Nelson Mandela fly all the way to Trinidad to beg for the World Cup. And maybe millions of dollars to Warner for his votes. The FIFA way."
Blatter turns his back, facing the van wall, but Neymar continues.
"Fat Chuckie Blazer in the Trump Tower, two apartments! And you, with the yellow Fair Play banners at every match, getting on TV. You were the role model."
Blatter turns to Neymar and bares his teeth, like Edward G.Robinson or Jimmy Cagney in the last reel.
"Shut up, kid," Blatter growls.
The ride continues up river, silently.
* * *
For the details, please see links from the NY Times:
Juliet Macur's terrific column in the Sunday Times:
The Reuters story on Neymar's tax troubles:
Sam Borden's story on the investigation of Blatter:
Borden's story on another slippery guy, Michel Platini, who double-crossed the U.S. for the 2022 bid:
And for background on FIFA frolics, you might consider my book, "Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer," now out in paperback, with an added chapter on 2014. The dark side would be Blatter and his chums.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.