Soccer is a huge global sport (yes, my American friends, it really is). It’s also the favourite sport for Asian gamblers to lose money over, and Europol has highlighted 680 “suspicious” matches so far:
It’s huge news, not because the results are particularly surprising — there’s plenty of other evidence, even recent evidence, that match-fixing is rampant in global soccer — but because the sheer extent of the allegations means that we can no longer delude ourselves about what’s happening. This is what’s happening: Soccer is fucked. Match-fixing is corroding the integrity of the game at every level. It’s not just South African friendlies or Korean league games or Chinese “black whistles”; it’s not even just the occasional Calciopoli-type scandal that you can explain away by saying “well, Italy is Italy.” Operation Veto found suspect World Cup qualifiers, suspect European Championship qualifiers, suspect Champions League games. It found 150 suspect matches at the international level, on multiple continents. It found 380 suspect matches in Europe overall. It found a suspect match involving Liverpool that was played at Anfield, arguably the most celebrated club and stadium in England.
These are tip-of-the-iceberg numbers. The investigation didn’t turn up every instance of match-fixing everywhere; they’re just talking about the possibilities they’ve turned up. Concise evidence of what’s still hidden: Europol revealed that they’d found $11 million in organized-crime profits. Sound a little low to you? Chris Eaton, the former FIFA security director who now runs the International Centre for Sports Security in Qatar, thinks the actual number is maybe a hundred times that high.
So let’s say I told you that a major international law-enforcement agency had uncovered a mountain of evidence that indicates the most popular sport in the world was being manipulated by a criminal ring that was profiting to the tune of — conservatively — millions of dollars. On one level, that’s good news, isn’t it? I mean, it’s terrible that it happened, but now that the police know, things can change! We’ll see arrests! We’ll see books opened! The truth will come to light! At a minimum, FIFA will take strong and immediate steps to make sure this never happens again. Right?
Let me answer that question by referring you to the phrase that I hope will be your primary takeaway from this piece. Soccer. Is. Fucked.
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The invasion of Iraq was treated as the greatest crime against humanity in the history of the world, denounced far more frequently and loudly than any act by Saddam Hussein, Bashir Assad, the Iranian regime, or North Korea.
Giant protests in lots of American cities. Giant protests in every foreign capital. The 2004 Guinness Book of Records described the anti-war movement around the globe as the largest mass protest movement in history — eclipsing any popular opposition to any act of the Soviet Union or any other totalitarian regime around the globe, ever. Among the elites in Paris, Berlin, and most corners of London, the Iraq War was the single-most important issue, and denouncing the evil of George W. Bush was the most important goal, not building a stable and peaceful Iraq. You recall Kofi Annan denouncing it, and the United Nations delegates scoffing when Hugo Chavez called our president the devil.
You recall the cries of “Bushitler,” the ubiquitous Code Pink interrupting every event in Washington, as if some ninny shouting during a press conference ever spurred sudden reversals in U.S. national security policy. You recall Hollywood’s relentless cavalcade of movies demonizing the war and those fighting it: In the Valley of Elah, Stop Loss, Green Zone, Redacted, Grace is Gone, Fahrenheit 9/11.
[. . .]
The Davos set is horrified to learn that after spending the better part of a decade screaming at the top of their lungs that an American intervention to topple a bloodthirsty Arab dictator is the absolute worst thing imaginable, suddenly Americans are no longer interested in toppling bloodthirsty Arab dictators.
(Slap, slap) Wake up, anti-war movement! You’ve got what you wanted! The United States is out of the armed intervention business, besides the occasional “leading from behind” in Libya, or the occasional covert mission in Pakistan.
Jim Geraghty, “The Demonization of the Iraq War Ensures No Syria Intervention”, National Review Online, 2013-02-07
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Japan’s military forces are getting quite a workout these days, with the standoff with China over the Senkaku Islands and now the Russians are getting aggressive about probing Japanese airspace:
Two Russian fighter jets have violated Japanese airspace, prompting Tokyo to scramble its own aircraft, reports say.
Japan lodged a protest after the planes were detected off the northern island of Hokkaido for just over a minute.
The incident happened after Japanese PM Shinzo Abe said he was seeking a solution to a territorial dispute with Russia over a Pacific island chain.
Russia’s military denied the incursion, saying the jets were making routine flights near the disputed islands.
Mr Abe was speaking on the anniversary of an 1855 treaty which Japan says supports its claims to the islands.
The four islands — which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan calls the Northern Territories — are the subject of a 60-year-old dispute.
Because of the dispute, the two nations have not yet signed a peace treaty to end World War II.
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As Andrew Coyne noted in a tweet, “In some countries, this would be big news”. Lee Berthiaume in the Ottawa Citizen on the upheaval at the top of Canada’s defence establishment:
Spring cleaning has come early at the Department of National Defence as the Conservative government announced Wednesday it was sweeping out a number of the military’s top officers — including the head of the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Navy — in a major shuffle.
The moves represent a dramatic change at the top as National Defence faces a major shift in focus from the days of the Afghanistan war and increasing budgets, to a state of deep budget cuts and limited deployments.
[. . .]
In addition to [vice-chief of defence staff, Vice-Admiral Bruce] Donaldson, those leaving include Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison and Canadian Army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin.
Maddison’s deputy, Rear-Admiral Mark Norman, will take over as commander of the navy; Lt.-Gen. Marquis Hainse, who was serving as deputy commander to the NATO headquarters in Naples, Italy, is the new head of the army.
Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, who oversaw all Canadian military missions inside Canada and North America, including the Caribbean, is also on the way out, the apparent casualty of a Defence Department restructuring that started last year.
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Michael Geist reports on a recent lobbying attempt that should be thrown out with contempt if we lived in a just world:
The deadline for comments on Industry Canada’s draft anti-spam regulations passed earlier this week with a group of 13 industry associations — including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada — submitting a lengthy document that, if adopted, would gut much of the law. The groups adopt radical interpretations of the law to argue for massive new loopholes or for the indefinite delay of several provisions. I will focus on some of the submissions shortly, but this post focuses on the return of an issue that was seemingly killed years ago: demands to permit surreptitious surveillance by the copyright owners and other groups for private enforcement purposes.
During the anti-spam law debates in 2009, copyright lobby groups promoted amendments that would have allowed for expansive surveillance of user computers. Coming on the heels of the Sony rootkit scandal, the government ultimately rejected those proposals (the Liberals had plans to propose such amendments but backed down), leaving in place an important provision that requires express consent prior to the installation of computer software.
[. . .]
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other business groups want to ensure that the anti-spam law does not block their ability to secretly install spyware on personal computers for a wide range of purposes. In doing so, these groups are proposing to turn the law upside down by shifting from protecting consumers to protecting businesses. The comment period on the draft regulations may have closed, but it is not too late to tell Industry Minister Christian Paradis or your local Member of Parliament to reject demands that would gut the anti-spam bill and legalize spyware for private enforcement purposes.
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