Red Card


Q: How many FIFA officials does it take to start a bribery investigation?

A: None, because FIFA doesn’t investigate bribery.

OK, I admit it’s a cheap joke at the expense of an easy target, but enough is enough.   Let the plea bargaining begin: who wants to make the best deal possible?


Elsewhere in the world of crime …

Spanish authorities suspect that Basque separatists may have been responsible for the brutal murder recently uncovered when skeletal remains were found in a cavern in northern Spain.  Of course, these would be very, very old Basque separatists:

The victim was likely male and probably in his 20s. The cranium shows evidence of two blows located adjacent to each other just left of center on the forehead.  Both injuries were strong enough to break through the bone and puncture the brain, the researchers said.  The victim was facing his assailant when the violence occurred.  [Investigators] are not sure what weapon was used, but a wooden spear or stone hand ax are likely candidates.  Metal tools were not available at that time … 430,000 years ago.


OK, I admit I fabricated the part about Basque separatists –to make a point or two.  First, how many people in the United States these days actually remember the 11-M Madrid bombings in 2004?  A few, vaguely.  (Americans are probably somewhat more likely to remember the London transit bombings a bit later, but just barely.)  And even fewer people in the Western Hemisphere are likely to remember that in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid attacks, the Spanish government attempted to assign blame for the bombing to ETA, the Basque separatist movement.  Subsequent investigation (more or less) established that Islamist terrorists were instead responsible, but some segments of Spanish society remain unconvinced.  Conspiracy theorists are everywhere these days, and who can blame ’em?  The point is, let’s not rush to judgement:

“We are pretty sure that these two fractures are the result of two blows repeated with the same implement,” Rolf Quam, a paleoanthropologist at Binghamton University, said. “And that implies a clear intent to kill.  One implication of the study is that murder is a very ancient human behavior.”

“We believe that intentional interpersonal violence is a behavior that accompanies humans since at least 430,000 years ago,” said Ignacio Martínez Mendizábal of the University of Alcalá in Madrid.  “We have not changed much in the last half million years.”

Whoa, fellas!  Not so fast!  Counsel for the defense would like to suggest a couple of alternative scenarios that no one seems to be considering here:

  1. Self-defense.  Let’s consider the possibility that the deceased 20-something hominid might have been a violent intruder in the cavernous neighborhood, intent on pillage, rape, mayhem and slaughter.  Would a jury of 12 angry cavemen begrudge a cave-owner the right to defend what’s near and dear to him?  In New Spain they have “stand-your-ground” laws to cover precisely this situation.  Why should Old Spain have been any different?
  2. Natural causes. In the original sense –of paleolithic predator attack. Two deep puncture wounds in the skull would seem to correspond quite closely with what one would expect from (say) a sabre-toothed tiger chomping down on the head of its prey.  And if the rest of the skeleton shows no signs of gnawing, maybe that’s because the tiger was chased away by clansmen of the deceased after the mortal wounds had been inflicted.  Is anyone asserting that these wounds are completely inconsistent with the bite of a humongous tiger?  Why not rule out the possibility instead of ignoring the obvious?  Because “Tiger Bites Caveman” ain’t newsworthy.

So, to sum up:  things aren’t always what we’d like them to seem.  And Sepp Blatter is crispy, crispy toast.



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