Source Notes For “The Rise And Fall Of Chuck Blazer, The Man Who Built — And Bilked — American Soccer”

Here is the source material for the profile of Chuck Blazer, the man who transformed American soccer while pocketing millions of dollars.

This post provides documentation for facts in the article on soccer executive Chuck Blazer.

The story is based on public documents; court records; historical press clippings; blogs and other social media; biographies, histories and monographs on soccer; and interviews with more than three-dozen people from the world of sports or from other aspects of Blazer’s life. Many other individuals were contacted for the story but declined to participate or did not return calls. A small number of sources requested anonymity out of concern that their comments or recollections could damage their careers.

Some American soccer officials who worked with Blazer over the past several decades declined or did not respond to requests for comment, including Alan Rothenberg, former president of the U.S. Soccer Federation and ex-president of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Hank Steinbrecher, former general secretary of the USSF. Jack Warner, longtime president of CONCACF and for many years widely viewed as Blazer’s closest ally, commented only to deny all allegations against him. Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, who remains in close contact with Blazer, would not comment for the record.

Source Notes

In the middle of 1989, suburban soccer dad Chuck Blazer had just lost his job, had no income, and was struggling with debtDeposition in White Plains, N.Y., July 24, 1989.

He’d never actually played the game — Interviews with numerous current and former soccer officials including Kevin Payne, Doug Logan and Hugo Bandi.

Multiple professional leagues had flopped — Numerous histories of soccer in America detail the financial struggles and ultimate disappearances of professional leagues prior to Major League Soccer.

TV networks couldn’t even figure out how to fit commercials into the 90-minute, timeout-free games — Broadcaster ABC interrupted North American Soccer League games with commercials during play, often missing goals. Games were also interrupted with interviews.

The U.S national team hadn’t qualified for a World Cup in nearly 40 years — The U.S. played in the 1950 tournament in Brazil. It did not qualify again until the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

He helped win Major League Soccer’s first real TV contractNumerous press accounts.

Last month the MLS inked a $720 million TV dealNumerous press accounts.

Ranked higher than powers such as France and the NetherlandsFIFA rankings as of June 5, 2014.

More people in America are playing soccer than any team sport save basketball — United States Census survey of sports participation, published 2012.

He helped organize the Gold Cup, the Confederations Cup, and the Club World Cup — Interviews with soccer officials including Kevin Payne, Doug Logan, Jeff L’Hote, Richard Motzkin and many others, as well as press accounts.

The first American in almost half a century on the executive committee of FIFA — United States Soccer Federation archives; FIFA records.

Persuading it to take control of its own television rights, turning the money-losing organization into a profit machinePress reports.

He has raked in more than $21 million from the sport, much of it paid to offshore shell companies — The CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation, released April 18, 2013, extensively details Blazer’s finances at the organization, including his total compensation and use of offshore companies.

Flew around the world in the first class cabin –CONCACAF annual 990 tax filings, 2007-2011; filed retroactively, Dec. 2012. Blazer’s flying habits were also described in interviews with several former CONCACAF employees, including Jill Fracisco, Mel Brennan and others, who called his plane trips “Air FIFA.”

Lived in an $18,000-a-month apartment high above the glitziest stretch of New York’s Fifth Avenue, and relaxed in a luxury condo in the Bahamas — CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation, detailed the confederation’s payments toward Blazer’s living expenses. Blazer’s apartment is on the same block as the Tiffany & Co. flagship store.

He palled around with the globe’s glamorous and powerful — Personal accounts and photographs contained on Blazer’s personal blog and his online photo library.

It entitled him to 10% — under his unilateral interpretation — of just about every penny the organization brought in — Signed copy of Blazer’s original CONCACAF contract, detailing terms. The CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation found he laid claim to 10% of revenue that did not appear to fall under the terms of the contract.

Ultimately would be called a swindler by the very organization that he led for 21 yearsCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

An unforgettable nickname: Mr. Ten PercentPress reports.

FIFA said it was suspending its own investigation into Blazer’s activities — FIFA news release, Aug. 2, 2013.

“I’m perfectly satisfied that I did an excellent job” — Blazer quoted in May 2012.

Blazer has maintained repeatedly he was entitled to everything he got under the terms of his contract, and that CONCACAF still owes him millions of dollars — The CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation found that Blazer believed he was “entitled to the compensation he received” and that “he believes he is entitled to” $7 million more.

“Chuck is one of the most important people in the history of soccer in this country”Press account of remarks by MLS Commissioner Don Garber at a 2006 MLS gala reception in which Blazer received the commissioner’s award.

Every member nation is granted exactly one voteFIFA Statutes.

Soccer from Panama City to the Arctic Circle, including the U.S., is overseen by CONCACAFCONCACAF was founded in 1961 with nine original member nations. It now has 41, 35 of which are also FIFA members.

Brought the unemployed Blazer in November 1989 to Port of Spain — Interview with soccer executive Kevin Payne; detailed account of the trip in Jack Warner’s biography, Upwards Through the Night: The Biography of Austin Jack Warner, by Valentino Singh; Lexicon Trinidad Limited (1998).

A legendary Paul Caliguiri goal known as the Shot Heard Round the World — The looping 35 year old goal ensured a 1-0 victory for the U.S. team and its first World Cup appearance since 1950. Trinidad was eliminated.

The two first met in 1984 — This and other details of the November 1989 meeting, including quotes, are taken from Upwards Through the Night as well as interviews with Kevin Payne and Lasana Liburd, who were in in Trinidad for the soccer match.

Would come to call the diminutive former schoolteacher his “best friend” — As quoted in Upwards Through the Night.

Warner won with three times as many votes as the incumbent — The final vote, not including abstentions, was 18-6, according to Upwards Through the Night. It also details Warner’s appointing Blazer: “I went to the USA and told Chuck Blazer, one of the top international businessmen in that country, that I wanted him to be my General Secretary.”

Unlike his predecessors, who focused on organizing rinky-dink tournaments — Prior to Blazer’s time at CONCACAF, the confederation had far fewer tournaments, mostly focused around World Cup qualifying. The U.S. rarely participated.

On July 31, 1990, he signed the contract that would guide the rest of his career — Date of signing and subsequent details of contract terms taken from signed copy of CONCACAF retainer agreement with Sportvertising.

A seven-month old New York Company he founded and controlled with the unlikely name of Sportvertising — New York state corporation records.

Brought in scarcely $140,000 a yearnumerous press accounts.

Who Called Blazer “one of the top international businessmen” in the U.S.Upwards Through the Night.

Warner, in remarks last year, recalled that Blazer’s wife initially paid CONCACAF’s rent — Warner mentioned the rent in a public response to CONCACAF’s investigation last year.

He grew up working behind the counter at his family’s stationery store and newsstand, Blazer’s, in Rego Park — Interviews with numerous classmates, including Sherwood “Woody” Salvan; Murray Vale; Phyllis (Fuhrman) Lerner, and Amy Zakheim. Additional information from Michael Perlman, chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council.

He went to Forest Hills High School — This and subsequent information about Blazer’s school activities obtained from a copy of 1961 Forest Hills High School yearbook as well as interviews with contemporaries.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were Forest Hills grads — Info on FHHS alumni taken from various biographical references and press clippings.

Married his high school sweetheart — Interviews with numerous high school contemporaries; Susan Blazer, née Aufox, declined comment.

Two brothers from Philadelphia helped create a national crazePress accounts; interview with Bernard Spain.

Blazer ran a button factory in Queens owned by his father-in-law — Interviews with Sherwood Salvan, Marvin Lieberman, Bernard Spain, Robert Slater, and Peter Grit.

Turned to selling other promotional and marketing items — According to interviews with Lieberman, Spain, Slater, Grit and Fred Singer, Blazer spent at least 15 years in what’s known as the “premiums” business, selling and distributing marketing and promotional items, including to corporate clients, cruise operators and other businesses.

In 1976, Blazer’s son, Jason, started playing youth soccer — Press clippings, including this profile.

Scarcely 100,000 children were even playing the game in America — From a survey of youth soccer participation, “Youth Soccer in the United States,” published in the Gamma Theta Upsilon Geographical Bulletin, May 1994.

The New York Cosmos had just paid Brazilian megastar Pelé millions of dollars — Numerous accounts of the NASL, including the documentary “Once in a Lifetime.”

Blazer began coaching his son’s team, with his flexible sales work giving him plenty of free time to get deeply involved in the sport — Press reports and interviews, including with Fred Singer.

Blazer soon moved up the ranks of Youth Soccer of New Rochelle — Various biographical capsules.

Perhaps the first time Blazer leveraged soccer to his financial advantage came in 1981 — Information on Blazer’s consulting, loan and subsequent lawsuit come from interviews with Fred Singer and the court record from the lawsuit, filed in Westchester Supreme Court in 1984.

Would huddle over Blazer’s imposing IBM 5120 — Interviews with Fred Singer; info on IBM, including the price of the computer, from various sources.

Singer drew up the papers and transferred $27,332.40 to Blazer’s company — A copy of the promissory note is in the court record.

In 1984, the United States Soccer Federation — Information on 1984 elections and Blazer’s campaign culled from numerous press reports, books (cited below) and interviews with soccer executives including Doug Logan and Kevin Payne.

The body had no revenue strategy, almost no money — Press coverage.

A tournament he was organizing — The U.S. beat El Salvador 3-1 on Oct. 9, 1984 and Colombia 1-0 on Oct. 11 before a combined audience of 53,000 people.

Between 1981 and 1983, the team played only two matches — The national team played a total of 56 matches in the 1980s; that increased to 199 matches in the 1990s.

Blazer played a central role in deciding to bid to host the 1994 World Cup — Lists of Blazer’s successes while at the USSF from various press reports.

But perhaps most important, Blazer’s position required him to sit on the board of CONCACAF, where he would meet Warner — Press reports and Upwards Through The Night, which details the first meeting of Blazer and Warner at a CONCACAF Congress in Tobago, the country’s smaller island.

Blazer’s tenure at the USSF ended quicklyPress accounts of Blazer’s defeat as well as an interview with Hank Des Bordes.

He co-founded the American Soccer League — Blazer launched the league with Clive Toye, former General Manager of the New York Cosmos. Accounts of founding of league and its finances from Blazer’s blog, and numerous contemporary press accounts.

Five teams plunked down the $10,000 startup fee — Press reports.

The ASL had imposed a salary cap limiting each team to $50,000 — Press reports.

He initially paid himself $48,000 a year — Blazer discussed his compensation at the ASL, as well as pay and benefits at the Miami Sharks in his July 1989 deposition in the loan dispute with Fred Singer.

This one was called New Markets International — Blazer discussed his use of a shell corporation or DBA to receive compensation as commissioner of the ASL and president of the Miami Sharks in his 1989 deposition.

The ASL began play in April 1998 — On April 8, 1988, the New Jersey Eagles played Miami Sharks, in the first ever game of the short-lived league.

Blazer quit under pressure from owners — Blazer’s departure as ASL commissioner and subsequent arrival as president of the Miami Sharks is detailed in various press accounts.

Blazer paid himself $72,000July 1989 deposition.

He hired away the coach of a rival team and made wholesale roster changesPress coverage of the Sharks.

CONCACAF took offices on the 17th floor of the Trump Tower — CONCACAF’s initial New York headquarters were in a small office in a building at 715 5th Avenue, across the street from the Trump Tower, but the confederation soon found space in the luxury building. A detailed account, with Blazer’s comments, is in Upwards Through the Night.

He devised a new regional competition — There are numerous accounts of the history of the Gold Cup, including a Q&A with Blazer and press reports.

CONCACAF brought in just over $1 millionCONCACAF Integrity Report of Investigation.

CONCACAF had $60 million in revenue on just $31 million in expensesCONCACAF annual tax filings.

Between 1991 and 1995, he took in more than $1 millionCONCACAF Integrity Report of Investigation.

The next day, July 18, 1994, he and Warner signed a new one with nearly the same terms — Details of Blazer’s second contract and the Sportvertising entity in the Cayman Islands from the CONCACAF Integrity Report of Investigation.

More than two-dozen state and federal tax liens — Based on liens registered in New York state against Blazer and numerous entities he controlled, including CONCACAF and the New York corporation En Passant Ltd.

He admitted in a deposition to not having filed personal income taxes for at least three consecutive yearsJuly 1989 deposition.

The IRS revoked CONCACAF’s status as a tax-exempt organization — Internal Revenue Service records.

Created multiple layers of holding companiesCONCACAF Integrity Report of Investigation as well as numerous public records. A partial list of Blazer controlled DBAs includes En Passant Ltd, En Passant Inc., Windmill Productions, Sandcastle Distributors, Sunset Lighthouse Ltd., Fornacis Ltd., Geminorum Ltd, Blazer Entertainment, Sports & Talent Management Inc., Blazer Entertainment, Sports & Technology Inc., and Multisport Games Development.

The confederation’s controller, who had no formal training in accountingCONCACAF Integrity Report of Investigation.

Between 1991 and 2011, when he left the confederation, Blazer made nearly $22 millionCONCACAF Integrity Report of Investigation.

His take of the pot was nearly twice the compensation of all other CONCACAF employees and directorsCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation and CONCACAF 990 tax filings indicate that Blazer made roughly $5 million in 2011, while all other salaries and compensation at CONCACAF were scarcely $3 million.

His pay was brought up only three times before CONCACAF’s executive committeeCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

After his second contract expired in 1998, Blazer never signed anotherCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

FIFA Gave $3 million to CONCACAF to build a TV studioCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

He was named to FIFA’s executive committeePress reports.

He traveled to the Kazan Kremlin to meet with the president of Tatarstan — From Blazer’s personal blog and from a Tatarstan government press release.

In 2008 he attended the Republican National Convention as a friend and family guest of Sen. John McCain — Blazer’s personal blog.

Blazer traveled to the Kremlin for a personal visit with Vladimir Putin — Blazer’s personal blog.

He said he chose Russia — Blazer spoke to the press following the vote, explaining his decision.

His social circle included showbiz figures such as Law & Order creator Dick Wolf and TV sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer — Information on Blazer’s friends comes from interviews with numerous former CONCACAF employees, including Jill Fracisco and Mel Brenna, as well as several others whom requested anonymity because they still work in the soccer industry; photos of Blazer with Westheimer and Elaine Kaufman on Blazer’s blog.

He once took 40 people to dine at Spago — Interviews with Jill Fracisco and two former CONCACAF employees who requested anonymity.

Blazer had CONCACAF pick up not only his work expenses but many personal ones as well — Information on Blazer’s handling of expenses is detailed extensively in the CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Blazer has lived in three different apartments in the Trump TowerCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Much of which CONCACAF covered — CONCACAF paid $6,000 of Blazer’s monthly rent as a business expense, and the remaining $12,000 was deducted from fees owed to Blazer. CONCACAF checks were made out directly to the landlord and signed by Blazer.

In 2011 alone, he received $259,000 in “personal residence expenses”CONCACAF 990 tax returns.

CONCACAF also bought, for Blazer’s personal use, a $48,500 Hummer SUVCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Would deduct personal expensesCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

CONCACAF remitted at least $1.4 million toward the purchase of a time share — Information on the Bahamas apartment — including Blazer’s accounting decisions and his use of an offshore holding company — is detailed in the CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

The confederation also paid $810,000 for adjoining South Beach apartments — Details of the Miami apartments are found in the CONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

He at times used for companions to accompany him when traveledCONCACAF 990 tax filings; interviews with former CONCACAF as cited above.

In 1995, Blazer’s wife, Susan, filed for divorce — New York Supreme Court records.

He frequently has been photographed with Miss Universe contestants — As detailed extensively on Blazer’s blog.

Actress and author named Mary Lynn Blanks — Her TV career is detailed on Blazer uploaded some of her commercials to Blanks appears many times as a travel companion times on Blazer’s blog, and a prior blog he maintained; in addition, interviews with numerous soccer officials, including former CONCACAF employees Jill Fracisco and Mel Brennan, as well as others that requested anonymity, confirm them having a long term romantic relationship.

Was given office space in the CONCACAF headquarters free of charge — Interviews with Jill Fracisco, Mel Brennan and two other former CONCACAF employees who requested anonymity.

CONCACAF employed Blazer’s son, Jason, a physical therapist, as director of its medical department — Jason Blazer lists his CONCACAF employment on his LinkedIn page; his pay is detailed in CONCACAF’s 990 tax filings.

Blazer’s daughter, Marci, an attorney, served on FIFA’s legal committeeList of FIFA committees, 2002-2006.

One check, to IndyMac Bank in the amount of $1,827.70CONCACAF check made out directly to bank.

In 2000, worldwide TV rights to the World Cup were owned by a German company, Kirch Media — Press accounts, and this press release.

Using a DBA called MultiSport Games Development Inc. — Blazer created Multisport in 1999 and registered it at his home address. In 2000, he formed Global Interactive Gaming along with Kirch Media. It licensed the betting technology.

CONCACAF commissions were paid directly to MultiSportExamples of such checks are here.

Blazer also raised at least $1.5 millionFederal court records show an investment by Mexican businessman Alejandro Burillo. He did not respond to requests for comment.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter addressed Blazer’s ventureA news report in the UK press followed journalist Andrew Jennings’ disclosure of the venture.

Kirch declared bankruptcy — News reports.

Blazer advised FIFA to manage its television rights in-house — Numerous press reports.

In 2010, Blazer was named chairman of FIFA’s Marketing and TV committeePress reports.

He persuaded the FIFA ExCo to block an agreement to sell NBC the U.S. rights — Numerous press accounts of Blazer’s maneuvering to secure a TV deal for the MLS.

Had actually been paying ESPN to show its matches — Press reports.

The MLS signed eight-year deals with ESPN, Fox Sports, and UnivisionPress accounts.

Allegedly engineered the sale of 60% more ticket than there were seats — Numerous accounts in Trinidadian press; a fuller account is also in Upwards Through the Night.

Almost 35,000 people managed to squeeze into a stadium built to hold 28,500Upwards Through the Night and press reports.

Warner was also accused of making upward of $1.3 million — Numerous reports in UK and Trinidad press, particularly by journalist Andrew Jennings.

Allegedly appropriated nearly $200,000 donated to aid HaitiNumerous press accounts describe as much as 440,000 British pounds being sent to Haiti; at least $250,000 was wired through the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation, controlled by Warner, but Haiti’s soccer federation reported receiving only $60,000 of that.

He called the 1989 ticket scandal “a lot of noise and press”Blazer interview with Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.

Chalked it up to changes in ticketing policies, saying, “it sounds worse than it was”Blazer interview with Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.

He complained that while Australia had given him a pricey gift bagAccounts in UK press.

Blazer reversed an earlier plan to acquire adjacent condos for him and WarnerCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

On May 24, 2011, Blazer informed FIFA of an alleged attempt by Warner — There are many accounts of the bribery investigation, and the non-profit site History Commons provides a timeline.

A secret videotape — The video of Warner’s speech is available here, along with a transcript.

Resigned his positions at FIFA and CONCACAF — FIFA release; press reports.

The Court for Arbitration of Sport ultimately annulled that ban — Full ruling, dated July 19, 2012, found here.

Who would collect nearly $5 million from CONCACAF that yearCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Blazer learned that CONCACAF’s new leadership planned to terminate himCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Announcing that he would resign from CONCACAF that December — Numerous press reports; quote from interview with Inside World Football.

He instructed CONCACAF’s Florida bank to pay $1.4 millionCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

He continued to access his office at the confederation until the following AprilCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Warner unleashed his own allegations — Warner spoke to the BBC and other outlets, making a number of accusations.

CONCACAF appointed a retired U.S. federal judgeCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Contacted by investigators, Blazer said the confederation owed him $7 millionCONCACAF Integrity Committee Report of Investigation.

Blazer announced he would not seek reelection — Press accounts.

Initially said he would usher in new transparency by disclosing his FIFA compensation — Gulati told the Associated Press in April 2013 that he would reveal his pay.

FIFA suspended Blazer for various breaches of its code of ethics — Press reports.

Congratulate his Russian friend Valery GergievMost recent entry in Blazer’s blog, dated Feb. 9, 2014.

Gergiev, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, is close to Putin and has publicly sided with the administration’s stances on homosexuality and Pussy RiotPress accounts.

Blazer underwent surgery for an undisclosed illness — Brief telephone conversation with Blazer, who declined further comment and subsequently did not respond to phone messages, emails and a couriered letter.

On a February evening in 1986 — Details of the Collin Fowles’ death in press reports. Numerous outlets, and particularly the South Florida Sun Sentinel, covered the game extensively. Blazer’s decision to charge the 10% fee was the subject of an editorial. “We’re not trying to take money away from anybody,” Blazer told the paper. “But the rule does not provide for exceptions.”

Partial list of books consulted

Singh, Valentino. Upwards Through the Night: The Biography of Austin Jack Warner. Lexicon Trinidad Limited, 1988.

Jennings, Andew. Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organized Crime Family. Transparency Books, 2014.

Jennings, Andrew. Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals. HarperSport, 2006.

Hopkins, Gary. Star-Spangled Soccer: the Selling, Marketing and Management of Soccer in the USA. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Read more:

Daily Kos editor, Marcotte defend scoring points on backs of the dead!/CuffyMeh/status/226347759245094912

Predictably, some on the Left are grossly trying to score political points on the backs of the dead after the tragedy in Aurora, Colo. Daily Kos editor David Waldman goes one revolting step further and says it’s totally cool to do so.

@livjackson94 There's a difference, but they're of a piece. You can't actually change public policy without scoring political points.

— David Waldman (@KagroX) July 20, 2012

To say the issue is non-political is to throw your hands up and refuse to self-govern. You're welcome to do that, though.

— David Waldman (@KagroX) July 20, 2012

Bottom line is that policy decisions are driven by scoring political points. Messy business, but you don't HAVE to self-govern.

— David Waldman (@KagroX) July 20, 2012

Oh, it’s just a little bit messy! Dancing on graves can be that way. Beyond reprehensible. This isn’t just spiking the football; it’s spiking the football in a cemetery at the expense of lives lost. What’s a little moral bankruptcy when there is a tragedy to exploit, huh, lefties?

Fired John Edwards blogger Amanda Marcotte also jumps aboard the bilious train.

Responding to a shooting with calls for gun control is "politicizing" in the same way demanding for dams in response to floods is.

— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) July 20, 2012

Gun control supporters get accused of "politicizing". But politics is how we deal with social problems. Stop acting like it's entertainment.

— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) July 20, 2012


When you’ve lost Keith Olbermann …

@KeithOlbermann Tomorrow, too.

— David Waldman (@KagroX) July 20, 2012

@KeithOlbermann STFU sounds pretty mournful.

— David Waldman (@KagroX) July 20, 2012

@TheScathed What exactly was it that was so unacceptable, though? Can you tell me that so I can stop, at least?

— David Waldman (@KagroX) July 20, 2012

You're done here RT @KagroX @KeithOlbermann Let's say this: no penis-waving today. Maybe we pocket things like "STFU."

— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) July 20, 2012

Of course, Keith Olbermann is only upset that Mr. Waldman exposed the truth about the Left. This is what they do; never let a tragedy go to waste.

The mentally unstable and morally bankrupt chime in.

@KagroX But there's also a certain self-righteousness that comes with a tragedy. "There's only one way to mourn. SHUT UP IF YOU DON'T AGREE"

— Saladinho (@_Saladinho_) July 20, 2012

@KeithOlbermann @KagroX The Limbaugh fire finally erupts in an actual theater and we should silence the outrage? NOT THIS TIME.

— sharon stillson (@stillonline) July 20, 2012

Many others like that disgraceful Twitter user have also tried to score points against Rush Limbaugh using the tragic loss of life. Contemptible.

All about them and their agenda, you see. Look, ghouls: People died. Loves ones were lost, forever. People are in pain, devastated with grief.

Those with souls, and functioning brains, respond.

David Waldman is making a passionate case for why no one takes him seriously or does anything he wants.

— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) July 20, 2012

David Waldman is better known as @KagroX, BTW, because HE'S JUST THAT REVOLUTIONARY.

— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) July 20, 2012

We also see Amanda Marcotte advocating banning pepper-spray cannisters (she calls it "tear gas"). Probably didn't think it through.

— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) July 20, 2012

@carlaaxt Actually, I'm saying I don't know, you don't know, and @AmandaMarcotte doesn't know. I only saw the drivel she wrote.

— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) July 20, 2012

@carlaaxt Unfortunately, you guys just can't resist… @AmandaMarcotte

— Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel) July 20, 2012

@KeithOlbermann @kagrox Yes, for gosh sakes! Give it a day already.

— Douglas Scott Potter (@dspov) July 20, 2012

They can’t. That’s what happens when one has no moral compass.

Lefties trying to score cheap political points off the Colorado tragedy are one step away from no longer casting a reflection in mirrors.

— John Hayward (@Doc_0) July 20, 2012

Update: Geraldo Rivera also ghoulishly defends politicizing tragedy on the backs of the dead while pushing for gun control.

Don't understand calls not to 'politicize' Aurora mass murder. Isn't politics representative government responding to people's concerns?

— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 20, 2012

Gun lobby uses the 'don't politicize' line to distract concern about the crazy availability of heavy weapons.

— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) July 20, 2012

Read more:

Stock trades made on mobile phones more than double

“Ease and comfort to use is what the consumer is looking for and given factors such as time-sensitivity of the market, apps are going to play a critical role in the trading business,” said Mr.Parikh.L

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The Messy Media Ethics Behind The Sony Hacks

The gray area where the leaked information resides — between public and private, prurient and illuminating — might not be the exception, but the new normal.

Sony / Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

In the past few days, I’ve seen the email addresses of dozens of stars. I’ve seen the Amazon order histories of executives. I’ve seen the carefully laid-out breast-feeding diet of a senior VP. I’ve seen the ebullience and joy with which a famous director and the head of Sony talk about the future of filmmaking. It’s inarguably juicy, but what fascinated me more were all the documents over which my media studies colleagues — a group of which I was, until leaving for BuzzFeed, an active member — would salivate.

I saw memos that could alter global film market research, I read interactions between stars and producers, and about stars and their value, that could challenge or substantiate the claims of my own dissertation, with its focus on the history of the gossip industry. Thousands of documents, as yet unexplored and unreported. Where others see the potential scandal, I see scholarship.

But even as I sift through the latest release of hacked information, the overarching questions remain: What differentiates the leak and publication of private documents of a privately held company from the publication of the Jennifer Lawrence nude photos? Are reporters simply working as tools in a possible North Korean cyberwar? Or are journalists fulfilling their democratic role of disseminating information that serves the public interest?

This sort of hack is wholly unprecedented. Other massive, global companies have been hacked, but none so extensively (the hackers claim to have over 100 terabytes of information) and none with the visibility — and explicit connection to our everyday lives, in the form of television, movies, and music — of Sony. The entire business world is fueled by secrecy, but the sort of secrecy kept behind Hollywood’s closed doors, notorious for its power plays, publicist machinations, and bloated egos — that’s sexy.

These leaks are fascinating to academics, certainly, who must balance the hunger for an inside understanding of an industry which, over the last 50 years, has become increasingly unwilling to share any information, historical or otherwise, with ethical debates about the provenance of those materials. But the leaks are also incredibly juicy for journalists, who have also been working their way through the massive piles of internal documents, emails, and marketing department PowerPoints made available through a massive data breach of Sony’s internal server.

Which is part of why it’s so difficult to parse the ethics of reading, interpreting, and ultimately reporting on these documents: Whose agenda does their publication further? But what is the role of journalists if not to take that which is “new” and present it for readers, asking them to make their own judgments?

The answers to these questions, and the way these documents are handled and discussed in the weeks and years to come, aren’t limited to the journalism ethics classroom. These documents are neither the JLaw nude photos nor are they Snowden’s cache of national security documents. They’re not the product of angry teenage boys nor are they the work of a politically driven whistleblower. Yet when it comes to future handling of such information, the gray area in which they reside — between public and private, between prurient and illuminating — might not be the exception, but the new normal. The stance that journalists and academics take on these documents has the potential to guide our nation’s understanding of how we treat the compromise of the 21st century’s most valuable commodity, for both individuals and corporations: privacy.

I’m looking at these documents with the same eyes with which I pored over the collections of David O. Selznick, the greatest independent producer of classic Hollywood, or silent star Gloria Swanson, who preserved all correspondence, negotiations, contracts, letters to lawyers, and so much more from her 60-year career. Those collections, like those of United Artists and early Warner Bros., are housed at archives, where scholars travel to sift through them with white gloves, transforming stacks of musty telegraphs into works that function as our dominant understanding of the way the industry functioned, failed, and excelled.

But those archives, like most archives, were donated. Some are stripped of incriminating materials, but archives are generally given to institutions with the understanding that they will be used to illuminate history. In that, they are the inverse of the Sony hack, in which a group of hackers used illegal means to indiscriminately release the contents of Sony’s internal server. Selznick never had his correspondence leaked while he was filming Gone With the Wind; it was only decades later, when Selznick himself had been gone for years, that scholars began to use his archives to make sense of the operation of Hollywood. That sort of archival work is considered “history” and, as such, deemed legitimate, ethical, safe — even if the findings did suggest that most Hollywood executives were megalomaniacal assholes.

As the sheer breadth and depth of the hack started to come into focus last week, the first concern was for privacy, especially over the release of Social Security numbers of past and present Sony employees. Journalists here at BuzzFeed News and elsewhere reported the few pertinent specifics and character of the data released, while obscuring the most invasive information; some of the findings were banal (celebrity aliases, horrible HR PowerPoints, the script for a recruiting video); others were more incendiary (a potential gender pay gap). The experience of sorting through the labyrinth of internal data wasn’t unlike trying to look through the matrix of folders from an old, discarded computer: lots of chaff, very little wheat.

But there was enough reason to report. The legal position was straightforward: These documents were obtained through illegal means, but accessing them is not, in fact, illegal; reporting on documents made available through the hack, and even excerpting from them, are covered under both the First Amendment and Fair Use, which protects the reproduction of copyrighted content under the aegis of “enriching” or educating the general public.

The journalistic position was also fairly straightforward: As Fusion’s Kevin Roose explained on MSNBC, he and his editors employed a “civic good balancing test,” opting not “to publish things that are damaging to people unnecessarily,” such as Social Security or phone numbers, and focus on the potential to serve “a civic good.” “What you have in the Sony hack is an enormous data set of what people in one of the largest studios in Hollywood are paid,” Roose told host Chris Hayes, “and when you break that data down and use it as the basis for analysis, you end up with some really interesting … valuable, and important to democracy and industry.”

Here, Roose articulates the philosophy under which most journalists were exploring the hacked documents. Granted, releasing the amount Beyoncé and Jay Z were paid for a cameo in The Interview, as Roose did on Dec. 4, may toe that line of “civic good,” but few were objecting to the reportage of the leak on an ethical level.

That changed on Tuesday, when Defamer published an incendiary email exchange between Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin. Rudin is known throughout Hollywood for his abrasive attitude and management style. That said, the emails went viral not because Scott Rudin is a dick, but because he was a dick about one of the biggest stars in the world, calling her a “minimally spoiled brat” and “a camp event.”

Reading this exchange feels like pulling back the glossy veneer of the constant publicity that guides all Hollywood interactions; the exchange feels real, raw, and revelatory in the same way that the leaked elevator surveillance footage of Solange Knowles does: People are their realest selves when they don’t think the world is watching.

The schadenfreude directed toward Pascal and Rudin, however, has been met with resistance. On Twitter, film journalist and historian Mark Harris told “everyone who’s gloating over stolen emails” that “you must all feel very, very secure about your own correspondence.” Harris’ tweet articulated the strain of unease in the aftermath of the Defamer post, and coincided with increased calls to treat these leaks in the same way that journalists called others to treat the September hack of celebrity nudes: as an unethical and distasteful invasion of privacy.

The difference, of course, is that one hack is aimed to exploit and humiliate young women (and is a sex crime), and the other is aimed at a multibillion-dollar international media conglomerate. One targeted individuals’ private iCloud servers; the other was directed at servers at a place of employment. The women whose photos were hacked might have been celebrities, but they were vulnerable in a way that Sony, for all of its current woes, simply is not.

As for claims about violating the privacy of Amy Pascal, whose inbox was leaked in its entirety: Thus far, all published email exchanges relate not to Pascal, the individual, but to her capacity as co-chair of Sony Pictures (with the exception of a personal exchange between Pascal and her husband about his friendship with Nikki Finke, who had just viciously gone after her). These leaks thus focus on Pascal’s role as a controlling force behind the release of a high percentage of the entertainment available across the world today, whose comments and viewpoints have impact on the way we see our world reproduced for us on the screen — her role, in other words, as a public figure.

The same goes for Scott Rudin, who, while not directly affiliated with Sony, is behind many of the most successful and prestigious movies of the last decade. To say that his racist thoughts on the types of movies that Obama would like is not important is tantamount to denying an author’s political views have an impact on the books he writes. Rudin has the power to make the movies with the biggest budgets and the highest profiles; his attitudes toward race — and the way he treats others — isn’t the only reason that the logic of mainstream Hollywood remains insidiously and enduringly racist, but it cannot be discounted.

These conversations were private, but the art they produced has very public, if often sublimated, ramifications. The Lawrence hacks don’t contribute to any understanding save what Lawrence’s breasts look like. The Sony hacks speak loudly, and at length, about contemporary film industry and its generation of popular culture.

Illuminating Rudin’s assumptions about Obama’s film preferences is one thing, but does that legitimize publishing correspondence about the making of Cleopatra? “I believe people have the right to conduct business correspondence privately; it’s not as if criminality is being exposed,” Harris explained to me in an email. Ultimately, publicizing their correspondence just “makes it LESS likely that people who make movies will speak candidly to each other, let alone to journalists and scholars.”

Indeed, in the wake of these leaks, one can imagine just how frantically other Hollywood studios are scrambling to bolster their security measures. The question remains, then, as to how journalists and scholars make use of the existing material in a way that doesn’t simply carry out or validate the aims of these or any hackers.

For Gawker Editor-in-Chief Max Read, who’s overseen much of that publication’s handling of the documents, items like the emails are “newsworthy documents that were publicly available,” and “the idea that a journalist should refrain from publishing them because it might ‘validate the hackers’ actions/aims’ is genuinely incomprehensible.” Thomas Schatz, author of Genius of the System and one of the academics most familiar with the challenges of doing industrial history both with and without the benefit of the archive, told me that “I guess my bottom line is that we should welcome the opportunity to look behind the curtain.”

The information is out there; it’s not disappearing. It’s a question, then, of the avenue it takes from here.

When an academic goes to the archive, she spends days, even years, squinting at illegible handwriting and sifting through correspondence, combining her macro knowledge of the industry with the micro revelations of accumulated documents. A reporter doesn’t have the privilege of that sort of lengthy contemplation, but nor does she have the necessity to sort by hand: The Sony documents arrived in digital form, and fully searchable. To find a potential scandal, all you need to know are the right keywords, and a cascade of controversy appears onscreen.

This ease of accessibility — and the sheer amount of information conveyed via digital correspondence — points to the larger issues undergirding these ethical discussions. They’re variations on the same discussions we’ve had about WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden, “The Fappening,” and the rise of “vigilante journalism” and its exposure of private (but not always guilty) individuals, all hinging on the way to handle the sheer amount of private data each of us produces on a daily basis.

The new reality is that journalists simply do not own the news cycle: Even if Gawker, BuzzFeed News, and Fusion decided to stop covering it, others would take up the mantle. The new role of journalists, for better or for worse, isn’t as gatekeepers, but interpreters: If they don’t parse it, others without the experience, credentials, or mindfulness toward protecting personal information certainly will.

As Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, told me, “These aren’t new challenges — some of the greatest revelations in American history have come from sources with dubious or outright destructive motives. What’s more, we don’t imagine that our jobs are, or could imaginably be, to shield our readers from information that is widely available online, but rather to interpret it, explain it, and find insight into a powerful corporation and industry. We’ve been focused on reporting on information that offers that insight.”

It’s telling that so many involved in the dissemination of this knowledge, including myself, have found themselves conflicted. That hesitance, however, is at least in part responsible for the quality, and character, of much of the reporting thus far, which aligns with the central projects of both journalism and media studies in their most essential forms: making sense of how structures of power work and showing how, and why, the way they wield their power matters.

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But Thats None Of My Business

But Thats None Of My Business

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New Hampshire GOP debate did very well in overnight ratings

There are a lot of Americans who are fed up with Washington and the Obama administration. That point is yet again exemplified in the ratings for the Republican debate last night in New Hampshire.

Here’s more from the Hollywood Reporter aritcle:

Overnight returns, before the exact audience for the two-and-a-half-hour coverage is available, give the ABC News debate a 9.3 rating among Nielsen’s metered market households. That’s up from both of the January debates, on Fox Business Network (7.4 rating) and Fox News Channel (8.4 rating), the latter of which did not feature an appearance by Donald Trump.

Regardless of how you feel your favorite candidate fared in last night’s debate, you have to be encouraged by the attention and energy surrounding the GOP primary. And when comparing it to enthusiasm on the Democrat side, remember this:


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Rep. Jerrold Nadler pushing for trillion-dollar coin to duck debt ceiling!/bloodless_coup/status/286947770177294338

With Rep. John Boehner now officially returning as House Speaker, it’s certain that we can look forward to yet another standoff between Boehner and the White House over the nation’s debt ceiling, which the country hit on Dec. 31. The idea of minting a handful of trillion-dollar coins to get around the debt ceiling arose last year, but with the House GOP still holding that one bargaining chip and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner headed for the exit, the push is on again to make the coin a reality.

Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal calls the idea “really thrilling,” and Rep. Jarrold Nedler (D-N.Y.) is pushing for the coin as well, seeing as the president is faced with GOP “blackmail to destroy the country’s economy.” In an interview with website Capital, Nadler likened Republicans to the mob: “It’s like in the old gangster movies: ‘That’s a nice economy you got over there, pity if it should happen to blow up — if you don’t do what I want.’ That’s exactly what they’re saying.”

The law allows the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination. The idea was to allow for production of special commemorative coins, but there’s nothing legally to stop the Treasury from minting a few trillion-dollar coins and depositing them in the Federal Reserve. It’s a great idea, right?

No we won’t. That stimulus is going to kick in any second.

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Password was changed by county employee while phone in FBI’s possession

Editor’s note: We’ve added a correction to the headline of this post and we apologize for the error.

Well, this is a new wrinkle in the entire Apple vs. FBI story. ABC News reports:

The Apple ID passcode for the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone was changed less than 24 hours after authorities took possession of the device, a senior Apple executive said today.

And Apple could have recovered information from the phone had the Apple ID passcode not been changed, Apple said.

If the phone was taken to a location where it recognized the Wi-Fi network, such as the San Bernardino shooters’ home, it could have been backed up to the cloud, Apple suggested.

Update: The password was changed by a county employee, not the FBI as we said in our original title:

The auto reset was executed by a county information technology employee, according to a federal official. Federal investigators only found out about the reset after it had occurred and that the county employee acted on his own, not on the orders of federal authorities, the source said.

Apple executives say the iPhone was in the possession of the government when iCloud password was reset. A federal official familiar with the investigation confirmed that federal investigators were indeed in possession of the phone when the reset occurred.

The rest here.

Earlier, Donald Trump called for a boycott of Apple over the company’s refusal to help the FBI hack the phone:

Maybe we should boycott the FBI, too?

Editor’s note: The headline of this post was corrected and an update added.

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No salt for you: Boston Market to remove salt shakers; Dennis Miller zings!/DennisDMZ/status/238278173060648960

Ha! Leave it to Dennis Miller to cut right to the chase, especially when responding to the latest Food Police Creep. This time, it’s Boston Market.

NANNY CREEP: boston market pulls salt shakers off tables–for your own good!

— Vicki Mckenna (@VickiMcKenna) August 22, 2012

More from Fox News:

Boston Market is pulling salt shakers off its tables and has pledged to reduce the amount of sodium in some of its signature dishes.

The Golden, Colo. based company says it plans to reduce the amount of sodium in three of its dishes — rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes — by 20 percent in the next six months.  All of its dishes would have 15 percent less sodium in the coming years.

While the salt shakers will be banned at the tables, Boston Market says they’ll keep a set at the beverage station. And if you’re wondering, pepper shakers will keep their place at the table.

@rocbuzz I was at Boston Market and salt was gone from tables. There was a note next to the pepper saying you can find it at the beverages.

— Michelle Shippers (@MShippers) August 22, 2012

Absurd. Treating customers like children and putting the icky stuff out of reach. And for what? People will still use the salt, if they choose to do so. We know; freedom to make individual choices is a hard concept to Nannies.

So this move is just a way to smugly self-pat on the back. Oh, look at us! We are so conscious and awesome. Maybe Michelle Obama and her Food Nannies will praise us!

Apparently Boston Market doesn't think I can handle having salt on the table.

— Joe Flint (@JBFlint) August 22, 2012

UGH! Mind your own business, food police! Boston Market yanks shakers to help cut salt | Fox News via @fxnleisure

— Rhonda Craig (@Mamarhili) August 22, 2012

Hey, you know who has great chicken and values personal liberty? Chick-fil-A. And their cookies aren’t discus-sized!

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Some Of The Most Dangerous Roads In The World Are Right Here In The U.S.

Roads help us get from work to home and from school to the bar. Roads are also a big contributing factor to a country’s economy. Trucks carry goods to the stores. Cars carry business people and vacationers to different locations so they can spend money there and keep the economy going. A road is a good indicator of a country’s wealth and condition of life.

Here are some of the world’s most dangerous roads to drive on. It may come as a shock that some of them are in the United States.

1.) The Himalayan Roads.

Completely unpaved, but also completely on the Himalayan mountains, so I guess there’s no surprise there.

2.) The James Dalton Highway, Alaska.

The wind is so powerful up here that it sometimes picks up large sized rocks and hurls them at your car. Also, this road is mostly covered in heavy snow.

3.) I-15 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

This one 180 mile stretch from Las Vegas to Los Angeles has had more fatalities than anywhere else in Nevada due to a combination of extreme drinking and driving and lack of seat belts. This gives a grim meaning to the famous “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” slogan.

4.) Guoliang Tunnel Road, China.

The thing that makes this particular mountain tunnel in China scary is that it was not professionally done. The villagers of the nearby Guoliang decided to do it without authorization by the state because they felt they were secluded from the rest of society. It’s a nice sentiment, but I’m sure travelers would appreciate a road that doesn’t constantly have loose rocks falling down on them.

5.) Commonwealth Avenue, Philippines.

Known as the “Killer Highway” in the Philippines’ Quezon City, this road killed many pedestrians and cyclists due to the awful regulation and enforcement of traffic laws in the region.

6.) Highway 550, Colorado.

The tricky part of this road is that, although it’s situated on Colorado’s Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains, there are no guardrails. Seems safe, right?

7.) U.S. 24 Fort Wayne to Toledo.

There’s a certain part of this route affectionately called the “killway” because of the deadman’s curve that causes cars to collide with tractors hauling factory materials.

8.) Highway 2, Montana.

This road in northern Montana has a high fatality rate. This is mainly due to the slow response time of emergency vehicles in the sparsely populated area (roughly 80 minutes).

9.) North Yungas Road, Bolivia.

Cheerfully known as the “Road of Death” by Bolivians, buses and trucks fall into the deep valley below this road so often that it is listed as the most dangerous road on Earth.

10.) I-95, Connecticut.

One 8 mile stretch on the way to Norwalk, Connecticut is responsible for 10 percent of all accidents in the state. This is due to the congestion of the city and tricky hills.

11.) Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan

Blind curves and sharp turns make this the most dangerous road in Taiwan.

12.) BR-116, Brazil.

Nicknamed the “Highway of Death,” this road claims thousands of lives a year due to poor maintenance. The roving gangs of bandits that stop and rob cars don’t help, either.

13.) Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand.

This New Zealand road is so dangerous that it requires a special permit to drive its sprawl.

14.) Pasubio, Italy.

Many starry-eyed drivers have careened off the cliffs of this beautiful road, distracted by the astounding view. Luckily, Italy decided to reserve some of the more dangerous parts for walkers only.

Keep these in mind the next time you take a road trip, although some of these are the only routes through certain states for miles. Also, maybe don’t attempt to drive through the Himalayas. Just an idea.

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