Posted tagged ‘corruption’

Lance Armstrong, Miracle Man

July 7, 2009

Serve up (a little bit of) the crow: Against better judgement and past things I said, I am watching a little of the Tour de France. One of my heroes, Lance Armstrong, is back after winning a record-smashing seven straight Tours. Even though he came back to keep his fight against cancer in the spotlight, it warms my heart to see him on his bike, confident, and seemingly as strong as ever. Live Strong indeed.

Tuesday saw the nearness of the man’s greatness. On only the fourth TdF stage he’s raced in four(?) years, he missed taking the race lead, and therefore the yellow jersey, by a fraction of a second. It was so close the race organizers had to refer to the Tour rulebook and get out the calculators to figure out if Lance had indeed captured the lead.

Here’s Lance, being the better man, talking about this day when he nearly took the yellow again: Link.

Honestly, while I have deep respect for the man, and continue to be amazed by his willpower, physical ability, and depth of character in the face of a corrupted Tour organization (including a newspaper and a poor excuse for a lab, all co-owned by one of the “owners” of the race, M. Pierre Borrdry) I hold no real hope he’ll win a Tour again. I would be delighted to be surprised, however the politics behind the scenes of the Tour have shown themselves to be downright dirty beginning with the persecution of Floyd Landis, and unless Lance is practically perfect, the cynic in me fears he’ll be dragged down by the dirty backroom dealers. That’s why I never thought I’d watch another Tour again–even now, former Tour officials are treating Lance like he’s a crook and a cheater, which has never been proven–it seems impossible for anyone who isn’t on the inside of this crooked brotherhood to get a fair chance. There’s something about French jurisprudence that, at least where the Tour is concerned, violated all that Americans hold dear about being innocent until proven guilty. In France, if there’s a hint of misbehavior in their Tour, the inevitable “leak” occurs from the Tour to the French anti-doping lab to the French paper “L’Equipe,” and within 24 hours a champion can be tarred as a cheat based on the most tenuous piece of flawed evidence.

Anyway, it is a wonderful thing to see Lance Armstrong, a man blessed by genetics and hard road back from cancer, come within a second of leading the Tour de France yet again. I should never have doubted his ability and determination.

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Pro bicyclist at crematorium, arranging his infant son’s funeral, is threatened with suspension by drug tester

March 18, 2008

The Fanhouse at AOL is reporting the sad story of Kevin van Impe, who was arranging his baby’s cremation when he was approached by a drug tester and ordered to pee in a cup. Van Impe asked for some compassion at such a painful time, and the tester (whose name and agency have not been reported) threatened the cyclist with a two year suspension.

Words can’t describe what a tragedy this is, not only for Mr. van Impe, but also the sport of cycling, which is suffering at the hands of over-zealous, secretive anti-doping agencies who feel they have a moral mandate to conduct a modern-day Inquisition, yet like Torquemada have long ago lost their own moral compass.

(Warning: the comments contain NSFW language.)

Comcast: “All Your Law Are Belong To Us.”

February 26, 2008

Our free-market system took a hot poker in the eye today. Comcast, under FCC scrutiny for aggressive and intrusive internet throttling, stacked the deck at their FCC hearing with a roomful of paid audience members who cheered for them during the deliberations. Worse, this pre-emptive strike against free speech was executed 90 minutes before the start of the proceedings, so actual citizens with an actual interest were turned away at the door.

So to summarize, Big Company snoops on their customers’ private communications, uses that data to selectively and anonymously interfere with their customers’ computers and reduce bandwidth use, all the while insisting it did no such thing. That is, until proven otherwise by third parties. When the FCC tries to look into the matter, Big Company tries to derail a fair hearing by secretly bussing in a roomful of shills.

They must have one hell of a lobby, to so arrogantly mislead lie to the public and the government.

Update 3/28/08- Comcast announced today that they’re really very sorry, and they didn’t know what they were secretly doing, and they want to kiss and make up. Nine months from now, they will stop discriminating against peer-to-peer traffic, and find some other way to avoid swamping their network. In the meantime, Verizon has found a way to support peer-to-peer file sharing, increase upload and download speeds, and minimize costs.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. (In this case, “enrage” may be closer to the truth.) They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

Comcast Follies 2-15-08

February 15, 2008

Ars Technica is reporting and analyzing Comcast’s 57-page response to the FCC investigation into its internet traffic throttling policies.

A few questions have been answered: Yes, Comcast has been doing this for a while, though their press releases would have a rational person believe they had never done so. Yes, they are disrupting customers’ traffic by sending phony TCP reset packets that masquerade as originating from remote computers that customers are connected to. No, they don’t like calling these “forged packets.” No, they don’t think this is in any way wrong (regardless of their actions to conceal this behavior).

One interesting change in their rhetoric is they’re no longer justifying their actions as necessary anti-piracy steps. Plus, they seem to realize they’re on the defensive, accusing their critics of “inflammatory hyperbole.”

A few questions are unanswered. If this interference with normal communications is supposed to enhance everyone’s internet experience, why do all my internet programs (browsers, email, web publishing, synchronizing my computers) time out and fail when they’re throttling my connection? To hear them explain it, only P2P uploads should be affected, only some of the time. Why did they waste all our time with disingenuous answers for so long, so that the AP and the EFF had to independently prove they were, well, lying? As Art Technica writes, if this bandwidth issue is such a problem, why haven’t they had a similar issue with downloads? As I wrote, doesn’t their recent announcement offering a 20x speed boost to “millions of customers” contradict their stated need to conserve bandwidth to preserve their customer’s satisfaction?

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are intended to entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

Blue Cross of CA solicited data from MDs to cancel insurance policies

February 15, 2008

The LA Times is reporting that BCBS has stopped sending out patient data and letters to doctors in an attempt to find ways to cancel their patients’ health insurance.

Overlooking the obvious lapse in medical ethics, is this even legal?

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

Anti-doping officials: Corrupt, inept, or well-intentioned dopes?

September 13, 2006

I’m flabbergasted. Two days ago, I wrote about the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, one Dick Pound, and his baffling and unsupportable desire to eliminate WADA’s two-sample testing protocol. The AP and BBC reported he was “disturbed” that Marion Jones’ B sample tested negative for EPO, so under anti-doping rules she was cleared of suspicion. He continued, “We are going to see how that happened, learn from it, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. The worry we have is that someone is misinterpreting things or doing things wrong.” Finally, he suggested that, if WADA’s experts felt that Jones’ guilt was sufficiently proven by the A sample alone, “we have an opportunity to put that into play.” Obviously, Pound’s idea of “someone… misinterpreting things or doing things wrong” is limited to mistakes that let the guilty appear to be innocent, and not the other way around.

Paradoxically, Floyd Landis’ lawyer announced last weekend that scientific review of documentation provided by Chatenay-Malabry, the WADA-certified drug testing lab turned up “the foundation for a very strong defense.” Further, Landis’ lawyer would be filing for dismissal on 9/11/06. CNN reported on the filing, as did the AP (still running the same unflattering picture of Floyd), and of course, Landis’ own web site. The paradox is that Landis’ lawyer, Howard Jacobs, has submitted documentation from the testing lab showing multiple examples of lab technicians “misinterpreting things or doing things wrong,” just as Pound suspected, but not quite the way he presumed. From the CNN coverage: “‘In the case of the mismatched sample identification codes, the alleged confirmed T/E [testosterone/epitestosterone ratio] data on the B sample is from a sample number that was not assigned to Landis,’ Jacobs’s statement said. The only testosterone metabolite that can be argued as positive under the WADA Positivity Criteria resulted from an unknown laboratory error and is not the result of testosterone usage, the statement added.” There’s even more damning evidence against the lab, but the only place I can find to read it is on Floyd’s web site.

The final, flabbergasting fact: Reacting to the documented mistakes by Chatenay-Malabry in “proving” Floyd’s guilt, Dr. Gary Wadler, a member of WADA and a spokesman for the American College of Sports Medicine, said Landis’ attempt to have the charges dismissed by questioning the science behind the tests wasn’t unusual. “It’s not useful to speculate about the science, until the science has had its day in the hearing process,” Wadler said. “Only then do I think we can come to some conclusions. Until then, any assertion is only an assertion.” This statement seems to have the same, “he’s guilty, we just know it” tone of Dick Pound and Enrico Carpani (“We are confident in the first [test]. For us, the first one is already good.”), president of the International Cyclists’ Union. Saying we can’t come to conclusions until after a hearing is disingenuous at best—the man has been found guilty in the public eye, thanks to leaks and public statements by WADA and UCI. And like Dick Pound’s unwitting double-entendre, Wadler’s implicit trust in Chatenay-Malabry’s “science” is speculative in the face of historical and current, documented fact, and WADA’s (unethical pre-announcement and) assertion of Landis’ guilt… “is only an assertion.” Sorry, Dr. Wadler… your backpedaling doesn’t take back the intent behind your previous statements like, “‘Doping is the presence of a prohibited substance in your body, regardless of intent or sabotage. Even if he had no significant fault or negligence, he would have to give up the title’ because he was doped at the time of the race.” In other words, The Tests are never wrong. If you really didn’t take any banned substance, and some overly-enthusiastic roadside fan handed you a drug-laced drink, it’s still your fault, and You Lose. It’s far more likely you cheated, so just come clean.

Back up a sec… “Science is speculative?” You feeling OK there, Steve? Mr. “I did medical research for 13 years?” Hmmm?

Oh yes. Read more.

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UPDATE: News story: “DETROIT – A federal judge has ruled that the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program violates the Constitution.”

August 26, 2006

Read it here. Even though you’ve already read it. That one sentence really is the whole story. Maybe Yahoo will add more to it later?

UPDATE: U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor made the ruling, and has ordered an immediate stop to the NSA’s warrantless domestic surveillance program.

UPDATE #2, 8/23/06: CNN has a comprehensive report here.

UPDATE #3, 8/26/06: An article from the Washington Times, July 17, reports that President Bush has been blocking Congressional attempts to review the program.

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