Real Madrid and Manchester United shatter American attendance record for proper football

Michigan Stadium
Click to enlargeLeon Halip/Getty Images

A small town in Northern Michigan had the eyes of the soccer world watching it with the largest crowd in American history on hand to witness Real Madrid and Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. A grand total of 109,318 were in the stands to witness the event. The game was broadcast around the world in up to 40 countries, with an estimated economic impact of $15-20 million on Washtenaw county…

As expected, the atmosphere inside the stadium was even louder and more energetic than the one created outside of it leading up to the match. Fans had descended onto Ann Arbor from around the world, and once the game kicked off, it was easy to forget that the match was only a part of a preseason tournament. Nonetheless, Manchester United, only needed a point to reach the final in Miami, and Louis Van Gaal wanted his team to be there…

The game on the pitch was rather action packed, but it was those watching the match in the stands that really made it such a special occasion. Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor was proof that soccer has made it in North America.

Major League Soccer continues to grow in strength, reputation and competitive level. Reflecting not only the growth of proper football in the United States; but, the reputation and ability of teams throughout our regional association CONCACAF.

Today’s record attendance broke the existing record by almost 10% – and that was a match between Brazil and France. Not in Michigan.

The match was fun BTW. Man of the Match was Mr. Potatohead – which is not a negative in my mind for Wayne Rooney from Man U.

Congress leaves town without providing funds to fight wildfires – Thanks for nothing!

What you can expect from the Do-Nothing Congress

Congress took a five-week summer break without deciding whether to provide $615 million in additional money to fight wildfires this year, punting the debate into the fall.

Senate Democrats were unable late Thursday to secure 60 votes to advance a $3.6 billion emergency spending bill for a vote.

The bulk of that money was for the Obama administration to handle the influx of unaccompanied minors along the Southwestern border but it also had $615 million for the U.S. Forest Service and the Interior Department to fight fires. That would have eliminated the need for “fire borrowing,” or transferring money from other activities including efforts to prevent fires

Senate Republicans blocked the $3.6 billion measure, arguing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!…

The congressional debate came during a week when firefighters grappled with 27 large fires in eight Western states

Last month, along with requesting emergency money, President Barack Obama asked Congress to add wildfires to the list of natural disasters eligible for disaster assistance. That move would eliminate the need for the government to dip into wildfire-prevention programs to pay ever-increasing firefighting costs.

The right-wing clown show running the Republican Party won’t respond to that request until they sort out appropriate guidance from the Old Testament, the ghost of Joseph Goebbels and someone who channels Ayn Rand.

Conservative ideologues contribute as little of use to society as an epoch of plague.

Earth’s 6th mass extinction is now underway

Click to enlarge — Hainan Black-Crested Gibbon

Deforestation, climate change and the dramatic impact human societies have had in reshaping the Earth for the past few thousand years are taking an extraordinary toll on its animal species, which are dying off about 1,000 times faster today than they did before humans arrived.

It all adds up to the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history, the editors of Science Magazine report in a special series of scientific studies…which both explore the implications of “anthropocene defaunation” and offer prescriptions for how we might re-colonize animal populations throughout the world…

Scientists point out that extinctions of individual species aren’t uncommon, as more than 99 percent of all the known species ever to have existed on Earth are now gone forever.

What has changed is the speed with which species are going extinct, a phenomenon scientists chalk up to the impact humans have had on the planet for the past two centuries. Many argue we should call the age we’re living in the “Anthropocene,” or the Age of Man.

That’s because the impact humans are having on the planet and its ecosystems — killing off species by destroying their habitats for building cities and agriculture, hunting them and overfishing them to extinction, and by the industrial pollutants we pump into the atmosphere, and into our lakes, rivers and oceans — are so dramatic that they constitute a definable geological time scale for the planet like the Holocene or the Pleistocene…

Earth has experienced five previous mass extinction events, most caused by giant meteors slamming into the Earth. The best-known of these is probably the one that killed off the dinosaurs, along with 75 percent of all other species, about 66 million years ago. Ninety percent of all animal species were lost in another extinction more than 250 million years ago, which has been called the “Great Dying.”

What’s different about today’s extinction? “The underlying driving force for this is not a meteorite or a mega-volcanic eruption; it is one species – homo sapiens“…

“Though for emotional or aesthetic reasons we may lament the loss of large charismatic species, such as tigers, rhinos, and pandas, we now know that loss of animals, from the largest elephant to the smallest beetle, will also fundamentally alter the form and function of the ecosystems upon which we all depend,” the study says.

Read the full special report on “Vanishing Fauna” at Science.

The significant difference about this horribly negative event is that – not only is this mass extinction to a large extent preventable – the creatures who are the cause, so far, are doing so little to prevent the extinction that we may end up including ourselves among the victims.

Thanks, Mike

Wonder why crucial vaccines are sometimes unavailable?

When cases of a potentially fatal strain of meningitis began cropping up at Princeton last year, university officials trying to stop its spread could recommend little beyond precautions like frequent handwashing and not sharing beverage containers.

Although a vaccine against the rare bacteria that was causing the illness on campus existed in much of the developed world, it was not available in the United States. Novartis, its Swiss-based manufacturer, had not applied here for licensure of the vaccine, called Bexsero, because it seemed unlikely to be used enough in the United States to offset the cost of entering the market.

In all, it took nine months after the first case was detected in March 2013 before Princeton students could be immunized and nearly a year before they had completed the two-shot course, and that happened only after extraordinary interventions from the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration to allow the vaccine into the country.

By the end of the outbreak, seven more students had contracted the disease on the Princeton campus, and a student at another university died after contact with Princeton students. In a second outbreak involving four students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a lacrosse player had to have his feet amputated.

The episode highlights a drug approval process in the United States that experts say does not always take into account public health needs. Regulators typically do not seek out new treatments, but wait for pharmaceutical companies to apply for approval of new products. Drugmakers weigh their estimates of sales potential against the high costs of application. And that calculation is often more fraught in the United States than in other countries, in part because American regulators are historically loath to grant approval based solely on foreign trials, so they require expensive new studies.

RTFA for all the hoops everyone had to jump through to get the appropriate treatment into the United States and available where it was desperately needed.

A second segment of the article introduces the novel notion – for the United States – that we might alter regulations and procedures to allow for need instead of profit margins. Golly.