Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread


(Rafael Manríquez born March 27, 1947) is a Chilean journalist, singer, guitarist, composer and producer born in Santiago.

Growing up, Manríquez was surrounded by music. His house was always full with the sounds of his grandfather’s guitar playing and singing. Manríquez took up the guitar at age fifteen to perform songs of neighboring Argentina recorded by Los Chalchaleros and other current favorites. He soon joined his brother José Manuel and two other friends in the group Los Machis, named after the Mapuche (Indian) shamans (usually women). While studying in Viña del Mar, a city on Chile’s central coast important for contemporary song festivals and competitions, the group competed in the Festival Chile Múltiple, tying for first place with another young group, Quilapayún[citation needed], which in the following decades became one of the most renowned Chilean nueva canción groups.

After completing two years of journalism studies, Rafael moved to the Chilean capital, Santiago, where he joined Ñancahuazú, a talented trio in the nueva canción vein. Ñancahuazú recorded De Chile a Chile ‘From Chile to Chile’, an album of songs that spoke of the history of Chile, and they toured the southern regions of the country.

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90 Responses to Serendipity SOUL | Tuesday Open Thread

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Open Thread - Jack & Jill Politics

  2. Ametia says:

    Lookie, another SALTINE’s out of the box…

    Sen. Rand Paul tests presidential waters
    By Robert Behre
    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., visited Charleston Monday to talk about his possible presidential bid, how to rein in the national debt and the current military action in Libya.

    Paul, a tea party favorite who won his Senate seat last fall, is visiting several early presidential voting states independently of his father, 2008 presidential contender and current U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

    “The only decision I’ve made is I won’t run against my dad,” Rand Paul said.

    He has upcoming trips planned to Iowa and New Hampshire, in part, he said, because “I want the tea party to have an influence over who the nominee is in 2012.”

    Paul said he favors a balanced budget amendment and restructuring Social Security and Medicare to increase the age when future benefits will kick in and to limit benefits to those who have relatively more income. Paul said he is working with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Social Security reform.

    Run “AYN” Rand, RUN!

  3. Ametia says:

    hat tip JJP

    Changing The Narrative: Rachel Maddow Praises Obama On Diplomacy In Libya
    Watch This Episode Now
    Season 311 Episode 0321 Date: Mar 22, 2011

    Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent, talks with Rachel Maddow live from Libya about the patterns in U.S. military activity in the last 30 years and how President Obama’s approach to Libya is different from President Bush’s military style

  4. rikyrah says:

    S.C. Gov. Haley has appointed 26 campaign donors to posts
    By John O’Connor | The State

    Of the 59 people whom Gov. Nikki Haley thus far has appointed to state boards or commissions, 26 donated to her campaign, according to state campaign finance records.

    Those 26 — who account for 44 percent of Haley’s appointments — gave at least $74,703 to her campaign for governor.

    Haley, who took office in January, has finished filling her Cabinet and now has started filling thousands of posts on boards and commissions that oversee state agencies, such as the Department of Health and Environmental Control, state colleges and universities, and state-run nonprofits, such as Patriots Point Development Authority, which runs the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

    Haley surprised many last week when she chose campaign donor and Lexington attorney Thomas Cofield to replace Darla Moore on the University of South Carolina’s board of trustees. Moore pledged $70 million to the school and is the largest donor in USC history. Cofield gave to $4,500 Haley’s campaign.

    Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey did not respond to a request for comment.

    The governor can appoint 1,750 positions statewide and an additional 3,100 local positions — including those where legislators, the agency or the nonprofit recommends or nominates someone to Haley.

    Haley has more nominees than usual because former Gov. Mark Sanford allowed the terms of many board members to expire without reappointing them or choosing a replacement.

    Read more:

  5. rikyrah says:

    Rahm and Black Voters
    By Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Mar 22 2011, 2:00 PM ET
    From the department of “More Stuff I Forgot To Link To,” this is from last month’s mayor’s race in Chicago:

    Our analysis of the racial composition of wards is based on each racial group comprising at least half of the local population. It’s worth noting that “mixed” wards, where there was no clear racial majority at the last census count, have grown increasingly white. That said, it’s probably safe to bet that support from white voters may have actually been higher than these numbers indicate.

    What’s clear is that it’s black voters — who gave more support to Emanuel than all of the other candidates combined — helped pull the mayor elect across the finish line yesterday.

    Also from Carol Mosely-Braun’s side:

    Mike Noonan, Ms. Braun’s campaign manager, said the candidate and aides like Mr. Schaffer changed campaign strategy on the assumption that Ms. Braun was guaranteed the support of blacks when black leaders chose her as the community’s consensus candidate. “It was a terrible mistake,” Mr. Noonan said this week. “The thinking was: ‘Why waste our time with African-American voters? They have no other place to go.’ ”

    Before drawing any real conclusions, I would like to hear more about this from folks in Chicago. Did Carol Mosely-Braun write off black voters? Was her support ever particularly deep?

    Black voters supporting white candidates isn’t an exactly new phenomenon. But I suspect the reasons why it happened go beyond race, and have a lot to do with the actual candidate and their operation.

    • Ametia says:

      Ummm NO one can assume that I’ll vote for’em cause they’re black.

      • rikyrah says:

        here was my reply to Coates:

        she had no money.
        she did no advertising.
        she kept on making amateur hour mistakes that one wouldn’t expect from a candidate who had been in politics for years.

        made folks wince just thinking about voting for her in the end.

        Now, I would never vote for Rahm, but, she didn’t make it easy for a Black person to vote for her. I wanted Danny Davis, and wasn’t feeling her from the get go. I didn’t even like Meeks, but at least he was saying something. I never felt any sort of vision from Braun; where she thought she could take the city, and address some of the issues specifically concerning the Black community. Her attacks on the other Black candidates were just so, for lack of a better word,


        neither one of them were serious candidates, and should have been treated as such. One would expect more from a former UNITED STATES SENATOR.

        But, she had no money, and didn’t use the resources that she did have well. She had no imagination about how to run a campaign on little funds.

      • Ametia says:

        In other words, Braun did NOT work for it, and therefore she did NOT earn the WIN. Sounds about right, to me.

  6. rikyrah says:



    KKK hoods, Hitler used in high school ‘spirit bowl’
    By theGrio

    Alta High school junior Larz Cosby says a school ‘Spirit Bowl’ last Thursday became a venue for racism when a fellow student, wearing a KKK hood taunted Cosby, he says, and later performed a ‘heil Hitler’ salute.

    The student says he was attempting to be funny. Cosby wrote about it on his blog, after he says school officials did nothing about it.

    “So you’re a supporter of the KKK, and of Hitler. Those are both things that are very wrong. And that’s funny?”

    On the blog critics of Cosby’s post voiced their opinions, one saying in all caps: “It was a joke; you’re taking it way too hard.” Another says the other student isn’t racist, just clueless, saying “meathead friends seriously get along with just about everyone if you actually talk to them. I mean dude, one of his best buddies is black”

  7. Ametia says:

    “Obama’s a pussy, he doesn’t have the stomach, he wears a pink tutu, same old shit, different day. That big black dick’s just way TOO much for’em.

    Source: The Hill
    Barney Frank: Obama might not have stomach for fight over Elizabeth Warren
    By Jordan Fabian – 03/21/11 10:37 AM ET

    President Obama may not be willing to endure the ideological battle that would result from nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer protection agency, a top Democrat said Monday.

    Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.), who co-authored the law creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said that if she were nominated, Warren might not be confirmed to head the agency. While Frank argued that’s a fight worth having, he cautioned that the president might disagree.

    “I think the president is too unwilling to make the kind of fights that don’t necessarily win. And I’m not sure she couldn’t be (confirmed),” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

    Frank’s comments could add pressure on the administration to nominate Warren, a consumer advocate and Harvard Law School professor who is currently serving as a White House adviser.

    Read more:… –

  8. Hat Tip:

    WTF? Say It Ain’t So?!

    Kucinich critique turns into push for funds

    (CNN)- Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich is transforming his critique of President Obama’s actions in Libya into a fundraising plea, asking supporters to decide whether they like President Obama or the Constitution more.

    After calling the president’s decision to act in Libya an “impeachable offense,” Kucinich Monday posted a letter on his website asking supporters for help in “putting together a broad fundraising structure to make sure that I’ll have the resources to continue to be a voice in the Unites States Congress.”

    “The Obama administration’s decision to attack Libya was made without any Congressional approval,” said the seven-term congressman from Ohio. “It’s outside the Constitution of the United States. Whether you like President Obama or not is not the question. The question is: if you like the Constitution more.”

    “We are bombing Libya right now. Congress did not approve this action, according to the Constitution. Such an action lacks legality in the United States and the President should have to answer to that,” he continued.

    Kucinich also marked the 8th anniversary of the attack on Iraq with a reminder that he was against the Iraq war from the start. Stating that he “never failed to stand up” when advocating for the “need to more our economy forward” or “internationally standing up for peace,” Kucinich asked potential donors to shore up his re-election efforts for 2012.

    “I’m asking you to really get engaged in this effort to not just make it possible for me to stay in the United States Congress but to make it possible even more importantly for my voice to continue to be heard on your behalf,” he said.

    Ohio is set to undergo redistricting following the results of the most recent U.S. Census, a development that may make Kucinich’s road to re-election more difficult. The state will lose two congressional seats.

    In December 2010 he wrote a letter to supporter declaring, “I will not wait until the Ohio Legislature produces a new map to start thinking of the options. The question will not be: Who is my opponent? The question will be: Where is my district? Seriously.”

    “We are going to have to prepare for a different kind of election, possibly in a different place because my district may be eliminated. We are going to have to organize in a different way, now. The question will remain: Where?”

  9. rikyrah says:

    Chris Brown — Violent Outburst at ‘GMA’

    Chris Brown exploded in rage behind the scenes at “Good Morning America” this morning … smashing a window and storming out without a shirt … sources tell TMZ … and it was triggered by on-air questions about the Rihanna incident.

    • GASP! Stop It!

      • Vettte says:

        I’m hear to “get-in where I can fit-in” on Chris Brown. Um, er, ehhh, didn’t we suggest to him over a year ago too seek some serious counseling and anger management classes? WTH? I bet if I go over to one of those bossiping blogs they are still defending his azz. Who he dating? Come on now, this boy STILL got issues and making millions. Who Dat buying it? And yeah Charlie Sheen is definitely WINNING, they are in talks with him to go back to work at 1 & 1/2 Men. This country is just coming a little bit tooooo accepting of childish men acting out. They momma’s made em sorry and still supporting they actions in this world. Yall just aint right Christ Brown & Charlie Sheen.

    • Ametia says:

      umph! Dude has not gotten any help, but then why should he? Charlie Sheen’s gallavanting around town claiming he’s a fucking ‘WINNER” after drugging, drinking, and beating up a few women.

  10. Ametia says:

    “Gomer” Gohmert just doesn’t quit.

  11. Ametia says:

    Dannie, your governor hard at work!

    Gov. Kasich’s Jobs Plan: Drink More Booze, Hand The Profits To A Private Development Company

    Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has played a leading role in the Republican assault on workers’ rights, pursuing a bill to strip his state’s public employees of collective bargaining rights. But he has also been actively pushing his state’s assets into the hands of private corporations, with his main job creation plan being the formation of JobsOhio, a private entity that will be tasked with coaxing business into the Buckeye state. Similar schemes have not worked in other states, but Kasich has plowed forward nonetheless

    Part of Kasich’s plan for financing his new, privatized development agency (of which he will be chairman) includes leasing the state’s liquor stores to JobsOhio, which will then use the money to run its operations. Kasich claims that this will work because Ohioans are increasing their alcohol consumption

  12. rikyrah says:

    Arizona Is Immigration Debate’s Ground Zero With Hispanic Majority In View
    By Michael White – Mar 21, 2011 11:01 PM CT
    Jay Stewart carries a handgun to protect his family from smugglers who move illegal drugs and people through the desert near his home south of Phoenix. Miguel Espinoza crossed the border 17 years ago to escape a Mexican territory where drug lords rule.

    The men, a 46-year-old airline pilot with two children and a 32-year-old landscaper with four, are in different ways part of the Arizona’s future. The makeup of the state, a flash point in the U.S. debate over immigration, changed so much in the last decade that if birth rates and other factors hold steady, Arizona will be majority Hispanic in a generation, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institute in Washington.

    The 2010 census found 43.2 percent of Arizonans under 18 were Hispanic and that whites were for the first time in a minority in that age group, at 41.6 percent. The ethnic and generational changes set the stage for Arizona to become a “test case” for responding to demographic trends as the U.S. becomes more diverse and increasingly Hispanic, said Jeff Milem, an education professor University of Arizona in Tucson.

    “Arizona seems to be in the forefront,” he said. “We’ve got to lay the groundwork now for people to come together.”

    For Stewart, Espinoza illustrates the complexity of the issue. In the U.S. illegally, the landscaper is considering agreeing to deportation so he can apply from Mexico for residency. If not for Espinoza’s four children, Stewart said, he would be happy to see him banished.

    Immigration Laboratory
    “We’re talking about children who are by law American citizens,” said Stewart. “I don’t think you can penalize those children. But where does it end?”

    Tests of the limits and effectiveness of immigration policies and procedures are underway in Arizona, where the Hispanic population increased 46.3 percent between 2000 and 2010 to account for 29.6 percent of the 6.4 million residents.

    The state has the country’s most aggressive anti-illegal immigration law, which drew boycotts and complaints of racial profiling after Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed it last April. The Legislature last year banned ethnic studies courses in schools and community colleges. Attorney General Tom Horne declared the Mexican-American Studies Program in Tucson schools illegal, calling it “brainwashing.”

    Last week, after lobbying by business leaders, the senate rejected bills designed to catch people in Arizona illegally, and to deny citizenship to illegal immigrants’ children. Still alive in the House is legislation to allow Arizona to contract with other states to build walls along the border with Mexico.

    ‘Pointing Fingers’
    Republicans, in the majority in the Legislature, have grown divided over the wisdom of pursuing the immigration agenda.

  13. rikyrah says:

    March 22, 2011
    THE LOBBYIST IN CHIEF…. In 2010, the GOP base made it clear it prefers a certain kind of candidate. Conservatives like “insurgents” and “outsiders,” who have no use for the entrenched Washington establishment and its corrupt power structure.

    It’s against this backdrop that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) thinks he can win the Republican presidential nomination, despite being the exact opposite of what the base says it’s looking for.

    He became wealthy as a lobbyist, representing tobacco companies and foreign governments. A former Republican Party chairman, he would seem the ultimate Washington insider. A white Southerner, he has faced questions about his remarks on race.

    As he steps closer to becoming a presidential candidate, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has some explaining to do. And rather than running away from his background, he is embracing it.

    A lobbyist? Well, he knows how to promote an agenda. An insider? He knows how government works and how to get things done for the American people. A Southerner? So were Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

    I tend to think his controversial past on race — he’s kept a confederate flag autographed by Jefferson Davis in his office — will be his undoing, but even if we put that aside, it’s awfully tough to imagine Republicans craving an aggressive outsider and then nominating a D.C. corporate lobbyist for president.

    To be sure, it’s not impossible. Last year, Indiana Republicans, dominated by Tea Partiers, said they were looking for someone ready to break with the past, question long-held assumptions, and bring a fresh perspective to the entrenched insiders in Congress. They then nominated and elected Dan Coats — a retired senator and corporate lobbyist who didn’t even want to live in Indiana anymore.

    But Barbour’s job is tougher. Coats faced weak primary opponents, and after the primary, he ran in a “red” state in a GOP year. Barbour will have to overcome stronger primary opponents, who’ll be better positioned to go after the governor’s past.

    It’s going to be a tough record to shake. When oil prices come up, voters will be reminded that Barbour was a well-paid lobbyist for energy companies. When immigration comes up, voters will hear about Barbour’s lobbying work for the Mexican government.

    Consider what happened last week when Barbour suggested he’s been to the Pentagon and is confident there are cost savings to be found. Bill Kristol not only blasted the policy position, he said it “raises the question of how much time Barbour has spent at the Pentagon — apart from time spent lobbying for defense contractors or foreign governments.”

    Barbour seems to think his record as a lobbyist is a point of pride. That’s fine. But he also seems to think it’ll help his presidential campaign, and that optimism appears to be misplaced.

    —Steve Benen 10:10 AM

  14. rikyrah says:

    You gotta admit…karma remains undefeated..

    ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL his bizness is coming out..


    He voted to take away the rights of QUALIFIED state employees to bargain, while his 26 year old HOOCHIE gets 35% salary boost..

    oh baby….these are political ads that need to run in a loop


    State officials justify worker’s 35% salary boost
    State officials said a state worker’s expanded duties and her past experience accounted for her thirty five percent salary increase over the pay of the employee who previously held her position.

    Officials said Valerie Cass, 26, who sources identified as a woman involved in a relationship with Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), was hired Feb. 7 by the department of regulation and licensing to a limited term, communciations specialist position at an hourly rate of $20.35. The hourly rate is equivalent to an annual salary of $42,328. Officials said the position was vacated by Robyn Lockett on Jan. 19. Officials said Lockett’s hourly rate was $15.00, equivalent to an annual salary of $31,200.

    “Mrs. Cass’s compensation was set based on her professional experience in communications, her degree in journalism and the expansion of job duties to include policy research and analysis,” DRL spokesperson David Carlson wrote in a statement.

    Hopper told WKOW27 News he played no role in Cass’ hire. Cass has yet to return phone calls from WKOW27 News seeking comment.

    The resume submitted by Cass to state officials reflects a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Marquette University. Her work experience includes a stint as a campaign field representative for Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), and work with Madison-based political consulting firm Persuasion Partners, Inc. According to Cass’ resume, the firm’s client list included Committee to Elect a Republican senate, and Dan Kapanke for Congress. Cass left the job in January.

    Last week, state officials told WKOW27 News Cass was hired to an existing state position. In materials provided to WKOW27 News Monday, officials stated Cass’ position was to “…assist the DRL Executive Assistant with preparing materials and scheduling legislative liason and outreach activities,” in addition to communications responsibilities.

    State officials provided no information as to whether Cass assumed legislative outreach work previously handed by other DRL employees.

    State records provided to WKOW27 News include a December email from Cass to then-Governor Walker transition team director Keith Gilkes, who is now Walker’s chief of staff. In the email, Cass referenced Walker’s plans for the department of commerce and a previous conversation with Gilkes, and asked about her job prospects. “I was wondering if you had any more details about when you have a spot ready for me?” The content of the email was first revealed in a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    Gubernatorial spokesperson Cullen Werwie did not directly address the salary increase for Cass’ position when asked by WKOW27 News whether Walker was aware of it, and whether it was consistent with Walker’s expectations for public employee compensation.

    “She is a temporary employee and does not receive compensation that is commensurate with other full time public employees. She does not get health insurance or pension benefits.”

    Last week, Hopper’s estranged wife, Alysia Hopper, publicly stated her husband started an affair in Madison in 2010 with a then-25-year old woman, and was no longer living in the family home he listed as his official residence in the senate district. Hopper told WKOW27 News he now lives in an apartment in the senate district. The property owner, who is an employee of Hopper’s group of radion stations, confirmed his residence.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Civics for Suckers
    by BooMan
    Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 09:12:26 PM EST

    Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912, just two years before Franz Ferdinand’s assassination sparked the First World War. It shouldn’t need to be said, but before Arizona was a state it wasn’t a state. The territory that became Arizona was pried away from Mexico and formally annexed in pieces between 1848 and 1853. When the Founding Fathers were hashing out the original compromises that went into drafting the U.S. Constitution, Arizona belonged to Spain. Let’s keep these facts in mind while considering the political philosophy of Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce (R). He’s upset that the federal government doesn’t recognize Arizona’s right to set immigration policy:

    PEARCE: U.S. history, most of us weren’t around when the Constitution was written. But you remember we kind of existed before Congress, the states. We created the Congress, we created the federal government, by compact. Do you know what existed before the Congress, the states? Do you know, you’re not a citizen of the United States. You’re a citizen of a sovereign state. The fifty sovereign states makes up United States of America, we’re citizens of those sovereign states. It is not a delegated authority. It’s an inherent authority that states have over the federal government. [applause] It’s about time somebody gets it right!

    What existed prior to the War of Independence were colonies. After independence, they were referred to as states and they drew up the Articles of Confederation. Only in this sense did the states precede the ratification of the Constitution. Arizona wasn’t one of those states. As Zaid Jilani at Think Progress notes, the Constitution clearly states that it “shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.” One of the powers expressly given to Congress is the right and obligation “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” In addition, Article 5 of the Constitution clearly provides for an amendment process, making the Fourteenth Amendment as valid as the first ten. And the Fourteenth Amendment clearly states that:

    1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    What this means is that the people of Arizona are both citizens of that state and of the United States of America. It also means that Arizona cannot make any law that takes U.S. citizenship away from a naturally-born person. Even if you somehow do not accept any amendment after the Tenth to be legitimate because your state entered into its agreement to form a compact prior to the enactment of those amendments, Arizona agreed to join the compact forty-four years after the enactment of the 14th Amendment. If you want to appeal to “original intent,” you really ought to ask the King of Spain. Spain still has a king; he’s still alive; and, presumably, he can offer his opinion on how the monarchy intended to deal with the U.S. citizenship of its subjects at the time the Constitution was being debated and ratified. After all, I could just as easily argue that the citizens of Pennsylvania never had any intention of allowing Spain’s subjects to vote in our federal elections, and that, therefore, we do not have to recognize Arizona’s Electoral Votes. It makes more sense that what Senator Pearce is arguing, if you ask me.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Obama is a multilaterlist pussy
    by Comrade DougJ

    First Chunky Bobo, now Bobo:

    Yet today, as an impeccably crafted multilateral force intervenes in Libya, certain old feelings are coming back to the surface. These feelings have been buried since the 1990s, when multilateral efforts failed in Kosovo, Rwanda and Iraq. They concern the structural weaknesses that bedevil multilateral efforts. They remind us that unilateralism may be no walk in the park, but multilateralism has its own characteristic problems, which are showing up already in Libya.

    Look, I’m ambivalent at best about US involvement in Libya. And, no, I don’t think that “international support” automatically makes the mission awesome.

    But I’ll tell you what, if I had spent four years sucking W’s cock about the greatness of going it alone in the quest to spread freedom to Iraq, I would probably shut the fuck about my opinions on the shortcomings of multilateralism.

  17. rikyrah says:

    The Stoner Arms DealersHow two American kids became big-time weapons traders — until the Pentagon turned on them
    By Guy Lawson
    March 16, 2011 9:00 AM ET
    The e-mail confirmed it: everything was finally back on schedule after weeks of maddening, inexplicable delay. A 747 cargo plane had just lifted off from an airport in Hungary and was banking over the Black Sea toward Kyrgyzstan, some 3,000 miles to the east. After stopping to refuel there, the flight would carry on to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Aboard the plane were 80 pallets loaded with nearly 5 million rounds of ammunition for AK-47s, the Soviet-era assault rifle favored by the Afghan National Army.

    The American Wikileaks Hacker

    Reading the e-mail back in Miami Beach, David Packouz breathed a sigh of relief. The shipment was part of a $300 million contract that Packouz and his partner, Efraim Diveroli, had won from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. It was May 2007, and the war was going badly. After six years of fighting, Al Qaeda remained a menace, the Taliban were resurgent, and NATO casualties were rising sharply. For the Bush administration, the ammunition was part of a desperate, last-ditch push to turn the war around before the U.S. presidential election the following year. To Packouz and Diveroli, the shipment was part of a major arms deal that promised to make them seriously rich.

    This article appears in the March 31, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive March 18.

    Reassured by the e-mail, Packouz got into his brand-new blue Audi A4 and headed home for the evening, windows open, the stereo blasting. At 25, he wasn’t exactly used to the pressures of being an international arms dealer. Only months earlier, he had been making his living as a massage therapist; his studies at the Educating Hands School of Massage had not included classes in military contracting or geopolitical brinkmanship. But Packouz hadn’t been able to resist the temptation when Diveroli, his 21-year-old friend from high school, had offered to cut him in on his burgeoning arms business. Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history

  18. rikyrah says:

    Wanker of the Day: Sarah Palin
    by BooMan
    Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 05:06:46 PM EST

    If she was in third grade, this would be cute:

    During a tour of the Western Wall Palin expressed support for Jews praying openly at the Temple Mount asking her Israeli tour guides, “why are you apologizing all the time?” The Jerusalem Post reported.
    The Temple Mount, a holy site to both Jews and Muslims, is one of the world’s most contested religious sites.

    One of Palin’s tour guides World Likud Chairman Danny Danon said Palin “really connected to the story of the Jewish nation.”

    According to The Jerusalem Post, Danon said “I can clearly say from the questions she asked in relation to our conflict here with the Muslims in these holy sites that she knows that we are right and that the Muslims are just claiming things for provocation and they’re not right.”

    The former Alaska governor prayed at the Wall and left a note with a personal prayer in it.

    “It’s overwhelming to be able to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith,” Palin reportedly said. “I’m so thankful to be able to be here, and I’m thankful to know the Israel-American connection will grow and strengthen as the peace negotiations continue.”

    I don’t really know what to say. I hope Netanyahu has a very rewarding and intellectually stimulating dinner with Sarah and Todd. I hope he learns all about elk meat and moose dressing. And I expect he’ll pat her on the head and tell she’s very discerning for realizing that he’s right, nearly everyone else is wrong, and there are a lot of cry babies in the world who are just trying to be provocative.

    Some days I just want to bang my head against a wall. Recently, the feeling can go on for a whole week.

  19. rikyrah says:

    March 22, 2011
    TAKING TAXES OFF THE TABLE?…. If policymakers are going to emphasize debt reduction above all else — they shouldn’t, but if they do — it’s obvious some tax increases are going to have to be part of the mix. The deficit and debt are simply too large to tackle by spending cuts alone — to bring the budget closer to balance, the government is going to have to bring in some additional revenue.

    This isn’t complicated. It isn’t even controversial. Any intellectually serious look at the nation’s fiscal challenges makes this obvious, a fact even some Republicans are occasionally willing to acknowledge.

    But therein lies the problem. Some in the GOP are still eyeing a “grand bargain” that would require Republicans to accept some additional tax revenue in exchange for entitlement cuts. For much of the right, such a compromise simply cannot happen — any deal that that raises any tax on anyone by any amount is necessarily unacceptable.

    According to Grover Norquist, conservatives have nothing to worry about.

    …Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have pledged to Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist they will not support any deficit reduction package that increases taxes.

    This promise will make it considerably tougher to get Democrats to agree to a broad deficit reduction package. […]

    Norquist says Senate and House Republican leaders have promised not to allow history to repeat itself. “I’ve talked to the Senate leadership and House leadership. They’re not voting on tax increases and they know that,” Norquist told The Hill Friday.

    What about the Senate Republicans involved in the Gang of Six talks — Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) — who’ve said taxes have to be on the table? Norquist added, “I’ve talked to the three guys in the room and they’ve promised not to vote any tax increases.”

    Now, it’s worth noting that Norquist isn’t exactly a credible figure in this debate, and it’s possible he’s making this up as part of a larger strategy. It’s also possible that the players are fudging the definition of “tax increase” — they could keep rates the same, but bring in additional revenue by tweaking eligibility, exemptions, and deductions.

    But if Norquist is telling the truth, and the entirety of the Republican Party has ruled out any and all efforts to increase revenue, the “grand bargain” is dead, the most popular deficit reduction ideas have been wholly rejected by the GOP, and the prospects of a larger bipartisan deal on fiscal issues is now impossible.

    —Steve Benen 9:20 AM

  20. rikyrah says:

    Poll: Strong Partisan Divide In Support For Health Care Law
    Exactly one year after Congress passed the landmark health care law, a new Gallup poll out today shows that Americans opinions’ of the law are split — and split along party lines.

    By and large, Democrats said they think it was a good thing that the law — which was pushed by Democrats and signed into law by a Democratic president — was passed. Republicans, meanwhile, said largely the opposite. Moreover, public opinion has barely budged since the law was signed last year, meaning it remains a highly polarizing issue just ahead of next year’s presidential election.

    In the poll, 46% of American adults said it was a good thing that Congress passed health care reform, compared to 44% who said it was a bad thing. That’s a slight drop in support from one year ago, when Gallup found that 49% of Americans liked the law, versus 40% who did not.

    Just under 80% of self-identified Democrats told Gallup that they thought the health care law was a good idea, compared to only 14% who said it was not. Those numbers are almost perfectly reversed on the GOP side, where only 18% said the law was a good thing, and three-fourths said the opposite.

    Independents were more closely split, with 37% giving the law a thumbs up, and 51% giving it a thumbs down.

    Gallup’s findings follow a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week which found that 42% of adults viewed the law favorably, versus 46% who viewed it unfavorably.

  21. rikyrah says:

    CNN Correspondent Goes Ballistic Over Fox News Libya/Human Shield Report (VIDEO)
    CNN correspondent Nic Robertson has a bone or two to pick with Fox News, which reported today that he and other journalists were used by the Libyan Ministry of Information as human shields, in a successful bid to block a coming, second attack on a compound in Tripoli, supposedly controlled by Qaddafi.

    “[T]his allegation is outrageous and it’s absolutely hypocritical. When you come to somewhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship here,” Robertson told Wolf Blitzer. “You don’t expect it from the other journalists.”

    Fox claims their own correspondent, Steve Harrigan, declined to accept the invitation from the Libyans for fear of being used as a propaganda tool, and perhaps a human shield. But Robertson claims Fox did indeed send an employee on the trip — not a regular news guy — and that Harrigan has been asleep on the job since hostilities began.

    “I see him more times at breakfast than out on trips with government officials here,” Robertson said. “So for them to say and call this — to say they didn’t go and for them to call this and say this was government propaganda to hold us there as human shields when they didn’t even leave the hotel … is ridiculous.”

    Fox is staking out high-ground here, claiming they were above being used by the government. Nonsense, says Robertson. “They sent a member of their team. He was not editorial. He was nontechnical, not normally a cameraman.”

    Robertson added that the reason he and many other reporters agree to this and similar outings is simple. “[W]e go on these government trips … for a very simple reason because we don’t want government officials to film it themselves, edit it themselves and hand it off to us,” Robertson said, raising the suggestion that Harrigan’s reporting from Libya is suspect or incomplete.

  22. rikyrah says:

    CA Gov. Brown pressures GOP with YouTube video

    By David Edwards
    Monday, March 21st, 2011 — 4:37 pm
    For weeks, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers for his budget.

    In a new YouTube video, Brown is now asking California voters to put the pressure directly on legislators.

    The state has a massive budget gap of about $26.5 billion. Lawmakers have covered about half of that, mostly by agreeing to cut services for the poor.

    “The cuts targeted welfare recipients, poor families in need of health care for their children, the disabled and college students and their families,” according to San Jose Mercury News.

    Brown wants cover the rest of the budget largely through temporary extensions of sales and vehicle taxes.

    Since Republicans haven’t been willing to come to the table, Brown now wants a special election so voters can decide between tax extensions and what he called “painful cuts.”

    “This is a matter that’s too big, too irreversible, to leave just to those whom you’ve elected,” he said in his first ever video as governor.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Yemeni Leader Offers to Exit Earlier

    Even as President Ali Abdullah Saleh indicated on Tuesday he would accept a proposal for his early departure from office, the Yemeni leader and opposition figures that now include one of the country’s senior military commanders were still at odds over the next stage in the country’s deepening crisis

    Mr. Saleh appeared willing to shift ground after a wave of high-level officials, including the senior commander, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsin al-Ahmar, abandoned him and threw their support behind protesters calling for his ouster. Previously Mr. Saleh had offered only to leave by 2013.

    But a spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties, a coalition of opposition parties, called the president “a liar” and said that the group had not been in communication with Mr. Saleh since a bloody assault on a demonstration last Friday that killed at least 45 people.

    “He has one option and it is to leave now, right now, without delaying, without conditions,” the spokesman, Mohammed Qahtan, said.

    Mr. Saleh, too, struck a defiant tone in a short, nationally televised address on Tuesday before the country’s National Defense Council, telling the assembled military officers still loyal to him that “the winds won’t shake you” and warning against a coup.

    The latest of the departures came on Tuesday when Abdel-Malik Mansour, Yemen’s representative to the Arab League, told Al Arabiya television he had thrown his support behind the protesters. Abdul-Rahman al-Iryani, the minister of water and environment, who was dismissed with the rest of the cabinet on Sunday, also said he was joining “the revolutionaries.”

    A government official, who spoke in return for anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said on Tuesday that the details of Mr. Saleh’s proposal were not yet clear and were “still in the works.” The opposition plan, initially proposed by the formal opposition parties earlier this month but rejected by street protesters, urged Mr. Saleh to complete arrangements for his departure by the end of the year. But since then, the opposition parties have backed away from the offer, joining with street demonstrators calling for Mr. Saleh to quit immediately.

  24. Ametia says:


  25. Ametia says:

    LAWMARCH 22, 2011.
    U.S. Banks Oppose Tighter Money Rules

    Even as governments freeze assets tied to regimes in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, U.S. banks are resisting efforts to tighten international rules to prevent the flow of money from corrupt politicians.

    The Financial Action Task Force, part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that sets international standards for money-laundering laws, is conducting a review of its guidelines aimed at closing loopholes.

    The review, due to be completed later this year, comes amid criticism of banks for holding billions of dollars in assets allegedly belonging to regimes in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Swiss bank regulators are looking into whether …

  26. Ametia says:

    U.S.-Led Assault Nears Goal in Libya

    WASHINGTON — An American-led military campaign to destroy Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s air defenses and establish a no-fly zone over Libya has nearly accomplished its initial objectives, and the United States is moving swiftly to hand command to allies in Europe, American officials said Monday.

    But the firepower of more than 130 Tomahawk cruise missiles and attacks by allied warplanes have not yet succeeded in accomplishing the more ambitious demands by the United States — repeated by President Obama in a letter to Congress on Monday — that Colonel Qaddafi withdraw his forces from embattled cities and cease all attacks against civilians.

    Libyan government forces continued to engage in scattered fighting on Monday, defying the United Nations resolutions authorizing the allied strikes. The resolution demands an immediate cease-fire by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces and an end to attacks on civilians.

  27. Ametia says:

    In the Mideast, U.S. policy is still driven by realism
    By Eugene Robinson, Monday, March 21, 7:33 PM

    Anyone looking for principle and logic in the attack on Moammar Gaddafi’s tyrannical regime will be disappointed. President Obama and his advisers should acknowledge the obvious truth: They are reacting to the revolutionary fervor in the Arab world with the arbitrary “realism” that is a superpower’s prerogative.

    Faced with an armed uprising by democracy-seeking rebels, Gaddafi threatened to turn all of Libya into a charnel house. The United States and its allies responded with overwhelming military force that is clearly intended to cripple the government and boost the revolt’s chances of success.

    Thus begins our third concurrent Middle East war. No one has the slightest idea how, or when, this one will end.

    I have to admit that I, too, would have found it hard to stand idly by as Gaddafi drenched the streets of Benghazi in blood. But what makes it any easier to watch other despots do the same thing?

    In Yemen, forces loyal to dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh have slaughtered dozens of defenseless protesters seeking democratic reform. Saleh, who has ruled the nation for 33 years, clings desperately to power despite having been abandoned by many of his political supporters and some of his generals. He has shown nothing but defiance. “Every day we hear a statement from Obama saying, ‘Egypt, you can’t do this, Tunisia, don’t do that,’” Saleh said in a speech earlier this month. “Are you president of the United States, or president of the world?”

    Read on

  28. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, EVerbody! :-)

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