The Breakfast Club :: Rat Pack Edition

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re an outspoken, whip-smart, glittering (especially psychodrew) group of rebel lefties who hang out and croon, sip on martinis, pat ourselves on the back, rub elbows with the connected and the disconnected, and generally enjoy being ourselves and being with one another.  At times we may get ourselves into some trouble because we can be as pointed as we are insanely charismatic. That’s why you love us, that’s why you keep coming back.  Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our glamorous, exciting lives and to make fun of LaEscapee. If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.  If anything, ever, goes wrong, you can be sure Phil had a hand in it.

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This Day in History

This bit was posted at Voices on the Square, The Stars Holllow Gazette, Docudharma, and Daily Kos.

Breakfast News



Four years ago, as I spoke to a Taliban leader about peace negotiations with the Afghan government, the conversation took an unusual turn: the Taliban leader wanted to talk about an American hostage named Bowe Bergdahl.

The official, whom I met in Islamabad, Pakistan, was a leader of the Haqqani network, a branch of the Taliban waging a long war to expel Americans from Afghanistan. The group had captured Bergdahl, an American soldier who had disappeared from a base in eastern Afghanistan a year before.

The Taliban official told me that Bergdahl had managed to escape briefly from his Taliban captors. At the time, the official said, Bergdahl was being held in Pakistan. He had apparently been unable to find his way back to American-controlled territory. “He didn’t know where he was-he didn’t have a G.P.S.,” the Taliban leader said, referring to the sort of hand-held device that could have helped him find his way. “You Americans are so dependent on technology. He didn’t know how to navigate by the stars, like we can.” The Taliban leader laughed. Bergdahl, he said, was quickly recaptured. It was impossible to verify the Taliban leader’s account, though at the time it didn’t seem implausible. Now that Bergdahl has finally been released-traded for five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo-our discussion resonates for another reason: what it says about the role of the Pakistani government in the Bergdahl affair.

I had gone to Islamabad to investigate a bizarre and disturbing chain of events that had led to the capture, earlier in the year, of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the military commander of the Afghan Taliban. When Baradar was caught, by a team of C.I.A. and Pakistani agents, the arrest was hailed as a great moment of American and Pakistani cooperation. But, as with almost everything that involves our Pakistani allies, things were not as they seemed. It turned out that Pakistani agents had maneuvered the C.I.A. into arresting Baradar because he was involved in secret peace talks with the government of Afghanistan, which the Pakistani intelligence service wanted to scuttle. Sure enough, the Americans had taken the bait, and the talks had come to an end.

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[Is Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s release a success story – or a scandal?

Out of America: It’s the American way to make politics out of everything, and this is no exception…

RUPERT CORNWELL – Sunday 8 June 2014 – The Independent

Only in America. A US soldier held captive by the Taliban for five years is finally released. A moment, you might think, for national rejoicing. Instead, the affair is instantly transmuted into scandal and, for Republicans in Washington, becomes part of the case against Barack Obama and the Democrats – five months before mid-term elections in which they were already hoping to make substantial gains.

But is it a scandal at all? Here are the established facts: Private (now Sergeant) Bowe Bergdahl left his unit in Paktika province, eastern Afghanistan, in June 2009 and was captured by the Taliban; every effort to rescue him or to secure his release by negotiation failed, until 31 May when the President announced a deal for his return, in exchange for five former Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay.

The rest, to put it mildly, is murky. It has been suggested Bergdahl was a Taliban sympathiser, that he left his post in order to desert, or that he was in fact planning to return (according to some reports he’d “gone walkabout” twice before). Most serious perhaps, it has been claimed that six US soldiers lost their lives in the efforts to locate and free him. For the President’s opponents, these allegations are already gospel. More of that in a moment.

First, two misconceptions about the affair must be disposed of: one is that America “never negotiates with terrorists”. Please. Jimmy Carter negotiated with Iranians whom he called terrorists, for the release of the Americans taken hostage at the Teheran embassy in 1979. For seven years Ronald Reagan secretly negotiated with the same Islamic regime – in what would go public as the Iran-Contra affair – to secure the freedom of American hostages in Beirut.

From prayers to fury: The journey of Bowe BergdahlBy Associated Press, Updated: Saturday, June 7, 9:29 AM

A Black Hawk appears in the clouds. After almost five years in captivity, the American soldier, head shaved, eyes blinking, is about to finally see freedom.

“We’ve been looking for you for a long time,” a member of a special forces team shouts over the roar of the copter. Bergdahl breaks down.

It was supposed to be a moment for celebration, America’s only military captive in the 13-year Afghan conflict free at last. And in his hometown in Idaho, where trees are bedecked with yellow ribbons and prayers never stopped, indeed it is.

But for the rest of the country, Bergdahl’s capture and release have thrust him into a furious debate.

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Democratic Republic of Congo: 37 die in ethnically motivated massacre

JACK SIMPSON – Saturday 07 June 2014 – The Independent

At least 37 people are thought to have been killed in an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports have said.

Eight children and 18 women are believed to be among the victims of the massacre that was carried out early on Saturday morning in the country’s eastern province, just south of Kivu.

Victims had been shot, stabbed or burnt to death according to witness reports from the scene.

South Kivu’s Interior Minister Jean-Julien Miruho told Agence France Presse news agency that the attack had likely been revenge for cattle raids.

However, others believe it could have been ethnically motivated, with all the victims being of Bafuliru descent.

Ebola Outbreak Plagues West Africa

VOA News – June 07, 2014 12:14 PM

Experts say the ebola outbreak in West Africa is far from under control.

The virus has killed more than 200 people since it appeared in southeastern Guinea in February. It is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, even after that person dies.

Dozens of new ebola cases have been reported in Guinea and across the border in Sierra Leone since the end of May. The disease is rebounding in some areas and cropping up for the first time in others.

Liberia has not reported any new cases in a month. Liberia’s Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Nyenswa Tolbert, told VOA the country has focused on educating communities on the dangers of some traditional practices.

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Thabo Mbeki’s Mother Dies as Zuma is Admitted to Hospital

By Oliver Ngwenya | 2014-06-07 20:20 – The Public News Hub

It is a bad weekend in South Africa. As the nation mourns the death of the mother of former president, Thabo Mbeki, the serving president, Jacob Zuma, was admitted to hospital on Saturday.

It started with the news that Epainette Mbeki had been admitted to a private hospital in East London in the Eastern Cape during the week where, according to one of her sons, Moeletsi Mbeki, the doctors and staff at the hospital had done well to help improve her condition, which was reported as a chest ailment. It was later reported by the public broadcaster, the SABC, that she had passed on. This was confirmed by the Mbeki family, adding that her condition was mainly respiratory problems.

MaMbeki, as she had been popularly known, was born in February, 1916 in the then Transkei. She was educated at Adams College and Lovedale Teachers College after which she taught at Taylor Street Secondary School. During the course of her career, MaMbeki taught with Govan, the man she later married and the later father of her four children. The two married in 1940 and she moved to Transkei where they set up the family home and a trading store which became the source of family income. The two were blessed with four children; Linda, Thabo, Moeletsi and Jama. Thabo was later to become democratic South Africa’s second President after Nelson Mandela.

Epainette Mbeki’s political activism started as early as the 1930′s when she became the second woman after Josie Palmer to join the Communist Party of South Africa. She became an active member of the movement in Durban. Following the life imprisonment of her husband at the notorious Rivonia Trial, she moved to Ngcingwane following the exiling of her three children, Thabo, Moeletsi and Jama. Here, she continued to work hard towards the upliftment of the community. At the time of her passing on, MaMbeki was still working towards the poor marginalized black people of her community.

South African President Jacob Zuma admitted to hospital

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been admitted to hospital for tests, his office has announced.

“Yesterday President Zuma was advised to rest following a demanding election,” a statement said. Doctors were satisfied with his condition.

Mr Zuma, 72, was sworn in for a second term on 24 May following the African National Congress election victory.

His cabinet has to tackle worsening economic problems with unemployment at nearly 25%, analysts say.

S Africa mines ‘can afford’ strikers’ demands – Study says wage raises demanded in country’s longest strike could be met if mining companies reduce their dividends.

Top platinum producers could afford wage hikes demanded by striking miners in South Africa if their shareholders took a cut in dividends, according to a study by Manchester University and Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand.

Thousands of miners have been on strike for five months in a bid to get their employers to double their basic monthly pay to $1,180 in three years.

The platinum producers say they may be able to reach that figure over the period as long as it was the total cost to the company and included housing and benefits.

The study said that if Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum were to slash their dividends by about 20 percent, salaries could be increased by $170 a year over a four-year period – reaching the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)’s demands.

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Pakistan survivor of honour killing attempt fears for her life

Lahore: A Pakistani woman who survived an attack by relatives who tried to kill her for marrying for love on Friday said that she feared for her life and appealed for protection.

Saba Maqsood, 18, survived being shot and thrown in a canal by her family on Thursday, weeks after the “honour killing” of another woman in Pakistan drew worldwide condemnation.

Maqsood angered her family by marrying the man of her choice a few days ago in the Punjabi city of Gujranwala – an act of defiance in a conservative part of Pakistan where women are expected to agree to arranged marriages.

“Even though police provided me with security, I fear that my family will try to kill me and my husband,” Maqsood, still weak after being shot twice in the cheek and right hand, told Reuters by telephone from her hospital bed.

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Pakistani Woman Survives Being Shot and Dumped in Canal by Family

By Irene Chidinma Nwoye –

Police authorities in Pakistan say an 18-year-old survived being shot and dumped in a canal by her family because she married a man they didn’t approve of, Reuters reports. Saba Maqsood was shot by her father, uncle, brother and aunt in the attempted “honor killing,” then put into a sack and left for dead in a waterway in Hafizabad, a city in the Punjab province.

Masqood violated her family’s wishes by marrying five days ago. Injured on her cheek and right hand, she was rescued by passerby after regaining consciousness and making her way out of the bank of the canal where she’d been left.

Late last month, a pregnant 25-year-old woman was killed by a mob of family members in a similar incident, one which turned even darker when her chosen husband told reporters he had strangled his first wife to death. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said that 869 “honor killing” cases were reported by the media last year.

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Pakistani human rights activists carry a symbolic coffin on International Women’s Day in Islamabad in March 2014.

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Must Read Blog Posts/Articles

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The Women of the Rat Pack

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Daily Wiki:

Rat Pack

The Rat Pack was a group of actors originally centered on Humphrey Bogart. In the mid-1960s it was the name used by the press and the general public to refer to a later variation of the group, after Bogart’s death, that called itself “the Summit” or “the Clan,” featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop; they appeared together on stage and in films in the early 1960s, including the movies Ocean’s 11, Sergeants 3, and Robin and the 7 Hoods (in the last film, Bing Crosby replaced Lawford). Sinatra, Martin, and Davis were regarded as the group’s lead members.

The name “The Rat Pack” was first used to refer to a group of friends in New York.[4][5] Several explanations have been offered for the famous name over the years. According to one version, the group’s original “Den Mother,” Lauren Bacall, after seeing her husband (Bogart) and his friends return from a night in Las Vegas, said words to the effect of “You look like a goddamn rat pack.”[4] “Rat Pack” may also be a shortened version of “Holmby Hills Rat Pack”, a reference to the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall[4][5] which served as a regular hangout.

Visiting members included Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney, and Cesar Romero.

According to Stephen Bogart, the original members of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack were: Frank Sinatra (pack master), Judy Garland (first vice-president), Bacall (den mother), Sid Luft (cage master), Bogart (rat in charge of public relations), Swifty Lazar (recording secretary and treasurer), Nathaniel Benchley (historian), David Niven, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen.[4][5] In his autobiography The Moon’s a Balloon, David Niven confirms that the Rat Pack originally included him but not Sammy Davis, Jr. nor Dean Martin.

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Happy Birthday Ol’ Blue Eyes

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Did you say “breakfast?”

How about a breakfast martini?

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If martinis aren’t you’re thing, bourbon, perhaps?

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Something to Think About Over Prozac Coffee Cocktails:

“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.”  ~ Frank Sinatra

“The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.” ~ Frank Sinatra

“Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” ~ Frank Sinatra

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From the Saving the Best for Last Department:

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Angel:  DeadHead, you know you’ve already had two pieces of cake, I don’t think you should have a third.

DeadHead:  You’re not the boss of me!

Angel:  So you say.  I would appreciate it if you would stop giving me the finger.

DeadHead:  But that’s my index finger, not my F-U finger!

Angel:  That’s it, no more cocktails for you!

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Stupid Quiet, Deep Shit LaEscapee Wrote:

I Had a Whole Diary.  

“I was nowhere near a computer and had no pen or piece of paper on hand. “

LaEscapee is a man of few words.  They say still waters run deep.  He ain’t heavy, man, he’s my brother.  Even though he, and Ek Hornbeck and TheMomCat have all been BANNED from the GOS, they are still members in good standing of The Breakfast Club and That Group.  Love to you, banned ones.

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Breakfast Tunes

Fans of The Sopranos may remember this song from the episode, Funhouse, wherein after a series of food-poisoning induced fever dreams, it becomes clear to Tony that his best friend, Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bompensiero has been ratting on the crew to the feds.  The guys lure Pussy onto a yacht to confront him about it, and while in the cabin, Pussy turns on the stereo and this song comes on.  After that … sorry Big Pussy, but as they said in Goodfellas, never open your mouth, and never rat on your friends.  SPLASH!

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Confidential to all you breakfast club lurkers:

Go ahead and weigh in, just leave the pie for another day.  If you check your preconceived notions about us, and your closely-held political positions at the door, you may find that we all have a lot more in common than not.  Step in, have some fun with us.  I double-dog dare you!

 photo dfh.jpgWe get that you’re frustrated, and feel that the community moderation system does not always appear “fair and balanced,” but pretty please with sugar on top don’t bring your pie wars into The Breakfast Club.  We don’t want to reinforce our already dirtier than a dirty fucking hippie angry, hateful, fringy image.  Your anticipated cooperation is much appreciated, and That Group thanks you in advance.

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