$2.7 billion in TARP money went to British Rum maker

$2.7 billion in TARP money went to British Rum maker

Yep. We taxpayers now have “a little Captain in all of us.” Too bad it’s because our tax dollars went to the rum distiller who makes Captain Morgan rum.

Via Crooks and Liars we get the not surprising news that the $750 billion we shelled out in TARP to save American banks ended up lining the pockets of just about everyone else except our troubled financial institutions.

With that much free money floating around, it was bound to happen. Any idiot could have predicted it – which makes Paulson, Bush, Geithner, and Obama certifiable loons if they didn’t see this coming.

Ryan Donmoyer of Bloomberg has the incredible details:

In June 2008, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh Jr. agreed to give London-based Diageo Plc billions of dollars in tax incentives to move its production of Captain Morgan rum from one U.S. island — Puerto Rico — to another, namely St. Croix. DeJongh says he had no idea his deal would help make the world’s largest liquor distiller the most unlikely beneficiary of the emergency Troubled Asset Relief Program approved by Congress just four months later.

Today, as two 56-foot-high (17-meter-high) tanks for holding fermenting molasses will soon rise from the ground on the Caribbean island of St. Croix, the extent to which dozens of nonbank companies benefited from last October’s emergency financial rescue plan is just beginning to come to light.

The hurried legislation adopted by a Congress voting under the threat of sudden global economic collapse led to hidden tax breaks for firms in dozens of industries. They included builders of Nascar auto-racing tracks, restaurant chains such as Burger King Holdings Inc., movie and television producers — and London’s Diageo.

“It’s kind of like the magician’s sleight of hand,” says former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William Thomas, a California Republican who ran the committee from 2001 to 2007 and oversaw all tax legislation. “They snuck these things in a bill that was focused on other things.”

And this is the tip of the iceberg. Anyone know where the stimulus money is really going? How about the trillions the Federal Reserve has paid out to keep banks in the business of lending short term to corporations so they could pay their employees (supposedly)?

The problem with truly eyepopping amounts of money – besides the fact that it adds to the deficit and the long term debt – is that it is virtually impossible to keep track of. Untold billions – perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars – has been handed out to people and companies who don’t deserve it and had no business getting it in the first place.

It’s like piling up stacks and stacks of hundred dollar bills – perhaps several dozen stories high – and just lighting a match to it.

Oh well, not to worry. There’s more where that came from. The generosity of us taxpayers will see to that – or at least, the generosity of Obama and the Democrats who don’t believe your money is yours anyway. They think it is the government’s money and that it is their decision just how much of your money you get to keep rather than you deciding how much the government gets.

Next time you have a Mojito or a Cuba libra, remember: Your tax dollars are helping the world get sloshed.


Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/06/27_billion_in_tarp_money_went.html at June 29, 2009 – 12:38:23 PM EDT

Is Obama losing his political magic?

Is Obama losing his political magic?

Rick Moran
Byron York, writing in the New York Post , believes that if Obama’s health care bill fails to pass, he will be seen as just another politician and will have lost his “MoJo:”

If the public turns on Obama, it won’t be out of animus to him personally. People will always think him smart and charismatic — for the simple reason that he is. Nor are they ever likely to conclude that’s he’s a radical or cynic. His affect is too reasonable for the first and too earnest for the second.

No, the danger is that the public will conclude that he’s “a nice young man” — talented and well-meaning, but ineffectual and a little naive.

The fight over health care will be telling. Once again, people are being asked to believe that a trillion dollars in new spending is fiscally prudent. Once again, they’re being asked to believe that the government can manage an enormous, complex enterprise — even more so than the auto companies. Once again, they’re being asked by their audaciously ambitious, supremely self-confident president to suspend their disbelief.

If the public doesn’t go along this time, the Obama phenomenon will have experienced the end of its heroic period.

Obama will have failed to achieve a goal he defined as of paramount importance. His accomplishments will look small compared to the vast accumulation of new debt — especially if a rising unemployment rate continues to discredit the stimulus.

York is probably correct except there’s little chance some kind of health care bill won’t become a reality. The only chance it will be defeated is if liberals join with Republicans to defeat it – not impossible but very unlikely. This means there will also be some kind of “public option” since this is what the liberals are demanding at a minimum.

Obama too, wants a public option and will use the considerable power of his office to make sure it’s in the final bill. Even weak presidents know how to use the handles and levers of power against Congress if they step out of line. And given the outright thuggery the Obama administration has used elsewhere, it stands to reason they will not hesitate to threaten recalcitrant congressmen if they don’t toe the line on the public option.

But York, writing in the New York Post, is correct in his analysis – which is why the administration will fight tooth and nail to get something passed this year.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/06/is_obama_losing_his_political.html at June 29, 2009 – 12:31:29 PM EDT

The 8 cap-and-tax Republicans…and the 44 Democrats who voted no

Michelle Malkin 

Lead Story

The 8 cap-and-tax Republicans…and the 44 Democrats who voted no

By Michelle Malkin  •  June 26, 2009 10:52 PM

Introducing the GOP’s Cap-And-Tax 8…

Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti

I listed them earlier tonight, but am breaking out a separate post to spotlight them again.

The 8 cap-and-tax Republican turncoats again are:

Bono Mack (CA) (202) 225-5330
Castle (DE) (202) 225-4165
Kirk (IL) (202) 225-4385 (And he’s seriously considering running for Senate!)
Lance (NJ) (202) 225-5361
LoBiondo (NJ) (202) 225-6572
McHugh (NY) (202) 225-4611
Reichert (WA) (202) 225-7761
Smith (NJ) (202) 225-3765

(Phone numbers h/t commenter rightwingmom)

Congrats, congresspeople, you helped the Democrats pass a junk science-based, massive national energy tax. Headed to Disney World now?

We still want to know: What were your payoffs/earmarks?


Stacy McCain’s message to the NRCC: Not one red cent.


In case you were wondering, here are the 44 Democrat NAY votes:

Davis (AL)
Davis (TN)
Donnelly (IN)
Edwards (TX)
Herseth Sandlin
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Wilson (OH)

Reminder: The two Republicans who didn’t vote: Jeff Flake (AZ) and John Sullivan (OK).

Here’s why: Flake had a “family conflict” (his daughter is reportedly in a beauty pageant in Alabama tomorrow) and Sullivan is undergoing alcohol treatment. As I noted earlier today, Dem. Rep. Patrick Kennedy was pulled out of rehab to cast his vote.

And another reminder that the full roll call vote is here.

Breakthrough on the Authorship of Obama’s ‘Dreams’

Breakthrough on the Authorship of Obama’s ‘Dreams’

By Jack Cashill

Within days of my going public last September with the speculation that terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers helped Barack Obama write his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, I learned that I was not alone in that intuition.

Since then, I have received helpful contributions from serious people in at least five countries and any number of states and have integrated many of their observations into my ongoing narrative, summarized here.  If you are unfamiliar with this research, please read this before going forward. 


About a week ago, however, I heard from a new contributor.  I will refer to him as “Mr. West.” Like most contributors, he prefers to remain anonymous.  The media punishment that Joe the Plumber received has much to do with this nearly universal reticence.


A week before that, I heard from another excellent contributor, Mr. Midwest.  Their collective contribution should dispel the doubts of all but the willfully blind that Ayers played a substantial role, likely the primary role, in the writing of Dreams.


As a reminder, there is no reliable computer science for determining authorship.  In assessing the value of the existing science, think polygraph, not DNA.  Polygraph-level scholarship may suffice for harmless speculation about the authorship of Midsummer’s Night Dream, but not for Dreams From My Father.  Too much is at stake for the latter.


The experts in the field have told me to stick with old-fashioned literary detective work, and I have done just that.  Mr, Midwest has helped.  His most recent contribution is a good example of keen-eyed detection. 


Going forward, I will be referring to five books.  These include Ayers’ 1993 To Teach, his 1997 A Kind and Just Parent (shorthand: Parent), his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, and Obama’s 1995 Dreams From My Father (Dreams). Casual critics of this research have repeated the canard that I attributed both Obama books, Dreams and the 2006 Audacity of Hope (Audacity), to Ayers.  I never have.  From the beginning, I have asserted that the two books appear to have two different authors, and so I will leave Audacity out of the equation until the end.


What Mr. Midwest noticed recently is that both Ayers in Parent and Obama in Dreams make reference to the poet Carl Sandburg.  In itself, this is not a grand revelation.  Let us call it a C-level match. Obama and Ayers seem to have shared the same library in any case.  Both talk of reading the books of Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois and Frantz Fanon among others.  In fact, each misspells “Frantz” as “Franz.”


Ayers and Obama, however, go beyond citing Sandburg.  Each quotes the opening line of his poem “Chicago.”  From Dreams:


He poured himself more hot water. “What do you know about Chicago anyway?”
I thought a moment. “Hog butcher to the world,” I said finally.


From Parent:


“At the turn of the century, Chicago had a population of a million people and was a young and muscular city – hub of commerce and industry, the first skyscraper city, home of the famous world exposition, “hog butcher to the world” – bursting with energy.”


This I would call a B-level match.  What raises it up a notch to an A-level match is the fact that both misquote “Chicago,” and they do so in exactly the same way.  The poem actually opens, “Hog butcher for the world.”


Last week, the first email I received from Mr. West had in the message box “759 striking similarities between Dreams and Ayers’ works.”  This claim seemed so outsized I did not take it seriously.  When I was unable to open the documents, I emailed Mr. West back, asked him to reformat, and then forgot about the email.  He resent his documents a few days later.


This time I was able to open them and was promptly blown away.  Mr. West’s analysis was systematic, comprehensive, and utterly, totally, damning.  Of the 759 matches, none were frivolous.  All were C-level or above, and I had no doubt of their authenticity.  I had been gathering many of them in my own reserve waiting for a book-length opportunity to make my case.  Mr. West had done the heavy lifting.  He even indexed his matches.  This represented months of works.  As I learned, he had been patiently gathering material since November when he first began building on my own research.


I read through all 759 matches and culled out those that I would consider B-Level or above.  There were 180 of these.  As a control, I tested them against my own 2006 book Sucker Punch, like Dreams and Fugitive Days a memoir that deals extensively with race.  In that I am closer to Ayers in age, race, education, family and cultural background than Obama is, our styles should have had more chance of matching.  They don’t.  Of the 180 examples, I matched, strictly speaking, on six.  Even by the most generous standard, we matched on only sixteen.


Let me just cite a few matches between Ayers’ work and Dreams that I found intriguing.  Rather astonishingly, as Mr. West points out, at least six of the characters in Dreams have the same names as characters in Ayers’ books: Malik, Freddy, Tim, Coretta, Marcus, and “the old man.” Many of the stories involving these characters in Dreams seem as contrived as their names.


In one instance, Obama reflects on his own first days as a ten year-old at his Hawaiian prep school, a transition complicated by the presence of “Coretta,” the only other black student in the class.


When the other students accuse Obama of having a girlfriend, Obama shoves Coretta and insists that she leave him alone.  Although “his act of betrayal” buys him a reprieve from the other students, Obama understands that he “had been tested and found wanting.”


Ayers relates a parallel story in Parent.  He tells of a useful reading assignment from the 1992 book, The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas, by black author Reginald McKnight.  The passage in question deals with the travails of Clint, the first black student in a newly integrated school, who repudiates Marvin, the only other black boy in the school.  Upon reflection, Clint thinks, “I was ashamed.  Ashamed for not defending Marvin and ashamed that Marvin even existed.”


As Mr. Midwest pointed out in a recent missive, Ayers’ interest in education bleeds into Dreams.  The tip-off once again is the contrived name, in this case “Asante Moran,” likely an homage to the Afro-centric educator, Molefi Kete Asante.  Moran lectures Obama and his pal “Johnny” on the nature of public education.


“The first thing you have to realize,” he said, looking at Johnnie and me in turn, “is that the public school system is not about educating black children. Never has been. Inner-city schools are about social control. Period.”


“Social control” is an Ayers’ bugaboo.  “The message to Black people was that at any moment and for any reason whatsoever your life or the lives of your loved ones could be randomly snuffed out,” he writes in Fugitive Days.  “The intention was social control through random intimidation and unpredictable violence.”


In Dreams, “Moran” elaborates on the fate of the black student,  “From day one, what’s he learning about? Someone else’s history.  Someone else’s culture. Not only that, this culture he’s supposed to learn is the same culture that’s systematically rejected him, denied his humanity.”


If this character were real, and Obama had actually met him, there would be no reason to phony up his name.  In fact, however, Moran is spouting exactly the same educational philosophy that Ayers does in To Teach. 


“Underneath it all,” Ayers says of standard school textbooks, “the social studies and literature texts reflected and promoted white supremacy.  There were no pictures or photographs of African Americans . . . there was throughout an assumed superiority and smug celebration of the status quo.” 


Both authors, by the way, use the phrase “beneath the surface” repeatedly.  And what they find beneath the surface, of course, is the disturbing truth about power disparities in the real America, which each refers to as an “imperial culture.”  Speaking of which, both insist that “knowledge” is “power” and seem consumed by the uses or misuses of power.  Ayers, in fact, evokes the word “power” and its derivatives 75 times in Fugitive Days, Obama 83 times in Dreams.


More exotically, both authors evoke images of a “boy” riding on the backs of a “water buffalo” and prodding the beast not just with sticks, but with “bamboo sticks.”  Ayers places his boy in Vietnam.  Obama puts his in Indonesia.


Both authors link Indonesia with Vietnam. In each case, clueless officials – plural — with the “State Department” try to explain how the march of communism through “Indochina” will specifically imperil “Indonesia.” The Ayers account, however, at least sounds vaguely real.  The Obama account sounds like an Ayers’ memory imposed on Obama’s mother.  She allegedly discussed these geo-political strategy sessions in Indonesia with her pre-teen son.


Ayers and his radical friends were obsessed with Vietnam.  It defined them and still does. To reflect their superior insight into that country, they have shown a tendency to use “Mekong Delta” as synecdoche, the part that indicates the whole.


In Fugitive Days, for instance, Ayers envisions “a patrol in the Mekong Delta” when he conjures up an image of Vietnam.  Ayers’ wife, Bernadine Dohrn, pontificated about “a hamlet called My Lai” in a 1998 interview, but to flash her radical chops, she located it “in the middle of the Mekong Delta,” which is in reality several hundred miles from My Lai.


Given Obama’s age, “Mekong Delta” was not likely a part of his vocabulary, but that does not stop him from writing about “the angry young men in Soweto or Detroit or the Mekong Delta.”  Ayers, of course, would also have had a much deeper connection than Obama to “Detroit,” whose historic riot took place shortly before Obama’s sixth birthday.  Ayers worked in Detroit the year after those same riots.


Returning to the exotic, in his Indonesian backyard Obama discovered two “birds of paradise” running wild as well as chickens, ducks, and a “yellow dog with a baleful howl.”


In Fugitive Days, there is even more “howling” than there is in Dreams.  Ayers places his “birds of paradise” in Guatemala.  He places his ducks and dogs together in a Vietnamese village being swept by merciless Americans.  In Parent, he talks specifically about a “yellow dog.”   And he uses the word “baleful” to describe an “eye” in Fugitive Days. For the record, “baleful” means “threatening harm.”  I had to look it up.


Ayers is fixated with faces, especially eyes.  He writes of “sparkling” eyes, “shining” eyes, “laughing” eyes, “twinkling” eyes, eyes “like ice,” and people who are “wide-eyed” and “dark-eyed.” 


As it happens, Obama is also fixated with faces, especially eyes.  He also writes of “sparkling” eyes, “shining” eyes, “laughing” eyes, “twinkling” eyes, and uses the phrases “wide-eyed” and “dark-eyed.” Obama adds “smoldering eyes,” “smoldering” being a word that he and Ayers inject repeatedly. Obama also uses the highly distinctive phrase “like ice,” in his case to describe the glinting of the stars.


If Ayers is fixated on eyes, about eyebrows he is positively fetishistic. There are six references to “eyebrows” in Fugitive Days — bushy ones, flaring ones, arched ones, black ones and, stunningly, seven references in Dreams — heavy ones, bushy ones, wispy ones.  It is the rare memoirist who talks about eyebrows at all.


On three occasions in Dreams, Obama speaks of people with “round” faces.  On four occasions in Fugitive Days, Ayers does the same.  Both speak of “grim-faced” people, people with “soft” faces, and, most unusually, people with “tight” faces. 


Both Ayers and Obama describe acquaintances who smile like a “Cheshire cat.”  Some of their characters have a countenance — grin, squint, or scowl — that is “perpetual.”  Others are “suppressing” their smiles or their grins.


To this point, I have just skimmed the 759 items in the bill of particulars in my case against Obama’s literary genius.   Not familiar with the term “bill of particulars?”  Uncertain myself, I looked that one up too.  It means a list of written statements made by a party to a court proceeding.  Ayers and Obama each refer knowingly to a “bill of particulars.” Doesn’t everyone?


The answer, of course, is no.  In Audacity of Hope, Obama does not use this phrase or most of the distinctive words or combinations of words in Dreams.  In Audacity, for instance, there are virtually no descriptions of faces or eyes, and the few that the author does use are flat and clichéd — like “brave face” or “sharp-eyed.” In Dreams, seven different people “frown,” twelve “grin,” and six “squint.”  In Audacity, no more than one person makes any of these gestures.


Mr. West independently came to the same conclusion that I did, namely that Ayers was not meaningfully involved in Audacity.  These two Obama books almost assuredly had different primary authors.   What should be transparent to any literary critic is that the author of Audacity lacked the style and skill of the author of Dreams.  There are a few pockets in Audacity that evoke the spirit of Dreams but without the same grace.


A likely suspect for these imitative passages, perhaps the whole of Audacity, is Obama’s young speechwriter, Jon Favreau.  Favreau joined the Obama team in 2005, time enough to play that role.  The London Guardian reports that Favreau carries Dreams wherever he goes and can “conjure up his master’s voice as if an accomplished impersonator.”  If so, in Audacity he played the classic role of the ghostwriter — one who absorbs his client’s thoughts and relates them in a refined version of his client’s voice.


Bill Ayers was no one’s ghostwriter.  The now overwhelming evidence strongly suggests that he used the frame of Obama’s life and finished it off with his own ideas, his own biases, his own experiences, his own passions, his own friends, even his own romances, all of this toned down just enough to keep Obama viable as a potential candidate. 


I would argue that Ayers played Cyrano to Obama’s Christian.  His personal history was too ugly for him to woo Roxane/America himself.  But Obama — “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” as Joe Biden reminded us — could and did make America’s heart melt.

See also:

Who Wrote Dreams From My Father?

Evidence Mounts: Ayers Co-Wrote Obama’s Dreams

The Odd Story of Romance in Dreams from my Father

Who Wrote Dreams and Why It Matters

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/breakthrough_on_the_authorship_1.html at June 28, 2009 – 10:20:37 PM EDT

Holy Ark Announcement Due on Friday

Holy Ark Announcement Due on Friday

Tammuz 3, 5769, 25 June 09 06:54

by Hillel Fendel

(Israelnationalnews.com) Ethiopian church leader says Friday, June 26, marks the right time to unveil the Biblical Ark of the Covenant, which he says has been hidden in his church for centuries.

Abuna Pauolos, Patriarch of The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, was in Rome this week to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. While there, he told reporters that the time had come to reveal before the world the Holy Ark. He said that the holy container has been in the custody of his church for hundreds of years.

Paulous said he would make the full announcement this Friday, June 26, 2 PM local time (3 PM Israel time, 8 AM New York time) at a press conference in Rome.

The claim that the Biblical Holy Ark has been kept at the Church, in the city of Axum, is an old one, but this is the first time that the Church plans to actually reveal the actual container, or news of it. It is not known whether the Church claims that the actual Tablets of the Law are inside it.

Copies of the alleged Ark are kept in many other churches in Ethiopia.

The news of the impending announcement was first reported by the Italian news agency Adnkronos. Pauolos told the news outlet, “Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that G-d delivered to Moses, and the center of searches and studies for centuries.”

Pauolos said “The Ark of the Covenant has been in Ethiopia for many centuries. As Patriarch, I have seen it with my own eyes, and only a few, highly-qualified persons could do the same – until now.”

Back to Earth
Stuart Munro-Hay, author of “Quest for the Ark of the Covenant: The True History of the Tablets of Moses,” concluded that the object in question is definitely not the original Holy Ark.

The building of the Ark of the Covenant – also known as the Ark of Testimony and the Ark of G-d’s Covenant – in accordance with Divine instructions is recounted in the Book of Exodus. The Ark held the Tablets of the Law, and traveled with the People of Israel, leading the way into the Promised Land. It was placed first in the Tabernacle in Shilo, and centuries later in the Holy Temple built by King Solomon. Since then, its whereabouts have been unknown, though one popular legend says it was brought to Ethiopia. Alternatively, it could be under the Temple Mount, in a cave at Mt. Nevo in Jordan, in the Vatican, a hideaway in Utah, or elsewhere.

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Kerry wishes it were Palin who had gone missing

Kerry wishes it were Palin who had gone missing

Ethel C. Fenig
There he goes again.  Senator — and former presidential candidate, John (I voted for it before I voted against it) Kerry (D-MA) who, despite his fine education and even greater wealth — thanks to his 2 wealthy wives — is noted for shoving his foot in his mouth.  The man who insulted the people serving in America’s Armed Forces by saying

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.

has done it again.  Writing in the Boston Herald, Rachelle Cohen enlightens us on Kerry’s sense of humor.  When told of Governor Mark Sanford’s (R-SC) mysterious four day disappearance

“Too bad,” Kerry said, “if a governor had to go missing it couldn’t have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin.”

The Democratic-centric crowd laughed.

Tee hee!  Letterman, Kerry–all afraid of strong, independent women!  Kerry should find a job with David Letterman–who would miss him? 

And as for Governor Palin

Gov. Sarah Palin is on her way to an undisclosed “overseas” location to visit deployed Alaska National Guard troops.

From Palin’s Twitter feed:

“Travel now to bring appreciation from their Alaska family & Natl Guard leadership to heroes in US European Command’s area of responsibility.”

And that, Senator Kerry, is no joke.  But of course you, defamer of troops from way back, think it is. 

Jack Kemp adds:

These remarks by the snotty senator show that the Democrats are very frightened of Gov. Palin. And that’s even without her inviting him to go moose hunting.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/06/kerry_wishes_it_was_palin_who.html at June 25, 2009 – 12:25:33 PM EDT

Iran’s ‘Angel of Freedom’ Neda Soltan Vowed to Protest Against Injustice

Iran’s ‘Angel of Freedom’ Neda Soltan Vowed to Protest Against Injustice

Tuesday , June 23, 2009



Relatives and friends of Neda Soltan, the 26-year-old protester who’s become an international symbol of Iranian resistance, wanted her to be remembered for her love of music and passion for travel.

“She was a person full of joy,” the Los Angeles Times quotes her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among mourners at her family home. “She was a beam of light. I’m so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman.”

Details continue to emerge Tuesday about the murdered protester nickamed “Angel of Freedom,” after graphic videos of her apparent murder at a Tehran protest hit the Internet.

Images of Soltan’s bloody death on Saturday have galvanized the country and many insist on speaking out about this young woman and who she was, despite authorities banning anyone from mourning her.

Neda was reportedly gunned down during protests in the capital city. Videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter show her bleeding from the nose and mouth as a crowd tries unsuccessfully to stanch the flow and save her life.

The video also shows a moving clip of a man identified as Panahi cradling her head and yelling out, “Neda, don’t be afraid. Neda, stay with me. Neda stay with me!”

Click here for photos. (WARNING: Graphic)

The second of three children, Soltan studied Islamic philosophy at a branch of Tehran’s Azad University before deciding to take private classes to become a tour guide, hoping to ultimately lead Iranians on trips abroad, the L.A. Times reported.

She was reportedly passionate about traveling and had gone with friends to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand. The young Iranian was also an accomplished singer who was taking piano lessons, according to Panahi.

Soltan was not a hardcore activist, but had started attending the mass protests because she felt deeply outraged by the election results.

“She couldn’t stand the injustice of it all,” Panahi told the L.A. Times.

A close friend of Soltan, who the L.A. Times identified only as “Golshad,” said Neda’s parents had asked her not to go to the protest, fearing it was too dangerous.

“I told her, ‘Neda, don’t go,'” the Times quotes Golshad. “She said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s just one bullet and it’s over.'”

Friends say Soltan, Panahi and two others were stuck in traffic on their way to the demonstration sometime after 6:30 p.m.

When they stepped out of the car to get some air, Panahi heard a crack and then realized Soltan was on the ground.

“We were stuck in traffic and we got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her,” the Times quoted Panahi. “It was just one bullet.”

“I’m burning, I’m burning!” Panahi recalls Soltan’s final words.

Doctors, fellow protesters and medical staff at Shariati Hospital made heroic efforts to rush Soltan to surgery and save her, but she was reportedly dead by the time she arrived at the emergency room.

Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Affairs, told FOXNews.com that Neda has become “one of the pillars of this movement now,” and the bloody images of her dying in the street are its “main icons and symbols.”

Her family scheduled a memorial service to be held in a mosque in northern Tehran, but the government forbade ceremony. She was buried quietly at Tehran’s Behesht Zahra cemetery on Sunday with only her family present, says Soona Samsami, executive director of the Women’s Freedom Forum, who has been relaying information about protests inside Iran to international media.

All mosques were given a direct order from the government barring them from holding any memorial services for Neda, and her family was threatened with grave consequences if anyone gathered to mourn her, said Samsami.

Soltan’s loved ones were outraged by the authorities’ order not to eulogize her.

“They were threatened that if people wanted to gather there the family would be charged and punished,” Samsami told FOXnews.com.

Much of the attention and blame for Neda’s apparent murder is now being focused on Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose threatening speech Friday preceded the violent protests Saturday at which apparently Neda lost her life. Khamenei is now the prime target for protesters’ outrage, Khalaji said.

“For the first time since the election it seems that people are including in their slogans ‘Down with Khamenei,’ and ‘Death to Khamenei,'” he told FOXNews.com.

Iranian authorities have vehemently denied that police used lethal force to quell protests. They suggest loyalists to the exiled, outlawed opposition group Mujahedin Khalq may be responsible for the killing, the L.A. Times reported.

Her fiancé, Caspian Makan, said in an interview with BBC Persian that she had not supported any candidate in the allegedly fraudulent elections. Neda wanted “freedom for all,” he said.

Click here to read more on this story from the Los Angeles Times.

Click here to read more on this story from the New York Post.

FOX News’ Melissa Tabatabai contributed to this report.