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Obama Should Legalize Pot

Obama Should Legalize PotPresident Barack Obama brushed off a question about legalizing marijuana in his online town hall last month, but guitar god Carlos Santana says he wishes he would seriously consider it.

"Legalize marijuana and take all that money and invest it in teachers and in education," Santana said in an interview this week. "You will see a transformation in America."

During his online town hall on March 26, Obama fielded a question about whether legalization of the illicit drug would help pull the nation out of recession. Obama said he didn't think it was good economic policy, and also joked: "I don't know what this says about the online audience."

But Santana said making pot legal is "really way overdue, like the prohibition with the alcohol and stuff like that.

"I really believe that as soon as we legalize and decriminalize marijuana we can actually afford a really good governor who won't keep taking money away from education and from teachers and send him back to Hollywood where he can do 'D' movies and we can get an 'A' governor," referring to former movie action hero and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Santana made the comments as he was promoting his upcoming rock residency in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The show debuts May 27 and runs through 2010.

"It's a milestone for me because I always said I would never do certain things," Santana said, adding that the list included staying in one place for too long.

"Yet what is very different is this is the year I decided to do all the things that I said I would never do. It's a way of coming into a room that I thought was dark and I would be afraid and I actually bring my light to it."

Santana, whose hits vary from "Evil Ways" to "Maria Maria," said he is also working on two upcoming albums.

While the 61-year-old has previously talked about a possible retirement, he's decided to be more careful about predicting the future.

"Every time I tell God my plans he cracks up, he starts laughing. So I just decided to be quiet for a while and not say that I am going to retire and go to Maui and become a minister," he said. "God was cracking up. He thought it was a good joke. So I said, 'OK.' Every time I want to make him laugh I tell him my plans. So we'll see."

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Revolution Money

Revolution MoneyPayment Processor Revolution Money Pumped With $42M.

At a time when both consumers and merchants are looking for ways to cut costs, several major financial firms and individual investors have pumped $42 million into Revolution Money, the payment-processing company backed by AOL co-founder Steve Case.

By harnessing the Internet for its payment platform, the company slashes costs for accepting credit cards by up to 75% for merchants, who in turn pass part of those savings on to consumers to drive loyalty. With the new funding, the company will continue developing its technology as it looks to steal market share from traditional credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard, as well as popular payment service PayPal, a unit of eBay.

The Series C funding was provided by an unnamed Goldman Sachs affiliate, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley as well as individual investors Case, Revolution Money Chairman Ted Leonsis, former Charles Schwab Chief Executive David Pottruck and former JP Morgan Vice Chairman David Golden.

Case is the largest shareholder, followed by CitiGroup and Leonsis, respectively. Leonsis said the post-money valuation of Revolution Money is less than $200 million.

“It’s a vote of confidence from the insiders and we were able to bring in this affiliate of Goldman [a new investor],” Leonsis said. “It’s such a big opportunity and big play. There hasn’t been a new entrant since PayPal, which was about a dozen years ago.”

The investment follows a $50 million infusion led by Citigroup in September 2007. Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley also previously invested.

Revolution Money’s Internet-based, proprietary RevolutionCard Network supports two products: RevolutionCard and RevolutionMoneyExchange.

RevolutionCard is a general-use credit card that charges no interchange fees and only a half-percent processing fee per transaction to accept – compared to a 1.5% to 4% fee charged by traditional companies. Merchants turn some of these savings into customer loyalty and cash-back programs. For example, cardholders can save three cents per gallon at the nearly 1,000 Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas stations typically located in Wal-Mart Supercenter parking areas across 20 states. RevolutionCard is accepted at more than 650,000 merchant locations and 85% of all ATMs throughout the U.S.

Revolution MoneyExchange is a free online peer-to-peer payments service that enables users to exchange money for free. Users can also access their online funds at all merchants and ATMs on the RevolutionCard Network. Leonsis said MoneyExchange essentially serves as a customer acquisition mechanism for the company. Once consumers register for MoneyExchange the company can pitch RevolutionCard.

Leonsis, who is also an owner of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitols, said when fans call to renew season tickets for the team they are offered the opportunity to register for a RevolutionCard to pay for the tickets. If they choose to accept the offer they receive an autographed jersey from a star player — a $500 value that costs the franchise $100.

In turn, the team saves processing fees on an average transaction of $8,000, Revolution Money acquires a new cardholder with a typically high credit score and the consumer receives an expensive gift.

The company is aggressively targeting new retailers and expects to reach 80% of the merchant community in three years, Leonsis said.

Currently, participating retail locations include Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s,, CVS, KOHL’s, Macy’s, Marshalls, Walgreen’s, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Office Max, T.J. Maxx and Whole Foods.

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Gypsy Robe

Gypsy RobeThe Gypsy Robe is a ritual robe used for the opening of a Broadway Musical.

Broadway musical chorus members are referred to as gypsies to signify their continuous travel from job to job in show after show. The chorus member with the most Broadway credits wears the robe and circles the stage three times moving counterclockwise. Other cast members look on and touch the robe for luck.

The ritual dates to 1950, when Bill Bradley, a chorus member in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, sent a dressing gown from one of his fellow performers to a friend performing in Call Me Madam. A feathered rose from Ethel Merman's costume was attached to the robe and it was then given to a chorus member in Guys and Dolls. The robe continued to be passed from one show to another, each time with a memento added on.

The ritual is now more formal, with rules about how it is presented, worn, and displayed. When robes are full of artifacts, a new robe is started. Retired robes are kept at the Lincoln Center library, at the Smithsonian, and at Actors' Equity.

In 2005, Brynn Williams from the Broadway cast of In My Life became the youngest recipient of The Gypsy Robe at age 12.

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