iNPLACENEWS Blog Has MOVED

September 14, 2008

Hey everyone!  From all the staff to all the readers of our blog and the watchers of our live news programming broadcasted live over the internet directly to your desktop, we want to thank you for all your support and participatiion.  We have relocated our blog to iNPLACENEWS.COM.  There you will find all our blogs, including the old posts, your comments you made, the place to download our free desktop player and all of the current news from around the world.  Stay up-to-date on all the current events by watching our broadcasts, reading our blogs, and watching videos-on-demand.  Again, go to iNPLACENEWS.COM for all the newest blogs and the older posts you love to go back to read.  Thank you again for your time, support, and participation.

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Representative Rangel Under Scrutiny About Beach House

September 5, 2008

Rep. Charles Rangel paid no mortgage interest on a beach resort property for about 15 years, a lawyer for the powerful House committee chairman said Friday.

The New York congressman’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told The Associated Press that Rangel got his no-interest deal for the villa in the Dominican Republic because he was an original buyer in the resort development.

The Democratic chairman of the Ways and Means tax-writing committee has come under scrutiny for his vacation property and apartments he rents in his home district of Harlem.

Davis said Rangel failed to report rental income from the resort property on his taxes, but didn’t realize it was necessary because of the way the deal was structured.

Davis said it is unlikely the congressman owes any back taxes under the federal tax code, although he may owe a small amount to New York State, on unreported rental income of about $75,000.

“It is my understanding that over the 20-year time period there is not likely to be federal tax liability by Mr. Rangel because of offsetting depreciation expenses and tax credits. Therefore, whatever amendments might be necessary do not involve the federal tax code,” said Davis.

Republicans call Rangel ethically challenged and have sought to censure the 78-year-old lawmaker. Even an unintentional tax error is highly embarrassing for Rangel, since he chairs the committee charged with updating the nation’s complicated tax code.

News of Rangel’s no-interest mortgage comes on the heels of damaging reports that two other powerful figures in Congress, Senators Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., got preferential mortgages with lower interest rates through a “VIP” program for friends of former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Dodd heads the Senate Banking Committee.

Rangel bought the beach house 20 years ago for about $80,000, with a down payment of $28,000. Instead of making payments himself for the property, Rangel used his share of collective rental money generated by the resort to pay down the mortgage, according to his lawyer. But in an arrangement with the developer, Rangel and other early buyers, called “Pioneers,” were not charged interest on such debt.

Rental income from the property was used directly to pay the mortgage, so Rangel never made any mortgage payments himself, Davis said. Only once, in 2001, did Rangel receive money directly, when the company mistakenly wired him $2,000 in rental income rather than applying that, as it had before and after, to the mortgage.

The mortgage debt of slightly more than $50,000 was paid off fully in 2003, Davis said, and rental income was also used later to pay for a $22,000 home improvement project. That second loan did include interest payments totaling about $1,100, the lawyer said.

The congressman’s personal finances have come under scrutiny and spawned a House ethics committee inquiry, leading to a showdown last month on the House floor between Rangel and Republicans.

The ethics committee is examining Rangel’s use of four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, including one that was used for campaign work. This week, the New York Post raised questions about Rangel’s beach villa, which it dubbed his “cash cow.” The New York Times reported Friday that Rangel failed to report rental income on the property.

Rangel’s lawyer said he received no sweetheart deal or favoritism in purchasing or renting out the beach house, because it was essentially a financial investment made in a real estate development project.

Currently, Rangel owes no money on the property and has about a $700 credit, Davis said.

“He invested $100,000 over 20 years with a net return of .7 percent as of June 2008,” said Davis. “Some cash cow.”

Yet by their accounting, Rangel parlayed a $28,000 down payment into a vacation home worth ten times that or more today – not unheard of over a 20-year period of real estate boom-and-bust cycles, but certainly very fortunate.

Article by Devlin Barrett

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Lawsuit: Give Me My Fake Leg Back

September 4, 2008

After being shot five times, a western Nebraska man had to go to court to get his prosthetic leg back from prosecutors.

The Box Butte County Attorney’s office gave Val McCabe’s leg back Wednesday after a judge ordered it returned.

McCabe’s prosthetic left leg had been held since Friday’s shooting because prosecutors wanted to run tests on it and a bullet lodged inside.

The 58-year-old McCabe, who lost his leg below the knee in a railroad accident roughly 30 years ago, filed his lawsuit Tuesday.

McCabe lawyer argued it wasn’t practical for him to replace the specially built, $28,000 prosthesis.

Police removed the bullet from the leg before returning it. No arrests had been made by Wednesday.

Article courtesy of Associated Press

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Study Shows No Decrease In Illicit Drug Use in US Adults

September 4, 2008

Cocaine and methamphetamine use among young adults declined significantly last year as supplies dried up, leading to higher prices and reduced purity, the government reports. Overall use of illicit drugs showed little change.

About one in five young adults last year acknowledged illicit drug use within the previous month, a rate similar to previous years. But cocaine use declined by one-quarter and methamphetamine use by one-third.

Drug use increased among the 50-59 age group as more baby boomers joined that category. Their past month drug use rose from 4.3 percent in 2006 to 5 percent in 2007.

“The baby boomers have much higher rates of self-destructive behavior than any parallel age group we have data from,” said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Walters, 55, is a boomer himself.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, being released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is based on interviews with about 67,500 people.

Overall, about 20 million people 12 or older reported using illicit drugs within the past month. Marijuana was the most popular by far, with 14.4 million acknowledging use of marijuana in the past month.

Among adolescents, age 12 to 17, drug use dipped from 9.8 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent last year, continuing a five-year trend. Their use of alcohol and cigarettes also fell during the same period.

“The earlier you use drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, the more likely you are to have a lifelong problem,” Walters said.

Much of the progress in curbing drug use occurred between 2002 and 2005. Critics of the nation’s drug policies warned not to read too much into the latest numbers.

“Use of marijuana and other drugs naturally fluctuates and if you look at long-term trends, current rates are smack in the middle of the range they’ve been in for decades,” said Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates the decriminalization of marijuana. “There is simply no evidence that current policies … have made any difference.”

A World Health Organization survey of 17 countries this year showed that people in the U.S. were more likely than people elsewhere to have tried illicit drugs. The U.S. tied New Zealand for the highest rate of marijuana use and far outpaced other countries on cocaine use, the survey found.

The U.S. report measured drug use over the past month, while the WHO’s looked at drug use over a lifetime.

The WHO survey concluded: “The use of drugs seems to be a feature of more affluent countries. The U.S., which has been driving much of the world’s drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies as well as a higher minimum legal alcohol drinking age than many comparable developed countries.”

More than half the people who tried drugs for the first time in 2007 used marijuana, according to the U.S. survey. The rate of new marijuana users came to about 6,000 people a day.

The overall rate of illicit drug use dropped from 8.3 percent of those 12 and older to 8.0 percent in 2007.

Walters also acknowledged concern about nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among young adults. He urged parents to have more awareness of where they keep their prescriptions and to throw them away when the drugs are no longer needed.

The survey, which also examined mental health, indicated that 24.3 million people 18 or older experienced “serious psychological distress over the past year.” It stressed the link between mental health and substance abuse, noting that adults experiencing depression within the past year were more than twice as like to have tried illicit drugs during that time than other adults.

Article by Kevin Freking

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Pakistani Prime Minister Target of Sniper Fire

September 3, 2008

Snipers fired on the motorcade for Pakistan’s prime minister on Wednesday as it drove to the airport to pick him up, striking his car window at least twice, officials said. Neither the prime minister nor his staff were in the vehicles.

The assassination attempt comes as Pakistan’s new civilian government – under pressure from American officials – is cracking down on Islamist militants after ousting U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf from the presidency.

At least two bullets hit the front window on the driver’s side of Yousuf Raza Gilani’s limousine on the main highway linking Islamabad with the nearby city of Rawalpindi, officials said.

Zahid Bashir, the premier’s press secretary, said unknown assailants fired “multiple sniper shots” in what he described as a “murder attempt.”

Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said later Wednesday, however, that the vehicles were attacked on their way to the airport to pick up the prime minister, who had been in Lahore, and that Gilani’s plane had not even landed yet.

“The driver reached Islamabad airport, but the prime minister or his staff was not traveling in the vehicles,” Shah said.

Television footage showed Gilani’s black Mercedes parked at his office in the capital with two impact points clearly visible on the driver’s window. The glass was cracked but intact.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman also confirmed that Gilani was not in the motorcade at the time and was safely back in Islamabad.

The attack was the second apparent assassination attempt in Pakistan in quick succession.

Shots were fired last week at a car carrying Lynne Tracy, the top U.S. diplomat in Pakistan’s troubled northwest, as she was headed to her office in the city of Peshawar. No one was hurt in that shooting.

On Wednesday afternoon, plainclothes police with a dog searched for clues on a small hill from which they believed the shots were fired at the premier’s car. They gathered snack wrappers and juice cartons and took them away from beneath a huge portrait of Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which greets travelers arriving in the capital.

The road was temporarily blocked, with traffic jammed in both directions.

Four workers for a company that is involved in a construction project on the road said they heard no shots and were not aware anything had happened until police arrived.

“We were working here, and the police came and questioned us,” said Mohammad Zada.

Another worker, Shah Zeb, said he had been making his afternoon prayers when the incident occurred, and when he returned, “Police grabbed me. They searched me.”

Pakistani political leaders have repeatedly faced the threat of assassination.

Musharraf, who was despised by militants for allying with Washington after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, escaped at least four attempts on his life. In December, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto died in a gun-and-bomb attack during an election rally two months after returning from exile.

Article by Nahal Toosi with contributions from Munir Ahmad and Zarar Khan

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Japanese Police Fooled By Lifesized Doll in Dead Body Hoax

September 2, 2008


Police were trying to determine Tuesday whether they were the victim of a hoax after the body they thought they found at a seaside resort was actually a life-sized doll.

Investigators found what seemed like a body wrapped in a sleeping bag in a forest in Izu City, a seaside resort in central Japan, after an anonymous caller reported seeing it, a Shizuoka prefecture spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

Investigators never actually looked inside the sleeping bag and brought it back to the city police station for a post-mortem examination, the spokeswoman said. Apparently no one doubted a human body was inside until a medical examiner unwrapped it and found the doll, she said.

The Asahi newspaper said the doll was sophisticated and life-sized and wore a brown wig, a blouse and a skirt.

*** Above photo not directly related to article

Article by Mari Yamaguchi

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Blackwater Subject of Justice Department Probe

August 17, 2008

Half a dozen Blackwater Worldwide security guards have gotten target letters from the Justice Department in a probe of shootings in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqis, The Washington Post reported.

The Blackwater guards are caught up in the investigation of shootings that took place last September when a Blackwater team arrived in several vehicles at an intersection in Baghdad where shooting erupted, leaving numerous Iraqis dead and wounded.

The Post described the six guards as former U.S. military personnel, but did not identify them by name.

Attributing its information to three sources close to the case, the Post said that any charges would be brought against the guards under a federal law used to prosecute cases referred to the Justice Department by the Pentagon for crimes committed by military personnel and contractors overseas.

Target letters often are a prelude to indictment.

The Post story appeared on the newspaper’s Website Saturday night.

The shootings began when a Blackwater convoy, which was responding to a Baghdad car bombing, entered the Nisoor Square traffic circle.

Blackwater says the convoy was ambushed by insurgents, touching off a firefight. Iraqi witnesses, however, described an unprovoked attack in which security guards fired indiscriminately, killing motorists, bystanders and children in the square.

Article by Associated Press

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Teachers Can Carry Guns in Texas

August 15, 2008


A tiny Texas school district will allow teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting employees follow certain requirements.

The small community of Harrold in north Texas is a 30-minute drive from the Wilbarger County Sheriff’s Office, leaving students and teachers without protection, said David Thweatt, superintendent of the Harrold Independent School District. The lone campus of the 110-student district sits near a heavily traveled highway, which could make it a target, he argued.

“When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that’s when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can’t defend themselves? That’s like saying ‘sic ’em’ to a dog,” Thweatt said in a story published Friday on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Web site.

Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said her organization did not know of another district with such a policy. Ken Trump, a Cleveland, Ohio-based school security expert who advises districts nationwide, said Harrold is the first district with such a policy.

Trustees approved the policy change last year, and it takes effect when classes begin this month. For employees to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, must be authorized to carry by the district, must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and must use ammunition designed to minimize the risk of ricocheting bullets.

Officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change, Thweatt said. The district also has other measures in place to prevent a school shooting, he said.

“The naysayers think [a shooting] won’t happen here. If something were to happen here, I’d much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them,” Thweatt said.

Texas law outlaws firearms at schools unless specific institutions allow them.

It isn’t clear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall, because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers.

Article from the Associated Press

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Woman Who Had Dogs Cloned Linked to Abduction Case in UK

August 15, 2008

A woman who made headlines by having five pups cloned and was linked to an abduction case in England is also wanted in Tennessee on charges she tried to plan a burglary in 2004, a defense attorney and prosecutors there said.

Joyce Bernann McKinney was charged in Carter County with criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to appear in court, said attorney David Crockett, who represented her in the Tennessee case. Authorities there said she instructed a 15-year-old boy to break into a house, and Crockett said she needed the money to buy a false leg for a beloved horse.

Crockett said Thursday he hasn’t heard from her since she skipped a court date, but after seeing television coverage of the cloning case, he’s certain she’s the same person known to the world as dog lover Bernann McKinney.

Prosecutors are reviewing charges against the 58-year-old McKinney to decide whether to pursue the case, said Melanie Widener, an assistant district attorney for the county in the northeast part of the state near the North Carolina state line.

“It’ll depend on where she is now, how important the case is, how much it would cost the taxpayers and whether witnesses are still around,” she said.

McKinney declined comment when reached by phone Thursday.

McKinney was arrested in November 2004 in Tennessee in a van with the 15-year-old, according to a Carter County Sheriff’s Department arrest report.

McKinney, then living across the state line in Avery County, N.C., needed money to help her three-legged horse, Crockett said.

“She loved it dearly,” Crockett said. “She was a rather bizarre character, and seems to have a strange circumstance now.”

He recalled that McKinney had two or three dogs in her car when she conferred with him about her case.

“There was a strong aroma about her, and I told her this needed to be taken care of before I went to court with her,” Crockett said.

McKinney made news around the world this summer when she had five pups cloned in South Korea from her beloved pit bull Booger.

She later confirmed she was Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 became a British tabloid sensation over the kidnapping case. She faced charges of unlawful imprisonment after she was accused of abducting a Mormon missionary in England, handcuffing him to a bed and making him her sex slave. She jumped bail and was never brought to justice.

“She is bold to put herself on worldwide television,” Crockett said. “She must know she’s a fugitive in at least one state.”

Article by Joe Edwards

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Woman Jailed After Young Daughter Drove Her to Bar

August 15, 2008

A 35-year-old Texas woman has been jailed after police say she made her 12-year-old daughter drive her to a bar.

Police in Longview say they watched a minivan turn into a driveway without signaling on Wednesday and bump into a home at a low speed. They say the car was driven by Jennifer Lynn Rosenberg’s daughter.

Police say the girl told an officer she had just dropped her mother off at a bar. They say they found Rosenburg at the bar and that she admitted having her daughter drive her there.

Rosenburg remains in the Gregg County Jail on a $2,500 bond. A jail official declined to say whether she had an attorney.

A spokeswoman for Child Protective Services told the Longview News-Journal that the agency is investigating.

*** Above photograph is NOT the above-mentioned 12-year old.

Article from the Associated Press

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