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.

-iNPLACENEWS


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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Rage Against The Machine Protests Republican National Convention

September 5, 2008

I think this is a good sign that the fight left in this country is not gone.  Founded on the principles of freedom and individual rights, peaceful ptotest should never be ceased.  In St. Paul, the police pulled the plug on a Rage Against The Machine concert meant to act as a protest to the Republican National Convention.  As you will see in this video, the crowd supports the band as they opt to do an accapella version of a song as a continuation of their right to peaceful protest.  This is America?  Should the state or its police be using tax payers’ dollars to shut down peaceful protest?  NO

Listen to iNPLACENEWS’ exclusive interview with Rage Against The Machine guitarist and founder, Tom Morello, HERE


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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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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Jackson Browne Suing John McCain for Using Lyrics in Campaign Ad

August 15, 2008


Jackson Browne doesn’t want John McCain running on anything fueled by his lyrics. The singer-songwriter sued McCain and the Ohio and national Republican committees in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, accusing them of using his song “Running on Empty” without his permission.

The lawsuit claims the song’s use was an infringement of his copyright and will lead people to conclude he endorses McCain. The suit says Browne is a lifelong liberal who is as well-known for his music as for being “an advocate for social and environmental justice.”

The advertisement mocks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s contention that if U.S. drivers got regular tuneups and drove on properly inflated tires, they could save the same amount of oil that would be gained by offshore drilling. According to the suit, “Running on Empty” plays in the background of the ad criticizing the remarks.

Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio party, said the ad was pulled when Browne objected. He called the lawsuit a “big to-do about nothing.”

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers disavowed the ad, saying it wasn’t a product of the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign.

Browne’s lawsuit contends the Ohio Republican party released the ad on behalf of McCain and the RNC. The RNC did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The suit notes that other musicians, including ABBA and John Cougar Mellencamp, have asked McCain to stop using their work.

Browne’s attorney, Lawrence Iser, called the ad’s use of the song “reprehensible.”

The 59-year-old singer claims his reputation has already been damaged and is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

Browne released “Running on Empty” – the song and an album by the same name – in 1977. According to the lawsuit, the album has sold more than 7 million copies.

Browne’s financial success has aided Democratic candidates over the years. Campaign finance records show he contributed $2,300 to Obama’s presidential campaign last year and $2,000 to the Illinois senator’s campaign coffers in 2004.

Article by Anthony McCartney

Andre Jetmir iNPLACENEWS

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Clinton Followers Still Pose a Problem to Obama

August 14, 2008

Still sore from an epic primary battle, some of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters aren’t buying the unity theme planned for the Democratic National Convention.

They weren’t mollified when nominee-in-waiting Barack Obama gave prime-time speaking slots to Clinton and her husband, the former president. Instead, they’re itching for a fight and plan to wage one in Denver.

One group intends to paper the city with fliers, promote a video detailing what they contend were irregularities in the nominating process and unleash bloggers to give their take on the proceedings. Another group has purchased newspaper advertisements demanding that Clinton be included in a roll-call vote for the nomination. Obama and Clinton announced Thursday that there will be such a vote.

“I am a very realistic woman,” said Diane Mantouvalos, co-founder of the Just Say No Deal Coalition. “I don’t think that anything is going to change, but I do think it is important to be heard, and this is our way of doing it.”

Some of the disaffected Clinton supporters are open to supporting Obama; many are not.

Obama needs Clinton’s supporters to beat Republican John McCain. Polls show that he has won over most of them. But some simply don’t like Obama or still feel Clinton was treated unfairly during the primaries.

These groups are not affiliated with Clinton, who has endorsed Obama and campaigned for him. Representatives from the Clinton and Obama campaigns said they are working to unify the party because Obama will champion issues important to Clinton supporters, such as reforming health care, improving the economy and ending the war in Iraq.

“Senator Clinton understands and appreciates that there are supporters who remain passionate, but she has repeatedly urged her supporters to vote for Senator Obama,” Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a swipe at the Clinton diehards Wednesday.

“I think Hillary Clinton has been very gracious,” the San Francisco Democrat told Bay Area talk show host Ronn Owens. “I think some of her supporters have been less than gracious.”

Nevertheless, many Clinton activists plan to voice their discontent in Denver.

Mantouvalos, a Miami public relations consultant, said her network is renting a 5,000-square-foot loft in Denver for its bloggers. Another outfit called The Denver Group is planning a reception the evening Hillary Clinton speaks at the convention. The group has been pushing for Clinton’s name to be placed in nomination.

In announcing that her name will be placed in nomination, Clinton said she hopes the vote will unite the party and lead to an Obama victory in November.

Heidi Li Feldman, co-founder of The Denver Group, said the roll call vote is necessary for Obama to get her support. But, she said, it’s insufficient.

“The only way a Democratic Party will have the credibility to elect a Democrat in November is if the party uses a legitimate process to choose its nominee,” said Heidi Li Feldman, co-founder of The Denver Group. “We are not per se a Clinton support group, we are a Democratic Party get-your-act-together support group.”

The movement has grown on the Internet, where bloggers and readers complain that Clinton was cheated out of the party’s nomination. The Web site for Just Say No Deal links to dozens of other sites criticizing Obama or supporting Clinton.

Some accuse Obama of manipulating party caucuses for extra delegates while others complain that Clinton was the victim of sexist party leaders or was mistreated by the media. Many vent over the way the party divvied up delegates from the Florida and Michigan primaries, two states that were punished for violating national rules and holding their contests early.

With the agreement of all Democratic candidates, the states were initially stripped of all their delegates for violating party rules by holding early primaries. None of the candidates campaigned in the two states, but Clinton won the two primaries and thereafter tried to get all the delegates seated.

The national party reinstated the delegates in May, but gave each a half vote. And it awarded Obama some Michigan delegates, although he had taken his name off that ballot because of the party’s initial decision.

With the nomination clinched, Obama said this month that he would seek to give both delegations full voting rights.

At the very least, the activists want Clinton’s name put in nomination, with a full roll-call vote. Some won’t be satisfied unless Clinton is declared the nominee – an unlikely prospect. Others would be happy if Clinton were asked to run for vice president – also unlikely.

Feldman, a Georgetown University law professor, said she is a loyal Democrat who won’t vote for McCain, but Obama hasn’t won her support. Will Bower, co-founder of the Just Say No Deal Coalition, said he would only support the Democratic candidate if her name is Clinton.

“I have been voting Democratic for 18 years. I only voted for Democrats, from dog catcher to president and everything in between,” said Bower, who lives in Washington. “I will be voting for someone other than Barack Obama come November.”

Article by Stephen Ohlemacher

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