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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© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.


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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Video of Gitmo Interrogation of Teen Released

July 15, 2008

A 16-year-old captured in Afghanistan and held at Guantanamo Bay sobs during his questioning, holding up his wounded arms and begging for help in a video released Tuesday that provided the first glimpse of interrogations at the U.S. military prison.

“Help me,” he cries repeatedly in despair.

The 10 minutes of video – selected by Omar Khadr’s Canadian lawyers from more than seven hours of footage recorded by a camera hidden in a vent – shows Khadr weeping, his face buried in his hands, as he is questioned by Canadian intelligence agents over four days in 2003.

The video, created by U.S. government agents at the prison in Cuba and originally marked as secret, provides insight into the effects of prolonged interrogation and detention on the Guantanamo prisoner.

A Canadian Security Intelligence Services agent in the video grills Khadr about events leading up to his capture as an enemy combatant when he was 15. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. He was arrested after he was found in the rubble of a bombed-out compound – badly wounded and near death.

At one point in the interrogation, Khadr pulls off his orange prisoner shirt and shows the wounds he sustained in the firefight. He complains he cannot move his arms and says he had not received proper medical attention, despite requests.

“They look like they’re healing well to me,” the agent says of the injuries.

“No, I’m not. You’re not here (at Guantanamo),” says Khadr, the son of an alleged al-Qaida financier.

The agent later accuses Khadr of using his injuries and emotional state to avoid the interrogation.

“No, you don’t care about me,” Khadr says.

Khadr also tells his interrogator that he was tortured while at the U.S. military detention center at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where he was first detained after his arrest in 2002.

Later on in the tape, a distraught Khadr is seen rocking, his face in his hands.

On the final day, the agent tells Khadr that he was “very disappointed” in how Khadr had behaved, and tries to impress upon him that he should cooperate.

Khadr says he wants to go back to Canada.

“There’s not anything I can do about that,” the agent says.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, denied that Khadr was mistreated while in U.S. custody. “Our policy is to treat detainees humanely and Khadr has been treated humanely,” Gordon said.

The video is believed to be the first footage shown of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in action during its 24-year history, offering an unprecedented glimpse into its interrogation strategies. The video was made by U.S. authorities and turned over to Khadr’s defense team, Gordon said. The tapes are U.S. property.

The Supreme Court of Canada in May ordered the Canadian government to hand over key evidence against Khadr to his legal team to allow a full defense of the charges against him, which include accusations by the U.S. that he spied for and provided material support to terrorists.

In June, a Canadian Federal Court judge ordered the Canadian government to release the video to the defense team after the court ruled the U.S. military’s treatment of Khadr broke human rights laws, including the Geneva Conventions.

The video was released by Alberta-based lawyers Nathan Whitling and Dennis Edney a week after intelligence reports made public last week showed Khadr was abused in detention at the U.S. naval base-turned-prison on the tip of Cuba.

A Department of Foreign Affairs report said Canadian official Jim Gould visited Khadr in 2004 and was told by the American military that the detainee was moved every three hours to different cells. That technique, dubbed, “frequent flyer,” was one of at least two sleep deprivation programs the U.S. military used against Guantanamo prisoners. Detainees were moved from cell to cell throughout the night to keep them awake and weaken their resistance to interrogation. The report also says Khadr was placed in isolation for up to three weeks and then interviewed again.

Whitling and Edney released the video with hopes that public reaction to the footage will prompt Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to lobby for his repatriation. Thus far Harper has maintained he will not seek Khadr’s return to Canada.

“We hope that the Canadian government will finally come to recognize that the so-called legal process that has been put in place to deal with Omar Khadr’s situation is grossly unfair and abusive,” Whitling said. “It’s not appropriate to simply allow this process to run its course.”

Khadr’s sister, Zaynab Khadr, who lives in Toronto, said she was pessimistic his situation would improve soon.

She noted that another brother, Abdullah Khadr, now in prison on terror charges in Canada awaiting extradition to the United States, was interrogated by Canadian agents despite having been abused in detention in Pakistan.

“He was tortured for their benefit and he still continues to be in jail and it hasn’t changed much, so I can’t expect it to be any different in Guantanamo,” Zaynab Khadr said.

Story by Charmaine Noronha

Video provided by Al Jazeera

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Karl Rove Refuses To Testify To Congress

July 10, 2008

Former White House adviser Karl Rove defied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify Thursday about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department, including whether he influenced the prosecution of a former Democratic governor of Alabama.

Rep. Linda Sanchez, chairman of a House subcommittee, ruled with backing from fellow Democrats on the panel that Rove was breaking the law by refusing to cooperate – perhaps the first step toward holding him in contempt of Congress.

Lawmakers subpoenaed Rove in May in an effort to force him to talk about whether he played a role in prosecutors’ decisions to pursue cases against Democrats, such as former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, or in firing federal prosecutors considered disloyal to the Bush administration.

Rove had been scheduled to appear at the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday morning. A placard with his name sat in front of an empty chair at the witness table, with a handful of protesters behind it calling for Rove to be arrested.

A decision on whether to pursue contempt charges now goes to the full Judiciary Committee and ultimately to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

House Republicans called Thursday’s proceedings a political stunt and said if Democrats truly wanted information they would take Rove up on an offer he made to discuss the matter informally.

The House already has voted to hold two of President Bush’s confidants in contempt for failing to cooperate with its inquiry into whether the administration fired nine federal prosecutors in 2006 for political reasons.

The case, involving White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, is in federal court and may not be resolved before Bush’s term ends in January.

The White House has cited executive privilege, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify.

Rove says he is bound to follow the White House’s guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case – but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.

Democrats have rejected the offer because the testimony would not be sworn and, they say, could create a confusing record.

Rove has insisted publicly that he never tried to influence Justice Department decisions and was not even aware of the Siegelman prosecution until it landed in the news.

Siegelman – an unusually successful Democrat in a heavily Republican state – was charged with accepting and concealing a contribution to his campaign to start a state education lottery, in exchange for appointing a hospital executive to a regulatory board.

He was sentenced last year to more than seven years in prison but was released in March when a federal appeals court ruled Siegelman had raised “substantial questions of fact and law” in his appeal.

Siegelman and others have alleged the prosecution was pushed by GOP operatives – including Rove, a longtime Texas strategist who was heavily involved in Alabama politics before working at the White House. A former Republican campaign volunteer from Alabama told congressional attorneys last year that she overheard conversations suggesting that Rove pressed Justice officials in Washington to prosecute Siegelman.

The career prosecutors who handled Siegelman’s case have insisted that Rove had nothing to do with it, emphasizing that the former governor was convicted by a jury.

Story by Ben Evans

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Abu Ghraib Detainees Sue Contractors Over Torture

June 30, 2008


Former detainees of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are suing U.S. contractors. The first complaint was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington. Others are being filed in Detroit, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; and Greenbelt, Maryland.

According to the court papers, it is alleged that innocent people who were arrested and taken to the prison were subjected to forced nudity, electrical shocks, mock executions and other inhumane treatment by employees of defense contractors CACI International and L-3 Communications, formerly Titan Corporation.

The plaintiffs are represented by law firms in Philadelphia and Detroit and by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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Another Pregnant Soldier Found Dead In North Carolina

June 25, 2008


Authorities in Fayetteville, North Carolina, are investigating the death of a soldier who was 7 months pregnant: Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, 23, a dental specialist from Cold Springs, Kentucky. She was assigned to the 19th Replacement Company.

Fayetteville police found her body late Saturday morning after responding to a call about a strong odor coming from one of the rooms. The body was sent to the state Medical Examiner’s office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to determine the cause of death.
Before arriving at Fort Bragg on June 12, she had served five years with the U.S. Army Dental Activity Clinic in Bamberg, Germany, and in Fort Drum, New York.

Touma is the second pregnant servicemember to die in North Carolina in recent months. The remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her fetus were found beneath in a fire pit January 11 in Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean’s backyard.

Laurean is suspected of killing Lauterbach on December 14, 2007. Before fleeing to Mexico, he used her ATM card 10 days later. He was taken into custody after he walked up to a roadblock set up by a local anti-kidnapping task force investigating another case in Mexico.

Laurean is currently awaiting extradition to North Carolina.

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