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

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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

iNPLACENEWS

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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

iNPLACENEWS

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Defending a VP Candidate Who is Under Investigation

September 2, 2008

Republican John McCain said Tuesday he’s satisfied that Sarah Palin’s background was properly checked out before the Alaska governor joined the Republican ticket. He predicted that public excitement about her candidacy will increase after her address to the GOP convention on Wednesday.

McCain visited fire houses in Ohio and Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and was due to arrive at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday.

Asked about whether Palin’s background was thoroughly checked out before he selected her, McCain told reporters in Philadelphia: “The vetting process was completely thorough and I’m grateful for the results.”

Later, after visiting a firehouse outside Cleveland in Brecksville, Ohio, McCain added: “I just want to repeat again how excited I am to have Sarah Palin, the great governor of Alaska, as my running mate.”

“America is excited and they’re going to be even more excited once they see her tomorrow night,” he said. “I’m very, very proud of the impression she’s made on all of America and I look forward to serving with her.”

Questions about the review of Palin came up after news surfaced that her unmarried teenage daughter, Bristol, is pregnant, and that the Alaska governor has retained a private attorney to represent her in an investigation into the firing of the state public safety commissioner.

The lawyer who conducted the background review said Palin voluntarily told McCain’s campaign about Bristol’s’ pregnancy, and about her husband’s 2-decade-old DUI arrest during questioning as part of the vice presidential search process.

The Alaska governor also greatly detailed the dismissal of the state’s public safety commissioner that has touched off a legislative investigation, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

Palin underwent a “full and complete” background examination before McCain chose her as his running mate, Culvahouse said. Asked whether everything that came up as a possible red flag during the review already has been made public, he said: “I think so. Yeah, I think so. Correct.”

McCain’s campaign has been trying to tamp down questions about whether the Arizona senator’s team adequately researched his surprise vice presidential selection.

Since McCain publicly disclosed his running mate on Friday, the notion of a shoddy, rushed review has been stoked repeatedly.

First, a campaign-issued timeline said McCain initially met Palin in February, then held one phone conversation with her last week before inviting her to Arizona, where he met with her a second time and offered her the job Thursday.

Then came the campaign’s disclosure that 17-year-old Bristol Palin is pregnant. The father is Levi Johnston, who has been a hockey player at Bristol’s high school, The New York Post and The New York Daily News reported in their Tuesday editions.

In addition, the campaign also disclosed that Palin’s husband, Todd, then age 22, was arrested in 1986 in Alaska for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Shortly after Palin was named to the ticket, McCain’s campaign dispatched a team of a dozen communications operatives and lawyers to Alaska. That fueled speculation that a comprehensive examination of Palin’s record and past was incomplete and being done only after she was placed on the ticket.

Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser, said no matter who the nominee was, the campaign was ready to send a “jump team” to the No. 2’s home state to work with the nominee’s staff, work with the local media and help handle requests from the national media for information, and answer questions about documents that were part of the review.

At several points throughout the process, McCain’s team warned Palin that the scrutiny into her private life would be intense and that there was nothing she could do to prepare for it.

Culvahouse disclosed details of his examination in a half-hour interview with the AP.

First, a team of some 25 people working under Culvahouse culled information from public sources for Palin and other prospective candidates without their knowledge. For all, news reports, speeches, financial and tax return disclosures, litigation, investigations, ethical charges, marriages and divorces were reviewed.

For Palin specifically, the team studied online archives of the state’s largest newspapers, including the Anchorage Daily News, but didn’t request paper archives for Palin’s hometown newspaper. “I made the decision that we could not get it done and maintain secrecy,” Culvahouse said.

Article by Beth Fouhy and Liz Sidoti

Andre Jetmir iNPLACENEWS

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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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