Obama Rejects Ludacris Lyrics

August 1, 2008

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign says a new rhyme by supporter and rapper Ludacris is “outrageously offensive” to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Republican Sen. John McCain and President Bush.
The song brags about an Obama presidency being destiny. It uses an expletive to describe Clinton, calls Bush “mentally handicapped” and says McCain doesn’t belong in “any chair unless he’s paralyzed.”

The lyrics don’t spare the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who recently apologized for making crude comments about Obama. “If you said it then you meant it,” intones the rapper.

Obama’s campaign blasted “Politics as Usual,” which is on the “Gangsta Grillz: The Preview” mixtape with Atlanta spinner DJ Drama.

“As Barack Obama has said many, many times in the past, rap lyrics today too often perpetuate misogyny, materialism, and degrading images that he doesn’t want his daughters or any children exposed to,” campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in an e-mail statement Wednesday. “This song is not only outrageously offensive to Sen. Clinton, Rev. Jackson, Sen. McCain and President Bush, it is offensive to all of us who are trying to raise our children with the values we hold dear. While Ludacris is a talented individual he should be ashamed of these lyrics.”

Ludacris’ publicist and manager did not immediately return calls Wednesday for comment.

Article from Associated Press Staff

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Ford Motor Company Taking a Dive

July 24, 2008


Ford Motor Co. posted the worst quarterly performance in its history Thursday, losing $8.67 billion in the second quarter.

The company also said it will retool two more North American truck and sport utility vehicle plants to build small, fuel-efficient vehicles, and it announced plans to bring six new small vehicles to North America from Europe by the end of 2012.

The net loss includes $8.03 billion worth of write-offs because the sharp decline in U.S. truck and SUV sales has reduced the value of Ford’s North American truck plants and Ford Motor Credit Co.’s lease portfolio. Even excluding those items, Ford lost 62 cents per share, worse than Wall Street expected. Twelve analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, on average, expected a 27 cent loss per share.

Including the write-downs, Ford lost $3.88 per share in the April-June quarter, compared with net profit of $750 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The second-quarter loss surpassed Ford’s previous record quarterly loss, $6.7 billion in the first quarter of 1992.

Second-quarter revenue was $38.6 billion, down $5.6 billion from the year-ago period. Analysts expected $34.6 billion.

Ford has been successful selling cars in Europe, and the company is banking on the new European models to boost sales and revenue as it deals with a market shift from trucks to cars brought on by high gasoline prices.

The company said it has sufficient liquidity to weather the latest downturn in the U.S. auto market without additional borrowing. Ford borrowed $23.4 billion in 2006 to fund its North American turnaround.

“We are pleased that we went to the capital markets at the right time,” Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said in a conference call with investors and media. “We have the scale, the expertise and the financing to execute our plan.”

Wall Street wasn’t impressed, at least initially. Ford shares dropped 58 cents, or 9.6 percent, to $5.45 in morning trading.

The company said it will retool the Michigan Truck plant in suburban Detroit, shifting its products from large SUVs to make global vehicles off the European Focus platform by 2010.

The SUVs made at Michigan Truck — the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition — will be shifted to the Kentucky Truck plant in Louisville, which makes Ford Super Duty pickups.

The company also will retool the Louisville Assembly Plant, which now builds the Ford Explorer midsize SUV, to produce vehicles on the European Focus frame, starting in 2011.

The company had previously announced it would retool its pickup truck factory in Cuautitlan, Mexico, to build the Fiesta subcompact for North America starting in 2010.

Ford also said its Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minn., will continue producing the Ranger small pickup through 2011. The plant was scheduled to close next year, but Ranger sales are down just 4 percent in the first half of this year, versus 18 percent for the U.S. light truck market as a whole.

The company also plans to revamp the body shops in nearly all its North American assembly plants so that they will be more flexible and able to respond more quickly to changes in market demands. Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair said it costs about $250 million per plant to make those changes.

Leclair said Ford’s capital expenditures will reach $6 billion annually between now and 2010 because of the cost of revamping plants and introducing new products and engines. Ford plans to upgrade or replace all of its engines by 2010.

“What you’re seeing is kind of a bubble that we’re going to go through … but early on we’re going to see cost savings because of the economies of scale that we’re getting as we develop more and more vehicles off of fewer platforms,” he said.

Cost cuts also will come from employee layoffs. Ford said 4,000 U.S. hourly workers took buyouts in the second quarter, and the company will continue offering buyouts at targeted U.S. plants. Ford also has announced plans to cut its salaried costs by Aug. 1 through voluntary and involuntary layoffs.

The company said its write-offs included $5.3 billion in North American auto operations and $2.1 billion for Ford Credit because of the drop in the value of the plants and equipment that make trucks and SUVs, and the lower price Ford Credit can fetch for them at auction when leases expire. Leclair said 85 percent of the Ford Credit write-down was triggered by the drop in truck and SUV values.

Ford reported a pretax loss of $1.3 billion in North America because of the deteriorating U.S. market and the shift away from trucks. U.S. sales overall were down 10 percent in the first half of the year, with Ford’s sales down 14 percent.

The company, though, continued to be profitable overseas, posting a $582 million profit in Europe and $388 million in
South America. The company also made $50 million at its Asia-Pacific-Africa division.

“The second half will continue to be challenging, but we have absolutely the right plan to respond to the changing business environment and begin to grow again for the long term,” Mulally said in a statement.

Ford said it does not expect a U.S. economic recovery to start until early 2010.

The company identified only three of the European small vehicles it will bring to North America: the Transit Connect small van, the European Focus and the subcompact Fiesta. Most will be built in North America, and Leclair said some might be exported. Ford already has announced that the Transit Connect will be imported from Turkey.

Ford said the other three vehicles would be identified later, including one that is unique within its segment.

Other possible vehicles are the Kuga small crossover, the C-Max small van and the Mondeo midsize car.

Ford also announced that the next-generation Ford Explorer midsize SUV will come out in 2010 and be built on car underpinnings, making it more fuel efficient than the current truck-based model. And it announced it will build a seven-passenger car-based crossover vehicle for Lincoln in mid-2009.

This story was originally posted on Yahoo News

Andre Jetmir for iNPLACENEWS

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


Danica Patrick Gets In Girl Fight With Milka Duno

July 21, 2008

Danica Patrick gets into a girl-fight with another female racer, Milka Duno this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Watch the clip here.

Andre Jetmir


John McCain Is Not Internet Savvy Compared to 106 Year Old

July 21, 2008

If Sen. John McCain is really serious about becoming a Web-savvy citizen, perhaps Kathryn Robinson can help.

Robinson is now 106 – that’s 35 years older than McCain – and she began using the Internet at 98, at the Barclay Friends home in West Chester, Pa., where she lives. “I started to learn because I wanted to e-mail my family,” she says – in an e-mail message, naturally.

Blogs have been buzzing recently over McCain’s admission that when it comes to the Internet, “I’m an illiterate who has to rely on his wife for any assistance he can get.” And the 71-year-old presumptive Republican nominee, asked about his Web use last week by the New York Times, said that aides “go on for me. I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself.”

How unusual is it for a 71-year-old American to be unplugged?

That depends how you look at the statistics. Only 35 percent of Americans over age 65 are online, according to data from April and May compiled by the Pew Internet Project at the Pew Research Center.

But when you account for factors like race, wealth and education, the picture changes dramatically. “About three-quarters of white, college-educated men age over 65 use the Internet,” says Susannah Fox, director of the project.

“John McCain is an outlier when you compare him to his peers,” Fox says. “On one hand, a U.S. senator has access to information sources and staff assistance that most people do not. On the other, the Internet has become such a go-to resource that it’s a curiosity to hear that someone doesn’t rely on it the way most Americans do.”

McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan presented a somewhat updated picture when contacted by The Associated Press on Friday: “He’s fully capable of browsing the Internet and checking Web sites,” Buchanan said. “He has a Mac and uses it several times a week. He’s working on becoming more familiar with the Internet.”

That’s a good thing, says Tobey Dichter, CEO of Generations on Line, a group that helps bring seniors – including the 106-year-old Robinson – into the digital age.

“He needs the self-empowerment” of going online himself, says Dichter. “There are too many people surrounding John McCain who are willing to print an e-mail for him” -or do a search on his behalf, like the aides who, he says, show him the Drudge Report.

“But that cheats him of an opportunity to let his own mind take him to the next link,” says Dichter. “If he doesn’t know what links are available, he will only get exactly what he’s asking for, and nothing more.”

Why do most of us – 73 percent of Americans – use the Internet? The top three reasons are, in order, e-mail, informational searches, and finding a map or driving directions.

But there are dozens of other conveniences: Online banking, shopping, travel or restaurant reservations, job searches, real estate listings, and of course, the news (McCain, like many people over 30 or so, prefers his newspapers the old-fashioned way.) “The Internet is the ultimate convenience appliance,” says Fox.

McCain may be in “digital denial,” as Dichter calls it, but his family sure isn’t: His wife, Cindy, has been seen scrolling away on her Blackberry, and daughter Meghan, one of his seven children, blogs from the campaign trail on McCain Blogette.

As for McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama is 46, and thus in an age group where fully 85 percent of Americans are plugged in. A CNN clip available on YouTube shows him so engrossed with his Blackberry while crossing a street that he bumps into the curb.

McCain’s frank admissions of his offline state have led to discussion of whether being wired is a qualification for leading the free world. One aide, Mark Soohoo, defended the senator’s lack of wiredness at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York in June by assuring the panel: “John McCain is aware of the Internet.”

One blogger opined last week that all the fuss is silly. McCain, wrote Newsweek’s Andrew Romano, hasn’t become computer literate because he hasn’t needed to. “When aides are responding to your messages and briefing you on every imaginable subject, the incentive to get online sort of disappears,” he wrote.

McCain is hardly the only prominent, wealthy, powerful man in the country to lack an affinity with computers. To take one, Sumner Redstone, the 85-year-old chairman of Viacom, “is not an avid user,” says a spokesman, Carl Falto. “He’s capable of going on but doesn’t do it frequently.”

On the other hand, famed Broadway director Arthur Laurents, 91, whose “Gypsy” is now a hit on Broadway, is known to respond faster to e-mails than to phone calls.

Among fellow senators, aides to Sen. Robert Byrd, 90, say he has a computer but prefers to speak directly to his staff and doesn’t carry a Blackberry.

What keeps some American seniors unwired? Some lack immediate access to a computer, Dichter says. But intimidation, she says, is the greatest problem.

“One has to be compassionate with a person who hasn’t gotten onto the information highway early, because the cumulative vocabulary is so intimidating,” she says. Also, many older people “feel they have a perfectly happy life without it. They feel that the world is overrun with electronic devices already.”

But, Dichter says, such people often change their minds when they realize they can get family pictures via e-mail – not to mention health information, support groups, and local community news. And Fox, of Pew, notes that seniors outpace other age groups in tracing their family’s genealogy online (a third of them say they do so, compared to a quarter of all Internet users.)

Robinson credits her computer with helping her withstand the effects of a stroke she suffered in 2003. “In my case I had a stroke and as a result could not talk,” she says in her e-mail. “The computer has been a lifesaver for me.”

Article by Jocelyn Novec

Andre Jetmir iNPLACENEWS

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


Cop Fired After Threatening Starbucks Employees

July 18, 2008

An internal affairs report says a Daytona Beach police officer, Lt. Major Garvin, a 15-year veteran, demanded free coffee and tea from a Starbucks and threatened employees with slower emergency response times if they refused. He was fired July 8 after failing a polygraph test Garvin had insisted on taking.

The coffeehouse’s employees claim that since June 2007, Garvin had visited the store as many as six times a night while on duty. Besides demanding free drinks, workers complained that Garvin also cut in front of paying customers.

No more coffee donuts for that mannerless cop.

***Editor’s note: The above photo is NOT Lt. Major Garvin

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Miss Venezuela Wins Miss Universe

July 14, 2008

Miss Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 2008 on Monday in a contest marked by the spectacle of Miss USA falling down during the evening gown competition for the second year in a row.

The new Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, was once kidnapped in her homeland and says the experience taught her to remain poised under pressure.

Tension got under the skin of Miss USA, Crystle Stewart of Texas, who tripped on the train of her bejeweled evening gown as she made her entrance.

During the 2007 Miss Universe contest in Mexico City, Miss USA Rachel Smith also tumbled during the evening gown competition and became an unintended star on YouTube, where the video was shown over and over again.

At a news conference after this year’s event, a beaming Mendoza said she wasn’t yet sure where her upcoming year of whirlwind appearances would take her. But after a quick stop in New York, she wants to see her family again, enjoy some of her mom’s home cooking and give everyone hugs.

“When I go back to Venezuela I will jump on my family and they will jump on me,” said Mendoza.

In the meantime, Mendoza said, she is simply looking forward to taking off her high-heeled shoes and massaging her feet.

She declined to discuss her kidnapping, which occurred a year and a half ago, but took advantage of the occasion to call for global peace.

“I want to raise my voice and tell the world that violence is not the answer,” she said.

Mendoza, 22, is a 5-foot, 10-inch (178-centimeter), green-eyed beauty who enjoys learning languages and photography. She appeared at the news conference in the flowing yellow dress and dangling turquoise earrings that she wore during the evening gown competition in which Stewart took her spill.

Stewart, 26, is a motivational speaker and former track and field star who is working on a book called “Waiting to Win.” The Houston native plans to open a character-development school for young children and has worked with students with autism in the Texas schools.

During a weekend interview with the Associated Press, Stewart said she felt very confident going into the show and couldn’t imagine experiencing the same calamity as her predecessor.

“All I can offer to the world and to America is to do my best,” Stewart said. “Nerves don’t play a part in this.”

The final five contestants included four from Latin America: Miss Mexico, Miss Dominican Republic, Miss Colombia and Miss Venezuela. Rounding out the final five was Miss Russia.

Miss Colombia finished second behind Mendoza.

Miss Thailand won the prize for best national costume and Miss El Salvador was chosen by her peers as Miss Congeniality.

The NBC show was hosted by talk show star Jerry Springer and Spice Girl Melanie Brown and broadcast live to hundreds of millions of viewers in 170 countries.

The tuxedoed Springer made a grand entrance on a motorbike – the vehicle of choice in Vietnam, where the streets are teeming with millions of the speeding two-wheelers.

Eighty contestants gathered in the seaside city of Nha Trang, Vietnam, vying to succeed previous Miss Universe Riyo Mori of Japan.

Sporting yellow, green and orange bikinis, the 15 semifinalists strutted across the stage during the swimsuit competition to the sounds of Lady Gaga, who belted out the pulsating “Just Dance” in a platinum blond wig. Miss Vietnam, Lam Thuy Nguyen, was greeted with a roar from the Vietnamese audience.

The final 10 then competed in the evening gown event.

They performed in front of a panel of judges that included international fashion experts and Donald Trump Jr., whose father, the real estate magnate and TV star, co-owns the pageant with NBC.

This year’s contestants spanned a wide range of experiences and aspirations.

Miss Albania was a professional basketball player. Miss Argentina says she has paranormal experiences. Miss Antigua & Barbuda is fascinated by snakes. Miss Angola was in a plane crash while trying to escape a conflict during her country’s civil war.

Article by Ben Stocking

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


Jamie Lynn Spears Poses with Newborn Baby

July 9, 2008

Sister of Britney Spears, Jamie Lynn Spears, 17, gave birth to her first child recently and is already posing for OK! Magazine. That’s right, she made the cover along with her her daughter, Maddie Briann. Only weeks after the birth on June 19th, the two appear happy and healthy on the cover of OK! Magazine. Here is what she had to say about the birth, the baby and her plans for the future:

Jamie Lynn said watching Aldridge, a pipe-layer from Liberty, Miss., hold Maddie for the first time “was the coolest thing. … He was so happy, and that made me the happiest person alive.”

“It was such a big day,” she said. “And being able to have your sister there, your whole family there, meant a lot. Everybody flew in to celebrate.”

Jamie Lynn, who recently starred on the Nickelodeon sitcom “Zoey 101,” said she plans to raise Maddie down South where “the focus is family.”

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