GET REAL ESTATE: Subprime Crisis Spurs Home Loan Interest Rate Freeze
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has hammered out an agreement to freeze interest rates on certain subprime mortgages for five years to combat an escalating number of home foreclosures, congressional aides said Wednesday.
A person familiar with the matter said the rate freeze would apply to borrowers with loans made from Jan. 1, 2005, through July 30 of this year with rates that are scheduled to rise between Jan. 1, 2008, and July 31, 2010; likewise, the program would only be available for owner-occupied homes — to ensure the break is not given to real estate speculators. They are trying to address an expected avalanche of foreclosures as an estimated two million subprime mortgages adjust, or reset, from lower introductory rates to higher rates over the next 18 months. In many cases, the higher rates would boost monthly payments as much as 30 percent.
The plan is aimed at homeowners who are making payments on time at lower introductory mortgage rates but cannot afford a higher adjusted rate. This year through October, there were about 1.8 million foreclosure filings nationwide, compared with about 1.3 million in all of 2006, according to RealtyTrac Inc., of Irvine Calif. With home-loan defaults on payments still rising, the trend is expected to worsen next year. [via ASSOCIATED PRESS]
CITY EVICTS BOYS SCOUTS OF AMERICA OVER ‘NO-FAGS ALLOWED’ POLICY
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 4 — For three years the Philadelphia council of the Boy Scouts of America held its ground. It resisted the city’s request to change its discriminatory policy toward gay people despite threats that if it did not do so, the city would evict the group from a municipal building where the Scouts have resided practically rent free since 1928.
Hailed as the birthplace of the Boy Scouts, the Beaux Arts building is the seat of the seventh-largest chapter of the organization and the first of the more than 300 council service centers built by the Scouts around the country over the past century. But over the years the fight between the city and the Scouts was about more than this grandiose structure in Center City.
Municipal officials said the clash stemmed from a duty to defend civil rights and an obligation to abide by a local law that bars taxpayer support for any group that discriminates. Boy Scout officials said it was about preserving their culture, protecting the right of private organizations to remain exclusive and defending traditions like requiring members to swear an oath of duty to God and prohibiting membership by anyone who is openly homosexual. This week the Boy Scouts made their last stand and lost. “At the end of the day, you can not be in a city-owned facility being subsidized by the taxpayers and not have language in your lease that talks about nondiscrimination,” said City Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, who represents the district where the building is located. “Negotiations are over.” [via NEW YORK TIMES]
WHERE FOOLS RUSH IN: Facebook Devours ‘Bonnie & Clyde’
Well. Less than a day after the story broke, a Facebook group popped up with the sole purpose, it seems, to round up people who know the female half of the Bonnie and Clyde duo — Jocelyn Kirsch — and quickly compile a grab-bag of photos, rumors and contacts. For whose benefit? Apparently, the media’s. The group isn’t being subtle. Its title, “Jocelyn Kirsch is scandalous,” already sounds like a tabloid headline. “We want to hear your feedback on the most scandalous criminal (Allegedly) in the last decade. Discuss your feelings about her,” reads the group’s description, written by its creator. “This is an invitation for people that know the couple or knew them the past.”
Out of the chaos of the Internet, and the personal tidbits scattered around it, is emerging a kind of order, corralled in sites like Facebook. Friends of the young-in-trouble aren’t waiting for a reporter’s phone call or going out of their way to find one. They’re simply gathering themselves and waiting for the media — and through them the eyes and ears of the world — to come to them.
But is this a good thing?
Twelve photos of Kirsch have already been posted to the site, many of which, just by virtue of what Kirsch is wearing, could lend support the group’s title in the minds of those who need little evidence. And the group’s not done. At 12:50 p.m. today, a male group member from the University of North Carolina posted this:
Anyone have embarrassing pictures of her from middle school or younger? Sadly, she gave me her picture in middle school, but my digital camera is (doubly) sadly broken. And I don’t have a scanner. Andy or Elizabeth: any help?
Why the rush to gather information about Kirsch? Probably because these students have learned a lesson from the Amanda Knox case: The media is looking more and more to Facebook to find contacts and information when college students are involved in crimes. And in a society that values celebrity, it’s good to be prepared. [via SEATTLE-PI.COM]