Westchester County, NY to build affordable housing for non-whites
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Westchester County, NY to build affordable housing for non-whites

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In a settlement, hailed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a “historic civil rights settlement,” the county government for Westchester County, New York has agreed to spend US$51.6 million to build 750 affordable housing units that will primarily be offered to non-white minorities.

The settlement is the result of a federal lawsuit filed by the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York (ADC) against the county under the False Claims Act, which alleged that the county was negligent in its oversight of federal funds that it received from HUD for community development which stipulated that it “affirmatively further fair housing.” The ADC suit which claimed $180 million in damages, also said the county failed to build affordable housing and reduce segregation in some of the more affluent communities.

Prior to the settlement, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Westchester had failed to analyze the effect of race in relation to access to fair housing when it applied for HUD funds.

The county redistributed the federal funds to town and village governments, and the court concluded it did so without ensuring that guidelines were being followed or considering where the affordable housing was being placed.

Westchester County admitted no wrongdoing and says it has “for many years considered the impact of race on affordable housing,” according to County Executive Andrew Spano.

Westchester County will also pay $8.4 million as a fine to the federal government and $2.5 million to cover legal expenses of the ADC.

630 of the 750 housing units must be built in communities which are less than 3% black and less than 7% Hispanic. The county will be required to market the homes “aggressively” to minorities, though federal law prevents them from being offered exclusively to certain races.

This is consistent with the president’s desire to see a fully integrated society

The case is a landmark for HUD and the way that the Obama administration will use the government agency.”This is about expanding the geography of opportunity for families who may have been limited in their housing choices. The agreement we announce today demonstrates Westchester County’s commitment to make sure its neighborhoods are open to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “This agreement signals a new commitment by HUD to ensure that housing opportunities be available to all, and not just to some.”

“This is consistent with the president’s desire to see a fully integrated society,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. “Until now, we tended to lay dormant. This is historic, because we are going to hold people’s feet to the fire.”

It is not yet decided where the affordable housing will be placed, but Westchester County has a number of towns and hamlets which qualify under the stipulated racial requirements, including Chappaqua, which is noted as the official residence of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.

“Some constituents have had strong reactions, but that’s just based on what they read in the papers and what the headlines are,” said County Legislator Peter Harckham. “But there are no details yet to get excited about.”

“I certainly approve of nondiscriminatory policy for housing,” Alan Harrow, a resident of Somers, told The Journal News. “Looking at it from my own point of view, I moved into this very rural area, and if there’s suddenly a large housing development and 200 families there, it’s probably something I won’t really welcome.”

James Brown dies of pneumonia
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James Brown dies of pneumonia

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown, often referred to as the Godfather of Soul, died in Atlanta due to congestive heart failure, combined with pneumonia. His death at age 73 was announced by his agent. After his dentist noticed something unusual with him, Brown was told to visit a doctor immediately. He was taken into the hospital yesterday for treatment of his pneumonia until his death at around 1:45 AM (6:45 AM GMT). It is not known whether he received a pneumonia vaccination, as recommended for people of his age.

He was born in 1933 and grew up in poverty until he formed James Brown & The Famous Flames. His influence on 20th century music, from funk to hip hop was profound.

Before he died, he scheduled a New Year’s Eve concert series in New Jersey and New York that would help kick off a 2007 tour.

“Piano Man” is not British actor, search down to three leads
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“Piano Man” is not British actor, search down to three leads

 Correction — May 30, 2005 As noted below, there is no relationship between the “Piano Man” and Geoffrey Betts. While the speculative nature of this article was clearly pointed out from the beginning, Wikinews would nevertheless like to apologize to Mr. Betts for any inconvenience it may have caused. (See also Wikinews editor CGorman’s apology.) 

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wikinews reported on May 17 that several weeks earlier British police had picked up an unidentified man wandering the streets of Sheerness, United Kingdom. The man who has thus far refused to talk, has demonstrated himself to be an excellent pianist—earning him the nickname Piano Man.

Since publication of our first article, we have been contacted by a fellow wiki contributor informing us that the Piano Man may be a British actor named Geoffrey Betts. Although our contact strongly believed he knew the identity of the man and contacted the relevant authorities in regard to his belief, this has turned out to be false. While Betts was not reachable by phone or e-mail, his website was recently updated to the effect that he is not the man in question. In the meantime, the search for the identity has been narrowed down to three leads by authorities.

The original interview between Wikinews editor CGorman and contributor Steve Magruder is reproduced below.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with NDP candidate Glenn Crowe, Bramalea-Gore-Malton
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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with NDP candidate Glenn Crowe, Bramalea-Gore-Malton

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Glenn Crowe is running for the NDP in the Ontario provincial election, in the Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Crowe did not reply to various questions asked.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

Donald Trump reacts to ‘Pimp’ comments
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Donald Trump reacts to ‘Pimp’ comments

Friday, December 29, 2006

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 reacted to Rosie O’Donnell’s comments about him on the The View.

“Rosie has some real problems,” Trump said on Anderson Cooper 360. “Rosie’s a loser. She’s been a loser always.”

It started when Miss USA Tara Conner was caught under age drinking. Trump, the owner of the Miss Universe Organization, gave her a second chance. Rosie O’Donnell called him a “Pimp” on her personal blog and said he has no right to be “the moral compass for 20-year-olds in America” on The View, which she co-hosts.

“Rosie got mentally beaten up by me,” Trump told The Post yesterday, “because she’s a mental midget, a low-life.”

“It’s too bad a degenerate is able to get away with things like that,” Trump said yesterday. “I met Tara the night of the pageant and didn’t see her again until she got into trouble.”

Trump said that he would sue her over her comment.

“It will never end on my behalf because I’ve exposed Rosie for what she is: a very dumb human being,” Trump told the Associated Press. “She’s got no intelligence, but I’ve known that for a long time. Unfortunately, Rosie’s pulled the wool over the public.”

When CNN contacted O’Donnell, one of her representatives said she was unavailable for comment. CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 also said that she is welcome to comment anytime.

Bank of America leads Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints about mortgages
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Bank of America leads Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints about mortgages

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A review this week by Wikinews of US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaints about mortgages in the United States shows Bank of America leads all lending institutions in complaints.

Since mortgages complaints were recorded in December 2011, 77,622 total have been added to CFPB’s database. 29.2% of these complaints involved Bank of America, with the second most received by Wells Fargo, accounting for 15.5% of all complaints. JPMorgan Chase ranked third by volume of complaints with 9.8%. Ocwen was fourth with 8.7% and Citibank was fifth with 4.8%. Nationstar Mortgage; Green Tree Servicing, LLC; HSBC; PNC Bank; U.S. Bancorp; OneWest Bank; SunTrust Bank; Flagstar Bank; and Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. each had between 1.0 and 3.8% of total complaints. The remaining 14.4% of all complaints about consumer mortgages were divided between about 530 other lending institutions.

The Motley Fool reported last month that for the past fiscal quarter, the biggest US based mortgage lenders were from first to fifth Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Quicken Loans and U.S. Bancorp.

According to the US Federal Reserve, debt for family residences stands at US$10.706 trillion for the second quarter of 2013. As of the end of June of this year, Bank of America is the United States’s second largest commercial bank with US$1.343 trillion in domestic assets. Wells Fargo is the fourth largest commercial bank with US$1.251 trillion in domestic assets. JPMorgan Chase is the largest US commercial bank with US$1.329 trillion in domestic assets and US$1.947 trillion in total assets.

The mortgage complaints in the CFPB report include several subproducts. Conventional fixed mortgages account for 27.1% of all complaints. Conventional adjustable mortgages account for 10.0%. FHA mortgages account for 7.7% of all complaints. Home equity loans or lines of credit account for 3.8% of all complaints. VA mortgages are 1.4% of all complaints. Second mortgages and reverse mortgages each account for 0.6% of complaints. The remaining 48.7% of complaints are about other mortgages or other mortgage issues. A few years ago, FHA loans accounted for about 10% of all US mortgages while VA loans accounted for about 3%. Prime loans accounted for over 75% of the market and the rest were subprime mortgages.

California leads all states by volume of complaints with 14768. It is followed by Florida, New York, Georgia and Texas. When complaints are divided by a state’s total population, New Hampshire leads. The state is followed by Washington D.C., Maryland, Georgia and Florida. Complaints do not correlate with national rankings for August’s foreclosure rate by state where Nevada topped the list, followed by Florida, Ohio, Maryland and Delaware.

Two zip codes account for over 1,000 total complaints between them. 565 complaints originated in the 48382 zip code, which is in Commerce Township, Michigan, located in suburban Detroit. 553 complaints originated in the 33071 zip code, in Coral Springs, Florida. According to real estate website Zillow, there are currently 1,033 properties in foreclosure in Coral Springs while Commerce Township only has 131 properties currently in foreclosure. Four other zip codes have 100 plus complaints originating from them. 91730, in Rancho Cucamonga, California, had 158 complaints. 33409, in West Palm Beach, Florida, had 132. 92626, in Costa Mesa, California, had 125 complaints. 92660, in Newport Beach, California, had 122 complaints. Respectively, the towns had 534, 1,068, 153, and 134 properties currently in foreclosure. These numbers are higher than for the cities of a few sampled zip codes where there was only one complaint, such as Gold Hill, Oregon which has 4 properties in foreclosure, and Decatur, Illinois which has 6 properties in foreclosure.

The CFPB categorizes complaints into six categories: “Loan modification, collection,foreclosure” or problems when a person is unable to pay; “Loan servicing, payments, escrow account” or problems with making a payment; “Application, originator, mortgage broker”; “Credit decision / Underwriting”; “Settlement process and costs”, and “Other”. The CFPB says the complaint types indicate consumers “appear to be driven by a desire to seek agreement with their companies on foreclosure alternatives. The complaints indicate that consumer confusion persists around the process and requirements for obtaining loan modifications and refinancing, especially regarding document submission timeframes, payment trial periods, allocation of payments, treatment of income in eligibility calculations, and credit bureau reporting during the evaluation period.” Currently, 59.6% of all complaints against lenders deal with being unable to pay. 25.1% deal with problems in making a payment. 7.0% have to do with the application process.

Of the complaint-heavy zip codes, for 48382 in Commerce Township, Michigan, 98.9% of all complaints have to deal with being unable to pay. Accounting for 23.4% of all mortgage complaints in Commerce Township, 132 of the complaints for being unable to pay were made regarding Bank of America, accounting for 97.8% or all but 3 complaints against them from the zip. 121 of the Bank of America responses in Commerce Township were closed with explanation and 12 were closed with non-monetary relief. 33071 in Coral Springs is different, with 537 of the 553 complaints being categorized under other. Only 11 complaints relate to foreclosure and issues with being able to pay. 92626 in Costa Mesa, where 32% of the mortgage complaints were about Bank of America and 26.4% were about Wells Fargo, had 93.6% of its complaints dealing with being unable to pay. 5 total complaints dealt with payment issues and 3 dealt with applications.

Beyond regional variance in complaint types lodged, the top five mortgage lenders by volume of complaints all had being unable to pay as their top complaint category, ranging between 55.8% for Citibank and 69.4% for Bank of America. Problems with payment accounted for the second largest area of complaints, with Ocwen having the largest percentage of complaints at 31.9% and Bank of America having the smallest at 18.8%. Foreclosure was the top area of complaints for a number of other lending institutions including 1st Alliance Lending, OneWest Bank, Ally Bank, Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Bank of the West, BMO Harris, BOK Financial Corp, Caliber Home Loans, Inc, Capital One, Deutsche Bank and EverBank.

Nationally, complaints reached a high of 5,840 for January 2013, 1,107 more than the next highest month of April 2013. The total emerging for September is the second lowest since records were first kept in December 2011. On a state by state level, this pattern largely repeats with a major exception for Florida which saw a peak of 849 complaints in June 2012. Then, as now, Florida was one of the top five states in the nation in its foreclosure rate. The national January spike came as the Qualified Mortgage standard required by the The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 came into play. It required mortgage lenders to take steps to insure borrowers could repay their mortgages.

Bank of America’s complaint volume follows the national trend, with a spike in January 2013 with 1,925 total complaints. Unlike nationally, the next month by volume of complaints was February of this year with 1,598 complaints. Prior to that, the highest month was May 2012 with 1,418 complaints. The lowest volume of complaints is September this year with 334.

Wells Fargo matched national trends for volume of complaints by month, with the exception of the current month being the lowest on record for number of complaints with 197 compared to the next lowest month, December 2011, when they had 221. JPMorgan’s complaint volume by month spiked in January and March of this year with 504 complaints. April of this year was the next highest month with 493 complaints, edging out May of last year with 488 complaints. September this year is on track to be the lowest month by complaint volume.

The federal government shutdown is unlikely to impact the current mortgage situation in the United States directly for most consumers, though mortgage processing by the Federal Housing Administration could be slower, resulting in fewer mortgages processed.

News briefs:July 14, 2010
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News briefs:July 14, 2010

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Canterbury farmers to get aid because of snow
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Canterbury farmers to get aid because of snow

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The New Zealand government officials have announced that it will give NZ$160,000 in aid to help farmers who were affected by the huge amounts of snow in Canterbury, New Zealand two weeks ago.

The aid package will provide four regional offices for co-ordination, food supplies and ongoing support.

The Federated Farmers for mid Canterbury say that the aid will be a start to what looks like a tough winter. President of the mid Canterbury Federated Farmers Rupert Curd says, “It is too early to say exactly how much help the relief package will provide.”

The snow has not yet reached a crisis point.

The Insurance Council has estimated the cost of the snow storm has reached $35 million so far. Chief Executive of the Insurance Council says, “There has been damage to homes, commercial premises both on farms and in town and vehicles. Businesspeople who have been without power are also claiming for loss of income.”

The Minister of Agriculture Jim Anderton has said that they are not ruling out giving further aid.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security violates Wikipedia copyright
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Indiana Department of Homeland Security violates Wikipedia copyright

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security was revealed on Saturday to have violated the copyright of a number of contributors to online encyclopedia Wikipedia in a document on racial profiling by quoting Wikipedia articles without any attribution.

The PDF file, which was created as a guide for students in grades 9–12 “[t]o research positions related to the topic of racial profiling post September 11, 2001 with a primary focus on citizens of Middle Eastern descent, and to give an informative speech”, quotes from seven Wikipedia articles without mentioning Wikipedia at any point. These are: Racial Profiling, USA PATRIOT Act, Bigotry, Internment, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, and The War on Terrorism, all in the “Vocabulary” section. This is against Wikipedia’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) License, which requires that the original author(s) be attributed.

page[s] 3/4 are copied from [W]ikipedia, yet there is no attribution to Wikipedia or even a mention of it

The offending document was posted on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s website on October 30, 2009, and came to the attention of the Wikipedia community on Saturday, after a user editing under the pseudonym of Smallman12q mentioned it on the website’s community noticeboard, the Village Pump. His post began, “I came across this pdf produced by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security for racial profiling and found that in it […] the vocabulary section on page[s] 3/4 [is] copied from [W]ikipedia, yet there is no attribution to Wikipedia or even a mention of it…” The document also contains typographical and grammatical errors, “[citation needed]” tags, and meaningless in-line references, due to the content being a direct copy-and-paste of Wikipedia content.

In a statement to Wikinews, Smallman12q explained that he “came across the pdf after doing a google search for ad hominem with the ‘site’ parameter set to .gov.” He also commented on “the irony” of finding this when his whole reason for searching government sources was so that he “would[n]’t have to worry about copyright infringement” due to government works being in the public domain (he was mistaken on this point, as this only applies to works of the US federal government, while this document was created by the government of the state of Indiana). He used the document as a reference in the Internment article on Wikipedia, before realizing that “the content of the article and the pdf virtually matched”. He noticed the “[1]” tag in the document, which was undefined in the PDF and corresponded to a Wikipedia in-line reference. “Looking at the other vocabulary terms within the pdf and their Wikipedia counterparts, they too were identical,” he says, “I then realized that they must have been copied from Wikipedia…”

The CC-BY-SA licence states that “You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor”, while the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use specify either “a) a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to the page or pages you are re-using, b) a hyperlink (where possible) or URL to an alternative, stable online copy which is freely accessible, which conforms with the license, and which provides credit to the authors in a manner equivalent to the credit given on this website, or c) a list of all authors”, none of which were given in the IDHS’s document, despite it having a bibliography section.

Wikipedia is widely famous for being something that you can freely copy, and we love it when people do it

Wikinews contacted Jimmy Wales, the founder and chair emeritus of the foundation, for a statement regarding the issue. He expressed no concern about the issue, saying that “Wikipedia is widely famous for being something that you can freely copy, and we love it when people do it. Yes, there are rules about how to do it, but not everyone understands those rules at first. I’m sure it won’t happen again, and I certainly am not particularly agitated about it.”

The offending document has since been removed from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s website, Wikinews found on February 2.

Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 25) city council candidates speak
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Canada’s Don Valley West (Ward 25) city council candidates speak

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Don Valley West (Ward 25). Three candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include John Blair, Robertson Boyle, Tony Dickins, Cliff Jenkins (incumbent), and Peter Kapsalis.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

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