Civil rights groups called for a six-month moratorium on foreclosures that result from borrowers of so-called subprime mortgages, those made at high interest rates to Americans with shaky credit, mostly Blacks and Hispanics, failing to make their payments. The groups argue that lenders, real estate agents and investors who bought subprime loans should help borrowers refinance their mortgages into conventional 30-year mortgages with a fixed interest rate or face lawsuits under a federal law prohibiting housing discrimination. Data from 2005 show that subprime loans represent more than 50 percent of all mortgages taken out by African-American borrowers and 40 percent of those taken by Latino borrowers, compared with 19 percent of white borrowers.
Governors in six states, including New York, recommended that their states adopt “combined reporting,” a key reform to outlaw a variety of abusive income-tax-avoidance strategies practiced by large corporations, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Eighteen states had already adopted the reform as of the start of 2007. In addition to New York, the governors of Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania proposed the reform as part of their new budgets. New York’s legislature approved the proposal on April 1. A number of large, multistate corporations move profits out of the states in which they are earned and into “tax haven” states where they will be taxed at lower rates or not at all by creating subsidiaries largely or solely as tax shelters and then “artificially” shifting funds to them in the form of royalties or rent, the center said.
A survey of undergraduate and graduate students at United States colleges and universities reveals that minority professors are having an astonishing impact on the career decisions of both minority and non-minority students. Of the 672 students surveyed, 83 percent said minority professors are positively impacting minority students’ employment or internship decisions and almost 70 percent said they are impacting non-minority students’ employment or internship decisions as well. The Bernard Hodes Group, on behalf of The PhD Project, a corporate and academic effort founded in 1994 to increase minority representation among business professors, conducted the survey.
Virginia State University, the historically Black college, is reinventing itself, hoping to double enrollment in upcoming months, diversify its largely Black student body and strengthen its image with new buildings, curriculum and staff. Over the last three years, the school has embarked on $87 million in new construction and renovations, including a school of engineering, and bolstered the liberal arts curriculum with computer science and nursing programs. It awarded its first doctorate this year in educational administration, and university officials want to start additional doctoral programs. The university also wants to be more selective in the students it admits. School officials even want to change their address from Petersburg to the higher-profile Chesterfield County.
Indiana University joined nine historically Black colleges and universities to boost the number of minorities seeking careers in science, starting with a summer program for promising students who will work at the university’s research laboratories. I.U. said a $2 million endowment to fund a graduate student fellowship program is already in place to help launch the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiative. Beginning in June, the initiative aims to bring students from the mostly southern Black colleges to Indiana for educational opportunities. I.U. students and faculty will also be able to study or teach at the nine schools. HBCU participants are Alabama A&M University, Bennett College for Women, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton Uni-versity, Jackson State University, Lang-ston University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Prostate Cancer Vaccine
The U.S. Food and Drug Administra-tion released documents that raise questions about the effectiveness of Dendreon Corp.’s experimental prostate cancer vaccine, Provenge. Dendreon’s main evidence for the effectiveness of Provenge is a study showing that men with prostate cancer who received the vaccine lived about four and a half months longer than those who did not. However, the FDA said this study, and another conducted by Dendreon, failed to meet certain effectiveness targets. However, agency staff also said that the two studies taken together provide some evidence to support use of the vaccine. The agency plans to ask outside experts to discuss the persuasiveness of the company’s data.
August Wilson Center
The August Wilson Center for African American Culture said it would receive a $7 million construction line of credit from seven local Pittsburgh banks. Led by Dollar Bank, the lending consortium comprises Allegheny Valley Bank, Community Bank of Carmichael, Fidelity Bank, Iron & Glass Bank, Irwin Bank and Washington Federal Savings & Loan. The 65,000-square-foot center in downtown Pittsburgh, named for the Pittsburgh-born award-winning playwright, will be a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary venue celebrating the contributions of African-Americans in music, theater, dance, science, athletics, business and more. It will house a 500-seat theater for dance, theater and musical performances, along with gallery space, a music café and a multipurpose community center equipped for theatrical productions.
A three-acre park in Manhattan Beach, Calif., was renamed for Charles and Willa Bruce, a Black couple that ran a resort on the land until the city condemned it in the 1920s. White families had resented the fact that the Bruces’ resort catered to Black families and the city seized the property with the promise of converting it to a park. Three decades later, the city council approved changing the name from Parque Culiacan to Bruce Beach at the urging of a University of Southern California master’s degree student.
GLOBAL BUSINESS - Dollars Go Home
The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that about 65 percent of the 25 million adults born in Latin America and the Caribbean and living outside their country of origin send money home on a regular basis, typically $100, $200, or $300 a month. Almost 75 percent of the remittances to the region are sent from the United States, but in recent years Western Europe has become the fastest-growing destination for Latin American and Caribbean emigrants, making it the source of 12 percent of the remittance market. At current growth rates, the projected cumulative remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean for the decade 2001-2010 will be approximately US$500 billion, the bank said.
GLOBAL BUSINESS - China’s Auto March
Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp., the Chinese carmaker that bought Britain’s MG Rover Group in 2005, launched production of MG model sports cars in a bid to revive the historic brand. Nanjing Auto plans to reintroduce MG models in China and Europe, and is also planning production at an assembly line in Ardmore, Okla., beginning next year. MG was Britain’s last independent auto manufacturer but had not produced a new model since 1998. In the 1960s, the company turned out 40 percent of the cars bought in Britain. Nanjing Auto, which also acquired Power Train Ltd., MG Rover’s engine-making unit, is in a 50-50 joint venture with Italian automaker Fiat SpA and is a major manufacturer of trucks and other commercial vehicles as well as passenger cars. Its main export markets are Africa, Latin America and southern Europe.