Bong Teams are DonamiSports/YMCA Challenge Champions

first_imgMr. Toe presents the winners trophy to the skipper of the U-12Two youth teams in Gbarnga, Bong County have won the DonamiSports/YMCA Cities Challenge Cup competitions.Bong County’s U-12 team defeated New Kru Town U-12 1-0 and their U-14 team defeated Clara Town All Stars U-14 2-1.Both losers were the winners of the previous tournament held in Monrovia. The new winners will travel to Monrovia to meet their counterparts at the ELWA Community in a date to be announced later.The Challenge Cup tournaments are scheduled in the way that the winners also go to the next community to play.The Gbarnga tournament was held at the Catholic Compound and a large crowd of people came to see the youngsters play their game.The organizers, DonamiSports and YMCA, had representatives at the game. The winners from Gbarnga lifted two giant-size trophies and the losers also received consolation trophies.One of the New Kru Town U-12 players during the presentation of the trophies broke down and wept for his team’s loss, while the Gbarnga boys went into jubilation, singing, “That’s how we do it here.”Both winners showed great skill on the field and it was clear that they were prepared to win their matches. And as every game must have a winner, the Gbarnga boys won their games and are now new champions.The two teams in a future date will come to Monrovia to play against two teams in ELWA Community to continue with the process and the winners will continue to another county to continue the challenge.Before presenting the trophies to the two skippers of the winners, DonamiSports’ coordinator Josiah Toe informed the kids of the great passion that DonamiSports’ president Doc Lawson has for the development of their talents with the hope that they could become superstars for Liberia.“Doc Lawson wants you to become great players like he was as a young player in America,” he told the kids as they cheered.“The teams that you beat,” Mr. Toe said, “also beat other teams. Being and playing together show that we can continue to play across the country as we identify talented youths for Liberia.”He urged them to continue to play with their passion and work along with DonamiSports/YMCA to expose their talents.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Tuskegee Airmen get nation’s salute

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush and Congress awarded the Tuskegee Airmen one of the nation’s highest honors Thursday for fighting to defend their country even as they faced bigotry at home. “For all the unreturned salutes and unforgivable indignities … I salute you for your service to the United States of America,” Bush told the legendary black aviators, standing in salute as some 300 of them stood to return the gesture. At a ceremony in the sun-filled Capitol Rotunda, Bush then joined congressional leaders and other dignitaries in awarding the veterans _ most of them in their 80s _ the Congressional Gold Medal. “We are so overjoyed,” said Ret. Capt. Roscoe Brown Jr., after he and five other airmen accepted the medal on behalf of the group. “We are so proud today, and I think America is proud today.” Nearly 1,000 fighter pilots trained as a segregated Army Air Corps unit at the Tuskegee, Ala., air base. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had overruled his top generals and ordered that such a program be created. Even after the black airmen were admitted, many commanders continued to believe they didn’t have the intelligence, courage and patriotism to do what was being asked of them. Not allowed to practice or fight with their white counterparts, the Tuskegee Airmen distinguished themselves by painting the tails of their airplanes red, which led to them becoming known as the “Red Tails.” Hundreds saw combat throughout Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, escorting bomber aircraft on missions and protecting them from the enemy. Dozens died in the fighting; others were held prisoners of war. “You caused America to look in the mirror of its soul and you showed America that there was nothing a black person couldn’t do,” said Colin Powell, a retired Army general and Bush’s former secretary of state. Powell, who is black, thanked the airmen for paving the way for his career. Charles “A-Train” Dryden, 86, a retired lieutenant colonel from Atlanta, expressed mixed feelings that the honor came so long after the war and that many of his colleagues had died without knowing that Americans appreciated their service. Just a couple of days ago, he said, a fellow pilot was hospitalized in Atlanta and couldn’t attend the ceremony. “So many of the guys have passed on,” he said. Dryden recalled his pride in returning from Africa and Europe after serving in Tuskegee’s original 99th Fighter Squadron, only to be stationed in Walterboro, S.C., where he saw German prisoners of war get privileges in theaters and cafeterias that were denied to black soldiers. “That was the low point of my career,” said Dryden, who uses a wheelchair. Thursday’s medal has helped convince him that the country recognizes the airmen’s contributions. “It’s really something,” he said at a breakfast before the ceremony. Congress has awarded gold medals to more than 300 individuals and groups since giving the first one to George Washington in 1776. Originally, they went only to military leaders, but Congress broadened the scope to include authors, entertainers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants and foreign officials. The medal for the airmen, made possible through legislation by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and signed last year by Bush, will go to the Smithsonian Institution for display. Individual airmen will receive bronze replicas. “It means a lot to a lot of people,” said Ret. Maj. George M. Boyd, 80, of Wichita, Kan., a Tuskegee pilot and adjutant who served 28 years in the military, including in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. “There was so much resting on our success or failure.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

American nightmare

first_imgLending institutions filed 46,760 notices of default during the January-to-March period, a 148 percent jump from the first quarter of 2006. Most of the loans that went into default last quarter originated between April 2005 and May 2006, DataQuick said. Predators and prey Most mortgage bankers admit that predatory lending has contributed to higher default and foreclosure rates. But they don’t think lenders are solely responsible. “I get upset at finger-pointing at our industry,” said Marc Brinitzer, a loan officer in Roseville and author of a mortgage blog called “Consumers have some responsibility. One thing that characterized the last few years is an abnormal level of greed on the part of the consumer. I saw people buying three or four homes at the same time with no intent of living in (them). A lot of those people make up the early payment defaults.” Brinitzer said he knows that there are many homeowners who were taken advantage of and are hurting, but that a lot of borrowers knew their loans were unrealistic for them, but they borrowed anyway. Noemi Estrada became a homeowner in 2004 after securing an adjustable-rate mortgage to finance a $175,000, one-bedroom town home in Pacoima. The trouble started when Estrada, then a 24-year-old single mother, received her first statement and noticed that the $600 payment she was being asked to make would cause her principal to keep on growing. On top of that, her payments began climbing immediately, by $10 to $20 each month. Estrada had unknowingly signed on for a “neg am” loan, one of the cornucopia of products pushed in recent years to individuals whose credit or income wasn’t good enough to qualify for a traditional loan. Today, her payments are $800, and she already has one notice of default on her record. “If I knew all this would happen, I would go back and live in my mom’s house,” said Estrada, who works in a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s office and also has a part-time job with a catering company. “Right now, I’m about to lose my house. But if I let the bank take it, it would ruin my life.” Estrada claims that the mortgage broker who sold her the loan lied to her about the terms. Now, she is working with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a nonprofit group that has secured $1 billion from banks, including Bank of America and Citibank, to help convert questionable mortgages into long-term fixed loans. Don’t blame victims Bruce Marks, CEO of the assistance corporation, said placing any blame on homeowners who took out bad loans is wrong. “I will not accept the theory of blaming the victim,” he said. “Lenders have a legal responsibility to make affordable loans to people. If you look behind the scenes, then you understand this was an organized scheme … to steal billions from people.” Marks said investment banks and regulators looked the other way even though they knew that the lending was out of control. He said homeowners can’t be held responsible for that. Still, his agency’s programs to refinance or modify loans require that participants be the owner-occupant of the house, and they can’t own other investment properties. Currently, the group is working with about 5,000 people nationwide. Other assistance plans in the works carry similar restrictions on who can participate. Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, has introduced a bill that would create funds to help Californians facing foreclosure by tapping into the housing bond that voters approved in November. It would also ask banks that have large numbers of subprime customers to pitch in, Lieu said in an interview. Participants would have to live in the home in question and not own other houses. They would also have to attend a financial literacy and counseling course. Freddie, Fannie aid Government-sponsored mortgage investors Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae each announced plans last month to buy subprime mortgages so that holders of them can refinance loans with better terms. Some of the plan details are still being worked out, but the idea is to convert some of the subprime loans into traditional loans with terms of 40 or 50 years. Marc Brinitzer, the loan officer in Roseville, said a friend on the Freddie Mac board told him to look for a 50-year, interest-only loan by the end of the second quarter. As assistance trickles down to homeowners, more people should be able to stay in their homes with better terms on their loans. But challenges remain. One problem that has lenders concerned is that it will be difficult to modify some of the loans that have already been sold off to Wall Street and beyond. For now, the industry is still predicting that the subprime problem and foreclosures will continue to rise before they retreat. “We’re starting to see the tip of the iceberg,” said Tingting Zhang, president of The TerraCotta Group, a Redondo Beach real-estate-investment company funded by private investors. “It will be bitter; it doesn’t matter what the government does. People are still going to be going through pain.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Now that some of the dire fears about adjustable-rate mortgages and sub- prime loans are proving true, lenders and nonprofit groups are rushing to come up with ways to slow down the defaults and foreclosures. Institutions behind these assistance programs say that a lot of home buyers were duped or deceived into signing bad loans. The main goal, they say, should be to keep people in their homes. But there’s also a growing call from mortgage brokers and other market watchers for struggling buyers to take some personal responsibility for their decisions. After all, they say, nobody forced them to sign these loans. Tough love “We’re going to give somebody a crutch all because they couldn’t spend a day in a seminar to find out about the loan products, and now they’re saying, `Nobody told me there was education,”‘ said Richard Pittman, director of housing and counseling at ByDesign Financial Solutions, a credit counseling nonprofit based in Commerce. “Come on, get your paycheck out and look at it next to your loan statement. You didn’t realize the $4,000-a-month payment was going to take 92 percent of your paycheck? … There’s a point to tough love, when you say this is a learning experience.” Pittman said he has plenty of sympathy for true victims of predatory lending, but that a lot of people he sees about mortgage problems should have known better. “We’re talking about college-educated people.” Real-estate-tracking company DataQuick Information Systems found that the number of default notices sent to California homeowners during the first quarter of this year rose to the highest level in almost 10 years. The reasons are varied: flat appreciation, a sales slowdown and the resetting of interest rates on loans that started with low “teaser” rates. last_img