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First Family, Guests Watch Fireworks On The Mall

July 5, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Reagan celebrated the Fourth of July by watching the fireworks display on the Washington Mall and praying ″that other countries will have something to celebrate.″

Reagan and his wife Nancy played host to hundreds of White House and Secret Service personnel at the Executive Mansion for the annual event on a balmy Monday evening.

″This isn’t going to be a Fourth of July speech,″ said Reagan, standing on the south balcony of the White House. ″Have a happy Fourth of July, and maybe when we say our prayers, maybe we can pray that other countries will have something to celebrate.″

Among the guests invited to join the Reagans on the balcony were White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein, former CIA Director Richard Helms, syndicated columnist George Will and Richard Davis, Mrs. Reagan’s brother.

Reagan had returned to the White House from Camp David, Md., at midday. --- Tax Law Changes Spurs Shift Away From Second Mortgage Loans

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new government study shows that home equity loans are enjoying a boom in popularity because of changes in the tax law, with more than 3 million homeowners choosing the loans over second mortgages.

The Federal Reserve, conducting its first comprehensive look at the new consumer credit lines, found that three-fourths of all existing loans were taken out in the past two years and that they now account for more than $75 billion in total consumer debt.

In fact, the Fed found that the most prevalent use of the home equity loans, reported by 53 percent of all borrowers surveyed, was to pay off other debt, mainly credit card debt or auto loans.

The Fed survey found that the average interest charged on a home equity loan in 1987 was 10.2 percent. That compared to an average of 17.9 percent interest on credit card debt, 14.2 percent for a 24-month personal loan and 10.5 percent average interest on a 48-month new car loan.

While second mortgages are extended for a specified period of time and require repayment of principal and interest in equal monthly installments, home equity accounts allow the borrower flexibility in the size and timing of payments. --- West German Ambassador’s Residence Damaged In Fire

WASHINGTON (AP) - Fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that did extensive damage to the official residence of West Germany’s ambassador to the United States.

The two-alarm fire broke out Monday in the attic of the home, but the ambassador, Gurjen Ruhfus, was in West Germany at the time and no one was injured.

Embassy spokesman Peter Mende said several embassy staff members arrived as the fire engulfed the roof of the building and they saved valuable paintings from the home.

Mende and fire officials said fire damage was confined to the attic and roof, but that smoke and water damage spread to the rest of the building.

Fire officials said they were not sure how the blaze started, but Mende said investigators told him they believed a faulty air conditioner was to blame.

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