From Volume 37, Issue 28 of EIR Online, Published July 23, 2010

U.S. Economic/Financial News

Barney Frank's Home Foreclosure Wave Keeps Rising

July 15 (EIRNS)—RealtyTrac's home foreclosure report for the second quarter of 2010 says that 270,000 homes were repossessed by banks during the quarter, 35% more than in the second quarter of 2009. This figure does not include "short sales" of homes (which might be called "self-repossessions," having the like effect that a family loses its home); so, homes were being lost at an annual rate of more than 1.5 million in that quarter.

Ignoring President Obama's now all-but-forgotten "Home Affordable Mortgage Plan" of the past 16 months—a colossal failure—foreclosure actions of all kinds hit 1.65 million properties in the first half of 2010 (895,000 properties in the second quarter); this was 8% more than in first half of 2009.

This disaster is the direct result of Rep. "Bailout Barney" Frank's deliberate sabotage, in late 2007, of Lyndon LaRouche's proposed Homeowners and Bank Protection Act, which was demanded by cities, state legislatures, and state officials across the country.

Oakland, Already Heading into Dark Age, Fires 80 Police Officers

July 14 (EIRNS)—Oakland, Calif., already one of the most troubled cities in America, headed deeper into the abyss last night, when 80 police officers were laid off, after talks between the city and its police union broke down on the issue of job security. The union, after making concessions on wages and benefits, asked the city for a three-year moratorium on police layoffs. City officials said that any guarantee beyond one year was "financially irresponsible."

The union replied that it was disappointed by the city's decision, after some members gave back salary and half their scheduled pay raise to keep officers on the job. "Losing four officers last year was a shock to us all [a reference to the March 21, 2009 slayings of four officers], and we haven't really recovered from that yet," said Dominique Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Patrol Officers Association. "And now, we're losing another 80 officers, this year, not by the hand of a gun, but by the hand of a pen." The city said it still hopes to work with the union to support ballot measures in November that will help the city rehire the 80 officers and avoid another 112 layoffs on Jan. 1, 2011.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts had earlier warned that if the layoffs went ahead, police would no longer respond to non-emergency calls. Instead, people calling about non-life-threatening situations will be directed to an online system called "cop-logic" to file a police report. Among the 44 crimes in that category are burglary, theft, embezzlement, extortion, vandalism, identity theft, and illegal dumping.

Oakland, a city of 404,000, with a highly diverse population, consistently ranks among the top 20 most dangerous cities for crime, in the United States. In November 2008, Congressional Quarterly ranked Oakland at fifth in a nationwide ranking of violent crime, based on statistics for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. The historic crime rate dovetails with an official unemployment rate of 17.5%, and a poverty rate that is 15% of families, and 18% for individuals, all numbers which likely understate the reality.

LPAC-TV will be traveling to Oakland, soon, for onsite interviews to document the reality in that city.

Harlem Hospital Files Bankruptcy; Obama Hails Medical 'Reform'

July 13 (EIRNS)—The current disintegration of the U.S. hospital system exposes the killer intent behind President Obama's health-care measures, as he brags about "reform." The physical means don't exist to take care of people. The delivery system for health care in the U.S. is being downsized and closed at a crisis rate—hospitals, clinics, equipment, staff, and public health capacity. Two breaking events, in New York City and Washington, D.C., illustrate this.

In New York City on July 2, the North General Hospital of Harlem officially declared bankruptcy. This 190-bed facility has been a mainstay of this Manhattan community since first built in 1979. Instead of a full-service institution, it is now to operate as a nursing home, and a "critical access" clinic. This downgrade was hailed as a good thing by Mayor Benito Bloomberg, who joined with California Gov. Arnie Schwarzenegger in 2006, to promote "Building America's Future" with this kind of Mussolini-style infrastructure scam.

Washington, D.C. is in the process of a default-takeover of the 184-bed Greater Southeast Hospital, the only full-service hospital in the low-income section of the national capital. On July 9, Greater Southeast went over to the District, in a single-bidder auction, after its owner, Specialty Hospitals of America, defaulted, owing the District $55 million, and multi-millions to vendors of all kinds. The City Council is meeting today to decide how to cope with trying to run a hospital. Specialty acquired Greater Southeast in 2007, in a PPP sweetheart deal, in which the District committed $79 million to fix up the hospital, for Specialty to run it, which they did, into the ground.

The Southeast Hospital scandal came about in the wake of the shutdown in 2001 of D.C. General Hospital, a full-service, 450-bed institution, under a stinking real estate scam. Lyndon LaRouche led an international mobilization to stop the shutdown of D.C. General, and expose the demented thinking and criminality behind such an action.

Nationwide, the particulars vary, but the pattern is the same of loss of medical facilities and capacity. In Manhattan, two months ago, the St. Vincent Hospital was closed.

At the same time, clinics are closing. Up until now, clinics were touted over the past 15 years, as "replacements" for full-service hospitals, and from 2001-08, under the Bush Administration, the numbers of clinics and "CA" hospitals (critical access facilities, where you are received then shipped out), increased. Now clinics and all kinds of health care centers are shutting or downsizing. The following are indicative.

Sacramento County, Calif: Over the last 12 months, six clinics were reduced to three, with two of them to close within 30 days. The one remaining will have staff doctors cut by 50%, and shortened hours. The County Board of Supervisors has cut at least $3 million from the programs, slashing funding for conditions ranging from mental-health services, to urgent gynecology and Hepatitis C. Lawsuits against the county have been filed by local indigent residents, the Loaves & Fishes charity.

Buffalo, New York: Planned clinic closures this Fall at the Buffalo General Hospital—part of the Kaleida Health Hospital Systems—include the Wettlaufer Eye Clinic, which dates back to 1876, as well as the dental and oral surgery program. The Wound Care Center at Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle already has closed. The entire hospital is set to close in 2011. Later this Summer, the Fillmore outpatient urology services will be partly shifted to Buffalo General Hospital. The Women's and Children's Hospital may be shut as well.

Knoxville, Tennessee: The 19-year-old Interfaith Health Clinic in Knoxville will be closing because two grants comprising 30% of its budget have run out. The clinic, which also supplies dental work to the indigent, has already cut 11 of 38 staff and hours.

New Jersey: Programs at 58 health-care centers serving 136,000 patients statewide are at risk of cancellation or cutbacks, under a proposal for cutting $7.5 million. A fight is underway in the capital. On June 28, the legislature reinstated funding, taking money from a state employee prescription plan "that has grown less than expected." On July 2, nearly 100 Democratic Party state legislators held a press conference, challenging Gov. Chris Christie (R) not to veto their funding resolution.

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