News Day: Fighting foreclosures / Central Corridor money / Unemployment claims rise / Lies, damn lies and health care

Photo by Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet

Photo by Sheila Regan, TC Daily Planet

Rosemary Williams: Back to the negotiating table? GMAC has agreed to return to the negotiating table with Rosemary Williams, according to a press release from the MN Coalition for a People’s Bailout and the People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Williams and her supporters have been sitting in the house since an attempted eviction by sheriff’s deputies last Friday, expecting that police would arrive at any time to evict and arrest.

A second foreclosed homeowner, Linda Rorenberg of Robbinsdale, said she was inspired by Williams’s example and would resist eviction, reports MPR:

“We’re both 60 years old. We’re both in family-owned houses,” Norenberg said Wednesday. “I want to stay here. I love it here. I love the neighborhood.” …

Norenberg’s house has been in her family for 65 years. She said her father built the home in 1944, and she bought in 1977 after he died.

Foreclosures dropped slightly in Minnesota in the first half of the year, according to a report by the Minnesota Homeownership Council, reports MPR. At the same time, however, the number of homeowners more than 60 days in default increased. In 2008, Minnesota had a record high 26,000+ foreclosures. Nationally, foreclosures rose by 7 percent in July. One of the explanations for the decline during the first six months of the year was a partial, voluntary moratorium during the first quarter.

Central Corridor: New money An inflation adjustment will send about $16 million more in federal funds to the Central Corridorreports MPR, but Met Council head Peter Bell says the money will not be used to add stations on University Avenue. Met Council officials had previously said that if they got additional money, it would go to meet community demands for adding stations at Hamline, Victoria or Western avenues as they cross the University avenue route in St. Paul.

From somewhere, in spite of a budget shortfall, St. Paul has found a million dollars for parking alleviation along the Central Corridor, according to MPR. The city council was slated to approve a plan that would allow small businesses to apply for up to $25,000 in forgivable loans to improve their off-street parking, or even more if they are sharing offstreet parking with neighbors.

“We have so many small businesses on University Avenue who rely not on big parking lots, but sort of need one spot right in front for that customer who comes out at 1 o’clock on a Tuesday to park and walk into their store,” [Council member Melvin] Carter said.

The Met Council has consistently said it has no money for parking alleviation on University Avenue, where the Central Corridor will eliminate 85 percent of all on-street parking. Some of the new city money could also be used for alley repaving.

World/National News

Unemployment claims up The Department of Labor reported a slight increase in unemployment claims today. NPR’s Planet Money explains what that’s a problem:

New claims for unemployment insurance rose last week to 558,000, from 554,000 the week before, the Department of Labor reports. Heading into Thursday morning’s report, analysts expected new claims to drop to 545,000. They had fallen for six straight weeks.

Other economic news was also bad. AP reported an overall 0.1 percent decline in retail sales. Not much, but retail sales had been expected to rise by 0.7 percent. Instead, even the major bump given by the billion-dollar Cash for Clunkers program couldn’t pull retail sales out of the red.

Worried? I am, but I’m not an economist. NPR reports that the Federal Reserve says the economy is stabilizing, and other experts agree:

A growing number of economists now say they think the recession is finally over — by that they mean the economy is starting to grow again.

Until growth translates into jobs, it’s not a recovery in my books.

Lies, damn lies and the health care “debate” The rabid anti-health care reform forces don’t really give a damn about truth. Case in point: the Investor’s Business Daily charge that Stephen Hawking would have died under a British-style national health care system, because national health care devalues the handicapped and the elderly. Hawking, of course, is British, a point that escaped the notice of IBD. The Guardian debunks:

The danger, says the Investor’s Business Daily, is that [Obama] borrows too much from the UK. “The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof, are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror script … People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

We say his life is far from worthless, as they do at Addenbrooke’s hospital, Cambridge, where Professor Hawking, who has motor neurone disease, was treated for chest problems in April. As indeed does he. “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS,” he told us. “I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.” Something here is worthless. And it’s not him.

Robert Reich prescribes more information and more rationality in the debate. He says that the administration “needs to be very specific about two things in particular: (1) Who will pay? and (2) Why the public option is so important — and why it’s not a Trojan Horse to a government takeover.”

I’d like to believe that more information would make a difference, but it’s transparently obvious that the rabid right opinion leaders don’t really give a damn about facts. When confronted with the facts on Stephen Hawking, IBD excised that reference, but continued to insist that national health care will terrorize grandma. The objective of Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Investor’s Business Daily, et al is not informing the public, but stirring up fear and hatred. Unfortunately for the country, they succeed all too well.

War Reports

Pakistan At least 70 people are dead and scores of homes destroyed in Wednesday’s intense battle between Taliban fighters and a local warlord’s forces in the mountainous south Waziristan village of Sura Ghar, reports AP. The government sent in war planes in support of the local warlord, Turkistan Bitani, when an estimated 300 Taliban forces attacked his village. This is the region where U.S. and Pakistani forces believe that a missile strike an a residential compound killed Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud on August 5, while Taliban commanders say he is still alive and that the missile strike killed civilians, including one of his wives and children.

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