August 20th, 2009
03:45 PM ET
August 20th, 2009
03:24 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: 9% of all home loans are delinquent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2009/08/20/news/companies/dvd_recall_walmart/walmart_durabrand_dvd_player.03.jpg caption="The CPSC and Wal-Mart recalled 1.5 million Durabrand DVD players because they have overheated and burst into flames."]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The number of Americans who have fallen at least 30 days behind on their home loan payments inched up slightly between the first and second quarters of 2009, but jumped 44% compared on an annual basis.

That puts delinquencies at a record 9.24% of mortgages, according to the National Delinquency Report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. That represents more than 4 million of the 45 million borrowers covered by the report.

What the rate does not include, however, are loans already in foreclosure. Some 4.3% of all the mortgages are in that stage, up from 3.85% three months earlier and 1.55% from one year ago.

The combined percentage of loans past due and those already in foreclosure hit 13.16% during the quarter, the highest ever recorded by the MBA survey.

Weekly jobless claims rise

The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment insurance rose by 15,000 last week, surprising economists.

The Labor Department says the number of new jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 last week, from a revised figure of 561,000.

Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to get benefits for one week one more rose by 2,000 to 6.24 million.

Workplace fatalities decline, suicides jump

This is something of a “good news, bad news, really bad news” story…

On-the-job fatalities dropped in 2008 - in part because the ongoing recession kept millions of workers at home.

Fatal work injuries totaled 5,071 in 2008, a 10% drop from 5,657 deaths the prior year.

 The steepest declines were in the construction industry, in which fatalities declined 20% to 969 from 1,204 in 2007. In the sub-category of residential building construction, fatalities dropped even further, by 28%, to 93 deaths.

 Workplace suicides, however, rose 28% to 251 deaths in 2008, the biggest increase since the bureau began tracking this information in 1992.

Wal-Mart recalling 1.5 million DVD players due to fire hazard

Wal-Mart is recalling about 1.5 million Durabrand DVD players because of a potential for the device to burst into flames, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said today.

Wal-Mart received 12 complaints of the DVD players overheating; in five of the cases, the overheating caused a fire that damaged property, according to a statement from the CPSC. No injuries have been reported.

The DVD players, imported from China, were sold at Wal-Mart stores from January 2006 through July 2009 for $29.

Consumers should stop using the DVD player immediately and return it to Wal-Mart for a full refund.

“Clunkers” headed for the junk yard

“Cash for Clunkers,” the successful federal program that has brought car buyers back to showrooms, is about to be scrapped. The Department of Transportation says the program will come to an end on Monday, August 24th at 8 p.m. EDT.

Auto dealers, among the biggest supporters of the program, are pulling out in large numbers, worried that they won't be reimbursed for the up to $4,500 they have advanced to each customer who trades in an old gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient model.

Dealers are complaining that slow processing of paperwork by the Department of Transportation has put them in a cash flow bind, requiring them to advance more than $1 billion so far.

They also worry that the delays in processing their applications could mean there are far more deals in the pipeline, a problem since the $3 billion allocated to “Cash for Clunkers” is already close to being exhausted.

According to the most recent DOT figures, there have been more than 457,000 deals so far, with claims of nearly $2 billion.

Gas prices drop

Gas prices declined 4-tenths of a cent to $2.624. This is the sixth consecutive decline.

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is down $1.49 (or 36.2%) from the record high price of $4.114 that AAA reported on July 17, 2008.

The highest gas prices are in Hawaii ($3.257). The cheapest are in South Carolina ($2.402).

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance
August 20th, 2009
02:30 PM ET

Commentary: Democrats may kill health care reform

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/20/martin.democrats.health/art.roland.martin.cnn.jpg caption="Roland S. Martin says health care reform may fall victim to disunity among Democrats."]
By Roland S. Martin
CNN contributor

Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information.

Democratic members of Congress, party strategists, and even President Obama have tried their best to portray Republicans as obstructionists to health care reform, and want us to believe that if the effort fails, it's all because of the GOP.

That's bull. The failure to pass health care reform would be a yoke around the Democrats' neck, and the cause of losing the moment would be their inability to achieve unity among themselves.

Democrats have the perfect political hat trick. They control the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, with a strong majority in both houses.

But I'm reminded of something Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, told me nine years ago: Democrats know nothing about party unity.

Conyers was being interviewed for an election special I was working on for a now-defunct black cable network, and he said that if Democrats had a majority of the votes in the House, they had a unified group of only about 165.

That's because when you throw in the 50-something Blue Dog Democrats - strongly conservative members whom some party loyalists liken to Republicans in Democrat clothing - then you have a different kind of dynamic than you do in the GOP, where the strong base of conservatives typically stays in line.

Then, of course, you have the far-left members, loud and noisy, and oftentimes unwilling to compromise their positions in order to move legislation forward.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Roland S. Martin
August 20th, 2009
01:07 PM ET

Hey, GOP! Please stop insulting America's civil servants

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David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Editor-in-Chief, ZATZ Publishing

I just got yet another email from RNC Chairman Michael Steele. The headline was "Run Health Care like the Post Office?" and the letter was what you'd expect, complaining about the United States Postal Service and other government-run operations.

Steele compares the post office with UPS and Fedex, and complains of inefficiencies. So, as an exercise, I just called Fedex and asked them if they'd carry a postcard for me from Florida to Washington. When I told the guy on the phone I had 28 cents, he laughed.

I then called UPS, and asked their rep if they'd pick up a 1 ounce letter and bring it to DC. He was down with the idea, until I told him I only wanted to spend 44 cents.

In recent weeks, members of the GOP seem to have constantly insulted our civil servants. They've complained government-run health care might be like the post office, full of inefficiency. No one ever accused America's post offices of perfection, but the Fedex guy recently delivered my wife's birthday present to a house down the street. He eventually figured it out and brought it here, but Fedex isn't perfect either.

And, GOP, while you're at it, stop picking on the DMV. While no one's ever claimed to have fun at the DMV, I dare you to spend a day climbing into 20 cars of questionable safety with 20 anxious teenagers and let them drive you around an obstacle course. Do that for a day, and then you can complain about the job those battle-weary civil servants do for their fellow citizens.


August 20th, 2009
10:46 AM ET
August 20th, 2009
10:11 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Relatives of American hikers detained in Iran speak out

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/20/afghanistan.election/art.afghanpollcenter.cnn.jpg caption="A voter dips his finger into ink after voting at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan."]

Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

The relatives of three American hikers being held in Iran are speaking out to keep focus on the hikers' detention. Hikers Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd have been held in Iran since July 31. Their friends and families say the hikers crossed a poorly-marked border by mistake. Anderson will speak to the mothers of the hikers tonight in an exclusive cable interview.

Attorney General Eric Holder and other government officials are planning a news conference today to announce the indictments of high-ranking members of Mexican drug cartels. Some of the indictments may even be in U.S. cities. We've been following this story closely and will have more for you tonight.

The only man ever convicted in the Lockerbie bombing has been released from prison in Scotland today. Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi, who took part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, was allowed to return to Libya on compassionate grounds because he is terminally ill. He was serving a life sentence for bombing the flight over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people.

In Afghanistan, polls opened this morning in as the nation held its second-ever presidential and provincial council elections. Incumbent President Hamid Karzai was the frontrunner leading up to the election and people went out devote despite Taliban threats. Violent attacks escalated in Kabul in the days leading up to the election and the government also ordered a ban on media coverage of violence to avoid scaring voters away from the polls.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
August 20th, 2009
08:51 AM ET

Dear President Obama #213: Enough with the Nazis...

Reporter's Note: President Obama has asked the public for advice on running the country. Considering the opposition he’s facing over health care, you could hardly blame him if he just plain ran. But as long as he stays put, so will I, with a letter a day to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/18/frank.heath.care/art.barney.frank.health.gi.jpg caption="Rep. Barney Frank argues with a man after a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Dartmouth, Massachusetts."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I do not have the power of a president, a senator, a representative or even a school board member. I am vested with virtually no authority to mandate anything, as my wife, children, and dog remind me on a regular basis. And yet I am making a proclamation that I hope will have the force of law: From now on, all insults based on Nazis are off limits.

Seriously. Listen to the health care shouting matches across the country, and you’d think the brown shirts were somehow marching out of a World History Class somewhere, bypassing Poland for a change, and rumbling across the American heartland. I’ve seen the posters of you painted up to look like Hitler; swastikas scrawled on signs; people flinging the word “Nazi” at each other from both sides of the protest lines. It’s ridiculous.

We’ve had problems in our country to be sure over the years. We’ve had bad leaders, connivers, crooks, and conmen from all parties. We’ve made terrible decisions with disastrous results from time to time. But Nazis? Come on.

Calling anyone Hitler except Hitler reveals nothing except a stunning lack of imagination. I’m all for free speech, but for crying out loud, try a little creativity, people!


August 20th, 2009
08:23 AM ET

Why the doctor won’t see you now

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/07/23/health.care.end.of.life/art.cancer.gi.jpg]

Kevin Pho
Special to CNN

When President Obama recently cited the number of Americans without health insurance, he declared that, "We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women, and children."

Uninsured patients often delay preventive care, waiting to seek medical attention only when their conditions worsen. This leads to more intensive treatment, often in the emergency department or hospital where costs run the highest.

Universal health coverage is therefore a sensible goal, and the reforms being considered all make considerable effort to provide everyone with affordable health care.

But expanding coverage cannot succeed as long as there remains a shortage of primary care clinicians.

After all, what good is having health insurance if you can't find a doctor to see you?

Keep Reading...

August 20th, 2009
07:18 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 8/19/09

Editor's Note: Many of you continued to talk about health care reform with questions about health care in V.A. hospitals, comments about exclusion of autism by current private health care companies, and more questions on issues that continue to be a source of confusion for many. Read below some of what we heard and let us know your thoughts:

We already have government health care. It's called the V.A. hospital. Ask any of our injured soldiers who laid it all on the line for their country if they are happy with the lack of treatment or run down facilities they had to endure. If we think (government funded) health care is going to be better, think again...

Thirty-six states allow health insurance providers to specifically exclude treatment for children with Autism which violates their fundamental human rights. They only approve treatment for restoring functions to the disabled, including self-inflicted diseases caused by drinking, smoking, drugs and controllable obesity but deny essential treatment for establishing functions for these innocent children who will never reach their potential or learn to communicate. Autistic children suffer irreversible damage to their health and development without early intervention. This discrimination is shameful! Is it not illegal? One in 150 children are diagnosed with Autism, which is considerably more than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
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