Hot Docs: Treasury's Plan on Foreclosures, Health Habits of Young Americans

Today's selection of timely reports.

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Treasury Details Plan to Stop Foreclosures: The U.S. Department of the Treasury has unveiled a wide-ranging plan designed to help 7 to 9 million families avoid home foreclosure. In outlining the problems families are facing, the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan says that millions are unable to refinance at lower rates in order to have a better chance of making their payments. Because the value of their homes has fallen, millions more are struggling to pay their mortgages because of lost jobs, and whole neighborhoods are seeing home prices decline because of foreclosures. The plan includes provisions to provide low-cost refinancing, create a $75 billion Homeowner Stability Initiative, allow judicial modification of loans during bankruptcy, and provide $1.5 billion in assistance to renters displaced by foreclosures. Treasury describes the plan as part "of the president's broad, comprehensive strategy to get the economy back on track."

Health Habits of Young Adults: Young adults, ages 18 to 29, face high injury rates, increases in obesity, and lack of health insurance, according to "Health, United States: 2008," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 32nd annual review of the nation's health. Obesity rates for young adults, which were at 8 percent in the early 1970s, have tripled to 24 percent in 2005-2006. Young adults have the highest rate of injury-related emergency room visits, while unintentional injuries or accidents, homicide, and suicide accounted for 70 percent of deaths in the age group. In 2006, 34 percent of those ages 20 to 24 were uninsured compared to 29 percent of those ages 25 to 29 and 21 percent of those ages 18 to 19. Between 2004 and 2006, 17 percent of young adults reported that they had to forgo medical care, prescription medicines, mental healthcare, or eyeglasses in the past year because they could not afford them.

Holder: Americans Are "Cowards" When Iit Comes to Race: When it comes to racial matters, Americans are "essentially a nation of cowards," according to the nation's first African-American attorney general. Eric Holder, in remarks at the Justice Department's African-American History Month Program, says that you cannot truly understand America without understanding the experience of black people. "Simply put, to get to the heart of this country, one must examine its racial soul. Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." He says that Americans do not talk with each other about race and that while "we have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace ... on Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed 50 years ago."

Obama Visits the Neighbors: As President Obama takes his first foreign trip as president to Canada, Canadian officials took time out to remind how close the two nations are. "The Canada-U.S. partnership is deep and diverse," says a Canadian background brief. "The countries share political, economic, and social ties, a common border that stretches across 8,893 kilometers (5,525 miles), and many values and interests as neighbors and friends." According to the numbers, some $1.9 billion of goods and services cross the border each day along with 300,000 people and 20,000 commercial trucks. Despite the shared border and values, the countries are not mirror images. Canada is larger than the United States—9.9 million square kilometers (6.1 million square miles) compared to 9.6 million square kilometers (5.9 million square miles), but has fewer people (33 million to America's 304 million). Canada's major languages are English and French, compared to English and Spanish in the U.S. Also, Canada lists its type of government as a constitutional monarchy.