IT IS HARD TO SAY WHAT WAS MORE SHOCKING ABOUT THE death of Elisa Izquierdo--the endless savagery inflicted on her body and mind, or the stubborn inaction of the New York City agencies that were repeatedly informed of her peril. But while the murder of Elisa by her mother is appalling, it is hardly unexpected. In the death zones of America's postmodern ghetto, stripped of jobs and human services and sanitation, plagued by AIDS, tuberculosis, pediatric asthma and endemic clinical depression, largely abandoned by American physicians and devoid of the psychiatric services familiar in most middle-class communities, deaths like these are...

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