Insight News

Mar 31st


Democrats need Michelle Obama

Fearing they could lose control of the House and, possibly, the Senate after the November elections, Democrats are once again expecting Obama charm to breathe new life into the party. The difference between today and two years ago – when then Senator Barack Obama rose through the political ranks and energized the left – is that, this time, the Dems seek the assistance of his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.

The First Lady recently announced that she will spend two weeks in November traveling the country, campaigning for Democrats tangled up in hotly contested races. As part of her work, she’ll speak at rallies and fundraisers in at least nine states.  It makes sense that the Democrats are reaching out to Mrs. Obama for help. With a 68 percent approval rating – compared to the President’s 50 percent - she is, at the moment, the most popular White House representative.

Situation between heaven and hell

He don’t speak with no anointing!  He don’t speak with no authority!  He’s a con artist! – Chris Brown

Black mega churches are big business in the United States.   Take Faithful Central Bible Church, whose for-profit arm now owns The Forum, former home of the L.A. Lakers.  Or Bishop T.D. Jakes, a pastor of a 30,000-member church in Dallas, whose company produces books, movies, radio shows and conferences across the country.

Black preachers of mega-churches do quite well.  Many live in mansions and drive Bentleys.  Their churches have become conglomerates.  If Jesus were to show up at some of these locations, he’d be turning over vendor tables along with voter registration tables along with ATM machines.  The public rarely gets a glimpse at religious leaders' compensation because churches are not required to file tax returns.

Harry J. Elam, Jr. to keynote El Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies

Harry J. Elam, Jr. to keynote El Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American StudiesProfessor Harry J. Elam, Jr., Stanford University, will be the Keynote Speaker for the El Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies "Struggling with Racial Legacies: Adrienne Kennedy and the Power of African American Theatre." The keynote address is on Monday, October 4, 2010 4:45-5:45 p.m. at Macalester College, 1600 W Grand Ave. St Paul, Minnesota in the Chapel. A reception with heavy hors d'oeuvre s will follow the talk in the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life in the basement.

The lectureship was established by Dr. Stanley M. Berry '75, Bertram M. Days '74 and Ava B. Days to honor Professor Mahmoud El-Kati's career as a lecturer, writer and commentator on the African American experience. From 1970 to 2003, Professor El-Kati taught many generations of Macalester students in courses such as The Black Experience Since World War II, and Sports and the African American Community.

Young, gifted and poor

The 2009 poverty numbers were released last week, and things are a lot worse than many economists thought they would be.  The poverty rate jumped up a full percentage point, from 13.2 to 14.3 percent.  This means that one in seven Americans live in poverty, 4 million more than a year ago.  This is the third year the level of poverty and the number of poor Americans has risen.

The poverty rate among African Americans rose, too, from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent.  The rate for Hispanics rose from 23.2 percent to 25.1 percent.  African Americans have the highest poverty rate of any racial ethnic group.  In contrast, the rate for non-Hispanic whites is 9.4 percent, less than half the rate for African Americans.


Letter to the Editor:

The rising rate of poverty in this county should be enough to make anybody and everybody enraged.  As the pastor of an inner-city Baptist church and the executive director of an agency charged with reducing poverty, understand that I don’t use this word lightly or without forethought.  However, I cannot think of another word that more succinctly describes how I feel. Consider the following highlights from the U.S. Census 2009 report (the nation’s official source on poverty estimates) released on 9.16.10:

Poverty in 2009 rose to 14.3 percent – up from 13.2 percent the previous year. Nearly 4 million more people now live below the poverty line.   The poverty rate is the highest it’s been since 1994, and the 43.6 million people now living in poverty denote the largest number of poor people in this country since estimates were first published more than 50 years ago.

Closing the income gap

First, the good news. Women are earning more money today than they were ten years ago. Slowly but surely, gender pay disparities are becoming a thing of the past.

Historically, women have always earned less than men. When women first went to work outside of the home, they typically took on ‘pink collar’ jobs that, for many reasons, paid a lower salary. However, as women began to become more educated and branch into different fields, even those dominated by men, they found that their salaries remained lower than that of their male counterparts…even if they were doing the same jobs.

Gun violence and children: Have we no respect for life?

Gun violence and children: Have we no respect for life?Recently, the United Nations expressed new concern about a crisis many Americans know little about: the use of child soldiers in global conflicts, especially in Somalia. Somalia, whose government collapsed in 1991, has been in a constant state of conflict and tension for years and still has no legally recognized government. The United States joins Somalia as the only two countries in the world not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty recognizing the human rights of children that UNICEF points out is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. One of the Convention’s provisions prohibits the use of soldiers younger than age 15 in conflicts. The United States did ratify a later optional protocol prohibiting the use of soldiers younger than 18. But in Somalia, both insurgent groups and the Transitional Federal Government—which is dependent on help from the West, including, especially, the United States—have been widely accused of violating this principle.
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