Insight News

May 27th


Agriculture secretary brings hope for farmers

Agriculture secretary brings hope for farmersA message of fairness and moving forward came from Tom Vilsack, secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture, when the former governor of Iowa was speaking Tuesday to the 68th Annual Professional Agricultural Workers Conference at Tuskegee University.

His audience was a majority Black one and it wouldn’t be surprising if his remarks may have been viewed with skepticism. Vilsack admitted up front the USDA’s history in the area of civil rights was one that has to be improved upon.

Many are waiting for payments from the Pigford II lawsuit brought against the USDA by Black farmers. Some have been waiting years for their payments. In his remarks Tuesday, Dec. 7 to an audience at the Tuskegee University Chapel, Vilsack mentioned the Claims Settlement Act agreement by Congress last week that should speed up the lagging payment process.

Anti-HIV/AIDS Medicines and Vaccines in Development

American biopharmaceutical research companies are working on 100 new medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS and related conditions.

In its new report, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) states that many novel approaches are being taken to overcome the disease.

For example, a medicine under development is designed to spare healthy cells by attacking only infected cells. A new class of anti-HIV medicines is intended to prevent the HIV virus from breaking through cell membranes. One vaccine being worked on is administered through a skin patch. Another vaccine in development uses a weakened common cold adenovirus that helps boost the immune system.

Lowertown parking changes take effect on January 1, 2011

Several major construction projects planned for St. Paul’s Lowertown over the next several years will have an impact on parking options beginning Jan. 1, 2011. These changes, including the closing of five current lots, have been communicated to contract parkers over the past several months and to those currently parking in the lots through signage at the entrances. We wanted to make sure that the public is also aware of the changes.

National Adoption Day highlights success stories

National Adoption Day highlights success storiesLast month the Ramsey County Community Human Services Department observed National Adoption Day with an event featuring the formalized adoptions of 12 waiting children into permanent families. On November 20th, Michael Lehan former U of M and NFL (Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns) football player, adopted by the parents of one of his best friends, was one of several guest speakers at the adoption ceremony. Also speaking were Ramsey County Commissioners Rebecca Reinhart and Toni Carter and James Terrell, a 21-year-old and former foster care youth who spoke on the importance of creating permanency for children.

Currently, there are approximately 80 waiting children seeking adoption in Ramsey County every day. While this is an urgent need, many adults are stepping forward to provide permanent families.

Online giving shines despite tough times for charities

Salvation Army teams with to extend the reach of its Angel Giving Tree program

(NEWS) -- Businesses in the U.S. have dealt with sluggish sales for well over a year as family budgets continue to face headwinds along the road to a full economic recovery. Meanwhile, the prolonged economic slump has taken a bite out of another area -- charitable giving.

Charitable donations were down 3.6 percent in 2009, according to the Giving USA Foundation™, a leading resource to non-profits. Despite this sobering reality for those whose mission is to help people in need, one trend in philanthropy is offering a glimmer of hope: online giving.

The Salvation Army is one major charitable organization tapping into this trend, extending the reach of its 40-year-old Angel Giving Tree program by offering the adoption and shopping process online. The national online program, presented by JCPenney, allows customers to provide gifts for children and seniors who, due to financial hardship, may not otherwise receive presents at Christmas.

Turning the page on discrimination at USDA

Since my first day as Secretary of Agriculture in January 2009, President Obama and I have made resolving USDA’s troubled civil rights record one of our top priorities.  Today we have taken an important step forward in this work as the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010 to finally allow USDA to turn the page on past discrimination against black farmers.  The inequities many faced are well-documented and affirmed in the courts; however, the question of compensation has lingered.

The Claims Settlement Act will allow those that have been waiting to get the relief they deserve and have long been promised. USDA has worked with Congress to include strong protections against waste, fraud, and abuse and ensure that only deserving applicants are reimbursed under this settlement.

Obama visits India

Obama visits IndiaThere were two elements to the first state visit of President Barack Obama to India, early November; the business and the personal.

As much as there was high expectation among all sections of Indians regarding the future course of the ever growing Indo-US collaborations, there was also high praise for the US First Couple’s direct interaction with the Indian people.

The visit commenced from Mumbai, India’s business capital, where on November 26, 2008 (26/11), terrorists attacked and killed 166 people.

At the time of the attacks—likened by some to the 9/11 attacks—the then president-elect Obama said they indicated "the grave and urgent threat of terrorism".

Target Holidazzle Kicks Off on 11/26

Target Holidazzle Kicks Off on 11/26With opening night fireworks, the Minneapolis Downtown Council prepares for an exciting parade season

Nothing says the holidays like bundling up, heading to Nicollet Mall with family and friends and participating in the wonderful holiday tradition that is Target Holidazzle.

Target Holidazzle, now in its 19th season, is expected to draw more than 300,000 local, regional and national guests wishing to enjoy the glistening lights, beloved storybook characters and enchanting holiday music.

“There are many new enhancements to look forward to in this year’s parade,” said Leah Wong, vice president of events and marketing of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “For the first time in Target Holidazzle history, opening night will kick off with a spectacular fireworks display.”

Akobaye Drexall Stafford, 38, “Gone too soon”

Akobaye Drexall Stafford, 38, “Gone too soon”Akobaye Drexall Stafford, age 38, died on Saturday, October 31, 2010 in Corvallis, OR. In his short life, Ako was a husband, father, poet, an outstanding athlete, soldier, college-athlete academic adviser and special-education foster-care provider. On Friday, November 19th at 10 am, a military interment will be held for Ako at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in St. Paul. A memoriam will follow at 11:30 am at Progressive Baptist Church on 1505 Burns Avenue in St. Paul.  Michael Jackson’s song, “Gone Too Soon” (1991) expresses the feeling we have regarding our lost.

We have learned a lot in the days that followed Ako’s death about his passions, curiosity, generosity, and willingness to lend a helping hand.  The clarity came not because of something Ako said or did, but through the outpouring of love and support we all received from so many friends. It became clear that the friends he made and the depth of those friendships revealed Ako’s beautiful spirit. He never said, "This is how you treat people." Instead he modeled it.

US response to UN human rights review contains many ‘commitments;’ little substance

Thr UN Human Rights Council delivered its recommendations to the US government, following the US review last week under the Universal Periodic Review process all UN member states must undergo every four years.

The UN report contained 228 specific human rights recommendations on issues ranging from racial discrimination to Guantanamo Bay.

Reacting to the response by the US government delegation to the recommendations, Ajamu Baraka, Director of the US Human Rights Network said, “Superficial commitments are not enough – what are needed are concrete and specific pledges to correct the ongoing human rights violations we still see in this country.”

US activists critique government performance at UN Human Rights Review

Geneva – US activists in Geneva observing the government’s first-ever review by the UN’s top human rights body said the government failed to convince the world of its positive human rights record.

“If the US government delegation’s objective was to reclaim the mantel of global human rights leadership, it failed miserably in that effort,” said Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN), immediately after observing the US review.

“What we heard instead was an eloquent defense of US ‘exceptionalism’ – its view of itself as somehow having a ‘special status’ that does not require it to conform to internationally recognized human rights norms and standards.”
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