Insight News

May 27th


All eyes on the new South Africa!

All eyes on the new South Africa!Starting Friday, June 11, the eyes of the world’s largest audience will be glued to the Soccer World Cup, an accomplishment of major proportions for South Africa and an entire continent.

African leaders believe that this tournament will enable the continent to overturn stereotypes of tragedy, disaster and failure and prove that it is a vibrant can-do region with a positive future.

The World Cup is "the single greatest opportunity we have ever had to showcase our diversity and potential to the world,” declared South African president Jacob Zuma. “We must rise and tell the story of a continent which is alive with possibilities."

Ten soccer stadiums were ready early, unlike in many other host nations in the past, and six of them -- five built from scratch and one extensively expanded and rebuilt -- are magnificent arenas standing comparison with any in the world.

Outspoken Zambian editor in hot water again

Outspoken Zambian editor in hot water againA news editor whose staff was accused of pornography for its pictures of an unattended infant birth, is facing an imminent sentence of four months of hard labor for contempt of court.

Zambian Post editor, , was jailed for publishing a story by U.S.-based law professor Muna Ndulo on the government’s case against Post News Editor Chansa Kabwela for her pictures of the birth.

The so-called “porn” had been part of an expose on conditions at a local hospital where doctors had been on strike. A woman was snapped giving birth on a pavement. It was never published but was circulated to public officials to highlight the poor state of medical care in the country.

“We condemn this particularly harsh prison sentence of one of Zambia’s most prominent editors, which sets back press freedom and the democratic gains in Zambia,” said Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Fred M’membe should be released on bail immediately and his conviction overturned on appeal.”

Poisoning of Nigerian children linked to new mines

Poisoning of Nigerian children linked to new minesRecently reported deaths of more than one hundred children in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara are being blamed on polluted water pools where the children play.

The deaths of 163 Nigerians, most of them children, were reported by Dr. Henry Akpan, the health ministry's chief epidemiologist, as “lead poisoning caused by illegal gold mining.”

The villages affected are in remote parts of Zamfara, one of Nigeria's poorest states in the arid Sahel region on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert, where many people work as artisanal miners and subsistence farmers.

Stand Up!

Stand Up!I love Ludacris’ song, “Stand Up!” The hook is straight forward: “When I move, you move…just like that?” For this article, let’s adjust the hook a little… “When I vote, you vote! Just like that!”

This year’s election cycle will be the most important for you and your family for quite sometime. Health care, public safety, immigration, education, transportation, the list goes go and on. Time to “Stand Up”!

If Minnesota’s African / African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American communities stood up collectively, we would not only shape Minneapolis’ and St Paul’s political future, but the course of Minnesota’s political direction for some time. Why?

The National Bar Association launches the 2010 Advocacy Competition for high school seniors

The National Bar Association launches the 2010 Advocacy Competition for high school seniorsMetLife to serve as the Platinum Sponsor

MetLife, the nation’s leading provider of life insurance, employee benefits and financial services, will serve as the Platinum Sponsor for the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition. Students will have an opportunity to compete for scholarships to continue their education.

Sponsored by the National Bar Association and supported by the National Bar Institute, the competition is an annual advocacy program designed to motivate students of color to excel in education. The contest encourages high school seniors to express their views on a pre-selected topic, and judges the students on their ability to communicate orally and in writing. It also provides young people with experience in public speaking.

Incentives programs help transform consumption and costs

Incentives programs help transform consumption and costsThis Spring Minnesota consumers could apply for a rebate if they purchased an appliance under the Minnesota trade-in and save appliance rebate program. The program was funded with more than $5 million in Federal Stimulus funds and enabled some 25,000 Minnesota households to earn up to $200 for replacing their refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, or clothes dryer with a qualifying Energy Star model purchased from a Minnesota retailer.

On rebate program launch day, Jeff Haase, who is with the Energy Efficiency Program of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Office of Energy Security; Julie Ketchum, Director of Government Affairs at Waste Management, Inc.; and Julie Warner, marketing director at Warner Stellian company joined me and co-host, Nghi Huynh, president of Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium, to discuss how Minnesota reaches our communities of color on energy matters.

LDF applauds Supreme Court decision declaring life without parole sentences for children in non-homicide cases unconstitutional

LDF Friend of the Court Brief cited in Court's opinion

Last week, the United States Supreme Court declared that children convicted of non-homicide offenses cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Court concluded that because adolescents are, by nature, less culpable than adults and because life without parole is an extreme sentence which is rarely imposed on teenagers, it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a child who has not killed to life without possibility of parole.  The Court explained that "[a] life without parole sentence improperly denies the juvenile offender a chance to demonstrate growth and maturity. Incapacitation cannot override all other considerations, lest the Eighth Amendment's rule against disproportionate sentences be a nullity."

Got Privilege?

I told one of my African American neighbors that I was going to the national White Privilege Conference in LaCrosse Wisconsin.   “Oh no,” she said, “This isn’t one of those hate groups that wants all the power?”

“No,”  I said.  “It’s supposed to help white people like me and the people of color who attend figure out how to create a just society where privilege doesn’t come to someone because they have white skin.” 

I wondered about going to this national conference. Would it be overwhelming?  Would it be a bunch of white folks listening to how bad they are, wringing their hands and feeling guilty? Or just talk, talk and talking with no plans for action?

It wasn’t what I or my neighbor worried it might be. 

Legislative session was best and worst for racial justice and equity

Legislative session was best and worst for racial justice and equityOrganizing Apprentice Project credits more legislators for progressive votes; Pawlenty unallotments mitigate gains

Part three of three in a series from “Conversations with Al McFarlane” Public Policy Broadcasts on KFAI-90.3FM (in Minneapolis) and 106.7FM (in St. Paul) and online at

Batala McFarlane: Who are the legislators that we should watch? Who is doing a good job? Who received passing grades? Who isn’t doing a good job?

Jermaine Toney: We actually saw our racial justice honor roll grow. So these are the As and the Bs. In 2008 we named 17 law makers as champions for racial equity. They sponsored and supported pieces of legislation that advance racial equity and opportunity. In 2009 we named 31. So you see the growth there.

Al McFarlane: I want you to name the ones that you gave As to.


St. Paul Foundation gets Kellogg grant to focus on race and racism

America Healing Initiative will Expand Opportunities for Vulnerable Children

Nearly 1,000 proposals sought $280 million in funding; urgent need for community healing

In an unprecedented effort to address the devastating impact of racial inequities on communities across the country, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has launched a five-year, $75 million initiative – America Healing – that aims to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and their families by promoting racial healing and eliminating barriers to opportunities.

In Minnesota, St. Paul Foundation will receive $1.8 million to help Twin Cities organizations strengthen capacity to reduce institutional racism and increase cultural competence by creating dialogue and expanding programs for individuals, communities, non-profit organizations, and public entities.

Children of color are over-represented among the 29 million low-income children and families in this country, particularly among families living in concentrated poverty. According to data from the National Center for Children in Poverty, about 61 percent of African American, 62 percent of Latino, 57 percent of Native American, 58 percent of children with immigrant parents, 30 percent of Asian American children and 26 percent of white children live in low-income families.

Vikings Stadium proposals bad for Minneapolis taxpayers

Vikings Bill: Just days before the end of session, a bill has been introduced to fund a Vikings Stadium – a shocking move when the state is dealing with a deficit of over $5 billion and cuts to essential services everywhere. The bill proposed taking funding now used to support our Convention Center for a Vikings Stadium. On behalf of the City of Minneapolis, I testified against the bill with these key messages:

First, Minneapolis opposes any proposal that relies on Minneapolis taxpayers as funders. This is a state-wide issue not one to put on the back of a municipality. Second, Minneapolis opposes diversion of the sales tax that now supports the Convention Center for any Vikings stadium proposal. The Convention Center is one of the biggest economic generators in the state, with an economic impact of about $270M annually -- this is about 4 times the impact of any Vikings stadium. Diverting critical support for the Convention Center is bad policy for our region and our state.
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