Insight News

Aug 31st


D.C. Post Office named after Dorothy Height

President Barack Obama recently signed a bill that names the United States Postal Service office in Washington D.C. after civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height.

On Dec. 15, Obama signed into order H.R. 6118, which renames the United States Postal Service facility located on Massachusetts Avenue in northeast D.C. as the Dorothy I. Height Post Office. The bill passed the House last September and passed the Senate earlier this month.

Unions call out Pawlenty on budget ‘blame game’

Unions call out Pawlenty on budget ‘blame game’Part 1 of 2

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With a looming $6.2 billion dollar state budget deficit, outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been in the spotlight recently, blaming public employee unions for a big part of both state and national financial woes. Pawlenty has said public employees' union members are overpaid, and receive benefits he considers excessive.

Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, the union that represents state workers, calls those claims myths, and counters that public employees are playing an important role in Minnesota's economic recovery.

Comcast, NBC Universal set to improve diversity recruitment

The NAACP, National Urban League, and National Action Network announced an agreement with Comcast and NBC Universal to expand current diversity initiatives intended to increase diversity in a wide range of areas including programming and employment.

The Memorandum of Understanding, filed on December 17 with the Federal Communications Commission, creates initiatives to improve diversity in the areas of corporate governance, employment/workforce recruitment and retention, procurement, programming, and philanthropy and community investments. 

Congressman Ellison: 2010 U.S. Census participation is a win for all Minnesotans

Washington D.C. - Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05) issued the following statement following the release of the 2010 U.S. Census data:

With the release of the 2010 U.S. Census, Minnesota again tops the nation in civic engagement, making us all proud.  As with voter turnout in nearly every election, Minnesota had among the nation’s highest participation rates in the 2010 Census and Minnesotans will keep all eight of their Congressional Representatives as a result.  Census participation is critically important because it determines how federal funding is returned to taxpayers in their respective states; more than $400 billion in federal aid nationwide.  This level of civic and political engagement translates into government that works better for Minnesota.  It means better schools and roads, stronger bridges, cleaner water and safer streets. 

New tax deal expected to increase economic growth rate

The politics and fairness of the tax deal worked out between the White House and Republicans in Congress are being hotly debated in Washington. But what impact would the deal have on the economy, in Minnesota and elsewhere?

Andrew Fieldhouse studies the federal budget for the Economic Policy Institute. He says some parts of the deal will spark job growth and others will not, but one reliable model projects a large impact on the nation's economy next year.


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.
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