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Aug 20th

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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.
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Online giving shines despite tough times for charities

Salvation Army teams with jcp.com 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.
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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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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".
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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.”
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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.
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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.”
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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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Elections 2010: A powerful dilemma

2010 elections should be cause of alarm for Black Americans, but also present a unique window of opportunity for power building and power sharing.

First the good news:  Former St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington will become the second African American elected to the Minnesota Senate in history, and the first to be elected by a district with a sizable population of people of color.

The first Black State Senator, Dr. Robert Lewis, represented St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, winning election in a district that had virtually no people of color. Lewis ably represented his district and people of color throughout the state also looked to him for leadership and support. He delivered.
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Drum Major for education

Drum Major for educationMajor Topps Jr., 61, of Minneapolis, died Tuesday at North Memorial Medical Center, in Robbinsdale, MN. He was a drum major for education.

Born on Sep. 11, 1949 in Detroit, Michigan Topps was one of four children of Delores and Major Topps Sr.

Topps founded the organization Education is our Goal, which focused on the betterment of youth and Black youths get high school diplomas and pursue college degrees. 

He created and led several youth drum and dance corps, commanding the attention of children and their families with precision drumming and drills. He commanded the attention of the entire neighborhood on warm pre-dusk summer evenings. The joyous cacophony of Africa centric drum lines spoke distantly to all corners of the community. Even if you didn’t know exactly where they were holding practice, their rhythms infused the air with purposeful vitality, letting the elders know that the youth were ok.
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Minneapolis Park Board selects Jayne Miller as Superintendent

Minneapolis Park Board selects Jayne Miller as SuperintendentMinneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioners unanimously voted to approve the selection of Jayne Miller from Ann Arbor, MI, as the next superintendent of the nationally acclaimed park system and authorized Board president John Erwin to negotiate a contract.

“Ms. Miller has the unique skills needed for the position of Superintendent and to help direct staff as we make needed changes moving forward,” said John Erwin, President of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “She has extensive experience in park and recreation leadership, budget management, community development, planning, environmental stewardship and public/private partnerships.”
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