Insight News

May 04th


Your legal rights: Beware of tax relief scams

Your legal rights: Beware of tax relief scamsIf you have unpaid tax obligations and are looking for help to resolve them, you should be careful to avoid hiring tax relief companies that charge you money to help you but end up making a bad situation worse.

Beware of Bogus Promises to Settle Your Tax Obligations.
Some companies seek to exploit the fact that some Minnesotans are behind on their taxes. Some companies have television advertising campaigns that lure customers with claims that the companies have special expertise or knowledge that enables them to settle customers’ tax obligations for pennies on the dollar. The companies may require the consumer to pay up-front fees of $3,000 or more. Once the consumer pays the money, however, some companies fail to deliver the promised services. Some do nothing at all. Other companies will send a consumer forms to apply to the IRS for an “Offer in Compromise,” which the company knows will be rejected because of the IRS’s strict guidelines for debt forgiveness under that program (see below). The end result: the consumer is now $3,000 or more in the hole.

Mind Condition on Mo'Nique show

Mind Condition on Mo'Nique showTune into BET on Tuesday, April 20th at 11:00 p.m EST/10:00 p.m. CST to see Mint Condition on the Mo'Nique Show!!

NAACP dismisses lawsuit against Wells Fargo

The NAACP announced that it is ending its lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.  Since 2007, the NAACP has filed lawsuits against more than a dozen of the largest financial institutions alleging violations of the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity Acts and racial discrimination.

Unlike other pending lawsuits that seek monetary damages on behalf of individual borrowers, the NAACP lawsuits seek to change mortgage lending industry behaviors.

Unemployment rate at 7.4 percent in March

Unemployment rate at 7.4 percent in March

Employers cut 1,800 jobs last month~

ST. PAUL - The state unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 7.4 percent in March, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The U.S. rate remained unchanged at 9.7 percent in March for the third consecutive month.

The state lost 1,800 jobs in March. February's employment count was revised to reflect 1,600 jobs lost instead of the 3,400 jobs that were previously reported lost. Over the past year, Minnesota has lost 1.6 percent of its jobs, while the U.S. lost 1.7 percent of its jobs during that period.

"The March figures demonstrate that economic recoveries are not smooth processes, with some months stronger than others," said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy. "Still, we're seeing some positive trends in Minnesota's employment picture, including an increase in the labor force and the length of the average work week, and steady declines in year-over-year job losses."

Ellison receives Housing Leadership Award from National Low Income Housing Coalition

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Keith Ellison (D-5th Congressional District) recently received the 2010 Edward W. Brooke III Housing Leadership Award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) for advancing the cause of affordable housing. 

Ellison was recognized for his authorship of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 that became federal law under the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009.  According to this legislation, tenants who are current on their rent payments have the right to stay in their home that enters foreclosure for 90 days or through the end of their lease.  According to the NLIHC, 40 percent of foreclosed properties nationwide were occupied by tenants.  In Minneapolis, this rate was over 60 percent. These protections are set to expire at the end of 2012.  

Velma Korbel named Minneapolis Civil Rights Director

Velma Korbel named Minneapolis Civil Rights DirectorCommissioner Velma Korbel of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has been selected by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to serve as the next director of the City of Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

“Velma Korbel is a strong manager with a long record of successfully and efficiently enforcing civil-rights laws and mandates. She will bring new energy and focus to the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. She is immensely qualified to lead the department and I am very pleased to nominate her for the job,” said Rybak.

Korbel has worked in the field of human rights for over 20 years. Since 2003, she has served as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, where she has led the department through several improvements in case management, quality control, alternative-dispute resolution and outreach. Highlights of Korbel’s accomplishments include:
Of 2,209 new charges filed with the Department from January 1, 2007 through June 30, 2009, 98.5% — or all but 35 — were resolved within the legally mandated one-year window. Of those 35 remaining charges, all were resolved within 54 weeks of original filing.

Obama's American agenda benefits Black America too

WASHINGTON, DC — President Obama’s historic status as the nation’s first Black president hasn’t spared him criticism from some Black commentators and members of Congress, who claim that the president ought to have a bona fide “Black agenda.”

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have chastised Obama for, they claim, doing little to address the unemployment rate among Black workers, some six to seven points higher than the overall rate of just under ten percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last month, talk show host Tavis Smiley’s annual “Black Agenda” conference included a panel which heavily criticized Obama for failing to directly address a range of difficult social problems which still plague Black America. Indeed, Smiley has become a consistent critic.

Census day has passed, so now what?

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Census Day, April 1, has passed but that doesn't mean it's too late to turn in your 10-question Census form. The Census Bureau will continue to accept 2010 Census questionnaires by mail through mid-April.

For households that fail to mail back their forms, census workers will begin making door to door visits beginning May 1, and will continue doing so until mid-July. 
Census data determines crucial dollar allocations and political representation within communities. The data determines the apportionment of congressional seats to states. It also determines the distribution of more than $4 trillion dollars in federal funds to local governments and communities over the next decade and lays the groundwork for what community services will be provided.

Still, only 54 percent of the nation's estimated 145 million households mailed back their census forms on April 1, reports the U. S Census Bureau. April 1 was the official deadline day to reply to the Census so that the federal government can begin conducting the nation's decennial headcount, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.  
The 2010 U.S. Census will cost taxpayers almost $12 billion, according to a 2008 budget request submitted by the Department of Commerce, making it the most expensive count ever.

The interdependence behind bilateral political tensions: Economic realities affecting Venezuela – U.S. relations

The interdependence behind bilateral political tensions: Economic realities affecting Venezuela – U.S. relationsVenezuela – U.S. Research File 

In January 2006, the sixth gathering of the World Social Forum, during which Hugo Chávez as well as other left-leaning and socialist leaders fiercely criticized imperialist practices, was held in the Caracas Hilton Hotel. As James Surowiecki noted in an article for The New Yorker six months before the conference opened, a meeting sponsored by the Venezuelan Ministry of Finance took place at the same hotel. The aim of the aforementioned meeting was meant to promote American investments in Venezuela. How can one explain such a paradox? Are Venezuela and the United States only rhetorical political foes? Or, is there an underlying economic relationship between these two countries that renders them important trading partners?


Rwanda diplomat during genocide alive and well in Alabama

Rwanda diplomat during genocide alive and well in AlabamaApr. 6 (GIN) – A former ambassador to the U.N. during the horrific days of the Rwandan was discovered living quietly in Alabama working in a plastics factory.

Jean Damascene Bizimana, the country's 36-year-old ambassador in the spring of 1994 when close to a million people were killed in a so-called ethnic war, defended the regime while in his U.N. post and opposed an arms embargo which all other members of the Security Council endorsed.

Bizimana assured the world’s diplomats that his government was not to blame as over 800,000 people were massacred. Then he vanished and remade his life in middle-class America according to research by American University Prof. David L. Bosco in a Washington Post article.

Former U.N. Chief's climate change forum goes broke

Former U.N. Chief's climate change forum goes brokeApr. 6 (GIN) – Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan announced that his Global Humanitarian Forum, dedicated to addressing climate change, will close due to a lack of financial support.

The Ghanaian diplomat who sits on many boards including the United Nations Foundation, heads the Panel of Eminent African Personalities which addressed civil unrest in Kenya, and is chancellor of the University of Ghana, among many other posts and citations, acknowledged that the organization he founded in 2007 was unable to raise enough cash to stay afloat.

“It is a great disappointment to all of us that this promising project had to end this way,” Annan said. Its most concrete project was to install weather data collectors on mobile phone towers in Africa to provide better climate data to impoverished communities.

Annan singled out Switzerland for creating the forum and then failing to provide enough support to keep it alive.
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