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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Iowa’s black religious leaders unite against youth violence

By Dana Boone | 09.05.08 | 3:25 pm

A summer marred by youth violence has prompted black religious leaders in Iowa to unite across denominations for a “Stop the Violence” campaign.

“Almost every other week you hear about some shooting that happened,” said Abraham Funchess, division administrator for the Iowa Commission on the Status of African-Americans.

The Iowa State Baptist Convention, which represents about 8,000 congregants, is working with the commission on a “10 Point Plan for the 21st Century” based on a similar program in Boston. Organizers also hope members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Church of God and Christ will join in the efforts. Several other entities, including Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Department of Education and Wells Fargo also have agreed to assist, he said.

The plan will take place in the 10 target cities the commission is working in as part of its Ongoing-Covenant with Black Iowa, which is a plan to improve the lives of blacks in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Davenport, Burlington, Ft. Madison, Iowa City, Sioux City and Des Moines.

“It’s pulling in our most critical institution – the church,” Funchess said.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, youth crime and gang activity is most prevalent during the summer when many youth are unsupervised. According to a summer 2008 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the arrests of juveniles under the age of 18 for murder rose 3.4% in 2006 compared with 2005, according to 2008 FBI statistics. The report also found that people under the age of 25 accounted for 52% of those arrested for murder and 64.8% of those arrested for robbery in 2006. A spike also was noted in gang activity, the report found.

The 10 point plan will address a variety of issues, including:

· A cultural shift to help reduce youth violence, both physically and verbally within the black community by sparking conversation, introspection and reflection on the thoughts and actions that hold blacks back as a people, individually and collectively.

· Churches will develop a curriculum regarding black and Latino history with an emphasis on the struggles of women of color.

· Address the trauma as a physical and emotional reality on the lives of young people and their families as a direct result of violence.

· Build meaningful relationships with high-risk youth.

· Focus on connecting and rebuilding the lives of youth who have been incarcerated and stigmatized by mainstream society.

· Provide youth advocacy and one-one-one mentoring for high-risk youth.

· Provide gang mediation and intervention for high-risk youth with the goal of establishing cease-fires and building the foundation for active peace.

· Establish accountable, community-based economic development projects with an emphasis on revenue generation and demystifying the accumulation and power of money through financial literacy.

· Building partnerships with the social/secular institutions, with suburban and downtown communities of faith to help provide spiritual, human and material support.

· Provide ongoing training for individual churches along with a systematic program in leadership development to create, maintain, and sustain community mobilization.

The Boston 10 Point plan arose after gang violence occurred inside a church. A similar problem occurred recently at a funeral held in Davenport at the church of Iowa State Baptist Convention President Rev. Rogers Kirk, Funchess said. Kirk was unavailable for comment.

The plan will feature a national curriculum, “Community Works: Smart Teens make Safer Communities,” which is part of the National Crime and Prevention Council. It’s an 11-week program for youth to help them understand how violence affects them and culminates in a community project, Funchess said.

“The idea is that this is something that will never die,” Funchess said. “It will be sustaining.”

Funchess said physical violence isn’t the only type of violence being addressed by the 10 point plan. He said the plan also addresses the “disproportionality” that affects black youth in nearly every aspect of their lives as Iowans.

A task force organized by Gov. Chet Culver is trying to address problems within the juvenile justice system, including the disproportionate number of blacks who are detained in juvenile detention facilities. A disproportionate number of blacks are imprisoned in Iowa and suspended and expelled from schools across the state, according to state criminal justice and education data.

Funchess recently told the task force that “accountability begins at home, and the church of all institutions can help create these values.”

According to the CDC’s 2008 report, homicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24, with 82 percent of them dying because of a firearm.

“This stuff is happening so much that we get desensitized,” Funchess said. “But it does require our intervention.”

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