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Social IMPACT Research Center;
This report, Human Rights in the Heartland, measures human rights progress in the heart of the United States. In this compilation, eight Midwestern states are evaluated on a freedom index, providing a comparative snapshot of local commitments to civil, political, social, and economic rights.
Social IMPACT Research Center;
This report is designed to educate Midwesterners about the crucial role of human rights protections and to reveal the gap between human rights standards and realities in the Midwest. It is produced as an abridged report, not as a comprehensive analysis of human rights, and is primarily based on conditions encountered by Heartland Alliance in its provision of direct services to more than 72,000 individuals over the past year. It pinpoints areas of concern and provides illustrative case studies of human rights abuses. The recommendations stem from these and many other cases.
Political Economy Research Institute;
In the spring of 2001, a diverse group of Americans gathered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a three-day environmental conference. These men and women, mostly from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, traveled from urban housing projects and suburban neighborhoods -- from the bayous of Louisiana, the coalfields of West Virginia, and the deserts of Southern California. They came from abandoned mining towns in Idaho, agrarian regions of the South, and traditional Native American villages in New Mexico. Sadly, many of these Americans were coming to Baton Rouge as witnesses to report stories of corrupt governmental officials trading their communities' rights to clean air, water, and land for corporate payoffs and political favors. The Baton Rouge conference was organized for two reasons. One was to unite these heroines and heroes of modern America -- those who are working to free future generations from the environmental degradation that has cast shadows on their lives. The other was to introduce a new tool into their strategic plans for restoration and prevention -- a concept that could help them reclaim their democratic right to a clean environment and enable them to build economically sustainable and environmentally friendly community infrastructures. This new tool is the natural assets movement, a radical notion that seeks to simultaneously reduce poverty and protect the environment. This new movement is predicated on the notion that poor communities and communities of color have wrongly been blamed for the environmental degradation plaguing their urban or rural settings. Rather than viewing the environment through a human vs. nature lens, natural-asset-buiding strategies regard the problem as human vs. human, and in many cases, as wealthy humans vs. poor humans. Since the rise of industrialization, government officials and corporations have often viewed economically poor communities and communities of color as politically and economically weak and therefore easy prey. For three decades, the environmental justice movement has argued that the disproportionate siting of hazards in communities of color and poor neighborhoods reflects a cold-hearted calculation based on the unlikelihood of effective resistance by residents. Through the lens of natural-assets-building, the potential strength of resistance a community can offer may be measured by the level of assets, or capital, it can use in its defense. Communities with less economic or political power are learning how to strengthen their "social capital" -- their bonds with each other and bridges to others -- by organizing effective strategies in large numbers.
Social IMPACT Research Center;
In 2003-2005, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights (Heartland Alliance) implemented the Midwest Counter-Trafficking Program with funding from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) of the Department of Justice. Heartland Alliance's Mid-America Institute on Poverty (MAIP) and Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center (MIHRC) prepared this Needs Assessment and MAIP subsequently conducted an independent Program Evaluation of MIHRC as commissioned by OVC. These deliverables have been integrated into one document.
Each year, almost 700,000 people are released from state prisons, and many struggle to find jobs and integrate successfully into society. This policy brief describes an innovative demonstration of transitional jobs programs for former prisoners in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Paul being conducted by MDRC.
Earth Policy Institute;
We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history. The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before. The world is facing the most severe food price inflation in history as grain and soybean prices climb to all-time highs. Wheat trading on the Chicago Board of Trade on December 17th breached the $10 per bushel level for the first time ever. In mid-January, corn was trading over $5 per bushel, close to its historic high. And on January 11th, soybeans traded at $13.42 per bushel, the highest price ever recorded. All these prices are double those of a year or two ago.
Environmental and Energy Study Institute;
There is a growing consensus that climate change is one of the most significant environmental issues facing the world today. Current energy use practices in the United States and around the world have been determined to be main contributors to global warming and climate change, which has the potential to disrupt economic and social stability as well as ecological well-being. There has long been a concern that to effectively address the global warming problem we must decide between a healthy environment and economic growth. A recent Congressional briefing dispelled this myth by demonstrating that clean energy products and technologies that reduce greenhouse gases are not incompatible with corporate profits and the creation of jobs.
Social IMPACT Research Center;
Historically, the U.S. has been a beacon of hope for those seeking safety and opportunity, but our nation falls short of its potential in assuring a full complement of human rights -- civil, political, social, economic, and cultural.
Freedom from Extreme Poverty -- In the Midwest, states continue to struggle with poverty and hunger. Millions are living on less than $25 per day, many going to bed hungry. States should develop comprehensive anti-poverty policies initially targeted to those living in extreme poverty. Such efforts would ensure that state residents have the opportunity to realize an adequate standard of living.
Freedom from Discrimination -- While improvements have been madeover the past several decades, gender and racial disparities continue. Women and blacks must work more hours each week to achieve the same standard of living as their white, male counterparts. State entities designed to prevent discrimination should propose new strategies that more effectively help all workers realize wage equality.
Freedom from Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment -- The use of Supermax prisons and the death penalty are cruel, inhuman, and sometimes torturous. Each state's legislative body should identify more humane and effective incarceration and rehabilitation models.
Freedom to Realize Human Rights -- Each of the eight Midwestern states included in this report has some type of human rights monitoring body. All eight have laws that address the right to non-discrimination. But expanded laws are needed to ensure a broader base of human rights compliance. There are promising new initiatives. For example, a Wisconsin legislator has introduced right-to-housing legislation. And Illinois now has a law that promises each child access to health insurance, a further step toward ensuring a child's right to health care.
Human rights are inalienable from the freedoms upon which the U.S. was founded. The U.S. cannot realize its true potential as a human rights leader while violations are happening within our borders. Change can start now. The Midwest has the opportunity to use this report as a starting point to ensure human rights for all Midwesterners.
Clean Jobs Midwest is a survey of clean energy employment in 12 Midwestern states. The region currently employs over half a million workers in sectors including renewable energy generation, clean transmission, energy efficiency, clean fuels, and advanced transportation. The clean energy economy is growing in every Midwestern state -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. But we know clean energy can grow even faster. By implementing good public policy -- such as state renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency standards -- we can create even more clean energy jobs across the region.
Risky Business Project;
This report offers a first step toward defining the range of potential economic consequences to the Midwest if we continue on our current greenhouse gas emissions pathway. The research combines state-of-the-art climate science projections through the year 2100 (and beyond in some cases) with empirically-derived estimates of the impact of projected changes in temperature and precipitation on the Midwest economy. The authors analyze not only those outcomes most likely to occur, but also lower-probability, higher-cost climate futures. These are the "tail risks," most often expressed here as the 1-in-20 chance something will occur. Unlike any other study to date, this report looks at climate impacts at a very geographically granular level, in some cases providing county-level results.
In 2014, across all of our program areas, we worked to bring people together to help advance our mission and goals and to creat real-world, concrete impact. Using measurable data, we look back on the results of our mission-driven efforts to unite those we serve.
Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health;
We implemented a year-long community-based campaign to encourage parents to ask about firearms in homes that their children visit, in a small Midwestern city. Along with community residents and local leaders, we disseminated campaign messages through multiple communication channels. To assess message recall, attitudes, and whether parents asked about firearms, we conducted pre- and posttest surveys with randomly sampled adults in the intervention city and in a neighboring city. The posttest survey showed that parents in the intervention city were concerned about the danger of firearms when their child visits a friend's home, suggesting that the campaign influenced their attitudes.