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Changing the world for good: Minnesota’s Advocates for Human Rights

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As bad as every day’s news looks, Christof Heyns says, the world is actually getting less violent. He should know. Serving as the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions since 2010, Heyns has spent years looking at the worst of what the world has to offer. But, he says, over four centuries, the percentage of people dying because of violence has declined. “Our standards and awareness are increasing,” he said, but the world is getting less violent.

Heyns spoke at the annual awards dinner of the Advocates for Human Rights on June 1. The work of The Advocates is part of the reason that the world is getting less violent. Continue reading

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News Day: Swine flu / MN taxes / Naked hikers / more

Swine flu: Emergency? Epidemic? Pandemic? A new kind of flu — H1N1 –has fearmongers topping the headlines everywhere else, so we may as well follow suit. For actual information, check the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the University of Minnesota Center for Infections Disease Research and Policy. As the story progresses, these will be good links to keep on hand. And now for the facts: A new strain of flu, caused by a virus with genetic components from pigs, birds and humans, emerged in Mexico. This virus is different from previous swine flu because it can spread from human to human.

No one knows how many people in Mexico have the virus, but Mexico has reported more than a hundred deaths from this flu and hundreds of other people who are sick. The government has closed schools and daycare centers in Mexico City to try to stop the spread of the flu. Far smaller numbers of cases have been reported in at least five U.S. states (CA, TX, KS, NY, OH) and in Canada and Spain. (No cases in MN yet.)

Most people who get swine flu get better. That’s one reason that the extent of the outbreak is hard to track. Tracking the begins with a throat culture, and most people who have flu do not visit a doctor.
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