Meanwhile... political and economic gains of Minneapolis's Somali immigrant community have turned city into a global model

And in Tampere, Finland, McDonald’s is testing its first vegan menu item, while members of Sierra Leone's National Scrabble Association team are seeking government or corporate assistance to be able to attend the World English Scrabble Players Association Championship in Kenya.

Leila Navidi/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Newscom
Somalis shop in Minneapolis.

In Minneapolis, the political and economic gains of its Somali immigrant community have turned the city into a global model. Delegations from both Sweden and Norway (two countries with large Somali populations), as well as officials from some US cities, have traveled to Minneapolis to study firsthand how it works with its 50,000-some Somali immigrants – the largest population of Somalis in the world outside Somalia.

Minneapolis city officials have said their focus is on communication. They keep in close touch with Somali community leaders and occasionally bring them to city hall to introduce them to city officials and make sure they understand how city government works. 

Abdir­a­shid Ahmed, Minnea­polis’s East African community specialist, visited Norway last month as a consultant at the invitation of the Norwegian government. Last year he traveled to Sweden for the same purpose. 

In Tampere, Finland, McDonald’s is testing its first vegan menu item. The new McVegan features a soy-based patty on a bun, topped with tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, and a special McFeast sauce. From October through early November it is being sold exclusively at the five McDonald’s franchises in Tampere. 

The chain has been experimenting with veggie burgers in both France and Norway, but the McVegan marks its first venture into vegan territory.

Non-meat eaters around the world have expressed interest in the new product. In Britain, Ellen Scott, writing for, noted that it would be too expensive to fly to Tampere herself, so instead she asked Tampere resident Essi Saloniemi for a critique. Ms. Saloniemi called the McVegan “surprisingly lush” in flavor.

McDonald’s says that if sales are strong, the new sandwich will be available throughout Finland next year and eventually go global.  

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, members of the country’s National Scrabble Association team are concerned that they won’t be able to attend the World English Scrabble Players Association Championship being held in Nairobi, Kenya, next month. For months, the five-member squad has sought government or corporate assistance, with no success at this writing.

The first international Scrabble tournament took place in London in 1991, with 48 players from 19 countries and a first-place prize of $10,000. Today there are five international Scrabble tournaments, complete with streaming video, play-by-play commentary, and purses as high as $50,000. 

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