Need in the News, Vol. III, Issue 5

At the end of every month, I summarize local, national and international “stories of need” from news sites, blogs, press releases and editorials. The following are some of May’s most need-in-the-news-worthy stories:


CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — According to the United Nations, 29 children have died from starvation, exhaustion and exposure and in the last month after they fled to Cameroon from the war-torn C.A.R.

NIGERIA — Seven weeks after members of the insurgent group Boko Haram (which means “Western Education is a sin”) abducted almost 300 girls from a remote northeastern Nigeria school, the Nigerian government says it knows where the girls are. While the government has ruled out force as a means for rescuing the girls, it is reportedly working toward their release. Reuters recently released a special report on the political, social and religious rifts behind the mass abduction.

UKRAINE — Despite the apparent pullback of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border, fighting between Ukrainian government forces and rebels has intensified. Meanwhile Russia strengthened ties with two former Soviet republics.

UNITED STATES — Recent revelations of medical and administrative failings by Veterans Affairs, including exorbitantly long wait times for medical care that cost some veterans’ their lives, have led to calls for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

SYRIA — Embattled President Bashar al-Assad is sure to win an upcoming sham election held during Syria’s ongoing civil war.

OTHER GLOBAL HOTSPOTSHere’s a look at current “hotspots” worldwide.


At times, what gets lost in the concern and clamor over major local, national and international events and issues, are the ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things. Here are a few I’ve heard about recently:

CHICAGO (Illinois) — At Northwestern University, students’ final project in a philanthropy class is simple, but bears a heavy responsibility: give away $50,000.

NATIONAL HARBOR (Maryland) — Two contestants — one from Texas and one from New York — tied in the national spelling bee competition after exhausting an official word list without a misspelling. This year’s was the first tie since 1962.

NEW YORK (New York) — After her father died from heart disease, Michelle Javian founded Harboring Hearts to provide support and relief to families fighting heart disease and the countless hospital visits it entails.

SAN FRANCISCO (California) — A new crowdmap tells the stories of Bay area residents who have been displaced or experienced loss due to gentrification.

THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON — A cowboy from San Antonio, Tex., whose name is John Carter, now fights to protect the natural resources of the Amazon.

MOORE (Oklahoma) — After dealing with the aftermath of the devastating tornado that struck his town, firefighter Shonn Neidel knew there had to be a better way of locating victims. With the help of his techie brother-in-law, Neidel has created that better way in the form a new storm shelter app.


Stories worth reflection:

Poet and activist Maya Angelou addresses students and staff at Tennessee Technological University on March 21, 2012. (Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons).
Poet and activist Maya Angelou addresses students and staff at Tennessee Technological University on March 21, 2012. (Brian Stansberry via Wikimedia Commons).

ANGELOU DIED AT 86 — The literary icon and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died on May 28. Tributes of her life, including this one from the Associated Press, dominated social media and news sites.

FABRICATIONS MAR WORK OF ANTI-TRAFFICKING ICON — Activist Somaly Mam resigned recently from her non-profit organization after allegations that she had made up elements of her past in order to raise funds to end sex trafficking.

REAL LIFE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS — Madagascar is enduring a plague of biblical proportions.

MOST SPIRITUAL PLACES (MOSTLY BUILDINGS) — The Huffington Post published an admittedly subjective list of the most spiritual places in all 50 states. How would you vote?

HOMELESS PEOPLE AND THEIR PETS — I’ve noticed over the last several years that many people who find themselves homeless go to the trouble of caring for pets (mostly dogs or cats). This photo essay reveals why.

UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS RELEASED IN THE U.S. — About 400 undocumented migrants from Central America were recently flown from Texas to Arizona and released according to the U.S. Border Patrol. The release has spurred criticism from both sides of the immigration debate.

HOW TO HELP VICTIMS OF LATEST SCHOOL SHOOTINGHere is a way to help the victims of the UC Santa Barbara shooting.

Marrton Dormish

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