Need in the News, Vol. IV, Issue 6

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 June’s most need-in-the-news-worthy stories:

GREECE — Prime Minister Alexis Tsifras asked for another bailout on the eve of his country’s pending default of a $1.8 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund.

YEMEN — Houthi rebels continued their fight against the exiled Yemeni government and their Saudi allies.  Today, militia forces freed 1,200 inmates from a Yemeni jail and rival militias continue to fight in several main Yemeni cities.

BANGLADESH — The Bangladeshi government recently proposed the removal of 32,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma to a remote island.

BURUNDI — Burundians went to the polls yesterday amidst continued unrest caused by a failed coup d’état, opposition boycotts, and Pres. Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term.

TUNISIA — Last week, dozens of people were killed by a gunman at a beach resort popular with European tourists.

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

ORANGE (Texas) — Police officer Eric Ellison said one of the most difficult things he has ever had to do in his 21 years on the job, was to tell 18-year-old Kazzie Portie that his parents had just been killed by a drunk driver in a motorcycle accident. When a disoriented and shocked Portie mentioned he was graduating from high school in less than a week, Ellison promised to stand in for Portie’s parents. He did.

AURORA (Colorado)Della Curry, the kitchen manager at Dakota Valley Elementary School, got fired by her district for giving school lunches to students who didn’t have money to pay for the food. The students’ parents apparently made too much to qualify for the school’s free and reduced lunch program.

AUSTRALIA — James Harrison isn’t known as “The Man With the Golden Arm” for nothing. Nearly every week for the past 60 years, he has donated blood plasma from his right arm. At age 14, Harrison had a chest operation to remove one of his lungs. During the operation he needed 13 units of blood (from anonymous donors), and after learning what had saved his life, he promised himself when he was old enough he would donate blood, too. Soon after he began donating blood in doctors told him his blood had an unusual antibody that could be the answer to rhesus disease, a deadly condition where a pregnant woman’s blood starts attacking her unborn baby’s blood cells. Doctors used Harrison’s blood to develop an injection called “anti-D” that prevents at-risk mothers’ blood from developing harmful antibodies during pregnancy. By one estimate, Harrison’s blood has saved the lives of 2 million babies worldwide.

OAKLAND (Florida)Two boys, ages 10 and 11, rescued a pair of babies from a burning mobile home on June 16.

The U.S. Supreme Court building in spring. (Wikimedia Commons)
The U.S. Supreme Court building in spring. (Wikimedia Commons)

Stories worth reflection:

COURT RULINGS ON GAY MARRIAGE, DEATH PENALTY & “OBAMACARE”  — The recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage, the death penalty and the Affordable Care Act have revealed “fractures” in the court and in U.S. society as a whole.

FLYING THE CONFEDERATE FLAG — On Wednesday, June 17, nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., were murdered by a gunman with apparent white supremacist ideology. Police later arrested their prime suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in North Carolina. In the past several weeks, there have been unexplained fires at six predominantly black churches in the South. These events have led to an ongoing debate on racism and on the display of the Confederate flag in public spaces in the South.

REFUGEE CRISIS — Although news from Greece and other parts of the world have since bumped the refugee crisis in Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe from the headlines, it continues unabated.

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