Need in the News, Vol. IV, Issue 12

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

THE REFUGEE CRISIS Here’s a 2015 summary of the plight of people displaced from their home nations.

SOUTH SUDAN — Despite the signing of a peace deal in August, many in the world’s newest nation are arming themselves in the wake of continued hostilities.

BURUNDI — The U.N. warned that this tiny African nation is once again on the verge of civil war.

UNITED STATES — On Dec. 2, a married couple of Pakistani descent killed 14 and seriously wounded 22 at a San Bernardino (Calif.) County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party. The attack led many Americans to arm themselves. Christmas rains have led to dangerous flooding in Missouri and Illinois. A study by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper found that 1,134 people died at the hands of U.S. police officers in 2015. Of that number, young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed.

A Salvation Army red kettle and bell ringer outside a Kroger supermarket in Ypsilanti, Michigan.(Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons)
A Salvation Army red kettle and bell ringer outside a Kroger supermarket in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons)

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:

MARSHFIELD (Missouri) — The Salvation Army recently received a gold coin donation in one of its red kettles in Webster County. It came with a note: “Thank you salvation army. You gave me food and shelter on a cold night years ago.. keep up the great work..grateful.” The coin turned out to be a 1908 Hungarian Karona worth nearly $1,500.

KENYA — Muslim passengers on a bus attacked by Islamic militants refused to identify Christian passengers for likely execution. The attack “failed” with only two people killed after the passengers’ show of unity.

RAQQA (Iraq)Horrified neighbors of a 20-year-old woman captured by ISIS and brought as a sex slave to Raqqa, risked their lives to free her, and succeeded.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis officially attributed a second miracle to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, paving the way for her canonization as a saint, likely sometime in 2016. Mother Teresa died in 1997.

COLORADO SPRINGS (Colorado) — Garrett Swazey, 44, was one of three people killed during a shooting outside a Planned Parenthood office at the end of November. Swazey, a police officer/pastor, died attempting to protect others. As of last week, more than $236,000 had been raised for Swazey’s surviving family.

Stories worth reflection:

THEY ARE NOT STATISTICSHere are the stories of 12 of the 162 people murdered in Washington, D.C., this year.

THE TOLL OF A NETFLIX BINGEHere’s the sobering effect a binge of movie or TV watching has on the environment.

COPING IN THE WAKE — How do we deal with the aftermath of mass shootings?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IN THIS SITUATION? — If you heard a crash, and an elk ended up in your house?

AFFLUENZA STRIKES AGAIN — The now-infamous American mother and son, Tonya and Ethan Couch, are in the process of being deported from Mexico.

ROME INVASION — A recent plague of starlings left Romans dodging droppings.

WHAT WILL FRANCE DO? — An interesting editorial in the wake of November’s Paris attacks.

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