Need in the News / Vol. V, Issue 8

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

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — The official, revised death toll in Puerto Rico from last fall’s Hurricane Maria: 1,427. The initial death count from Hurricane Maria: 64. Overdoses…ICE contractors crashed a van carrying eight Central American mothers of detained children, then ICE denied the crash took place…An recent Equilar survey found that U.S. CEO salaries average 140 times the amount of ‘typical employees’…Meanwhile some observers have identified an ‘adequate’ housing shortage in small-town America…And an estimated 72,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2017.

CHINA — More than 1 million Uighur Muslims are reportedly being held in detentions camps in Western China.

AFGHANISTAN — A suicide bomber targeting Shiite Muslims in Kabul killed at least 48 people.

ISRAEL — Israeli air raids in Gaza prompted Palestinian protests, and tens of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians protested in the streets against a controversial Israeli “nation-state” law.

ROMANIA — Tens of thousands of Romanians demonstrated against government corruption.

YEMEN — Saudi-UAE forces operating in the ongoing Yemeni civil war mistakenly attacked a school bus killing 40 children. Their funerals were attended by thousands.

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH — Pope Francis officially came out against capital punishment, just before grotesque and horrific new revelations regarding the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church have shaken Catholics and non-Catholics, alike.

A September 2017 photo of damage from Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 handful I’ve heard about recently:

DETROIT (Michigan) — After her death this month, thousands celebrated the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin, a preacher’s daughter who became a music icon known as the ‘Queen of Soul.’

CHICAGO (Illinois)Christian Picciolini used to be a member of a white supremacist group. Since he left, he estimates he has helped 200 people leave hate groups, and recently helped produce a documentary Breaking Hate.

PLAINS (Georgia) — Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter continues to live a life a simplicity and service four decades after his time in the White House.

BOULDER (Colorado) — Traci Lundstrom teaches yoga in the Boulder County Jail, and is currently studying the effects of yoga practice on female inmates.

BERN (Switzerland)Kofi Annan, a former U.N. Secretary General and winner of the Nobel Prize, died at the age of 80.

ADDIS ABABA (Ethiopia)Abiy Ahmed, the new prime minister of Ethiopia, has begun his administration by releasing political prisoners and apologizing for police brutality. Ethiopians and international observers, alike, hope he continues to lead in this same way.

Thoughts and stories worth reflection:

MY LAND IS YOUR LAND — An interesting look at the primary uses of land in the United States.

THEY ARE STILL DYING — Refugees from the Middle East and Africa are still dying in their attempts to find new lives in Europe. Author Khaled Hosseini interviewed some of the survivors of today’s treacherous migrant journey.

IN THE BEGINNING — The venerable Hubble Space Telescope recently captured images of the ‘very early universe.’ Amazing stuff.

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