Looking Back, Vol. VI, Issue 1

Welcome to my newly re-named monthly summary of international, national and local “stories of need”, “everyday epics” and “food for thought” referenced online by news sites, blogs, press releases and editorials…

“Stories of Need”

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — The longest federal government “shutdown” in U.S. history ended 35 days after it began, at least temporarily, drawing attention to the large percentage of Americans who live “paycheck to paycheck” and the many who rely on promised government assistance to make ends meet…Hundreds of thousands of allies, advocates and activists nationwide marched in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and legacy, in support of women’s rights and in support of indigenous peoples’ rights…The Midwest endured an Arctic cold spell of epic proportions…Teachers in Los Angeles went on strike, and teachers in Denver appear to be on the cusp of striking.

IMMIGRATION & ASYLUM — The policy conflict over immigration and asylum continued on the U.S.-Mexico border…Members of migrant caravans currently in Mexico ‘have been invited to stay and work…A boat carrying migrants off the coast of Djibouti capsized, leading to the deaths of at least 43 people…

PEACE & WAR — Talks between the United States and the Taliban stirred hopes for peace and fears for women’s rights in Afghanistan…Fighting continued in Yemen and Syria…The U.S. Army released a two-volume report on the most recent Iraq War…

STABILITY & UNRESTStreet clashes and demonstrations over the disputed rule of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela…Yellow Vest Protests continued in France…In Africa, election-related unrest occurred in Mali, Madagascar and Zimbabwe…Upcoming elections in Thailand will determine the future of the ruling party, which gained power after a coup in the 1960s…

Surveys and supplies at the ready at the Refuge Café on Tuesday, Jan. 29, to hand out to our neighbors who are homeless. (Marrton Dormish)

“Everyday Epics”

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

MILWAUKEE (Wisconsin) — While on the job, Milwaukee County bus driver Irena Ivic spotted a barefoot toddler walking alone near a busy intersection. Ivic stopped her bus to scoop up the little girl, and together with passengers, wrapped the toddler up in a coat.

ATLANTA (Georgia) — The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born on Jan. 15, received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of the nonviolent Civil Rights Movement.

CASPER (Wyoming) — Ever since the 1998 murder of their openly gay son Matthew, Dennis and Judy Shepard have devoted their lives to LGBTQ rights and hate crime prevention. Their efforts have helped lead to passage and signing into law of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Last October, Matthew Shepherd’s body was re-buried at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Spanish Chef José Andrés (one of my favorite TV personalities) fed free daily meals to furloughed federal workers.

HOBE SOUND (Florida)Mary Oliver died at age 83. She won MANY awards and remains one of my favorite poets.

“Food for Thought”

Issues and topics worth reflection:

SEVENTY YEARS LATER — Almost 70 years after four black men were mobbed, beaten, and two of them summarily executed for allegedly raping a 17-year-old white woman, the current Florida governor pardoned all four.

#NEVERAGAIN — Jan. 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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