In face of California fire, LA archdiocese expands fund for victims

Fire
Saddleridge Fire, Los Angeles County. Credit: Morphius Film / Shutterstock.

Los Angeles, Calif., (CNA).- As a large fire continues to burn in southern California, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has expanded one of its support funds for the victims of fires in the area.

The Saddleridge fire, which began about 30 miles from LA, began last Thursday night and quickly forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate their homes.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire was 45% contained, the LA Fire Department said. It has burned more than 8,000 acres, damaging or destroying at least 75 buildings.

In an Oct. 12 press release, the Archdiocese of LA announced the expansion of a special fund set aside for the 2017-2018 Thomas fire, which took two lives and destroyed 1,063 structures. The program offers support through the arhciodese’s parishes and schools.

“This fund was expanded to include those affected by devastating fires since the Thomas Fire and is now expanding to include those affected by the current fires in the San Fernando Valley and throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties,” reads the press release.

“Those in need of immediate temporary shelter, food or assistance, can contact the pastor of their nearest parish for help.”

The Saddleridge fire began in Sylmar, a neighborhood in San Fernando Valley, at around 9 p.m. on Thursday. By 7:30 the next morning, the fire spread over 7.3 square miles, jumping over two expressways: the 210 Freeway and the 5 Freeway.

An estimated 1,000 firefighters have been assigned to help combat the fire.

According to LAFD arson investigators, the fire originated in a 50- by 70-foot area below a high voltage transmission tower. Although the cause of the fire is still being investigated, NBC reported, Southern California Edison electric company said their system was “impacted near the reported time of the fire.”

Several other fires are also burning in the region, with at least three total deaths reported so far.

So far in 2019, more than 5,800 fires have been recorded in California, burning some 160,000 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Last year marked the most destructive wildfire season on record in the state, with more than 8,500 fired burning a total of nearly 1.9 million acres.

In the Oct. 12 press release, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles encouraged Catholics to pray for those affected by the fire and for the first responders.

“Please join me in praying for our brothers and sisters caught in the Saddleridge fires and fires throughout Southern California,” said Gomez.

“We pray for the families who have lost their homes and those who have been evacuated, and all those who are still in danger. We pray especially for firefighters, police and others working to keep people safe and put these fires out. May Our Blessed Mary be close to all of them.”

 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/in-face-of-california-fire-la-archdiocese-expands-fund-for-victims-94314

Climate change activists target London’s financial district

London
Extinction Rebellion members stage a protest calling for action on climate change, outside the Bank of England, London, UK, on October 14, 2019. HANDOUT/Vladimir Morozov/AKX Media

LONDON, (Reuters) – Climate change activists targeted London’s financial district on Monday blocking Bank junction, vowing a day of disruption for major institutions which they said were financing an environmental catastrophe.

Extinction Rebellion protesters blocked the streets around Bank in the heart of the City of London.

“The City of London is a preeminent nexus of power in the global system that is killing our world,” said Carolina Rosa, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.

The activists will target major financial institutions which they say are financing fossil fuel exploration and infrastructure. A mock trial of the financial sector will take place at shortly after midday.

The group, which promotes a rebellion against the political, economic and social structure of the modern world to avert the worst devastation outlined by scientists studying climate, is engaged in two weeks of civil disobedience in London.

Police said there had been more than 1,300 arrests since the protests began.

“There are currently protesters blocking roads around Bank Junction,” the City of London Police said on Twitter, which has previously warned of disruptive demonstrations on Monday.

Extinction Rebellion wants non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to cut carbon emissions and avert a climate crisis it says will bring starvation and social collapse.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said the financial sector must transform its management of climate risk, warning that global warming would prompt reassessments of the value of every single financial asset.

Carney has been a leading voice among regulators in warning of the risks climate change poses to the stability of the global financial system. He has led various international initiatives to improve supervision and disclosure.

“Climate disclosure must become comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed, and sustainable investing must go mainstream,” he told a United Nations climate summit last month. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)

 

 

 

 
http://news.trust.org/item/20191014060405-ya6az/

Texas Knights of Columbus work with Mexican Knights to aid migrants

Charity
Members of the Knights of Columbus help to deliver supplies to the Casa del Migrante in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Credit: Knights of Columbus.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, (CNA).- Following an August announcement from the Knights of Columbus that the group would commit at least $250,000 to aid migrants at the US-Mexico border, the fraternal organization’s Texas leaders are announcing a joint effort with a Mexican council to aid migrants south of the border.

A caravan of Knights of Columbus from both Texas and Mexico arrived Oct. 5 at Casa del Migrante, an aid facility in Ciudad Juarez, delivering a truckload of supplies valued at $61,000, according to Terry Simonton, the Knights’ Supreme Director for Texas.

The supplies for the Juarez diocese-run facility included medicine, food, water, diapers, and shoes, he said. The over 40 Knight-volunteers were joined by Bishop José Guadalupe Torres-Campos of Ciudad Juarez and Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso.

The Knights in El Paso were already providing supplies, cooking meals, and paying for a rented shower for migrants in the city. In May, the Knights’ Diocesan Deputy for El Paso sent a request for additional funds which made its way to Simonton, who talked it over and realized that the Supreme Council in Connecticut would have to help.

“[The El Paso Knights] were renting the showers and they were getting donations to cover that expense— and renting those showers was $1,500 a day,” Simonton, a former state deputy in Texas, explained to CNA.

“It was the kind of shower that sits on a trailer, and it was $1,500 a day. So the more we looked into it, it said they were asking for $9,000 to purchase their own portable heated showers. And that would accommodate probably 60 showers per day…it just made sense to purchase the showers.”
Simonton asked the Supreme Council to cover half the cost.

“They liked the idea, but when it got to the table, and the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, said ‘Yes we need to help, but we must do more.’ And that’s when Carl Anderson started the initiative to help out Southern border. Without his vision, this would have never happened.”

He said a number of parishes and virtually all the Knight of Columbus councils in El Paso have been busy, especially since January, raising funds for border relief. Council 11926 and Council 2592 in El Paso had raised about $10,000 on their own to help migrants in the city, he said.

“Between the councils and the parishes, they’d already spent $54,000,” Simonton said.

“All the councils were involved in this in El Paso. But their funds were being depleted, so that’s why they came to us for help. And just out of that simple, $9,000 request, has come this tremendous initiative.”

There were about 75 migrants present at the Casa del Migrante Oct. 5— out of an estimated 20,000 migrants currently waiting in Ciudad Juarez.

“To be able to see the little kids, they were so happy to be there at that center. Because we don’t know what they faced two or three days before then, before they got to the center. So it’s sad, but at the same time they;’re happy, they’re all smiles, because soon hopefully they’ll be able to continue their journey with their families.”

To watch the Knights of Columbus from both the Mexico and the United States work together was a “tremendous blessing,” he said.

Possibly as soon as late October, Simonton said the Knights plan to go and provide similar aid at the border city of Laredo, which is across the fence from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, as well as Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico.

The Knights also recently made gifts for humanitarian aid of $100,000 to the Diocese of El Paso and $50,000 to the Diocese of Laredo.

“Let me be clear: this is not a political statement,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in August. “This is a statement of principle. This is about helping people who need our help right now. And it is a natural and necessary extension of our support for refugees across the world.”

Bishop Seitz, along with Catholic leaders of the Dioceses of Las Cruces, San Jose, Victoria, and Ciudad Juarez toured the Casa del Migrante in late September as well as a Ciudad Juarez parish that has been providing aid to migrants.

The Department of Homeland Security announced new Migrant Protection Protocols in January, providing that migrants arriving illegally or without proper documentation “may be returned to Mexico and wait outside of the U.S. for the duration of their immigration proceedings, where Mexico will provide them with all appropriate humanitarian protections for the duration of their stay.”

These policies have meant the flow of migrants into El Paso has largely dried up, as thousands of migrants remain in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed.

The migrants in Mexico are mostly from Central America, but also from other places including Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and some from South America and Europe, the Knights said.

Bishop Seitz told CNA in September that the diocese opened a shelter in Oct. 2018 at the pastoral center, a “purely volunteer response,” to deal with the large number of people passing through the city. The temporary shelter has since closed due to a drop in the number of migrants passing through.

“Right now, we’ve seen a huge drop off in the number of people coming because of enforcement actions in Mexico,” Seitz noted.

“So what’s happening is there’s kind of a bottleneck in Ciudad Juarez, and we estimate that there are up to 20,000 people that are pretty much stuck there. They’re afraid to go home, because that’s where they’re fleeing from…they’re afraid to stay in Mexico, because most of them have faced violence there.”

Robberies and kidnappings among the migrants waiting in Mexico are common, he said.

The HOPE Border Institute, along with the Diocese of El Paso, in July initiated a Border Refugee Assistance Fund to send money to organizations working with migrants and refugees in Juarez.

 

 

 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/texas-knights-of-columbus-work-with-mexican-knights-to-aid-migrants-72482

Mining Resources in Africa: Curse and Opportunity

AEFJN 1

Mining operations and global consumption of natural resources continue to increase annually[1]. However, while developed countries and regions such as the European Union protect their natural resources with sustainable development policies and high social and labor standards to protect the environment, the economies of developing countries are increasingly becoming dependent on export of its natural resources. The developed countries import and transform these natural resources for the benefit of their increasingly digital and clean (green) societies; the developing countries see their wealth plundered with the destruction and contamination of their environments.[2]

Africa has found in the boom of mining and the exploitation of natural resources an economic model that provides great benefits without an investment effort of its own. The majority of the mining companies installed in Africa are foreign investments to which the local governments demand only a small share in the profits that varies according to the countries. Despite national mining codes and United Nations guidelines on business and human rights, these companies systematically breach their obligations of established international standards. In addition, government officials have a lax attitude towards the behavior of these companies in their territories.

The European Union, together with other economically powerful countries, have taken advantage of these circumstances to access mining resources in Africa without an environmental and social cost to their member states. EU citizens live in digital societies and we are not worried about the origin of these natural resources we consume that are present in our daily life, such as car batteries, mobile phones, computers, tablets, microwaves, glass-ceramics, aircrafts, phosphates, etc. Most of these electronic devices need an endless number of minerals that, because of their scarcity or because of the high social and environmental cost, are not produced in the European Union. The need to have access to these minerals triggered the campaigns of the European Union of public private investment in which the companies of the Member States struggle to monopolize the extraction of natural resources in Africa.[3]

This model of development would be legitimate under certain premises that are currently not met, such as respect for human rights (workers’ social and labor rights, child exploitation, social protection, health, etc.), care for the environment, payment of fair taxes by companies, the restoration of damage caused to the environment and fair compensation to the affected local communities that are the legitimate owners of the land.[4]

By contrast, countries in Africa rich in minerals suffer the so-called curse of natural resources.[5] Lack of arable land in Senegal, hairless children with respiratory diseases in Zambia, contaminated water wells in South Africa, child exploitation in DRC, human rights violations in Madagascar, environmental pollution in Nigeria, financing of armed groups in Rwanda … the list it is innumerable and in many cases those violations of international treaties are simultaneous in the countries of Africa with the implicit consent of the new colonizers.[6]

Mineral wealth in African countries should be an opportunity to create job opportunities, increase revenues, promote sustainable development and fight against extreme poverty. But this requires firmness on the part of the African governments in the respect to the law, the prevention of corruption as well as the ethical commitment of the companies, preventing illegal financial outflows through the tax evasion of profits by companies and their managers.

AEFJN calls on governments both in Africa and Europe to ensure that extractive companies respect human rights and the environment in their operations, meet standards of transparency and are held to account when they do not respect National and international legislations. The responsibility and supervision of the extractive industries necessarily falls on their governments, but we, the citizens of those countries, also have the responsibility to make rational use of the consumables that promote mining operations.

The next European elections are once again an opportunity to choose our leaders and those sustainable policies that are in solidarity with the developing countries and respectful of the environment. To be interested in its political programs of political parties, to raise questions to MEPs candidates about their initiatives and to know the intentions of political parties to search for a new Cotonou agreement that will truly benefit the two continents should be the criteria to be taken into account when casting our vote.[7]

 

 

 

http://aefjn.org/en/mining-resources-in-africa-curse-and-opportunity/

Mining in Africa, an Object of Desire

AEFJN

Among all the natural resources that Africa possesses, minerals are the most coveted by developed countries including the European Union (EU). In fact, in 2017 the European Commission published a Communication[1] updating the list of certain minerals that are essential for maintaining economic growth in Europe. The number of critical raw materials has been growing over the years and the EU has been rewriting the list of these minerals in the last decade. The criteria for considering minerals as critical are economic importance and scarcity. These minerals include rare earths, magnesium, tungsten, antimony, gallium and germanium.

The Communication of the European Union including the list of critical raw materials is part of The Raw Materials Initiative of 2008 in which the EU established a strategy to access those minerals that are essential for both the industry and jobs.[2]

Europe needs Africa and its minerals, but Africa also needs Europe as an investor for its economic development. This relationship between Africa and the European Union is established in the Cotonou Agreement, which is based on three negotiation pillars: Development cooperation, Political cooperation and Economic and trade cooperation. This Agreement is in the process of renewal without having reached any agreement so far despite the new rhetoric (equals, neighbours, partners) to old concepts (Economic Partnership Agreements-EPAs, migration control and critical raw materials) employed by the new President-elect of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen.[3]

The difficulty of access to minerals to the EU is of threefold. Firstly, many of the minerals found in Africa are not found in Europe. Ensuring access to these natural resources is therefore crucial for an EU that is dependent on imports of these minerals. These coveted minerals are essential for the development of sectors such as construction, chemicals, automotive, aerospace, machinery and equipment. The second lies in the competitiveness of the minerals market itself. Extraction costs, low taxes and the price of labour make Africa an attractive place for mining companies. They squeeze out the continent’s subsoil at low prices, move the minerals for processing in third countries and take advantage of the supply chain to locate their headquarters in tax havens. In addition, the royalties paid by extractive companies to African governments barely exceed 10% at best as set out in the new Democratic Republic of Congo mining code.[4] [5]

The third drive for sourcing minerals outside the shores of the EU is the stringent environmental regulation that exists in Europe. While in Africa there is a certain passivity in the face of environmental crimes, in Europe they are highly prosecuted. This is why mining companies use countries with looser environmental protection standards to process minerals. Taking advantage of Africa’s weak democratic institutions makes mining profitable despite the transport costs along the entire production chain.

Mining is an important source of income for countries in the African continent. However, Africa does not take advantage of the potential of these minerals as engine of economic development despite the importance of these minerals in technological development at global level. Most of the minerals extracted from the subsoil of the African continent are exported immediately outside their borders to be transformed in other countries such as China as an intermediate step in the production chain. Perhaps this is why Africa’s technological and business development is seen as a threat to developed countries as it would increase the economic value of these minerals if they are transformed in Africa and become more expensive for Europe.

Dependence on minerals has become a double threat to Africa, but also to Europe. Many countries in Africa are economically dependent on the profits from these mineral extractions, as well as on oil as is the case in Nigeria. Raw material crises directly affect the economic well-being of those countries that lack the investment needed for a first transformation. Moreover, dependence on critical natural resources extends to Europe, which needs to secure the import of these minerals at a reasonable price. In addition, Europe’s dependence has been increased under the pressure of climate change that forces the EU to access minerals that allow the transition to a low-carbon economy.[6]

 

 

 

 

 

http://aefjn.org/en/mining-in-africa-an-object-of-desire/

Pope Francis prays for ‘daring prudence’ during Amazon synod

2290676D-041B-4E20-8AF6-735872F8FF8FPope Francis at the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Oct. 6, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

.- At the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Sunday, Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit would give the bishops prudence, wisdom, and discernment to help the Church in the Pan-Amazonian region be renewed by the fire of faith.

“Prudence is not indecision; it is not a defensive attitude,” he said in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 6. “It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the Spirit.”

“Fidelity to the newness of the Spirit is a grace that we must ask for in prayer. May the Spirit, who makes all things new, give us his own daring prudence; may he inspire our Synod to renew the paths of the Church in Amazonia, so that the fire of mission will continue to burn.”

The Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region is taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. Bishops, priests, lay experts, and religious men and women, will meet to discuss issues of importance to the Church in the Amazon, including a lack of priestly vocations, ecological challenges, and obstacles to evangelization.

Present at the Mass Oct. 6 were the synod fathers and the 13 cardinals created in a consistory Oct. 5.

In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to the Old Testament episode of the burning bush to show that “God’s fire burns, yet does not consume.”

“It is the fire of love that illumines, warms and gives life, not a fire that blazes up and devours. When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God’s fire but that of the world,” he said, condemning the times people have colonized others instead of evangelizing them.

“May God preserve us from the greed of new forms of colonialism,” he continued. “The fire set by interests that destroy, like the fire that recently devastated Amazonia, is not the fire of the Gospel. The fire of God is warmth that attracts and gathers into unity.”

Francis reflected on St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, in which the apostle says: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.”

Addressing bishops, the pope said they are not bureaucrats and their episcopal ordination is not an employment contract, but “a gift of God.”

This gift, he explained, is for service of others, not for personal gain. “We received a gift so that we might become a gift.”

“To be faithful to our calling, our mission, Saint Paul reminds us that our gift has to be rekindled,” the pope stated, adding that the status quo smothers the missionary fire.

There is also, he said, a kind of destructive “fire” that wants everything and everyone to be the same. It “blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas, for their own group, wipe out differences…””

Instead, “the fire that rekindles the gift is the Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts.”

He quoted St. Paul again, who says, “do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, but take your share of suffering for the Gospel in the power of God.”

“Paul asks Timothy to bear witness to the Gospel, to suffer for the Gospel, in a word, to live for the Gospel,” he said. “To preach the Gospel is to live as an offering, to bear witness to the end, to become all things to all people (cf. 1 Cor 9:22), to love even to the point of martyrdom.”

Praising especially those martyrs who died in the Amazon, he said, “for them, and with them, let us journey together.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led a traditional Marian prayer, the Angelus, from a window in the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

He reflected on the day’s Gospel passage, which contains the apostles’ request to Jesus to “increase our faith.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-prays-for-daring-prudence-during-amazon-synod-44018

Migrant death toll in Mediterranean tops 1,000 for 6th year

Screenshot_2019-10-01 Migrant death toll in Mediterranean tops 1,000 for 6th year
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Syrian and Afghan refugees fall into the sea after their dinghy deflated some 100m away before reaching the Greek island of Lesbos, September 13, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

GENEVA, (Reuters) – More than 1,000 migrants and refugees have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year, the sixth year in a row that this “bleak milestone” has been reached, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR called for European Union (EU) member states to reactivate search and rescue operations and acknowledge the crucial role of aid groups’ vessels in saving lives at sea.

“The tragedy of the Mediterranean cannot be allowed to continue,” Charlie Yaxley, spokesman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a statement.

The bodies of five migrants were found on Morocco’s Atlantic coast near Casablanca on Monday, bringing to 12 the number killed when their boat capsized on Saturday, the state news agency reported.

The EU struck a deal with Ankara in 2016 to cut off refugee and migrant flows to Greece from Turkey. Departures, now also diverted largely via Libya and other parts of North Africa, have fallen sharply from a peak of more than 1 million in 2015 to some 78,000 so far this year, UNHCR figures show.

“Of course the number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean are much lower. So, that points to the fact that the journeys themselves are much more dangerous,” UNHCR spokeswoman Liz Throssell told Reuters Television.

“It is also worth highlighting that 70 percent of the deaths actually occur on the central Mediterranean, namely people attempting to get from Libya across to Italy or Malta.”

More than 18,000 people have lost their lives in Mediterranean crossings since 2014, according to figures from both the UNHCR and the website of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).

 

 

 

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20191001084633-w941m/