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Environment

Toxic smog greets Chinese in 2017
The World Health Organisation says China is now the world’s deadliest country for outdoor air pollution with heavy smog in 61 cities in northern and northeastern China at the start of the year.  

Indigenous people lead the battle against climate change
Many believe the fight to combat climate change hinges on the aligned interests of capital and state. On Friday [January 21], men who disavow climate change and profit mightily from fossil fuels will take charge. In a global race to the bottom, there’s no telling how far downriver these shortsighted profiteers will sell our future generations, writes Julian Brave Noisecat for The Guardian.  

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Syrian refugee dux of one of Australia’s largest Catholic schools
A Syrian refugee who started learning English only in 2014 after fleeing the embattled city of Homs, has graduated as dux of one of Australia's largest secondary Catholic schools.  

Dutton wrong on refugees’ citizenship - court
The Federal Court has found Peter Dutton unreasonably delayed making decisions on applications for citizenship by refugees in a landmark ruling that has implications for thousands of would-be citizens, writes Michael Gordon for the Sydney Morning Herald.  

Indigenous Australia

Treaties must be with first nations peoples
While the South Australian State Government has flagged the possibility of creating treaties with Aboriginal regional councils across the state, Arabana man Aaron Stuart believes that treaty negotiations must first be negotiated with First Nations peoples. Mr Stuart told CAAMAs Paul Wiles that unless his people ultimately control what happens on their land they will have little financial security going into the future.  

Keating’s fight for indigenous rights
Paul Keating’s first term as prime minister is often remembered for divisive debates over Indigenous affairs. He sought to pursue his vision of reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, negotiated passage of the Native Title Act and acknowledged the injustices and cruelties of Australia’s colonial history in his famous Redfern Speech.  

The Political Community

People hungry for justice need church leadership
The Catholic Church in the Philippines has been weighed but found wanting when it comes to responding to issues that confronted Filipinos, especially the poor, in the past year, writes Bonifacio Tago Jr.  

Sifting the scat of Trump’s first 10 days
The shape Trump's presidency is beginning to be discernible. The likely deepening of inequality, the disregard for universal human rights and for the international and national responsibilities that flow from them, the contempt for the environment and for evidence based research, and the debasement of political speech promise a more divided society in a more divided world. In such a noisy and staccato atmosphere the beginnings of an appropriate response lie in not responding to every tweet, writes Andrew Hamilton for Eureka Street.  

Trump will ignite a powder keg in the Middle East
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump is about to do just that, reversing an historical course that has been in the making for one hundred years.
The inexperienced, demagogic politician hardly understands the danger that lies in his decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  

The Death Penalty

More punishment is not the answer – Korean seminar
Korean society would benefit if there was more investment and research done into restorative justice said speakers at a seminar in Seoul organized by a bishops' committee on Dec.14.  

Peace

Our good fortune prompts prayer for those who don’t share it
"Most Australians are fortunate to live in peace. But that good fortune calls us to remember and pray for those who don’t share in it," says Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, in his Christmas  

Fall of Aleppo caps wretched 2016
Assad's victory epitomises, in a sense, the reactionary tide prevailing just about everywhere in this, the Year of the Donald. The hopes raised during the Arab Spring have, it seems, been crushed, with the Syrian regime consolidating its grip over a nation it has oppressed for so long. Yet Aleppo also illustrates how little the Right's victories have actually settled. The Right's biggest asset is often the Left, with progressives seemingly determined to validate all the smears levelled against them, writes Jeff Sparrow for Eureka Street.  

Human Rights

Christmas values for all
You don't have to be a practicing Christian to believe in the values of Christmas. They are universal. They uphold the human dignity and right of every human being irrespective of religion, race or status, writes Shay Cullen from the Philippines.  

Papuan nativity scenes send messages of peace
Despite facing the constant threat of violence and arrest for calling for greater autonomy and an end to rights abuses by Indonesian security forces, Papuans are sending out a message of hope and peace this Christmas by constructing nativity scenes.  

Poverty

A call to discuss homelessness in Melbourne
The growing number of rough sleepers at Flinders Street Station has captured national attention this week. The news coverage has been both vicious and extensive. Television cameras have been shoved in people’s faces, despite their clear and repeated refusal to participate, writes Jamila Rizni.  

Every week I hear a story that I did not believe possible – rural GP
I am a GP. I work for a youth health service in the Horowhenua. About 30,000 people live in the area. Maori are 20 per cent of the population and 20 per cent of the population are older than 65. The median income is $18,500, and 52 per cent of people in the area live in the bottom three socio- economic deciles. The main industries are farming and horticulture. We have high rates of domestic violence and youth crime and youth pregnancy. You can get RJ's Licorice at knockdown rates and people love their children but sometimes get stuck.  

Saving Timor-Leste youth from HIV
If the spread of the virus is not effectively dealt with in the impoverished country, it will become a huge problem, writes Thomas Ora for ucanews.com  

The Political Community

Questions about the UN resolution on Israeli settlements
A controversial new United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory has triggered a brutal and messy diplomatic fight between President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and now President-elect Donald Trump, writes Jennifer Williams for Vox.  

Moderates must realise whiteness rests on oppression
If the political trash-fire of 2016 has taught us anything, it's that white moderates are more than willing to throw minorities under the bus in order to preserve the status quo. It comes out in their tone policing. It comes out in calls for 'respectful' dialogue without considering how socio-political power structures mean minorities are always at a disadvantage in those kinds of conversations. Whiteness has always been a moving target and has more to do with power and privilege than skin colour, writes Neve Mahoney for Eureka Street.  

Grassroots leaders meet in California
The impetus behind the World Meetings (where leaders of popular movements will gather for a regional version in the United States this month) has been Francis’ desire to create a direct channel to grassroots leaders across the world, said Joseph Fleming, PICO’s Catholic engagement coordinator. It’s a type of encounter that dates back to the Pope’s experience as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, working with waste-recyclers pushing for health benefits and fair wages.  

Use It

Delivering life-changing services in India
This IBM Client Voices shows how a partnership between a corporate giant and local organizations helped rural maternal health workers reach and help more women in India....
Watch here  

Partnership for sustainable development
This UNDP Indonesia video looks at the story of one community-based initiative to solve the problem of poor electricity access in the region of East Nusa Tenggara....
Watch here  

From the editor

The first fortnight of Donald Trump’s four-year sojourn in the White House promises a major shakeup for our world with the lives and wellbeing of the most vulnerable of creatures – including the environment – in jeopardy.

Amid a plethora of restrictions to freedom, two stand out: the pulling back of action to slow climate change and the shutting out of travellers from seven countries where Muslims are in the majority.  

Cecily McNeill
Editor

Quote of the month

"The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you."

Pope Francis Second World Meeting, Bolivia, 2015.

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