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Justice Prayers - June 28, 2023

One morning I was reading the story of Jesus' feeding of the five thousand. The disciples could find only five loaves of bread and two fishes. 'Let me have them,' said Jesus. He asked for all. He took them, said the blessing, and broke them before He gave them out. I remembered what a chapel speaker...had said: 'If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.' - Elisabeth Elliot

Court to hear appeal over Biden-backed Nevada lithium mine opposed by tribes, environmentalists

A U.S. appeals court considered challenges on Tuesday to a huge lithium mine in Nevada in a case that pits environmentalists and Native Americans against President Joe Biden’s plans to combat climate change and could have broad implications for mining operations across the West.

For the first time since it blocked construction of an Arizona copper mine last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a two-year-old legal battle with striking similarities to the Arizona case. The Nevada mine is in the works near the Oregon line and would involve extraction of the silvery-white metal used in electric-vehicle batteries. Lawyers for Lithium Americas — the Canadian company that broke ground on the project in March — as well as the U.S. government, conservationists, tribes and a Nevada rancher were allotted time to highlight their positions during Tuesday’s hearing before a three-judge panel in Pasadena, California. Leaders of the Western Shoshone and Paiute tribes have argued with little success to date that the Thacker Pass mine is on sacred lands where dozens of tribal members were massacred in 1865 by the U.S. Cavalry. Tribal leaders say the site cannot be disturbed under laws protecting historical and cultural resources. The Bureau of Land Management approved the mine on an accelerated basis under the Trump administration. The Biden administration has continued to embrace it in an effort to ramp up U.S. production of lithium needed for electric vehicles that are an integral part of Biden’s clean energy agenda.

Lord God, a clean energy future should never come at the cost of desecrating sacred sites to those who have stewarded these lands for generations. We pray for a favorable ruling for the sanctity and integrity of the tribes who oppose this desecration of their land, and we pray that efforts to decarbonize our economy do not come at the expense of our people and the places they call home.

Opioid death rates tripled for Ontario teens, young adults since 2014, research shows

Opioid-related deaths among teens and young adults in Ontario tripled from 2014 to 2021, while drug treatment rates significantly decreased, a new report shows. Opioid deaths among those aged 15 to 24 surged during the first year of the pandemic to 169 deaths, up from 115 the year before, according to research led by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network at Unity Health Toronto. Just 37.1% of teens and young adults who had an opioid use disorder and died from drugs had received any treatment in the last year of the analysis, compared to 48.6% of adults aged 25 to 44, the researchers found. They found that rates of opioid-related emergency department visits quadrupled in that time. "It's really a stark comparison of the harms that this demographic is experiencing and how they're accessing treatment and whether the health-care services that we're providing to them are really meeting their needs," said Dr. Tara Gomes, a scientist at Unity Health Toronto who leads the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network.

Fentanyl was found in 94% of those who died from opioids during the pandemic, up 10 percentage points after COVID-19 came to the province. The researchers also found that only about half of young people who died from opioids had an opioid use disorder, which differs from the overall provincial picture. About two-thirds of all opioid-related deaths occur in those who have that disorder.

Creator, Protector, and Healer, we mourn all those who have been lost to this horrific epidemic of opioid-related deaths. We so desperately need to cut off the flow of these drugs into our communities, and we are also in great need for better treatment when our loved ones are sick. We pray for our public health professionals, medical practitioners, community organizers, and elected officials tasked with creating solutions to this great crisis.

Solitary confinement is still widespread in US prisons and jails

A recent report by Unlock The Box and Solitary Watch revealed that more than 120,000 people are held in solitary confinement on any given night in the United States. The figure far eclipses previous estimates because it includes data about inmates in both jails and prisons. Jails are shorter-term facilities for people awaiting trial, whereas prisons hold people convicted of a crime – sometimes for long periods of time. The cells for solitary confinement are about the size of a parking space, with enough room to walk a few paces, and barriers preventing contact with other human beings. “The widespread use of solitary confinement in our prisons and jails is a humanitarian crisis,” said Jean Casella, director of Solitary Watch, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the practice. “As the United Nations has confirmed, it’s torture taking place on US soil. Now, we finally have a comprehensive count of how many people are in solitary confinement.” “I think it’s really important to point out how extreme the United States is,” said Michele Deitch, director of the Prison and Jail Innovation Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. “In European countries, it’s considered a violation of human rights for someone to be locked up for more than 15 days in solitary confinement, and we’re locking up people here for 20 or 30 years,” Deitch told Al Jazeera.

How is it that we still allow this great injustice, Lord? This dereliction of our promise to uphold human rights is a stain on our claims to a fair and just system of laws. God, we should be outraged that the poor, disenfranchised, and forgotten are thrown away in cells and treated like animals. We mourn, we cry, and long for change.

Hundreds of Pakistanis dead in Mediterranean migrant boat disaster, official says

More than 300 Pakistani nationals have been killed in the sinking of an overcrowded fishing trawler off the coast of Greece, the latest tragedy to expose the refugee crisis confronting the European Union as tens of thousands seek sanctuary from war, persecution and poverty. The chairman of Pakistan’s Senate, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, disclosed the numbers in a statement Sunday, sending condolences to grieving families of the dead. “Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and we pray that the departed souls find eternal peace,” Sanjrani said. “This devastating incident underscores the urgent need to address and condemn the abhorrent act of illegal human trafficking.” Pakistan is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in decades, with efforts to secure a financial lifeline from the International Monetary Fund complicated by political turmoil in the country. Growth has stalled and inflation has soared in the South Asian country of 220 million over the past year. The country has struggled to import essential food products, leading to deadly stampedes at distribution centers. The number of Pakistanis traversing dangerous routes to Europe in search of a better future has reverberated through the nation. About 750 men, women and children were on the packed boat when it capsized last week, the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) said, killing hundreds and making the tragedy one of the worst in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

How do we go on another day in such a world as this, where the death of desperate migrants on journeys to a brighter future occurs so regularly - and frankly, with little media coverage in comparison to the uber-wealthy on expeditions to shipwrecks. Instill in us a deep spirit of compassion and action, God.

Becoming (part of) the Answer to our Own Prayers

Join The Welcome Corps

Welcome Corps is a Public-Private Sponsorship Program that allows individuals and groups to sponsor and resettle refugees-without the support or financial assistance of Resettlement Agencies. With refugee resettlement numbers down after years of cuts to the resettlement budget, Welcome Corps is an opportunity to offer a pathway to safety to more refugees and live out our biblical call to welcome the stranger as found in Matthew 25.

Indigenous Ministry Sunday 

Indigenous Ministry Sunday (2023) we reflect together on the blessings and experiences of the Hearts Exchanged program.  Watch this video highlighting some Hearts Exchanged experiences.

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