Laurie and Debbie say:
We keep having difficult years, and yet there are always important things to appreciate, be thankful for, and celebrate.
Last year at this time, a national health care bill had passed in the house and was being debated in the Senate. Now (for all its limitations) we have the first national health care law ever in the United States, and early provisions are in place and doing good. The most recent changes (as of September) include requiring insurers to provide health care to children with pre-existing conditions, requiring that customers have a chance to appeal denied claims to an independent reviewer, and allowing people with insurance to go to the nearest emergency room without being penalized by their health care company. There’s lots more at the link.
The next two are documented here, and we were tempted to include more from that site. Click the link on a day when you need encouragement.
In 1990, 42% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (constant 2000 dollars, PPP “purchasing power parity”). In 2005, that number had fallen to 25%. The UN estimates that by 2020, only 10% of world citizens will live in absolute poverty. Of course, ten percent is ten percent too many, but 42% is a lot worse. This shows that all the effort and energy that has been poured into world poverty is having an effect.
Access to safe drinking water is also improving. The industrialized world has had nearly 100% access for decades, and the developing world is catching up: In 1970, only 30% of people in developing nations had access to safe water, 71% in 1990, 79% in 2000 and 84% in 2004. The UN estimates that by 2030, 98% of the world’s population will have access to potable water. Wow!
As our own Marlene blogged here some weeks ago, the Obama administration has been reassuringly transpositive overall. Just one example from her post: transpeople can now get passports in their identified gender whether or not they have had genital surgery.
Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner and social justice activist Aung San Suu Kyi finally was let out of house arrest this month!
Everyone will tell you that the U.S. elections were a huge victory for conservatives, tea party types, and Republicans, but it’s not as true as it looks. Not only California, but just about all of the American west, including Nevada, Colorado, and Washington, rejected the short-sighted and often fraudulent claims of the right and elected or re-elected liberals and progressives. Even less noted is the fact that more than half of Tea Party-identified candidates lost their races.
In what was often not a good year for the environment, the Obama Administration kept its promises at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks. As a result, the ban on commercial whaling will stay in force.
Enormous advances are being made in the science of antimatter. CERN in Switzerland has trapped “a sizable amount” of antihydrogen. Scientists describe this as a key step in understanding why matter is the stuff of the universe and antimatter is so rare. Maybe not everyone agrees, but we really like it that this is a huge scientific discovery without any known practical applications.
Despite naysayers and warnings everywhere, South Africa hosted a wonderful soccer World Cup, which ran smoothly and brought delight to millions and victory to Germany.
And our very favorite TV director, David Simon (The Wire, Treme) won a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for his work.
Have a great holiday! We’ll be back early next week.