Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: Good News Tendrils Stretching in All Directions

color-corrected image of galaxies, taken by the Webb telescope

 

Debbie says:

Since we started this blog almost two decades ago, Laurie and I have always done a Thanksgiving good news post. This year, Laurie isn’t available (she’s fine) and I have a brand-new resource for good news. Earlier this year, my friend Lizzy turned me on to Jessica Craven, a dauntless and clever political activist who spends her weeks encouraging her subscribers to work for political change through her newsletter: Chop Wood, Carry Water. She also spends her weekends creating lists of good things that happened during the week to encourage and energize the work she promotes.

During the run-up to the midterms, she made those weekly good news posts, which she calls “Extra! Extra!” free to everyone. They aren’t archived separately from the daily feed of her newsletter (linked above),  but you can find them all by scrolling down the link. As fits her interests, these are mostly US and mostly political, with a lot of climate news and a lot of racial and LGBT+ justice. I’ve cherrypicked a handful from through the year that I think are especially important, and leavened them with some international and other good news just for Laurie’s and my readers.

I’ll assume you know that the Democrats were not in disarray, that no election deniers were elected as Secretary of State anywhere, and that the November 8 midterms were full of good small and large wins, despite the barrage of negative news leading up to the election. (And my progressive friend George Syrop will be the youngest ever member of the Hayward, California City Council. I’m just sayin’)

This is the best year for labor since 2005 (which happens to be the year Laurie and I started Body Impolitic. Craven pointed us to the Amazon victory in April, which Amazon tried to block, but they lost, creating the first union inside Amazon. Meanwhile, Starbucks has thrown a huge amount of money and some high-end anti-labor lawyers at their problems, and still over 200 Starbucks’ stores have unionized this year. And the link at the top of this paragraph shows you just how well labor is doing overall.

The first California condors since 1892 (!) have been seen in the wild. They were raised in captivity and released in partnership with the Yurok Tribe. And that just makes me want to mention the Monarch butterfly resurgence.  Also, Atlantic puffins.

And just this month, a clam previously known only from fossils (!) was discovered alive in California.

In one of my special areas of interest–wrongful convictions and the “justice” system, it’s exciting to note that a lead Innocence Project lawyer is now a federal district judge in New York. (And Adnan Syed, whose case first got me and millions of others interested in wrongful convictions, is a free man.)

Sometimes (not often enough!) land is returned to its rightful BIPOC owners.  Black victory in Manhattan Beach, CA;  indigenous victories in Virginia and California (and there are more.

In India, where cricket is an extremely popular sport, women cricketers will be paid the same amount as men.

60 U.S. high schools will be offering advance placement courses in African-American history.  And the unbelievably offensive statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the Museum of Natural History in New York City is gone–which would make this a good year all by itself.

Climate change victories are under-reported, and there are many small ones (as well as some bigger ones). Two that have caught my eye are 100,000 kg removed from the great plastic patch and the shrinking hole in the ozone layer.

There’s lots more. There are defeated fascists around the globe, including Javier Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is still contesting his loss. There are new LGBT+ people in Congress and the state houses and governors’ mansions. Abortion rights won wherever they were on the ballot–including Tennessee.

And images from the ground-breaking (space-breaking?) James Webb Space Telescope started being published in July. One lovely one is above, and there are hundreds more.

As Jessica Craven frequently says, what we focus on gets stronger. So while it’s important to keep one eye on all the threats and dangers (and there are so many!), we also thrive by knowing that those stories are not the whole story.

Happy Thanksgiving, however you observe it, and a happy day if you don’t. Me, I’ll be grateful to be eating with a few close friends, on stolen Ohlone land, which we will acknowledge before we begin the meal.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2021: Keep Hope Alive

Brightly colored picture of spawning activity on Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Spawning activity on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Laurie and Debbie say:

Last year, we decided not to put up a gratitude post for Thanksgiving, and instead Debbie wrote about the holiday’s shameful history, in the context of the pandemic. The pandemic is still with us and the holiday will always have a shameful history; nonetheless, we are glad to have things to be grateful for. Hope is still hard to come by … and that makes it precious.

Speaking of the pandemic, as we all so often are, it’s important to acknowledge the mRNA vaccines which are both lifesaving and scientifically extraordinary, offering the promise of further medical advances. Following in the vaccines’ footsteps are at least two oral antiviral pills to treat rather than prevent the disease. And although the global distribution of vaccines has been spotty and disappointing — especially in Africa — the current count of almost 8 billion vaccine doses administered in 184 countries, and 330+ million being added to that every day, is an unprecedented response to a global pandemic. We can — and must — do better, and we can still marvel at  what has been done in less than a year since the first vaccines were released.

In the United States, despite extreme polarization and opposition, the U.S. Congress has passed several major pieces of legislation which improve the lives of Americans, from the CARES Act during Trump’s incumbency through the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, to the recent Infrastructure Bill and (hopefully soon) the Build Back Better Act. Of particular note is that the first two bills put direct cash into individual Americans’ bank accounts, something American politicians have previously been loath to do–and of course it’s a very popular move. Also, the child tax credit in the ARPA bill, if extended, is predicted to cut child poverty in the United States in half.

The 20-year-long U.S. war in Afghanistan is over. What’s more, if you sift through the breathless news coverage, you’ll see that the tens of thousands of people who needed to be evacuated were evacuated efficiently and safely and the smaller numbers are still being helped out of the country.

While the headlines are full of the repulsive acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, let us also note that the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery were convicted of murder in Georgia yesterday. And the same week as the Rittenhouse verdict, former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger lost her second appeal, and will stay in jail for having shot and killed Botham Jean in his own apartment. And police officer Eric DeValkenaere was convicted in Missouri of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Cameron Lamb, a Black man causing no trouble in his own back yard. And, of course, the whole world knows that Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, and sentenced to 22-1/2 years in prison. DeValkenaere’s sentencing is still to come. We note here also that more than 2/3 of the social media posts supporting Rittenhouse come from accounts which disguise their location, and most of them are almost certainly by trolls from Russia, China, and the EU; so don’t simply swallow the “so many Americans support him” narrative.

In that vein, Sherrilyn Ifill, currently director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, reminds us that the sound and fury about everything from the misinformation about critical race theory to the videos of police murders, as awful as they are, especially to BIPOC people like Ifill, is also evidence that we are “at a moment of reckoning,” and things which have been kept hidden for centuries are getting talked about in public.

The much-talked about wave of anti-trans laws is being met by a less-publicized wave of pro-trans court decisions, though no one knows what the Supreme Court will do (other than refusing to hear a case that could have reinstated a school bathroom anti-trans law in Virginia). Meanwhile the Biden administration has both created a third-gender spot on US passports and declared that trans people don’t have to show medical “proof” to choose their passport gender.

Around the world, we see victories for farmers in India, in a very long struggle with the autocratic Indian government. And a desperately needed new constitution in Chile.

Aside from the medical breakthroughs spurred by the coronavirus, space exploration grows with 3 Mars Rovers operating, from the US, the EU, and China.

Sports figures are learning how to take their own agency and power, and not let the media and the sports governing bodies rule their lives. Two particularly notable examples are Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, coming out about her mental health and refusing to participate in activities that do her harm (!), and the incomparable gymnast Simone Biles, who has withdrawn from gymnastics and is starkly honest about her reasons.

The wave of climate protests from youth around the world extends far beyond Greta Thunberg. While they (and adults) take to the streets, many scientific advances are nearing implementation, including concrete that can capture carbon, methane-limiting by feeding seaweed to cows, and there is significant spawning activity on the Great Barrier Reef.

We could go on for pages. The news is generally so bleak that many of these things get overlooked or quickly forgotten. We tried to pick some that we think people should know about.

Happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate, and if you don’t, have a good day.

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