Here is my annual countdown of the Top Ten Good News:
10) U.S. Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall for Men, Women and Children – Thanks to advances in treatment, fewer U.S. cancer patients are dying. Death rate are dropping, nearly across the board, more than 2 percent per year from 2002 through 2004, for lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in men, as well as for breast and colon cancer in women. The declines recorded nearly doubled the rate of the preceding decade, according to the federal health agencies and the American Cancer Society. Cancer deaths among kids and teens in the U.S. have also become rarer, decreasing by 1.7% per year from 1990 to 2004.
The goal of planting one billion trees around the world was achieved in one year thanks to the many countries that took part in the challenge, the United Nations, and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Kenyan Green Belt Movement founder, Wangari Maathai. She exclaimed, “I am elated beyond words at the global action that was motivated by the Billion Tree Campaign. I knew we had it within us as a human family to rise up. We called you to action almost exactly a year ago and you responded beyond our dreams!”
Iraq’s national football team, riding a wave of global sentiment, upset three-time winner Saudi Arabia to win the Asian Cup final this week. The (soccer) team features players from all three of Iraq’s main communities, and so provided a rare moment for celebration and unity throughout the strife-filled country. (Great highlights provided in Reuters video)
Representing one of the world’s greatest conservation success stories, the bald eagle’s population in the lower 48 states reached 11,040 pairs in 2007, sending the bird soaring off the endangered species list. This is a nearly 1,300-pair increase over 2006, after just 417 pairs remained in 1963. (With populations growing, the majestic species had been upgraded in 1995 from endangered to threatened.)
It was reported by the Associated Press in June that “Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charitable causes last year, setting a record and besting the 2005 total that had been boosted by a surge in aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami.”
Executives of Murphy Oil Corporation thrilled their hometown of El Dorado, Arkansas in January when they announced to students in a packed gymnasium their intention to offer college scholarships to everyone graduating from El Dorado High School over the next 20 years. The $50 million fund will dole out college money for any institution in or out of state equal to the tuition at an Arkansas public university.
Almost a year after North Korea tested an atomic weapon, the nation’s leader pledged to permanently shut-down nuclear operations by year’s end and pursue peace with South Korea, as the two neighbors wrapped up their historic summit in October, the world’s last cold war opponents.
3) Anonymous Santa Gives $100 Million to Struggling Town
An unnamed ‘friend’ gave $100 million to the struggling old industrial city of Erie, Pennsylvania in November, to be divided among its 46 charities including the food bank, a women’s center, and a group for the blind, as well as its universities. “What a godsend for some of these agencies,” says one resident.
The UN Security Council voted to send peacekeepers to the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan in August, after months of wrangling. Up to 26,000 troops and police make up the world’s largest peacekeeping force, with a majority of the blue helmets being worn by Africans from nations like Kenya. Additionally, a major discovery by Boston University researchers may prevent further violence in the future. Using satellite imaging, they have discovered a massive underground lake in the arid Darfur region of Sudan. By digging 1000 wells they hope to solve the problems of water scarcity — and food shortages — that create much of the violence in the first place.
A NYC man’s quick-thinking saved a teen and himself as he dove onto the tracks of an oncoming subway train to rescue the boy who’d fallen ill from the platform. Wesley Autrey became America’s most famous hero of 2007, a few days after the year began, by pulling himself and the boy into the center trough which gave them just enough clearance to avoid the train. (Video)
Also, see this new Christian Science Monitor report (sent in January 2008 by Steve G.) bringing us up to date on what Wesley Autrey is doing now and how his fame has changed his life.