Despite what may be your immediate impression of 2009, overall it was a great year. Looking back, one can be grateful that the economy has begun to turn around, at least for businesses, real estate and the stock market. Looking ahead, it is easy to be hopeful about 2010. With the New Year upon us, this Top 10 list of Good News is just what we need to kick off a new decade.
Here, then, is my annual countdown of the Top Ten Good News Stories for 2009. Happy Holidays to everyone!
10) Humpback Whales to Leap off Endangered Species List
Even more heartening than the 6,000 rare dolphins discovered in South Asia (prior to this, the largest known populations of Irrawaddy dolphins numbered in the low hundreds or less), or the discovery this year of a new population of orangutans in a remote, mountainous corner of Indonesia – perhaps as many as 2,000, or the “spectacular” finding that rare mountain gorilla populations have grown by 13 percent over the last 16 months in the Congo, is the news that humpback whales may soon be graduating from the endangered species list. Despite almost hunting these beautiful creatures to extinction, conservation efforts have led to steady population growth of 4-7 percent annually, to an estimated 19,000 animals, from fewer than 1,400 before the 1960’s ban on whaling. (physorg.com)
9) Researcher’s Love for Wife Leads to MS Breakthrough
Dr. Zamboni’s studies began when his beloved wife developed MS in 1995 at the age of 37. He undertook a massive in-depth review of the literature, and modern imaging techniques such as ultrasound and MRI. His findings led him to believe that Multiple Sclerosis is not an autoimmune issue, but a vascular disease, a radical departure from current thinking. He performed experimental surgery on his wife using a simple catheter / angioplasty / balloon operation, getting blood flowing normally again. Many of her MS symptoms disappeared. She had the surgery three years ago and has not had an attack since. In Italy where the doctor works, 65 patients have since had the MS surgery, and in the two years since the operation, 73 percent of subjects are symptom-free.
8) Child Mortality Down 27 percent Worldwide Since 1990
Child mortality rates have dropped 28% worldwide since 1990, UNICEF reported Friday. Death rates of children aged five and under have even dropped by 60% since 1960. “UNICEF cited “particularly good progress” in reducing child mortality in Laos, Bangladesh, Bolivia and Nepal. These countries are on target to reach the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of reducing the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, UNICEF said.” (USA Today)
7) Lay-offs Stopped as Co-Workers Rally to Save Jobs at Boston Hospital
When a hospital CEO was faced with having to lay-off hundreds of people from their jobs, he walked through the corridors and saw that no one deserved it. When he reported his feelings to the auditorium filled with 6,300 employees, he received thunderous, sustained applause. The staff at Beth Israel Medical Center didn’t want any of the 8,000 workers to get laid off — and were willing to give up their pay and benefits to make sure no one does. The 13 department heads took pay cuts totaling $350,000, doctors donated money, 401-K matching funds were turned down. Now, most of the cooks, janitors and cashiers have been rescued, thanks to the compassionate CEO who wanted to do the right thing and the workers who agreed with him. (Boston.com; Follow-up from CBS)
6) 12 Banks Have Repayed $113B in Bailout Money- With Interest
Top financial institutions, like Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs,Capital One, Citi, Wells Fargo, American Express and Morgan-Stanley, have repaid more than $113 billion of the $199 billion in taxpayer money, loaned to financial institutions last year. TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was introduced when a financial crisis put the economy at risk of falling into a depression. Now the nation’s four largest banks have paid back their loans — with billions of dollars in interest going to the US treasury — as have several large regional banks.
5) Passenger Spots Leaking Jet Fuel, Averts Mid-Ocean Crash
Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda spotted a fuel leak during take-off and possibly saved the lives of more than 300 airline passengers in route to Japan last week. After alerting the aircrew, the ranking pilot made a decision to divert the flight to San Francisco. The captain said they would have never made it to Japan if it wasn’t for the passenger’s insistence that an emergency situation was developing. (Japan Today)
4) Crime is Plummeting Across N. America, Despite Recession
From Oregon to Vermont, states across the country are tallying lower crime rates over the past few years, but even in 2009, amidst economic downturn, cities like Los Angeles, Dallas and New York have seen a dramatic reduction in violent crime. Even Chicago and Detroit are seeing murder rates dropping and property crime decreasing, mystifying sociologists and criminologists.
3) Worldwide Hopes Soar as First African-American President Inaugurated
The arrival of a new American president triggered joy and jubilation in a world made weary by warfare, recession and fear. Even for Republicans, whether you agree or disagree with Obama’s policies, the ascendance of the first African-American to the presidency of the United States marked a new era of tolerance and possibility.
2) Miami Banker Gives $60 Million in Bonuses to Employees
After selling a majority stake in his Miami bank, Leonard Abess Jr. took $60 million of the proceeds — $60 million out of his own pocket — and gave it to his tellers, bookkeepers, clerks, everyone on the payroll. All 399 workers on the staff received bonuses, and he even tracked down 72 former employees so they could share in the windfall. For longtime employees, the bonus — based on years of service — amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, and in some cases, more than $100,000. (The Guardian – photo, copyright 2008, Daniel Portnoy)
1) Miracle on the Hudson
The passengers of Flight 1549 were soaked and freezing, but they were still alive. With both engines out, a cool-headed pilot maneuvered his crowded jetliner over New York City, avoiding buildings, landing it safely into the frigid Hudson River. All 155 on board were pulled to safety as the plane slowly sank.
Captain “Sully” Sullenberger was surprised by all the accolades that he received, but, he wrote, “I realize how this event had touched people’s lives, how ready they were for good news, how much they wanted to feel hopeful again… We’ve had a worldwide economic downturn, and people are confused, fearful and just so ready for good news. They want to feel reassured that all the things we value, all our ideals, still exist.”
If you are a regular viewer of the Good News Network, you are already assured, every day, that good DOES still exist — even through all the troubles witnessed over the last decade.
Happy New Year and may Good bless!