WASHINGTON – It seems that bad news is just pouring down on us.
That is especially true in Texas and Oklahoma, where devastating floods and storms are taking lives, homes and hope.
In Washington the IRS admitted identity thieves using one of the government’s own online services stole money and private information from at least 100,000 taxpayers.
The Iraqi Army cut and ran from its battles with the Islamic State and gave up much of Anbar province, hard-fought-for by American soldiers. “It’s a disaster,” admits an American diplomat, adding inexplicably that the U.S. government did not see this coming.
Misunderstandings and tension between police forces around the country and the black citizens they are supposed to protect have sullied the nation’s reputation. Again.
China is flexing its military might, insisting it will go to war over artificial islands it has been building in disputed waters.
And the United States is pursuing a criminal indictment against officials of soccer’s international governing body, alleging huge levels of corruption.
To keep our sanity, we must look for good news. There really is some!
• A 17-year-old high school student won the world’s top science prize for students by developing a system to provide fresh air to each passenger on an airplane, eliminating viral pathogens that make thousands of people sick each year. The Centers for Disease Control says one sick person with the H1N1 virus can make 17 others on the same flight sick.
In addition to receiving $75,000, Raymond Wang of Vancouver, B.C., has a patent pending and already has been contacted by airlines. Unfortunately, the baking-soda erupting-volcano science experiment is not likely to go away.
• In Ireland, traditionally one of the strictest and most conservative religious countries, voters have overwhelmingly approved legalizing same-sex marriage. Ireland joins other nations with significant Catholic populations, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay.
In the United States, 37 states now have legalized same-sex marriage.
Despite the Vatican’s hand-wringing, this trend is not about religion but about fairness and revulsion against making anyone a second-class citizen. It’s about the Golden Rule: treating others as you would have them treat you and recognizing that gays and lesbians can’t possibly botch up the institution of marriage more than heterosexuals already have done.
• We like to rant and rave about the oppressive prevalence of regulation in America. But because of safer cars, mostly mandated by federal regulation, car fatalities in 2011 had declined to the lowest levels in 62 years. In 2013 auto fatalities had declined 25 percent from 2004. The number of people injured in car traffic accidents also is declining steadily.
• The American Lung Association says our air is significantly cleaner than it was a decade and a half ago because of government regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency says cleaner air is preventing at least 160,000 deaths and 1.7 million asthma attacks a year, and is reducing hospital admissions and emergency room visits by 86,000 each.
• Cancer remains a dreaded disease, but the odds of surviving a diagnosis of cancer are improving. Men and women ages 50 to 64, who were diagnosed in 2005 to 2009 with a variety of cancers, were 39 to 68 percent more likely to be alive five years later compared with people of the same age diagnosed from 1990 to 1994, according to a report this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Oncology.
The research analyzed the cases of more than one million people diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum, breast, prostate, lung, liver, pancreas or ovary between 1990 and 2010. And new breakthroughs in treatments have been reported since then.
We live in a bad-news/good-news world. We must be adult enough to accept the bad but also positive enough to appreciate the good.
We just never know when we will find a mosquito repellent that really works, deer-resistant flower treatments, non-fattening chocolates, tax cuts that are fair to everyone or guileless politicians.
But then some people never thought there would be airplanes, or water skis or rubber grips that could help you open a sealed jar.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.