The Islands’ Weekly outlined the good and bad of 2018 in our “top stories” compilation last week.
Outside of our little county, the nation and world made some truly positive strides. As we welcome a new year, here is a sampling of news that will give you hope.
• The United States’ unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969.
• The first Muslim and Native American women were elected into Congress: Rashida Tlaib in Michigan; Ilhan Omar in Minnesota; Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo from New Mexico; and Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation from Kansas.
• Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the youngest woman elected to U.S. Congress.
• Seventeen black women made history by winning judicial seats in Harris County, Texas.
• Colorado elected Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in the United States.
• Congress passed a criminal justice overhaul bill that aims to reduce the number of inmates in prisons. Known as “First Step Act,” the measure gives judges more discretion in sentencing offenders for nonviolent crimes (in particular, drug offenses) and strengthen rehabilitation programs for former prisoners. It also calls for placing federal prisoners closer to home – no more than 500 miles – so their families can visit more often. President Trump has said he will sign the bill into law.
• In mid-December, the Trump administration banned bump stocks (which make it easier to fire rounds from a semi-automatic weapon) for all guns.
• In Saudi Arabia, women were finally allowed to drive.
•Scotland became the first country in the world to include the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights in school curriculum.
• The rate of girls under the age of 14 who are forced to undergo female genital mutilation in Africa has seen a “huge and significant decline” over close to three decades, according to a new analysis.
• Mexico’s newly elected President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is selling the government’s $218.7 million Boeing plane and will use the proceeds to help poor communities in his country.
• Iraq citizens have voted in the first parliamentary elections since the government declared victory over ISIS last year.
• South Korea closed its biggest dog meat slaughterhouse. The complex in Seongnam city, south of Seoul, will be transformed into a public park.
• Scientists have developed a plastic-eating enzyme that breaks down bottles.
• Researchers in Australia developed a 10-minute test that can detect the presence of cancer cells anywhere in the human body.