More good news for people who like good news

More good news for people who like good news February 27, 2013

• “United States on Track to Graduate 90 Percent of High School Students By 2020

Much of the jump in high school graduation had to do with increases in the graduation rate of Hispanic and African American students. The Hispanic high school completion rate was only 61 percent in 2006; it was 71.4 percent in 2010. The African American graduation rates increased from 59.2 percent in 2006 to more than 66 percent in 2010.

• “At the time of repeal [of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell], I committed to reviewing benefits that had not previously been available to same-sex partners based on existing law and policy. It is a matter of fundamental equity that we provide similar benefits to all of those men and women in uniform who serve their country. The department already provides a group of benefits that are member-designated. Today, I am pleased to announce that after a thorough and deliberate review, the department will extend additional benefits to same-sex partners of service members.”

• “Renewable-energy capacity in the U.S. almost doubled from 2009 to 2012.”

• “The YouTube orchestra CDZA found four couples at a New York City senior living center and performed their wedding song. Each couple shares with the camera the story of their relationship.”

• “The rate of juvenile detention has fallen to its lowest national level in 35 years, with almost every state indicating fewer young people being incarcerated, a new analysis of federal statistics shows.”

World magazine has published yet another article allowing an actual historian to point out that David Barton is, at best, woefully confused and misinformed. Yes, everyone ought to know that by now, but it’s good to see it being said in an arch-conservative evangelical publication.

• The Illinois Senate voted in favor of marriage equality by a margin of 34-21.

• “At this point, the gay guy had had it. He jumps back up from his seat and says, ‘I am a man. And I’m a good man.  And I’m a gay man. And Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me. Jesus …’

“At this point, you hear another guy say ‘yeah!’ and the entire train starts applauding the gay man.”

• Shane Koyczan’s “To This Day Project” video has been viewed more than 4.3 million times on YouTube.

Charles Kuffner relays the news that:

Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston Police Department today announced details of a plan that will eliminate the backlog of untested sexual assault kits. Under the plan, which will be formally considered by Houston City Council next week, the untested kits will be sent to two outside labs for testing. It is anticipated the work will be completed in 12-14 months.

Justice delayed is, at least, better than nothing. Houston isn’t the only big city with a huge backlog of untested rape kits. If we didn’t have a dysfunctional Congress, fixing that with federal grants would help create jobs as well as improve public safety. If we didn’t have a dysfunctional Congress.

• “Across America fewer homes are boarded up.”

And fewer people are “doubled up” sharing a tight apartment with friends or parents.

According to the Census Bureau, vacancy rates for residential housing in the United States have fallen to levels last seen before the peak of the housing boom in 2006 and the subsequent recession.

• The Westboro Baptist Church’s attempt to picket a high school in Santa Monica, Calif., did not go well for the Westboro Baptist Church.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • That’s good news about the vacancy rates! I hope that homeowners buying up distressed houses or foreclosed houses can manage to get clear title in the process, though.

  • Otrame

    I have always liked the idea of counter protests turning their backs on the protestors.  It says more than all the signs.  It refuses to engage (engagement is what Phelps’ people really want, because they make a living suing people who lose their tempers).  It says “I reject you” in the best and most eloquent way  possible.  Good for those kids. 

  • AnonaMiss

    I hope the increase in graduation rates is meaningful, but our school system is so screwed up that it could easily be something like, graduation requirements have been reduced, or grade inflation is out of control, or there has been a surge in hold-backs at the 8th grade level, or the dropout figure no longer counts those over the age 0f 18, or…

    Didn’t GWB raise the educational profile of Texas by increasing the number of students held back in the year before each standardized testing year?


  • Justin

    As nice as that basketball story is, I can’t help but be bothered by the condescension oozing through the seams.

  • 1. Good
    2. Neutral/Good
    3. Bad
    4. Neutral
    5. Good
    6. Good
    7. Neutral/Good
    8. Bad
    9. Bad
    10. Good
    11. Good
    12. Good
    Total: 6 Good, 2 Neutral/Good, 1 Neutral, 3 Bad

  • LL

    Aw, the Santa Monica video. Nice. 

  • I know. I have those mixed feelings about the story, too. 

  • fredgiblet

    The Santa Monica site suggested this one:

    Nice the see the Catholics moving forward…

  • Random_Lurker

    re: “Across America fewer homes are boarded up.”

    If it’s anything like my local market, all of that non-vacancy is accounted for by renters.  Since 2008, all the houses in my area have been snapped up by investors with cash, which gives them a roughly 15-20% price advantage vs a homeowner with a loan.  (Meaning, a bank selling a property will accept a 20% lower cash offer vs a loan, even with both offers in hand).

    That started about 2 years ago, when all the banks finalyl got around to selling their foreclosed properties.  Now, it’s even worse, since all the homes have already been grabbed and the market is competitive again.  This means cash buyers are paying asking price or above, and loan buyers need to offer 20% above asking price.  Then the loan issuer assesses the property, determines it’s only worth the asking price (no surprise, really), and declines the loan.  So even those few people left with good credit can’t actually make a purchase.

    So really, getting those empty homes filled is good, but they are not going to private homeowners, they are all going to for-profit landlords and investors, who then rent out the home for higher then the mortgage would have been.  As class warfare goes, this should be near the top, since it means both that the cost of living is higher then it needs to be, and the traditional retirement investment for most families (a home) will be impossible.

  • aunursa

    While I am a strong free speech advocate, I am conflicted by situations, like on the subway train, where the preacher has a captive audience.  I support full freedom of speech when those within viewing or listening proximity to the message have the ability to leave or otherwise ignore the speaker.

    That said, the response by the passengers in this situation is wonderful.

  • aunursa

    The response to the Phelps protesters is perfect.  The best response to bad speech is not censorship, but more (good) speech.

  • stardreamer42

    The passengers were likewise exercising their right of free speech. Having the right doesn’t entitle you to a submissive audience.

  • aunursa

    You misunderstand me.  I have no problem with the actions of the other passengers.  (Hint: the last sentence of my comment.)  What troubles me is the original speaker — the preacher — shouting his message to a captive audience.

  • Another step back to feudalism, which is the social and economic system the so-called lovers of the free market really want.

  • Damn it. There should’ve been a law that allowed foreclosed mortgage holders first right of refusal to buy back their houses at the discounted price(s).

    If not, then there should be a heavy tax penalty for anyone who buys a foreclosed house with no intention of living in it.

  • reynard61

    “The rate of juvenile detention has fallen to its lowest national level in 35 years, with almost every state indicating fewer young people being incarcerated, a new analysis of federal statistics shows.”

    I bet that the Prison-for-profit types can’t be happy about that. I’d bet real money that most of their profits come from high recidivism rates among their charges; and, IIRC, the earlier in life that someone goes to prison/jail, the higher their chances of repeating that trend.


    Fred Phelps: The Wayne LaPierre of American Christianity.

  • Maniraptor

    Yeah, same here. I used to get that kind of thing from the kids at school who had all concluded there was something very off about me, and it was really just nothing more than an insult. “Here, let me help you, god knows you’ll never be able to do anything right on your own.” I’m sure it would have been even worse if I was officially “the autistic kid”.

    Nice that it’s from the opposition team I guess, but also, ouch. I’m not sure we should be applauding this kind of showy condescension. There are times when it’s appropriate to help people who aren’t doing as well, and times when it’s just to show off how good a person you are to the other people who aren’t actually thinking about anybody’s well-being.

  • Jim Roberts

    For what it’s worth, you seemed clear to me, and I have the same misgivings when I see people talking to a captive public. Yes, they have to have the right to do so, if free specch means anything, but it’s still deeply irksome.

  • T’would explain the ongoing push to try and find new things to arrest people for, such as when Fred noted an increasing tendency to send police officers after teenagers for relatively minor in-school disciplinary offences.

  • Jim Roberts

    I don’t think the kid who passed the ball was showing off. In fact, in order to think that, I’d have to think he’s a liar, which I prefer not to do unless shown otherwise. My son’s just getting into basketball, and his coach is really, really big on teaching the game as a team sport, and respect for the other team and its players. They help each other up off the ground, congratulate the other team on a particularly good shot.

    The kid in the video was known, I’m sure. In high school ball, you tend to play the same team two or three times a season, and if the player who passed the ball had been playing for a few years, he’d probably seen this very excited and energetic young man on the sidelines and, since he’s a decent fellow, probably overheard the other team talking about their efforts to get him a basket.

    So, you’re behind by 15 or so points, last game of the year, maybe the last game of your high school career, maybe. The other team has this kid whose playing his first and only game of ball ever. You remember how awesome it felt when you sank your first basket. You remember your mom telling you to be kind, baby, just be kind. You’re a mass of seething hormones barely capable of conscious intent anyway, being an adrenalized teenage male. You pass the ball.

    I get that kid. I understand where he was coming from, and it’s a good place to come from.

    I’m not going to tell you that you can’t think the kid was doing is just to show off, you’re welcome to that opinion, but I will say that believing that is cynical, and that maybe we could with less of that.

  • Maniraptor

    You misunderstand me. I don’t care how that kid feels. I care about how the other kid feels.

  • It refuses to engage (engagement is what Phelps’ people really want, because they make a living suing people who lose their tempers).

    What I do wonder though is if the realize how much a risk they are taking.  All it takes is one person they push too far who happens to have a concealed Glock with them to turn what would otherwise be an opportunity for litigation into a second-degree multiple murder.  Protesting a school or the Oscars is unlikely to produce such a response, but a funeral might, particularly if someone there was already potentially devastated and unhinged by the prior tragedy.  

    I would want to be able to confront one of the living Phelps clan afterward and ask them gently, “Was it worth it?”

  • Jim Roberts

    Ah. Given his face in the video afterward, I’d go with pretty damned fabulous.

    I do agree that it’s possible to do something nice in a condescending way, like the guy at Target who held the door open for a lady in an electric wheelchair. The automatic door open for the lady in an electric wheelchair.

  • To be fair, some of them have timers which cut the circuit inconveniently early so half the time they end up closing as you’re still going through.

    Why yes, I have had this happen with shopping carts at a Safeway.

  • I am just amazed that in the ~15 years or so the WBC has been racketing about on the US stage, that nobody’s been shot yet.

  • Rowen

     As a New Yorker, you learn to just block that stuff out. A good half of the incidents of “Someone on the train didn’t give up their seat for an elderly person/person with a cane/pregnant person/etc” are usually because we put in our headphones and take a nap, zone out, read a book, whatever, and just mentally block out everything until our stop.

  • Mobius IO

    “Faith in Humanity restored…”
    This video is no longer available
    due to a copyright claim by CBS.

    Somehow If find this the most perfect summation of the world that we live in that I have heard in a long time.

  • AnonymousSam

    xkcd hit it awhile ago…

  • Nonsense. Libertarians don’t favor farm subsidies; thus, they don’t favor a strong American agricultural sector.

  • Throwing out more good news in an absurdly long post:

    Remember that Evangelist movement Fred blogs approvingly about here?

    I Was A Stranger”

    I just came across another story about it on the website of the Colorado weekly Spanish-language paper, Viva Colorado:

    Evangélicos promueven reforma migratoria

    They don’t seem to have an English-language version up as they sometimes do, but I’ll quote and roughly translate the bit that made me blink in delighted surprise. Because not only does it specifically mention Colorado as one of three key states in which this Evangelical push toward a truly Biblical approach to immigration (which matters to me because I live here) (the other two being Florida and Texas–Texas!), but it says that Evangelical Immigration Table also enjoys the support of Focus on the Family.

    Focus on the Family y unos 200 grupos y congregaciones evangélicas menos conocidas han resultado sorpresivos promotores de controvertidas reformas que permitirían que inmigrantes sin papeles permanecieran en el país.

    Focus on the Family and some 200 less well-known Evangelical groups and congregations have turned out to be surprising promoters of controversial reforms that permit undocumented immigrants to stay in the country.

    Focus on the Family got behind that! Seriously!

    Admittedly, the story later quotes Tom Minnery of FotF as saying that FotF, while agreeing that families should not be destroyed in the name of Border Security, does not recognize same-sex couples as families. But, y’know, baby steps. If by getting to know undocumented immigrants as real people with real needs, fears, hopes and struggles, FotF began seeing their families as families worth focusing on, the natural trajectory of that is getting to know gay people as real people with real needs etc. and real families etc. Baby steps. It gives me hope.

    Another bit I liked (emphasis mine)

    Líderes evangélicos dicen que la mayoría de los creyentes de esa fe, que hace seis años afirmaron en una encuesta del Centro de Investigaciones Pew que los inmigrantes eran una amenaza para la cultura estadounidense y una carga para la economía, están cambiando de parecer luego de volver a leer la Biblia, pensando en los inmigrantes.

    Evangelical leaders say that the majority of their faith’s believers, who six years ago asserted in a survey from Pew Research Center that immigrants were a threat to US culture and a burden on the econmy, are changing due to apparently having returned to reading the Bible in light of immigration.