Not a comprehensive listing, but events and milestones I found especially noteworthy.
We got a genuine global deal on climate
. All major countries are now committed to real action against the greatest long-term threat to our species. Even further steps may, and probably will, turn out to be necessary, but the Paris agreement -- combined with the growing use and falling costs of non-fossil-fuel energy -- gives us a fighting chance to save the planet.
It was the best year yet for gay equality
. The Irish Republic -- formerly one of the most rigidly Catholic countries on Earth -- overwhelmingly approved gay marriage in a referendum
. Soon afterwards, Supreme Court rulings in the US and Mexico legalized it nationwide in those countries. Despite dire Christian Right warnings of upheaval and mass protest, there was little serious reaction. Gay marriage -- and homosexuality itself -- are now accepted in most of the Western world.
Anti-gay religious hysteria reached a crescendo
. While the Christian Right failed to rally any mass action against gay marriage, their hate rhetoric reached the point of complete meltdown
-- and I don't expect their rage to die down any time soon, because gay acceptance is a turning point in the existential culture war
that has been raging for almost two millennia.
The Republican fascist tendency came out into the open
. Yes, we
know they've been going dangerously crazy since at least 2009, with the rise of the Tea Party, increasingly-overt racism, and a fevered nihilistic urge to fight anything and everything Obama does no matter what it costs the country and the world. But Donald Trump's rhetoric, and the terrifying support it has won from a third of the Republican base, have made the problem so undeniable that even many Republicans
are now openly denouncing the fascist cancer
consuming their party.
The US and Iran reached agreement
-- a verifiable end to the nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. The deal, which remains on track so far
, will prevent a still-dangerous regime from building nuclear weapons, and essentially ends the risk of a US-Iran war (unless a Republican wins the Presidency next year). And such a major win for President Rouhani will strengthen reformist and liberalizing elements in the Middle East's most important country.
The tide turned against Dâ'ish (ISIL)
. After their wave of expansion in Iraq and Syria was blunted by Kurdish and Arab forces with Western air support, the extremists launched a series of terrorist attacks -- Beirut, the Russian airliner over Sinai, Paris, and San Bernardino -- making Russia and France all the more determined to help crush them. While they succeeded in provoking a wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence in the US, playing into their hands, they could not change the fact that the war has turned against them
, recently losing the cities of Sinjar and now Ramadi
The Dothan horror came to light
. Surely the most under-reported US story of the year -- in just one small city in Alabama, a police conspiracy dating back to the 1990s framed hundreds of black men
by planting evidence. Yet attention from the MSM and even the liberal blogosphere was minimal. How much more of this kind of thing is going on around the country that we still haven't found out about?
We finally stopped the %$#@!&# Keystone pipeline
once and for all. Damn thing has been harder to kill than Dracula, but Obama's veto did it
. Perhaps there is really hope that the country will break its deadly fossil-fuel addiction.
About sixty million people died from aging
in 2015, just as another sixty million had died from this scourge in 2014, and yet another sixty million will die from it in 2016. Aging kills far more people every year than all other causes of death -- war, murder, accidents, epidemics, etc. -- combined. We can beat this thing, with determination and hard work
, but we need to overcome the robotic hypnotized state most people remain in, believing that aging and death are inevitable and must simply be accepted just because it was always that way in the past. Victory over aging would end more suffering and save more lives than anything else we could ever hope to accomplish.