Chicken little forecast

Still Chugging Along

Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.


What Could Go Right? Ten good news stories about kids

And, have police killings in the US gone up or down over time?

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

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Ten good news stories about kids

Every once in a while, other outlets do my job for me. This 2022 roundup from Human Rights Watch came out in December, but there was so much news in it that The Progress Network (TPN) team hadn’t previously caught in our news trawl that I would like to share it anyway, though a touch on the late side. Their “ten good news stories for kids” is actually about kids, not for them, and includes far more than just ten. Click to read it all—there’s no paywall—but here are some favorites. Quoting directly:

  • Zambia and Mauritius banned all corporal punishment of children, while Comoros banned corporal punishment in schools, and Cuba banned it in the home and alternative care. Sixty-five countries now prohibit all violent punishment of children. Forty years ago, there was only one.  
  • Cuba, England, Mauritius, Wales, and Zambia ended all child marriage. England, Mauritius, and Wales eliminated exceptions that allowed children under 18 to wed, while Cuba’s new Family Code raised the marriage age from 14 to 18.
  • Nigeria and Burkina Faso each agreed to end the military detention of children suspected of involvement with armed groups and ensure they receive support in reintegrating.
  • In the United States, the supreme courts of New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee ruled that extreme sentences for child offenders were unconstitutional.

Tyre Nichols, revisited

We received a lot of feedback on our last newsletter about Tyre Nichols. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I wanted to add two additional points to the discussion from last week. One is to zoom out, as we often do here at TPN, to acknowledge the progress that has been made when it comes to police killings. Take headlines such as this Guardian one that killings by US police have reached a record high in 2022 with a grain of salt. This makes it sound like the police have gotten more deadly over time, when the opposite is true:

Source: Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

The Guardian article linked to above does clarify in the body text that the “record high” is counting from 2013. And it is true that the number of people killed by police has gone up since then. But it is not as large of an increase as your mind might assume after reading “record high.” In 2022, the police killed 1,192 people. In 2013, it was 1,085. (You might be wondering why outlets are comparing against 2013 specifically—it’s because the push to collect better data started around then.)

This data, which records police killings by month, is from Mapping Police Violence, a site run by activist Samuel Sinyangwe. You can see how the data is collected here, including whether the person killed was armed or unarmed, and other specificities. Tracking data on police violence is notoriously difficult in the US. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has limited data. The Washington Post has their own database for deadly shootings only.

This is not to say that we should sit idly by and allow increases to continue. We want to see the numbers going the other way, of course. And the US has a particular issue when it comes to holding overly violent officers responsible as well as, as evidenced by data, racial disparities among those killed by the police. (Black people are killed most often, at 7.26 killings per one million people, followed very closely by Native Americans, at 7.24. For comparison, the Latino rate is 3.26, and white, 2.64.) But I did want to highlight what patient pushing has already accomplished, so that we can approach the discussion from an accurate historical view. 

Two, I had planned to share this opinion piece from conservative writer and activist David French in the Department of Ideas section, on the “bad apples vs. systemic issues” debate on police violence, but decided to give it greater prominence here in the introduction since its sensibility is hard to find these days. French takes the “systemic issues” position, considering, as I did last week, the lack of accountability when it comes to police violence in the US. But which vantage point is correct is actually not the article’s main focus; rather, it’s a reminder that no matter which “side” we’re on, to remain open-minded and inquisitive when it comes to the narratives being passed to us and that we pass around in turn. 

I would also add to French’s thoughts the importance of resisting the urge to limit our compassion and empathy to “our side.” We can be both supportive of all the good people working in law enforcement and supportive of accountability and reform so that cases like Nichols’ are truly rare events. I believe that kind of all-encompassing view is our natural human inclination and within all of our abilities, when we are not blown off-course by political-tribal headwinds.

Before we go

Kenya is the first African nation to formally discuss the right to disconnect. This month the Kenyan Parliament will consider a new bill that would bar employers from contacting workers after hours or on weekends. If passed, Kenya would join France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, and parts of Canada and Australia that have enacted rules around when your boss can bother you. In other work-related news, Maryland’s government may pilot a four-day workweek, awarding tax credits to those companies willing to give it a try.

By summertime this year, Australian psychiatrists will be allowed to prescribe MDMA and psilocybin for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, respectively. There are a lot of unanswered questions, as well as hoops to jump through for psychiatrists interested in the medicines for their patients, but it’s interesting to see this trend gain some steam. Switzerland allows limited use of MDMA and psilocybin, and the US may follow Australia’s example very soon, potentially in 2024.

Below in the links section, the palm oil industry cleans up its act, Gambia makes democratic gains, clean energy jobs soar in the US, and more.

The 2020s have so far been the safest decade in history for natural disasters, as deaths from natural disasters have dropped significantly over the past hundred years.

Progress, Please

(Found good news? Tweet at us @progressntwrk or email.)

Other good stuff in the news 🔋

Energy & Environment:

Science & Tech:

Politics & Policy:

Public Health:

Society & Culture:


TPN Member originals 🧠

(Who are our Members? Get to know them.)

Department of Life’s Mysteries 💡
(We’re taking a break from the Department of Ideas today for some fun reminders that there are plenty of things about life that we are still discovering.)

One, scientists found out that ice can take a form we’ve never seen before, called “medium-density amorphous ice,” which may play a role in our search for life on other planets.

Two, say hello to a new species of anglerfish, a type of fish that looks like a “satanic potato” and whose mating strategies bring commitment to a whole new level: “A male latches on to a female, their body tissues fuse, and he never lets go.” 

And three, step aside, librarians. A transcription service powered by AI discovered a previously unknown play by a famous Spanish author.

Until Next Time

BREAKING: President to show up and say something to Congress. 🚨😲

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Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas is the Executive Director of The Progress Network. An editor and writer specializing in nonprofit media, she was formerly Executive Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is the editor of two books from Wisdom Publications.