As 2019 comes to its end, the Islands’ Sounder is sharing a recap of the news events that affected the islands this year in our annual top stories compilation. We’d also like to take some time to look beyond the borders of our island community at some good news on a global scale.
Here are some of our favorites:
• The Ocean Cleanup organization announced in October that it successfully collected trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for recycling.
• The humpback whale surged back from near-extinction, only 450 remained in the early 1900s, and now they number more than 25,000.
• The 221st spacewalk was conducted entirely by women — National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch.
• Austria and Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage. Botswana decriminalized homosexuality.
• Stem cell transplant makes a London patient’s HIV “undetectable” — a step toward finding a cure.
• The first-ever photo of a black hole was made.
• The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team won the world cup in 2019, a historic fourth win.
• British royalty Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, who were married in May 2018, welcomed baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Though they decided their son will not use a royal title, Archie is seventh in line for the throne.
• Sixteen-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg spent the last year inspiring people across the globe to stand up to the world’s governments and corporations and demand action addressing climate change. For this, Time Magazine named her its “Person of the Year.”
• Seoul, South Korea, closed all dog butcheries this year, and the Netherlands became the first country in the world to eliminate all stray dogs — not by euthanasia, but through education, free veterinary care and re-homing.
• The United States made animal cruelty a felony; China issued guidelines stating that from 2020 non-animal testing will be the preferred method for cosmetic products, and in Australia, cosmetics companies were banned from using data derived from animal testing.
• Brazil’s Supreme Court criminalized homophobia and transphobia. This made violence against LGBT+ people a crime and made it illegal to deny access to education or jobs, to refuse service in stores and to bar LGBT+ people from public buildings.
• In news of the weird, more than two million people RSVP’d to a Facebook event to “Storm Area 51.” According to the Associated Press, about 75 people showed up.
• Argentina and Algeria are declared malaria-free by the World Health Organization, making a total of 38 countries and territories free of the disease.
• Saudi Arabian women were granted the right to travel without a male relative’s permission, to receive equal treatment in the workplace and to obtain family documents from the government.