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A bit of good news

The news in recent days has been fiercely grim. The irritation of having political leaders incapable of feeling embarrassed by their partial government shutdown only makes the stomach queasy as we think of the problems to come for our nation. And of course the outrage felt on the deaths of two boys, 12 and 11 years old, murdered along with their dad in a Marion home on Dec. 30, stays on one's mind.

We know nothing to make up for any of this in what is a rather somber New Year's season. Just know that the world keeps turning and good does have its victories.

As an example, deaths from cancer dropped 27 percent over a quarter century. That means an estimated 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths during that period, according to a new report from researchers at the American Cancer Society.

During most of the 20th century, overall cancer deaths rose, driven mainly by men dying from lung cancer, say researchers as quoted by the Wall Street Journal. But that peaked in 1991. Since then the cancer death rate has steadily dropped 1.5 percent a year through 2016.

The report credits persistent efforts to reduce smoking as well as better detection and treatment of cancer in early stages, when chances for recovery are generally better.

"Men had a 34 percent total decline in cancer mortality, compared with 24 percent for women, largely tracking lower trends in smoking," according to the WSJ article. "Lung-cancer incidence is declining twice as fast among men as women, which in part reflects that women historically took up smoking in large numbers later and were slower to quit."

By the way, if you haven't quit smoking, please stop.

This report is good news.

Also know that the ever-present problem of poverty is having a tougher time of it worldwide in 2019 as more and more people enjoy wealth in numbers never dreamed of a generation or two ago.

There is now a middle class filled with consumers in places once considered third world.

We have our dilemmas. There is no denying a decay of virtue within the culture of the West, which has nasty consequences across time. But amid perennial terrorism and the ever constant crisis of blind hate, in many places people are moving in a good direction. Let's not forget to be grateful for that as we confront more challenges ahead.