But Ms. Thunberg’s activism was only the second most frequently cited piece of news. Reflecting the high pitch of partisan feeling, the largest number of nods went to the impeachment of President Trump. “It gives me hope that we can salvage our democracy,” Sharon wrote from Maryland. Some readers expressed admiration for the whistleblower and the government officials who had the courage to testify before Congress — with a particular salute to the three immigrants among the witnesses. From the other side of the aisle, Richard in Texas cited the appointment of U.S. Attorney John Durham “to investigate the origin of the phony Russia collusion story,” and Tom in Maine said the best news of the year was Mr. Trump continuing to keep his promises to reduce taxes and regulations.
Many of you, however, found good news far from our political strife. Several found inspiration in Simone Biles becoming the most decorated gymnast of all time. “Simone shows what grit and determination can do,” Marti wrote from Houston. Others cited scientific and engineering advances, such as “solar energy capture maximization utilizing computer controls”; advances in “wearable biosensor technology”; and, as John wrote from Florida, “the amazing progress in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and astronomy” that “will have an outsize impact on our future.”
Arun in Mumbai rejoiced that in India homosexuality is no longer a crime. “This ban was a carry over from colonial times,” he wrote. “It was a long, difficult struggle for the Gay community. But they persisted with the majority of the people and they finally won.”
Breakthroughs for women met with applause. Several readers cheered the number of women taking their seats in Congress, the number of women running for president and the elevation of women to the statehouse speakerships in Maryland and Virginia. Karen wrote from Britain to celebrate Karen Uhlenbeck, a retired University of Texas at Austin professor who became the first woman to win the prestigious Abel Prize in mathematics.
Congress banning animal cruelty was hailed. “Animals are vulnerable and too often the victims of ignorance and brutality in human society,” Helen wrote from Georgia. Others recognized animal news with significance for endangered species, such as the birth of a black rhino in a Michigan zoo and an increase in the population of wild tigers in India.
Readers cited items we had missed during the year, such as Panama becoming the first Central American nation to ban single-use plastic bags, and items that we also had celebrated, such as Congress authorizing research into gun violence for the first time in two decades. One reader celebrated the law allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter; another, progress in the development of an anti-malaria vaccine. Ken from New Jersey cited a milestone: Renewable sources surpassed coal as a source of energy in the United States.
Rebecca in Arizona hailed a groundswell of help for asylum-seekers in her hometown of Tucson. “It’s so heartwarming to realize that good generous people still exist in this world and are willing to help others,” she wrote.
We agree. And we also are grateful to the readers who reminded us that often the best news is found close to home. A woman in Kansas told us that, thanks to DNA testing, at age 78, she found her birth mother, “still alive at 101, and an extended family I didn’t know I had.” David in Honolulu wrote, “We became grandparents!” Why was that the best news? “Family, and hope for the future!” A reader in Virginia, “who couldn’t get a date to save my life in high school,” celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. And Leah wrote from Seattle to hail “the birth of my sweet baby.”
Congratulations, Leah. We wish you and your baby many happy returns — and may all of us find more good news in 2020.