Thought some positive news from the world of medicine would provide some needed contrast:
"U.S. Childhood Cancer Death Rate Declines Sharply"
The cancer death rate for children in the United States has declined sharply -- down 20 percent from 1990 to 2004 -- thanks to better treatment of leukemia and other cancers, health officials said on Thursday.
...The cancer death rate for U.S. children was 34.2 per million for children up to age 19 in 1990, but fell to 27.3 per million in 2004, the CDC said. This death rate has declined 1.7 percent per year during this period, according to the CDC.
"It's not that we're having less cancer diagnosed. The incidence rates, the new-case rates are the same. It's just that we're getting better survival," the CDC's Dr. Lori Pollack said in a telephone interview.
"'Dramatic' Fall in Measles Deaths"
Measles deaths in Africa fell by 91% between 2000 and 2006, figures from the World Health Organization show. The drop, from an estimated 396,000 to 36,000, means the United Nations target to cut measles deaths by 90% by 2010 has been hit four years early.
Overall global measles deaths fell by 68% - from an estimated 757,000 to 242,000 - over the six year period, a WHO report showed.
"U.S. Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall"
They found important declines in deaths from lung, prostate and colorectal cancers in men, as well as in breast and colon cancer among women. Lung cancer deaths were still on the rise among women but this increase slowed, according to the report."The significant decline in cancer death rates demonstrates important progress in the fight against cancer that has been achieved through effective tobacco control, screening, early detection, and appropriate treatment," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said in a statement.
“US Life Expectancy”
US life expectancy - both at birth and at age 65 - continues to increase year after year. As of 2003, it is at 80 years at birth and 20 years at 65 for women. For men, it is 75 years at birth and 17 at age 65.
Here is the mother-lode of the US data (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf. Warning: This is a HUGE file, all sorts of data on 559 pages). I will be looking for 2007 data in due course of time.
“Child mortality 'at record low'”
Fewer children under the age of five are dying, thanks to immunisation programmes and anti-malaria measures, the UN children's agency, Unicef, says. Worldwide, the number of young children who died in 2006 dropped below 10 million for the first time, it said.
Note that these are lows in terms of absolute numbers. That means that in terms of relative numbers or percentages, the story is even better.
I found all these at It's Getting Better All the Time.