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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

With a number of natural disasters raging across the country this year, and political discourse at its peak, it's important to remember that there is good news out there.

The bottom line: Americans are pulling together, every day, to help one another; there are medical advances that will help millions, and not even D.C. is that bad all the time. But, much of the good news never makes headlines.

1. The kids are alright

Teen birth rates hit a new low in 2016, dropping 9% since 2015 and 67% since 1991. And Washington University found that teens aren't abusing alcohol or drugs, or engaging in "delinquent behavior" as much as they used to.

2. We're more environmentally friendly

Boston has joined other cities in banning single-use plastic bags. St. Louis committed to a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035 — it currently gets only 5% of its energy from renewable sources.

3. Technology is making a difference

Tesla restored electricity to a children's hospital in Puerto Rico after it was hit by hurricanes in September, and a North Carolina police department used a drone to find a missing 81-year-old woman with dementia within 25 minutes of her disappearance.

4. Medical advances are helping millions

The FDA cleared an earpiece that may help block symptoms of opioid withdrawal. And Portal Instruments, a private medical device company licensed from MIT, has made a needle-free drug injection device.

5. The economy is booming

13 states saw record-lows of unemployment this year; nationally, the unemployment level is at the lowest it has been since 2000. And financial satisfaction hit a 24-year high this year.

6. We're becoming more tolerant

Support for allowing same-sex marriage is at its highest point in 20 years, according to a Pew Research survey. For the first time, a majority of Baby Boomers (56%) favor allowing same-sex marriage, and almost the same amount of Republicans favor allowing it (47%) as opposing it (48%).

7. Space exploration

Vice President Mike Pence said in October that the U.S. "will return...to the moon not only to leave behind footprints and flags but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond." In September, NASA's Cassini spacecraft ended its journey after bringing us some incredible findings.

8. Neighbors are looking out for one another

A man in North Carolina has started the non-profit ChemoCars, a service that provides cancer patients with free rides to and from their chemo treatments. More than 6,000 Texas inmates decided to donate $53,863 of their commissary funds to Hurricane Harvey victims. And, a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $11 million for the victims of the horrific Las Vegas shooting in October that left 58 people dead, and hundreds injured.

9. American philanthropy is reaching beyond our borders

Uber partnered with the charity Whizz-Kidz to give those who use wheelchairs in the UK free rides to polling places this summer. And The Carter Center, run by former President Jimmy Carter, announced in October that it helped eliminate the disfiguring tropical disease elephantiasis from two states in Nigeria, where it was the most prevalent.

Editor's Note: Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our smart brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

Driving the news: James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

4 hours ago - World

Putin to demand legal guarantee against NATO expansion in call with Biden

Biden and Putin meeting in Geneva in June. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand east — including to Ukraine — and plans to raise the issue in an upcoming phone call with President Biden, according to the Kremlin.

Why it matters: Russia has massed more than 94,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and could be preparing for a large-scale invasion at the end of January, Ukraine's defense minister said Friday.