China’s Rural Migrants — Three of China’s most populous regions will relax school entry restrictions for the children of rural migrants, as activists push for household registration (hukou) reform, reports Reuters. Currently, high school students in China are only allowed to sit for university entrance exams where they are registered, a regulation that locks out children of migrant workers in cities from educational opportunities afforded to registered urban residents. According to China National Radio, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong Province will “phase in access to the higher-education exams for students living within their borders,” writes Reuters.
Torture in Mexico — Human rights groups and a Los Angeles Times investigation have revealed that the use of torture by Mexico’s state security forces had increased dramatically under the government of former President Felipe Calderón. State security agencies reportedly inflicted various forms of torture, including “waterboarding”, sexual assault, mock executions and electric shocks to genitals on detainees. “Calderón’s war on drug cartels eliminated a number of notorious traffickers but chalked up an abysmal human rights record,” writes the daily. The Times also notes that the ex-president’s administration did not investigate “systematic” torture, even after the practice was exposed.
Good News — The Christian Science Monitor has picked the top 7 “good news” stories of 2012. The best news this year, according to CSM, was the significant progress made in global health, including the 50% drop of AIDS infections compared to 10 years ago, Kazakhstan becoming malaria-free and the 60% drop in maternal mortality in the Republic of Congo. In the U.S., the sales boom of electric cars — a 280% increase in sales over 2011 — was picked as the second best news story. CSM’s other positive stories of the year include the return of manufacturing jobs to the U.S., the political opening of Burma, the halving of extreme poverty worldwide and the drop in Mexico’s drug-related murders.