Life is tough and the news cycle ain’t helping anything right now. Disaster, drama, and death sell papers and get eyeballs on the page but they don’t do much for our mental health.
If you’ve felt like simply switching off from the constant barrage of updates charting the world’s lurch from one crisis to the next, we’re here to provide you with a much-needed antidote.
Good stuff happens all the time. It just doesn’t get quite the same coverage as bad stuff. That means we end up thinking that everything that’s going on in the world is terrible when it really isn’t.
Here are five of the best news stories we’ve seen this week to put a spring in your step and make the world feel just that little bit brighter.
Study Finds That Lots of Animals Can Laugh
In unbelievably cute news, depending on your opinion of the animals, researchers have been tickling rats to find out if other animals have a sense of humour.
The new research, published by the University of California Los Angeles, has found that “at least” 65 different species of animal have the capacity for laughter.
Only a few years ago we had thought that it was just humans and some other primates who could laugh. However, it turns out that most animals who vocalise laughter do it at frequencies undetectable to the human ear.
“When we laugh, we are often providing information to others that we are having fun and also inviting others to join,” the researchers write.
“Some scholars have suggested that this kind of vocal behaviour is shared across many animals who play, and as such, laughter is our human version of an evolutionarily old vocal play signal”.
The research confirms that play is an integral part of how animal societies are organised and that many more animals than just humans love to do so. Anyway, here’s a video of researchers tickling rats for science:
Autocracy on The Decline Across the World
“The conventional wisdom these days is that autocracy is ascendent, democracy on the decline,” writes Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.
However, the annual World Report from the human rights charity has found that actually, autocratic governments are on the decline while democracy is on the rise across the world.
“As people see that unaccountable rulers inevitably prioritize their own interests over the public’s, the popular demand for rights-respecting democracy often remains strong,” he said.
“In country after country, large numbers of people have recently taken to the streets, even at the risk of being arrested or shot. There are few rallies for autocratic rule”.
This is great news for global equality and justice, however Roth cautions that autocratic leaders only look bad when democracies do their jobs well. He writes that we need to ensure that our democracies are stepping up global and domestic challenges and show non-democratic countries that societies function better when everyone gets a say.
Celebrity Pirate Kitty Gets New Forever Home
For years, residents of Ferny Hills in north-west Brisbane have been visited by a tiny ginger thief, bringing ‘gifts’ to their houses, usually in the form of stuffed toys.
Nicknamed Pirate Kitty, the cat wandered the streets, popping into peoples gardens and rewarding those who showed it kindness with items of clothing, toys, and other miscellaneous objects it had found along its travels.
The cat actually did have owners, who struggled to keep it inside, however they recently decided that they could no longer look after him safely and he was in need of a new home.
Ferny Hill residents, the Moyle family, have decided that they will take him in, saying that they are big Pirate Kitty fans. The cat has since been renamed Kylo as this is apparently the only name he responds to. He is now an indoor cat but the family are continuing to share updates of his domestic adventures with the community on social media.
Protesters Who Threw Racist Statue in a River Cleared of Criminal Charges
In one of our favourite stories of 2021, a statue of slaveholder and all-around horrible person was uprooted and rolled into a nearby river in the UK city of Bristol as the country went through its own Black Lives Matter moment.
Edward Colston, the man the statue depicts, was a 17th-century slave trader who worked with the Royal African Company. Because of his philanthropic work, his name is plastered all over the city and this hasn’t sat well with many residents for some years. Because the council refused to remove the statue, protesters took matters into their own hands, giving him the send-off he deserved.
The move was highly controversial in the UK, with some claiming it was an attack on history. Others however saw no reason why the city should continue honouring slave traders and more still looked around for other statues that “wanted a swim” across the country.
The Colston Four, as the group of protesters who lead the attack on the statue have become known, were charged with criminal damage. However, because of huge community support, not least of all from local legend Banksy, the jury found the group not guilty earlier this week.
Afghan Baby Reunited With Family After Separation During Evacuation of Afghanistan
In a truly heartwarming piece to come out of the awful evacuation of Kabul last year, a baby has been reunited with his family in the US after months of searching.
The baby, Sohail Ahmadi, was just two months old when he was handed in desperation over the airport wall in Kabul as his parents hoped to save him from the looming Taliban invasion of the city. In the confusion, he appears to have been left at the airport where he was found by a taxi driver who has been looking after him for the past 6 months or so.
Ahmadi’s family, who had been pushed back by the Taliban after passing him over the wall, had been told that he had been taken on and that, as they were flown out of the country, they would be reunited with him at their destination.
However, when they arrived in Texas, they had no idea where he went and for months they searched for their missing child. It was only after a Reuters story, detailing how a family had found a baby at the airport and were now raising him as their own, was published did the family manage to piece the events together.
After some debate, the baby was handed back to his grandfather and will stay with them until he can be brought safely back to his family in the United States.