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.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Released from Jail, Back in the UK
For those of you who don’t know, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British-Iranian aid worker who was imprisoned in Iran for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. It’s a bizarre case in which this regular woman who went to Iran on holiday was taken in by the Iranian police and accused of spying.
She’s sat in an Iranian jail cell for the past five years despite none of the allegations ever having been proved and her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has been campaigning for years to have her released back to the UK.
The case has long dominated British headlines, due in no small part to the fact that UK PM Boris Johnson declared she was there to teach journalism, something that was taken by the Iranian authorities as proof she was engaging in “propaganda against the regime.”
Her long ordeal has finally come to an end this week with news that Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been released following a $730 million payment by the UK government to Iran for debts it supposedly owes dating back to the 70s. She will once again be reunited with her husband and daughter Gabriella.
Here’s the BBC breaking the news:
powerful moment as the BBC first reports that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is on her way home after 6 years. a lot of people have been waiting a long time to be able to say that pic.twitter.com/AXZJrOEl1J
— Matthew Champion (@matthewchampion) March 16, 2022
To Ukraine, With Love
Almost everything happening in Ukraine right now is difficult to watch from afar. However, just because times are hard and war is all around, that hasn’t stopped the best in people from shining through.
Stories have been pouring out showcasing all the ways in which people are trying their hardest to help people stuck in the country, or support those who have fled.
One example is the Italian pianist, Davide Martello, who travelled for 17 hours from Germany to Poland with his piano to play music for refugees as they arrived in the country from Ukraine. Martello has made his journies something of a habit, and has turned up to play for refugees and survivors of conflict across Europe before with his “playing for peace.”
In the UK, a former marine loaded up a 16-seater minibus with supplies and drove from the UK to the Polish border to deliver them to those fleeing the conflict.
We’ve also seen the granddaughter of a woman saved by a Ukrainian woman during the Holocaust repay the favour by taking in the granddaughters of that woman fleeing the current war.
On the other side of this pointless war, we’ve also seen incredible displays of bravery and courage from everyday Russian people who have been risking their lives and their freedom to protest against it.
Thousands of everyday Russians have been arrested and detained for protesting the war in what is being seen as a failure of the Russian propaganda machine to control its citizens. One TV station, TV Rain, saw their entire staff walkout live on air while they played the same version of Swan Lake that was shown on Russian TVs during the collapse of the USSR. Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova was held for 14-hours after she interrupted a live broadcast by holding up a sign saying “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here”.
These acts are monumental given that even describing what Russia is doing in Ukraine as a ‘war’ is illegal in the country and journalists and dissidents have been killed for speaking out against the actions of the Russian state.
In honour of their bravery, the former Governor of California and all-round legend Arnold Schwartzenegger has released this moving statement which commends the protestors as “heroes” and calls on Putin to stop the war:
I love the Russian people. That is why I have to tell you the truth. Please watch and share. pic.twitter.com/6gyVRhgpFV
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 17, 2022
A new Ngarrindjeri language and culture programme has been established at Renmark High School in South Australia’s Riverland to teach students the local language and traditions of the Indigenous custodians.
Working with local Indigenous leaders, the programme sees Ngarrindjeri taught like French or German to students at the school, along with history, stories, and culture.
The programme was originally intended for Year 8 and 9 students, but due to the overwhelming interest and demand for the classes, the school has had to cap attendance to Year 8 students only.
The school plans to expand access in the coming years and hopes that it can be an example to other schools around the country of the interest and passion for Indigenous culture that Australia’s young people have.
This one was absolutely too cute not to share. A new study has found that affection from dogs may be effective at releasing pain, making pats medically significant.
The study, which was carried out by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, gave more than 100 patients in emergency rooms ten minutes with a therapy dog, asking them to report their pain levels before and after. Results indicated that playing with a dog appeared to lower reported pain in individuals, confirming what we all already knew; dogs are the best.
“There is research showing that pets are an important part of our health in different ways. They motivate us, they get us up, (give us) routines, the human-animal bond,” said lead study author Colleen Dell.