5 Positive News Stories to Lift Your Spirits This Week

new zealand drug checking

Positive News is an ongoing series from The Latch turning the spotlight on all the good in the world that you may have missed.

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.

Snoop Dogg Gave Out 2,500 Turkeys in His Local Area for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays in the American callendar and, while we don’t celebrate it here, we appreciate that it’s an important time for families in the US to get together. Much like Christmas, Thanksgiving also puts a lot of financial pressure on families, particularly those doing it tough, of which there are a lot more right now, thanks to COVID.

In Inglewood, a suburb of Los Angeles in California, Snoop Dogg and members of the American Football teams the Rams and the Chargers joined together for their seventh annual turkey giveaway, handing out over 2,500 birds to people in need.

“As a kid, I dreamed of a lot of things and to be able to give back was one of the things that I’ve always dreamed about,” said Snoop Dogg.

“Because I was a kid that wanted it and had aspirations, so once I became successful and was able to connect with the mayor and connect with a city like Inglewood, to be able to give back annually, and to make sure it really touches the community.”

Portugal Closes Its Last Coal-Fired Power Station Well Ahead of Schedule

Portugal this week closed its final coal-fired power station, bringing to an end an era of burning the most polluting fossil fuel for energy needs. It joins four other European Union nations in doing so; Belgium, Austria, and Sweden.

The environmental group Zero responded to the news by saying that the Pego plant in central Portugal was the second-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the country and that “freeing ourselves from the biggest source of greenhouse gases was a momentous day for Portugal”.

Portugal had not been scheduled to get off the coal until 2030 and already gets around 65% of its energy from renewable sources. Campaigners added that the next step would be to ensure the energy supply was not replaced with gas and that Portugal powers ahead with its renewable energy transition.

Drug Policy Shifts As Countries Turn Towards Harm Reduction

It’s been a big week in the drug policy space as not one but two countries move away from criminalising people who use drugs and towards helping them avoid danger and possible death.

On  Wednesday, New Zealand became the first country in the world to legalise drug checking as it signed into law a permanent extension of a trial programme that had been running in the country for the past year that would allow festival-goers to test their drugs for free before taking them. The practice has prevented a number of potential bad incidents over the years where it has been carried out in places like the UK and the ACT.

While remaining neutral on the stance of drug use, this approach seeks to ensure people do not accidentally die from ingesting toxins contaminating their drugs. It also offers free advice and information on the harms that drug use can cause and provides people with empowering knowledge about their choices, rather than simply locking them up which has been shown time and again to cause more harm than it solves.

On the same day, Germany too made a similar move, announcing a raft of new measures that would make drug use safer for people in the country. Not only will drug checking now be legal under the incoming administration, but recreational cannabis use will now be regulated while other harm reduction approaches are emphasised. Take note, Australia, the times are well and truly changing.

Great Barrier Reef Explodes in “World’s Biggest Sex Event”

We’re not talking about Queensland swingers clubs here; the Great Barrier Reef is currently undergoing a mass coral spawning that sees trillions of sperm and eggs released into the ocean in plumes of red, yellow, and orange.

This is just how coral get down, and they need the perfect conditions in order to do so. Researchers studying the event have said that it only happens at night, several days after a full moon, and that the ocean must be calm with water temperatures above 26 degrees for a full month.

Such an event is, understandably, rare, and coral scientists are saying that this major spawning could be integral for the future health of the reef which has been under stress in recent years due to warming sea temperatures.

Marine Biologist Gareth Phillips has said that the reef “hadn’t looked as good as it has for a long time.”

“This spawning event is another sign that the reef is recovering, it is not all doom and gloom for the reef, it is looking amazing and it is very encouraging to see it bouncing back.”

Siberian Tigers Appear to be Making a Comeback in Russia

Footprints of Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, have been found in the northeastern Siberian republic of Sakha for the first time in 50 years. The tiger is a protected species in Russia after having been hunted almost to the brink of extinction in the mid-1900s and signs of its range expanding are a good indication that they are recovering.

The Russian forest protection service has said that they found the footprints on the banks of a river in a region that zoologists say is difficult for the tigers to establish themselves Amur tigers find it difficult to gain a foothold due to a lack of suitable habitat and food.

Viktor Nikiforov, head of the Tigrus animal protection charity has said that the tracks signal “the first tiger entry into Yakutia in the 21st century, even in the last half-century.” Ongoing conservation work in Russia’s far east has seen tiger numbers grow from 330 in 2005 to 600 today.

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