5 Positive News Stories to Lift Your Spirits This Week

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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.

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

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.

So, here are five of the best news stories from the past week that will put a spring in your step and give you a little something to smile about.

A Quarter of The World Is Now Fully Vaccinated Against COVID

In total, we have now given 5 billion vaccines internationally. With the Earth’s population sitting at around 7.9 billion, we have delivered enough vaccines for around 63 per cent of the global population.

Of course, not all of those remaining will be eligible, and the vaccines have not been distributed evenly, meaning that a quarter of the world’s population is now fully vaccinated.

The world is giving 36 million doses of the vaccine per day.

Malta is leading the charge, with 92 per cent of its population now fully vaccinated. Iceland follows with 75 per cent full vaccination, then Singapore, the UAE, and Uruguay.

In related news, Israel has announced that its booster vaccination programme is showing great results at stemming the rates of delta infection and severity.

Less than a month into their COVID-19 vaccine booster drive, severe illness rates have declined, according to Israeli officials and scientists say.

Afghan Families Welcomed and Supported by Australia

With the Western evacuation of Afghanistan now complete, there is great sadness for all those left behind. However, Australians and the world have rallied to support those who have been able to escape.

Adelaide has come out in support of people who flew into Australia from Afghanistan, sending well-wishes and donations of much-needed clothes, food and toys.

A rescue flight carrying 89 people landed in Adelaide in the early hours of Wednesday morning after stopping briefly in Perth to drop off another 48.

Some of the people onboard helped Australian Defence Force and embassy staff in Kabul and have been granted emergency protection visas.

The arrivals have prompted an outpouring of support in the community, including from students at the Tenison Woods Catholic School in Richmond.

In related news, one Afghan father has expressed his huge gratitude to the Australian soldiers who helped his wife and three young children onto an evacuation flight out of Afghanistan. The family had gone to the country earlier in the year to visit a sick relative and nearly didn’t make it out.

“I’m very excited and very happy with the Australian troops and government, the way they look after their citizens,” Mohammed said.

“We really appreciate them and I will never forget their help in my life. I’m proud to be Australian.”

In Qatar, nine members of an Afghan all-girls robotics team have arrived safely after being granted scholarships to study in the country. Their flight out of Afghanistan was organised by the Qatar government, which expedited visas and sent an aircraft. The team first made headlines in 2017 after winning a special award at an international robotics competition in the US.

In the US, Airbnb has also announced that it will temporarily house 20,000 Afghan refugees across the world for free.

The refugees will be housed in properties listed on Airbnb’s platform and the stays will be funded by Airbnb.

Land In the Flinders Ranges Has Been Returned to Its Traditional Custodians

Zarna Carter, a non-Indigenous landholder in South Australia, has gifted the Nukunu Wapma Thura (NWT) Aboriginal Corporation her 12.1-hectare property in the Flinders Ranges.

There were a few tears of joy as Nukunu elders conducted the hand-back ceremony. Carter has since been welcomed into the Nukunu nation’s family and was called Aunty by the elders.

She said she had the idea for the transfer after she wanted to environmentally rehabilitate the area but realised it might be beyond her.

“I wanted the best for this country and the best way was to involve them — and it seemed like that was the most respectful way — was to actually give that back to them, which was always theirs anyway,” she said.

The Whales Are Coming Back

Before the international moratorium on whale hunting was introduced in the 1970s, many whale populations were hunted close to extinction. Now, the decedents of those surviving whales have been able to repopulate the oceans to almost pre-whaling levels.

Blue whales, the world’s largest mammals, have been reported to be returning to Spain’s Atlantic coast after an absence of more than 40 years. The first one was spotted off the coast of Galicia in north-west Spain in 2017. Another was spotted in 2018, another the following year, and then in 2020 they both returned. Just over a week ago, a different specimen was sited off the Islas Cíes, near O Grove.

Humpback whales too have been seen once again in Alaska where the population was hit hard by a warm weather event called “the blob” that badly impacted marine life.

Researchers at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve say the humpback population is rebounding.

Researchers Have Identified the Genetic Cause of Endometriosis

Endometriosis, a painful condition affecting around one in nine women in Australia, has limited treatment options and is still poorly understood.

However, new research has identified possible causes and treatment options for the disease.

Researchers at the University of Oxford, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Bayer AG, performed genetic analyses of humans and rhesus macaques to identify a specific gene, NPSR1, that increases risk of suffering from endometriosis.

The results reveal a potential new nonhormonal drug target that may lead to improved therapy.

Current treatments for endo are limited and include surgery and hormone therapy, which can involve unwanted side effects. Krina Zondervan at Oxford says “This is an exciting new development in our quest for new treatments of endometriosis, a debilitating and underrecognized disease affecting 190 million women worldwide”.

“We have a promising new nonhormonal target for further investigation and development that appears to address directly the inflammatory and pain components of the disease.”

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