10 good news stories that we all need to hear

Grace Joseph delves through the daily deluge of depressing news to find stories that prove nice things still happen.

The world can be a tough place sometimes. We have to pay back our HECS debt earlier, the climate is changing, Kanye is at it again - it’s tricky to single out the good news stories amongst all the bad. That’s why I did it for you! In no particular order, here are a few brilliant news stories that every sad student needs to hear.

1.  Portugal. The Man pulled out of Sunrise

ICYMI: Channel 7’s breakfast program, Sunrise, hosted three white people to discuss the merits of forced adoption of Indigenous children into Anglo-Saxon families, while ignoring enraged protestors. In an incredible move of solidarity, American rock band, Portugal. The Man, cancelled their scheduled appearance on Sunrise, due to the show’s insensitivity towards Aboriginal people and their history. The band, who were in town for Groovin the Moo, hold the indigenous people of Alaska, where they are based, “very close to their heart”, prompting them to make this decision. What a heartening glimpse of humanity!

2.  Pill testing went ahead at Groovin the Moo

And it was a huge success! Pill testing had never been undertaken before in Australia, although we have been close - plans for it to go ahead at the 2017 Spilt Milk Festival were canned by organisers, just weeks before the event. But Groovin the Moo Canberra offered the service to festival-goers, finding foreign substances such as paint and caffeine in half of all pills tested. Importantly, the tests potentially saved lives, as lethal substances were found on two separate occasions. Pill testing was wholeheartedly embraced by ACT Police, government and healthcare professionals, suggesting that the approach to drug safety is progressing from simply telling people to not do drugs. 

3.  Wrongfully-arrested men pledge $200,000 to young Americans

Last month in the USA, two men were arrested in a Starbucks, raising accusations of racial profiling, as the police were called because they had not ordered anything – it was later revealed that they were waiting for a colleague. After their arrests were deemed unlawful, they reached an agreement with authorities, asking for only US$1 each as settlement. The remaining US$199,999 is to be put into a program for high-school entrepreneurs, which the men hope will, “turn a negative into a positive.” In response to the incident, Starbucks enrolled over 175, 000 employees in racial bias training.

4.  Coffee is good for you

I hear UTS in its entirety breathe a collective sigh of relief. Researchers have hypothesised that three cups of coffee a day may minimise your risk of heart conditions and strokes, while dietitians say it contains antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory.  And on an anecdotal and largely unscientific note, I am positive that coffee does wonders for my mental health – there is nothing better than caffeine to protect you from the horrors of the 9am lecture. Of course, many of these benefits are cancelled out by adding sugar or sweeteners, so learn to love the bolstering flavour of a strong latte.

5.  Sydney cafes phase out plastic straws

In an attempt to tackle the ever-increasing amount of rubbish produced in Australia, cafes all across the Northern Beaches and beyond are saying no to single-use items. This revolution is led by the Sustainable Organisation of Manly, who also run monthly ‘Strawkles’ at Manly Beach, where volunteers go diving for plastic straws and litter that has made its way into the ocean. This initiative is so important, as it is estimated that 100 million marine mammals are killed each year from plastic pollution. Australia is one of the worst offenders, as around 1000kg of plastic is dumped in Manly Cove each year, showing that every straw retrieved matters.

6.  Hawaii bans sunscreen that damages coral reefs

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are just fancy names for chemicals that kill coral, and are found in a number of sunscreens sold worldwide. In a world first, Hawaiian lawmakers have moved to ban over 3,500 products that contain the substances in order to minimise the endemic coral bleaching occurring around the tropical islands. Although it is unlikely that a similar ban will take place in Australia, consumers (that’s you!) can do their bit to protect the Great Barrier Reef by carefully checking their sunscreen’s ingredients next summer. The ban is set to come into action by 2021.

7.  A boy suffering from depression on Nauru has been sent to Australia for treatment

This one is somewhat bittersweet. The court has ended an eight-month-long saga which saw Peter Dutton and the Home Affairs Office repeatedly try to prevent a 10-year-old asylum seeker from gaining medical attention in Australia. The boy had repeatedly attempted to commit suicide, leading the judge to recommend immediate psychiatric intervention, something that is not available in detention centres. Along with his mother, the boy was sent to a major city to receive treatment, and was also reunited with his father who has settled on the mainland. One can only hope that, should a similar situation arise in the future, it will be dealt with long before it did in this case.

8.  Black rhinos will be reintroduced to their native habitat

Black rhinos, native to eastern and southern Africa, were wiped out by poaching 50 years ago, and since then have existed only in captivity. However, attempts to reintroduce the animals to their native habitat have gotten underway, with six of the critically-endangered rhinos being transported from a South African zoo to a national park in Chad. This park has seen significant reductions in poaching over the last eight years, resulting in a rare increase in elephant populations. Therefore, the rhino’s translocation will most likely be successful, as they are protected and will be constantly monitored. The project will hopefully reverse the mass extinction of many wild animals, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a pretty important mission. 

9.  Korean leaders commit to denuclearisation

Kim Jong-un, of North Korea, and Moon Jae-in, of South Korea, met for the first time in over ten years to set terms for peace and unity in the Korean Peninsula. The leaders vowed to end the warring between the two countries, signing a declaration that would see the removal of nuclear weapons in the peninsula. Around the world, leaders are congratulating the two parties on their agreement, although Julie Bishop was skeptical of the promise of denuclearisation, saying that similar promises have fallen through in the past. Nevertheless, any discussions regarding peace are good discussions, so I’m putting this down as a win.

 10.  A life-saving type of blood test has been introduced to Australian hospitals

Pre-eclampsia is an illness that puts pregnant mothers and their babies at risk of health complications and premature births by damaging the brain, liver and kidneys through low blood supply. While the exact cause is not known, medical experts suggest that it is a result of a damaged placenta. Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital has become the first Australian hospital to introduce a new blood test that identifies at-risk patients, allowing women to take preventative steps and reduce the risk of developing the disorder. This blood test is the first reliable method of testing for pre-eclampsia, and there are now calls for the test to become available nationwide for this reason. Pre-eclampsia affects one in 20 pregnant women, and as there has never been a reliable diagnosis method before, this test is vital in saving many mothers and children.

BONUS: The City of Sydney begins a trial period of executing slow walkers

In good news for anyone who has ever walked down the tunnel from Central, the local council announced that plans to speed up Sydney are in motion. From next month, snipers will be positioned on rooftops across the city to take out anyone walking below an acceptable speed, ending the awkward acceleration-deceleration process that anyone who has ever been stuck behind a slow walker will recognise. Watch your back, slow coaches! (Edit: Betoota Advocate is a reliable source, right?)

Grace Joseph is a first-year Communications student, majoring in Creative Writing, because she wants to be on Centrelink her whole life. She knows the words to every single song Lorde has ever released, and plans to move to New Zealand just to be closer to that goddess.