The idea of celebrating anything this week feels a little off, we know. Amid headlines of such relentless doom, hope feels almost impossible to come by, and the urge to switch off and disconnect from the news is entirely understandable.
But as hard as it is to believe, optimism is still out there, the signs of a fairer, Greene, more progressive future there to be found. We seek them out every Tuesday and this week is no different – because if ever we’ve needed hope, it’s now.
So, without further ado, here are the stories lifting our spirits, ever so slightly, this week…
Britain on course to vaccinate all adults by June
The UK is on course to immunise all adults against coronavirus by early June, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
Officials say the milestone could be met here two months before the rest of Europe, provided a target of four million vaccines per week is reached by the end of April.
That would be significantly faster than the government had previously predicted, with initial targets set for the end of July.
It comes amid increased lockdown easing, with all children back at school in England, up to four people allowed to socialise outdoors in Scotland, and stay home measures ending in Wales.
George Floyd’s family to receive $27million settlement
Officials in Minneapolis have reached a record $27 million settlement with the family of George Floyd, the unarmed father whose death sparked global protests last year.
The payment is one of the largest ever in a US police misconduct case, and the largest ever paid following the death of a Black man.
It comes after Mr Floyd’s family sued the city, arguing the police officers involved in his death demonstrated “unjustified, excessive, illegal and deadly use of force.”
Mr Floyd’s death beneath the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin last May sparked worldwide protests, described by the family’s lawyer as an “undeniable demand for justice and change.”
Mr Chauvin is currently on trial for murder.
HSBC to phase out coal financing
HSBC is to ramp up its commitment to tackling climate change by halting the financing of coal projects – providing its shareholders approve.
It follows a campaign from a coalition of pension and investment firms, led by the charity Shareaction, to exert pressure over the financing of environmentally damaging projects.
If approved, the move will be applied in the EU and in OECD countries by 2030, and across the rest of the world by 2040 at the latest.
The bank has previously been a major funder of polluting projects, putting £11 billion into coal projects, such as power stations and thermal mines, since 2018.
State school beats Eton on Oxbridge offers
Pupils from an acclaimed state school in a deprived area of east London have received more offers from Oxford and Cambridge than pupils from Eton for the first time ever.
In total, 55 students from Brampton Manor have been awarded places at the UK’s top two universities, compared with 48 from Boris Johnson’s alma mater.
The recipients include a number of young carers, as well as a host of teens who are the first in their families to apply to higher education.
One in five children in the school’s catchment area in Newham live in low-income families.
First trans author makes Women’s Prize longlist
A trans woman has been longlisted for the £30,000 Women’s Prize for Fiction for the first time in the competition’s history.
Torrey Peters is in the running for her debut novel, Detransition, Baby, competing with previous winner Ali Smith, comedian Dawn French, American writer Patricia Lockwood and 12 other acclaimed writers.
It comes after the prize’s organisers clarified entry was open to any “cis woman, transgender woman or anyone who is legally defined as a woman or of the female sex.”
Judges chair, author Bernadine Evaristo, said the 16-book longlist had “fascinated, moved, inspired and challenged” the panel – their shortlist will be unveiled next month.