The news is not often a joy to read. And when hope feels almost impossible to come by, the urge to switch off and disconnect from the headlines is entirely understandable.

 

But as hard as it is to believe, good things are still happening. That’s why, every Tuesday, we seek out the nuggets of joy and optimism hiding behind the gloom of the front pages.

 

So, without further ado, here are the stories lifting our spirits, ever so slightly, this week…

 

Evidence suggests fifth force of nature

Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA

 

A group of scientists in the USA say they’ve uncovered strong evidence for the existence of a fifth force of nature.

 

It’s after a series of experiments found that sub-atomic particles, called muons, were behaving in ways that go against current scientific theory.

 

Until now, every moment of our lives was believed to have been influenced by just four forces – gravity, electromagnetism and strong and weak nuclear forces.

 

The suggestion of a fifth force – still not proven – would fundamentally change our understanding of how objects and particles in the universe interact, opening up a wealth of new scientific and research possibilities.

 

France looks to ban short-haul internal flights

Image: Daniel Eledut/Unsplash

 

Short-haul internal flights between cities where train alternatives exist could be banned in France in a bid to curb the country’s carbon emissions.

 

Lawmakers have voted in favour of a bill which would halt all air travel on routes where the same journey would take less than two and a half hours by rail.

 

The planned measures – which exclude connecting flights – will now need to be approved by the country’s senate before becoming law.

 

Last year, Austrian Airlines replaced flights with trains between Vienna and Salzburg after receiving a government bailout on the proviso it would work to cut its carbon footprint.

 

IMF calls for wealth tax to tackle COVID inequality

Image: Lloyd Blunk/Unsplash

 

Governments across the world should consider levying new taxes on their richest citizens to help reduce inequality in the wake of the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund has said.

 

IMF officials say surcharges should be applied to address the “erosion” of taxes being paid by the companies which have reaped the biggest rewards during the coronavirus crisis.

 

The fiscal monitor’s half-yearly report insists tax changes would allow countries to expand public services and make welfare states more generous as economies recover.

 

Temporary increases in individual and business taxation, it suggests, would also help with efforts towards meeting the UN’s sustainable development goals.

 

 

Teen’s fake beauty site helps lockdown abuse victims

Image: Sincerely Media/Unsplash

 

A Polish teenager who set up a fake beauty website to offer covert help to victims of domestic abuse in lockdown says she’s now assisted more than 350 people.

 

Krysia Paszko set up the false storefront in April 2020, after hearing about a 50 per cent increase in calls to Poland’s Centre for Women’s Rights helpline.

 

Realising those unable to find the privacy to seek help would benefit from an alternative way to access legal advice, the 18-year-old created a false cosmetics storefront.

 

Since then, the website which connects ‘customers’ to volunteers from the Centre for Women’s Rights, has helped more than 350 people, primarily women under the age of 30.

 

Neurology patients star with Scottish Ballet

Image: Beth Chalmers/Scottish Ballet

 

Two new films created in collaboration with people living with Parkinson’s, MS and dementia have been unveiled by Scottish Ballet.

 

Created during lockdown as part of the Haud Close project, the short films each celebrate the creativity and strength of families living with neurological conditions.

 

Involving patients and carers from Orkney to Tasmania, the Scottish Ballet Health Network global initiative was inspired by 2017’s award-winning dance film Haud Close Tae Me.

 

Both films, Haud Close and Haud Close Together, as well as a poetry collection and gallery of visual art created throughout the project, are available to view for free here.

 

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