A Kick In The Wallet. This Wednesday, rail passengers staged a ‘national day of action’ across the country in protest of a 3.1% increase in rail fares which went into effect on January 2. Commuters were incensed by the fact that season tickets have risen by more than £100 despite abysmal rail services throughout 2018, including travel chaos brought on by botched rail timetables, and train punctuality dropping to a 13-year-low. Demonstrations were held on Wednesday, 2 January, at 22 stations including London King’s Cross. Since the increase took effect, the Transport Secretary has openly blamed the rising cost of rail travel on continued demand for higher pay rises by the trade union, while the TUC accuses the train companies of rewarding failure by paying over £1bn in dividends to their investors and shareholders. It is therefore no surprise that on January 18, protesters will follow this week’s action with a ‘Care2 Petition to Re-nationalise our Railways’ petition, which now has over 118,000 signatures, to publicly declare the public’s want for “nationalised, affordable, better run rail services”.
On Science And Brexit. Funding of research, higher education as well as the exchange of student and staff, would be significantly impacted by a no-deal Brexit, according to university heads. Thus far, rumblings on Brexit have centred around trade issues and the Irish border backstop. However, this week, heads of 150 UK universities sent a letter to MPs warning that a no-deal scenario would undermine scientific research and threaten universities’ £21bn contribution to the UK economy. Although, some dismiss the warnings as Brexit hysteria and fear-mongering, data from the 24 Russell Group of leading research universities shows there has been a 3% fall in EU students intake, which is believed to be due to uncertainties over Brexit. Additionally, higher education leaders highlighted that UK’s universities could lose membership to the European research network, thus putting at risk research funding from institutions like the European Research Council and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, worth £1.2bn to UK institutions over the next two years.
How To: Stave Off Blue Monday … and the remaining 75 days of winter. Now that we’ve crossed into January, it’s only natural that the yawning winter months ahead makes you desperately long for the merriness of the past holiday season even as you determinedly chant ‘New Year, New Me” while attempting to tick off those resolutions. It is easy to see why Blue Monday, a day that is said to be the most depressing day of the year, sits firmly on January 21st. To ward off some of the January blues, the old adage of ‘saying yes to life’ comes in handy, as does practicing mindfulness, gratitude, shifting perceptions and changing how you respond to that new deadline, angry email or a rude passenger during your daily commute. Here are some other skills to help you reboot and beat the blues.