Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Tuesday 31 Dec 2019
Australia: 4,000 shelter on beach from bushfire
Officials in Australia say around 4,000 people took shelter this morning on the foreshore near the town of Mallacoota, huddled on the beach to escape bushfires which filled the sky with red smoke. Some wore breathing masks and swimming goggles while others sat in small boats. The fire service asked for more help from the US and Canada.
Minimum wage to rise by 6.2% in April 2020
The government is boasting of the “biggest cash increase ever” as it says the National Living Wage – an obligatory minimum wage for over-25s introduced in 2016 – will increase from April. The wage will rise by 6.2% to £8.72. Business groups warned the increase would put pressure on firms and called for costs to be reduced elsewhere.
Foreign Office voices concern over Cyprus case
The UK has spoken out in defence of a British teenager who has been convicted of falsely claiming she was gang raped in Cyprus – but who now says she made a confession under duress from police. A statement from the Foreign Office said the case of the 19-year-old is “deeply distressing”. She is to appeal against the conviction.
Mixed-sex civil partnerships to begin today
Thousands of men and women are expected to enter into civil partnerships across the UK today after a long legal battle to allow them the same rights as same-sex partnerships. Around 84,000 heterosexual couples, some of whom object to the patriarchal connotations of marriage, are expected to become civil partners this year.
Businessman flees Japan despite misconduct trial
Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has fled Japan for Lebanon, despite a travel ban imposed on him as part of his bail conditions as he awaited trial for financial misconduct. The 65-year-old, born in Brazil to parents of Lebanese descent, was arrested in 2018. In a video statement he said he had escaped “injustice and political persecution”.
Police warning as UK prepares for fireworks
Police in London are warning people not to try to watch tonight’s sold-out fireworks display from positions close to the river Thames but instead to watch at home or attend other structured events in the city. More than 100,000 tickets have been sold in the capital for the display. New Year celebrations began in Edinburgh yesterday.
Major skipped Olympics for cricket in 1996
Papers in the National Archives declassified under the 20 to 30 year rule reveal Sir John Major pulled out of watching the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, despite being told going would be good for his “street cred” as PM, and instead watched a cricket match. Other files show the MoD considered Russia for Nato membership in 1995.
NHS: make a resolution to avoid diet fads
The top NHS England doctor, Prof Stephen Powis, is warning against diet-based New Year resolutions today. He is urging people to make a resolution to avoid “quick-fix” diet fads instead. He says the diet pills, appetite suppressants and “tea-toxes” endorsed by celebrities are ineffective at best – and can be actively harmful.
Police officer quits after faking ‘pig’ insult
A US police officer has quit his force after admitting he himself was responsible for writing the word ‘pig’ on a coffee cup from fast food chain McDonald’s. The Kansas City officer claimed in a social media post that a McDonald’s employee had written the insult on his coffee – but staff were exonerated by CCTV footage of the cup.
Hogmanay: how Scotland will celebrate New Year’s Eve
Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, known as Hogmanay, are world-famous, drawing hundreds of thousands of revellers from around the globe to the streets of Edinburgh each year.
From the classic New Year anthem of Auld Lang Syne, to cannon blasts and fireworks, Hogmanay is one of the biggest events of the year in Scotland - and one of the most fun.