Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Thursday 2 Jan 2020

1

Australian bushfires turn NZ glaciers brown

Glaciers in New Zealand have turned brown as a result of smoke, ash and dust from the bushfires raging 2,000 miles away in Australia. Some experts are warning that the incident will increase glacial melting this season by up to 30%. A one-week state of emergency has been declared in New South Wales, which along with the states of Victoria and South Australia has been battling to contain bushfires since September.

2

Sales of pork and beef down as veganism rises

More than 800,000 Britons cut back on eating animal products for at least a month last year, resulting in a sharp decline in sales of pork and beef, according to new research and analysis of retail figures. Charity Veganuary says 3.6 million fewer animals were eaten in the first half of 2019 as more people shift towards a vegan diet.

3

Poll of Labour members puts Starmer on top

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer is the front runner to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, a new poll of Labour members suggests. Starmer has yet to launch a formal campaign for the top job but is expected to do so in the next few weeks. The YouGov poll puts him as first choice among party members of all classes and ages and in all regions of the UK.

4

Rail fares up 2.7% in latest January increase

Commuters will pay an average of 2.7% more for train tickets from today as the annual January increases to regulated fares kick in. The rise is lower than the 3.1% increase at the start of last year, but many season ticket holders still face a hike of more than £100 for their passes. Train companies have pointed out this is the third year in a row that average fare prices have been kept below RPI - the inflation measure on which rises are based.

5

Pope apologises for slapping woman’s hand

Pope Francis yesterday made a public apology for slapping the hand of a woman who grabbed him as he greeted pilgrims on the streets of Rome on New Year’s Eve. The leader of Catholics worldwide said: “We lose patience many times. It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday.”

6

AI ‘better than doctors at diagnosing breast cancer’

Artificial intelligence (AI) software is more accurate than doctors at spotting the signs of breast cancer on mammograms, an international team led by Google and Imperial College London is claiming. The researchers used X-ray images from nearly 29,000 women to create a diagnosis algorithm that was found to outperform six radiologists working together to read mammograms. The AI was as accurate as the current NHS system of using two doctors to analyse each slide, and performed better than one doctor alone.

7

Asia’s richest man launches Amazon rival

Indian telecoms and retail magnate Mukesh Ambani is launching a rival to Amazon in India. JioMart will use Ambani’s 360 million mobile phone customers as a springboard in an attempt to capture the country’s fledgling online groceries market. 

8

Carbon-reducing fuel test begins in Keele

The UK’s first live trial of hydrogen in a modern gas network has begun at Keele University. The private natural gas supply at the institution, near Stoke-on-Trent, is being mixed with 20% hydrogen. When hydrogen is burnt, the only residue is water, so mixing it into natural gas produces a lower-carbon fuel for cooking and heating.

9

Greggs launched meat-free ‘steak’ bake

High-street baker Greggs has added a meat-free version of its much-loved steak bake to its menus, a year after launching a meatless sausage roll. The new product - made from Quorn, diced onions and non-meat gravy - is launching in 1,300 branches today, before being rolled out to the other 700 Greggs shops on 16 January.

10

Fact check: new year diets - what you need to know

As we head into the new year, many of us are feeling a bit sluggish and in need of some health inspiration. 

If you are looking to get more fit and healthy in 2020, The Week has the rundown on all the ways to do it. 

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