Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 2 May 2022

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Mariupol plant under fire

The Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol came under fire after about 100 civilians were evacuated on Sunday, according to a Ukrainian soldier. Although dozens of civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol to both Russia-controlled and Ukraine-controlled territory after weeks under siege, it is believed that hundreds of Ukrainian civilians — dozens of whom are injured — are still trapped in the ruins of the plant.

2. Cancer referrals up again

An unprecedented 2.7m people have been referred for cancer checks in the past year after numbers plummeted during the pandemic. Referrals for suspected cancer rose from 2.4m before the pandemic to 2.7m in the 12 months to February. At one point during the Covid crisis, urgent cancer referrals were 45% below pre-coronavirus levels. NHS England said there were also 2,000 more patients receiving treatment for the disease than at the start of the Covid outbreak in 2020.

3. Russian gas exports down

Mild weather conditions allowed countries to cut their reliance on Russian natural gas in April, with sales falling to the lowest in three months. The Telegraph noted that the Russian state-owned energy giant, Gazprom, exported an average of 387m cubic metres of gas a day over the month to countries outside the former Soviet Union, down 22% from March. The news comes days after Moscow threatened to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria unless they complied with Vladimir Putin’s demand that payments be made in roubles.

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4. Netflix cancels Meghan series

Netflix has cancelled development of an animated series created by Meghan Markle. The show, which was announced with some fanfare last year, is one of several projects being dropped by the streaming giant as part of cost-cutting measures after the company suffered a sharp fall in subscribers, wiping over $50bn off its market value. Markle’s series, Pearl, was to centre on the exploits of a 12-year-old girl, who was inspired by influential women from history.

5. Manila fire kills eight

Eight people have died after a fire tore through scores of homes near the Philippines capital Manila. The fire, which started on the second floor of a house in the campus of the University of the Philippines, in Quezon City, also destroyed 80 homes. Senior fire officer Greg Bichayda told AFP news agency that it took nearly two hours to extinguish the blaze. The BBC noted that the Philippines is one of the most densely-populated countries in the world.

6. Falklands conflict an ‘open wound’

The Falklands War is an “open wound” in Argentina, the country’s ambassador to the UK has said on the 40th anniversary of the war. Javier Figueroa compared the disagreement over the islands’ sovereignty to the relationship between North and South Korea. Speaking to the PA News agency, the ambassador explained that, despite the war ending four decades ago, in Argentina it remains a “deeply emotional issue”. Meanwhile, he added, most young people in the UK do not know “Britain has a beef with Argentina regarding the South Atlantic”.

7. Trump backs ‘abuse’ candidate

Donald Trump has defended a gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska who is facing sexual misconduct allegations. The former president dismissed the allegations against Charles Herbster as “malicious”. He added: “He’s been badly maligned and it’s a shame. That’s why I came out here.” The Nebraska Examiner reported that seven women, including a senator, had accused Herbster of groping them at political events or beauty pageants, with another woman accusing him of kissing her forcibly.

8. PM may revive ‘right to buy’

Boris Johnson wants to give millions of people the right to buy the homes they rent from housing associations. The PM believes the plan would help “generation rent”. The Telegraph said the scheme would be a “new version” of the famous Margaret Thatcher-era arrangement that allowed families to buy properties from councils. Johnson believes the new version of “Right to Buy” would help poorer households in traditional Labour “Red Wall” seats in the Midlands and North East which he won in the 2019 election.

9. Pay cut for working from home

Employees at one of London’s oldest legal practices have been told they can work from home permanently — but at the price of a 20% pay cut. Junior lawyers at Stephenson Harwood have starting salaries of £90,000 — which means that any who took up the offer would lose about £18,000. Another City law firm, Hogan Lovells, has paid Paws in Work, an animal therapy provider, to bring in a litter of “adorable puppies” to offices in a bid to lure workers back

10. Kylie and Jason are coming back

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan will return to Neighbours for the programme’s finale. The Aussie soap, first broadcast in 1985, will cease production in June after being dropped by Channel 5. A message on the programme’s Twitter account, said: “Scott and Charlene are the ultimate Neighbours couple and it would not feel right to end the show without them.” An episode featuring Scott and Charlene’s wedding was watched by more than two million Australian viewers in 1987.

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