The fight for water: Is Water The New Gold?

Source: DW

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise. Extreme weather events and droughts are increasing. Springs and wells are drying up. And everyone needs more water. The battles for control over precious water reserves have begun.

In some countries, water has always been available in abundance – and is wasted carelessly every day. But the climate crisis is changing that. Because the climate is warming, everyone needs more water than ever: for drinking, agriculture and industry. Water is the new gold.

Johnson & Johnson to stop selling its talc-based baby powder from next year

( via – – Fri, 12th Aug 2022) London, Uk – –

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will stop making and selling its talc-based baby powder around the world from next year.

The announcement comes more than two years after the healthcare giant ended sales of the product in the US.

J&J faces tens of thousands of lawsuits from women who allege its talcum powder contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.


But the company reiterated its view that decades of independent research shows the product is safe to use.

“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” it said in a statement.

The firm added that cornstarch-based baby powder is already sold in countries around the world.

At the same time J&J reiterated its position that its baby powder is safe to use: “Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged.”

“We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson's baby powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” it said.

In 2020, J&J said it would stop selling its talc baby powder in the US and Canada because demand had fallen in the wake of what it called “misinformation” about the product's safety amid a number of legal cases.

At the time the firm said it would continue to sell its talc-based baby powder in the UK and the rest of the world.

The company faces lawsuits from consumers and their survivors who claim J&J's talc products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos.

Talc is mined from the earth and is found in seams close to that of asbestos, which is a material known to cause cancer.

A 2018 investigation by the Reuters news agency claimed that J&J knew for decades that asbestos was present in its talc products.

Reuters said that internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence showed that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J's raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

In response to evidence of asbestos contamination presented in court rooms, media reports and to US lawmakers, the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations.

In October, J&J created a subsidiary, LTL Management, assigning its talc claims to it. It later placed it into bankruptcy, which paused the pending lawsuits.

Before the bankruptcy filing, the company faced costs from $3.5bn (£2.87bn) in verdicts and settlements, including one in which 22 women were awarded a judgement of more than $2bn.


In April, a shareholder proposal calling for an end to global sales of the talc baby powder failed.

Johnson's Baby Powder has been been sold for almost 130 years and became a symbol of the company's family-friendly image.

Baby powder is used for preventing nappy rash and for cosmetic uses, including as a dry shampoo.

By Peter Hoskins

The Toxic Reality of Skin Bleaching

Source: Refinery29

Lexy Lebsack travels to the Philippines to uncover the toxic reality of skin bleaching. This cultural trend is practiced world wide even with deadly side effects. This series swivels between the unexpected and uplifting, dives deep into the dark underbelly of beauty, gives a voice to those trampled by this quickly growing industry, and questions what it’s all worth.

Dyson fined £1.2m after 1.5-tonne machine falls on factory worker

( via – – Thur, 4th Aug 2022) London, Uk – –

Wiltshire employee’s head and chest were injured in 2019, in incident that HSE said ‘could have been fatal’

The technology company Dyson has been fined more than £1m after one of its employees was injured when a giant milling machine fell on top of him.


Dyson was ordered to pay £1.2m at Swindon magistrates court for failing to properly train its staff in handling the kit. The firm pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws.

The man was injured when the 1.5-tonne piece of equipment fell on top of him while he was at work in August 2019 at the company’s factory in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

He was moving a computer-assisted milling machine with the help of a colleague when the incident happened.

They lifted it up with a five-tonne jack, and were replacing some wheels with wooden blocks when it fell.

The Health and Safety Executive said that it struck the man, injuring his head and chest.

Its investigators found that Dyson had not provided “suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training” to its staff. It had also not put systems in place to ensure that the machine was moved safely.

The man escaped being crushed only because the machine landed on two toolboxes and the handle of another machine.

“This incident could have been fatal,” said James Hole, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector. “Those in control of work have a duty to assess the risks, devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workforce.

“Had a suitable safe system of work been in place, this incident and the related injuries could have been prevented.”

Dyson said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of Dyson’s people is our number one priority. Prior to this case, Dyson has had no convictions or enforcement history related to health and safety at work.

“We are thankful that the employee was not more seriously hurt and has been able to return to work at Dyson.


“As an engineering company, we use complex and often heavy equipment and take care to do so safely. We deeply regret that this happened and we accept the court’s decision today.

“We were pleased that in its judgment the court noted our ‘excellent safety record’, our ‘prompt response to this incident and full cooperation at the highest level within the company’ and said that Dyson is an ‘exemplary corporate citizen’.”

By PA Media

Why Companies Like Amazon Embrace Burning Waste as Part of a Growing Movement towards “zero landfill”

Source: CNBC

Burning waste to make energy is a $10 billion industry in the U.S., and the fastest growing part of the business is waste from big companies like Amazon, Subaru, Quest Diagnostics and American Airlines. They’re part of a growing corporate movement toward “zero landfill” as pressure mounts to reach sustainability requirements. CNBC got an inside look at a waste-to-energy plant where trash is incinerated to power 18,000 homes in northern California.



UK watchdog fines Pfizer, Flynn Pharma $84 mln for overcharging NHS

( via — Thur, 21st July 2022) London, UK —

Pfizer (PFE.N) and Flynn Pharma were fined a total of 70 million pounds ($84 million) on Thursday by Britain's antitrust watchdog for overcharging the National Health Services (NHS) for a life-saving epilepsy drug.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016 had fined Pfizer and Flynn about 90 million pounds for inflating prices for Epanutin by as much as 2,600% to 67.50 pounds for a 100mg pack before the companies won a 2018 appeal against the penalty.



The Competition Appeal Tribunal had referred the matter back to the CMA, which in August 2021 stuck to its view that the two firms broke the law.

In September 2012, Pfizer sold the UK distribution rights for Epanutin to Flynn. Before that, Pfizer was selling phenytoin sodium capsules to UK wholesalers and pharmacies.

Both Pfizer and Flynn Pharma said they intend to appeal the CMA decision.

“Surprised and disappointed at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issuance of a further (second) Decision finding an abuse of competition law on the part of Flynn,” the company said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Epanutin is a life-saving drug which is used to control a variety of epileptic conditions, or prevent seizures during or after brain surgery or severe head injury.

The regulator added that the firms have been overcharging for more than four years.



It said that spending by Britain's NHS on the capsules, containing phenytoin sodium, jumped to about 50 million pounds in 2013 from about 2 million pounds a year earlier.

Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru

Macau casinos shuts down following Covid outbreak

( via – – Mon, 11th July 2022) London, Uk – –

Macau closed all its casinos for the first time in more than two years on Monday after a coronavirus outbreak in the world's biggest gambling hub.

Authorities have ordered non-essential businesses, which includes over 30 casinos, to shut for a week.

The city has recorded 1,526 Covid cases since the middle of June according to official figures.



Gaming shares slipped on Monday over concerns of tougher rules in the Chinese special administrative region.

Around 19,000 people have been put in mandatory quarantine as the city tackles its worse Covid-19 outbreak since early 2020.

Schools and entertainment venues, including bars and cinemas, had already been closed under earlier guidelines.

Over the weekend, Macau's Government Information Bureau said all businesses would be required to suspend their operations unless they were “deemed essential to the community and to the day-to-day lives of the members of the public”.

“The latest step is in order to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the community,” the bureau said in a statement on Saturday.

It has also instructed people to stay at home, and stopped dining-in services at restaurants.

More than 90% of Macau's residents have received two doses of Covid vaccines. It's unclear how many have also received their booster doses, but the city is facing the fast-spreading Omicron variant for the first time.

In recent weeks, officials have set up a makeshift hospital and turned several casino resorts into medical facilities, as the former Portuguese colony only has one public hospital serving more than 600,000 residents.

They have also mass tested residents and locked down apartment buildings and hotels where infections were found.

Macau follows China's strict “zero Covid” strategy, where even handful of cases have led to mass testing, forced quarantine and lockdowns of neighbourhoods and even cities.

While Macau has not imposed the type of city-wide lockdown seen in mainland China, it's virtually closed as most services have been halted.

Terry Ng, an equity research analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong, told the BBC that Macau authorities were “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.

“Because mainland Chinese tourists accounted for 71% of all tourists and more than 90% of gross gaming revenue, they have to duly follow mainland China's zero-Covid policy which is highly restrictive,” he said.



Gambling is illegal in mainland China but is allowed in Macau, which like Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

Macau casino shares slipped on Monday as the restrictions kicked into effect.

Shares in Sands China, a subsidiary of casino giant Las Vegas Sands, were trading 7% lower by mid-day in Hong Kong. That of SJM Holdings, which was founded by the late Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho, fell by 6.1%.

By Annabelle Liang


UK court rules against Kellogg’s sugary cereal supermarket promotions

( via – – Mon, 4th July 2022) London, Uk – –

Kellogg's will not be allowed to promote sugary cereals in supermarket special offers, a court has ruled.

In-store promotions on food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar will be restricted under new rules for England.


Food giant Kellogg's had taken the government to court arguing the rules did not take into account the nutritional value of added milk.

But the Royal Courts of Justice ruled in favour of the government. Kellogg's said it was “disappointed”.

“It makes little sense to us that consumers will be able to buy other products, like donuts and chocolate spreads, on promotion – but not many types of breakfast cereals,” said Kellogg UK managing director, Chris Silcock.

The new rules were due to start in October but have been delayed by the government due to the cost of living crisis.

When they do kick in, it will mean foods deemed high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from special offers and prime spots like checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.

Popular brands such as Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes and Fruit and Fibre are classified as high sugar in their dry form.

But Kellogg's argued including added milk would change the calculation by reducing the proportion of sugar and salt content relative to the weight of the overall serving.

The company said independent market data showed cereals were eaten with milk or yoghurt in 92% of cases.


But Judge Mr Justice Linden said Kellogg's cereals “do not come with instructions for preparation which say that they should be consumed with milk”.

His judgement said he found no unfairness to Kellogg's and the public health case for the new rules was compelling, proportionate and rational.


Boots owner Walgreens abandons £5bn sale of UK’s biggest high street pharmacy chain

( via – – Wed, 29th June 2022) London, Uk – –

Walgreens Boots Alliance confirms Sky News’ exclusive report that it is abandoning an auction of the UK’s leading high street pharmacist amid torrid financing conditions.

Boots the chemist

The owner of Boots the Chemist has abandoned the sale of Britain’s biggest high street pharmacy chain amid torrid conditions in global debt-financing markets.

Walgreens Boots Alliance confirmed on Tuesday afternoon a Sky News report that it had decided to retain ownership of Boots after an auction process lasting for several months.



In a statement, the New York-listed healthcare giant said it had conducted a thorough strategic review but would now keep control of the “successful” Nottingham-based company.

“WBA has been encouraged by productive discussions held with a range of parties, receiving significant interest from prospective buyers.

“However, since launching the process, the global financial markets have suffered unexpected and dramatic change.

“As a result of market instability severely impacting financing availability, no third party has been able to make an offer that adequately reflects the high potential value of Boots and No7 Beauty Company.

“Consequently, WBA has decided that it is in the best interests of shareholders to keep focusing on the further growth and profitability of the two businesses.”

The decision will cast doubt over the long-term strategy of a stalwart of the UK high street, which had been identified as non-core to its American parent's future.

On Tuesday, WBA insisted it was committed to investing in Boots' future, although it signalled that it was open-minded about reviving a sale or other form of corporate activity in future.

The £5.5bn auction of Boots had faltered badly in recent weeks, with the only bidder to make a binding offer- a consortium of Apollo Global Management and Reliance Industries – pinning its hopes on the steadfastness of a quartet of lenders.

Apollo and Indian behemoth Reliance had lined up Royal Bank of Canada, Credit Suisse, Santander and Bank of America to help finance a large chunk of the £5bn-plus acquisition.

However, growing concerns about the global economy had triggered severe doubts among large banks which help finance leveraged buyouts, with Boots among the biggest such deals in Europe.

Because of the difficulty bidders were having financing a deal, WBA was prepared to retain a significant minority stake in Boots in order to get the deal through.

Another prospective bid from the owners of Asda – Mohsin and Zuber Issa and TDR Capital – had looked even more uncertain.

WBA, which has been advised by Goldman Sachs, had been in talks with bidders for months.

Among the other challenges facing prospective acquirers was finding an adequate solution for Boots' £8bn pension scheme – one of the largest private retirement funds in the UK.

Sky News revealed earlier this year that an apparent early frontrunner in the Boots auction – a joint bid from Bain Capital and CVC Capital Partners – had decided not to proceed amid scepticism over the price tag of up to £6bn.

Rosalind Brewer, WBA chief executive, said: “We have now completed a thorough review of Boots and No7 Beauty Company, with the outcome reflecting rapidly evolving and challenging financial market conditions beyond our control.

“It is an exciting time for these businesses, which are uniquely positioned to continue to capture future opportunities presented by the growing healthcare and beauty markets.

“The board and I remain confident that Boots and No7 Beauty Company hold strong fundamental value, and longer term, we will stay open to all opportunities to maximize shareholder value for these businesses and across our company.”

Like many retailers, Boots had a turbulent pandemic, announcing 4000 job cuts in 2020 as a consequence of a restructuring of its Nottingham head office and store management teams.

It has also been embroiled in rows with landlords about delayed rent payments.

Shortly before the pandemic, Boots earmarked about 200 of its UK stores for closure, a reflection of changing shopping habits.



Boots' heritage dates back to John Boot opening a herbal remedies store in Nottingham in 1849.

It opened its 1000th UK store in 1933.

For Stefano Pessina, the WBA chairman, a decision to sell Boots outright would have marked the final chapter of his involvement with one of Britain's best-known companies.

The Italian octogenarian engineered the merger of Boots and Alliance Unichem, a drug wholesaler, in 2006, with the buyout firm KKR acquiring the combined group in an £11bn deal the following year.

In 2012, Walgreens acquired a 45% stake in Alliance Boots, completing its buyout of the business two years later.

By Mark Kleinman

GSK to spend up to $3.3 bln on Affinivax to boost next-generation roster of vaccines

( via — Tue, 31st May 2022) London, UK —

May 31 (Reuters) – GSK (GSK.L) on Tuesday agreed to buy U.S. biotech Affinivax for up to $3.3 billion, its second major deal in two months, giving the British pharmaceutical giant access to the company's roster of next-generation vaccines.

GSK, one of the world's major vaccine makers, has been under pressure to shore up its pharmaceutical pipeline ahead of the separation in July of its consumer business, home to brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste and Advil painkillers.


The drugmaker's newer shingles vaccine has been a key growth driver as demand has returned after disruption to immunisations during the pandemic, but GSK needs a new product to bolster the vaccines business, which made 6.78 billion pounds ($8.54 billion) in 2021.

GSK is also facing competition from vaccine candidates from rivals Pfizer (PFE.N) and Moderna (MRNA.O) using newer mRNA technology.

GSK will pay Affinivax $2.1 billion upfront and up to $1.2 billion in potential milestones. The acquisition comes after GSK last month indicated an appetite for further deals following its $1.9 billion purchase of Sierra Oncology (SRRA.O). 

“While this marks a step in the right direction with regard to the group's strategy, we're mindful that owning the treatment and making money from it are two very different things,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Laura Hoy.

London-listed GSK on Tuesday also reiterated its outlook for 2022 and its medium-term targets.

Privately-held Affinivax gives GSK its next-generation vaccines under development, the most advanced of which are for pneumococcal diseases, such as pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections and sinusitis.

GSK has its own, older, pneumococcal vaccine called Synflorix, which was approved for European and U.S. use in 2009, and which competes with Pfizer's Prevnar and Merck's (MRK.N) Pneumovax.


Affinivax's newer vaccine technology is designed to strengthen the breadth of immunity against a pathogen, such that an immune-boosting adjuvant is not necessary.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka



Why Mānuka Honey Is So Expensive

Source: BI

Mānuka honey known for being is earthier, richer, and more viscous than many other honeys. It comes from the nectar of the flower of Leptospermum scoparium — also known as Manuka, which is only native to New Zealand. Mānuka, in fact, is a Maori word.


“The plant itself is very rare. It's difficult to harvest because the flower is only open for 12 days, and sometimes we have to use helicopters to collect this honey.” John Rawcliffe from the Mānuka Factor Honey Association told Business Insider.

Although mānuka bushes can also be found in Australia, New Zealand accounts for almost all the world's production, with exports worth 300 million NZ dollars ($204m) and expected to rise to 1.2 billion NZ ($800m) by 2028.  Watch the video to find out what's so special about it and why it costs so much.

Abbott baby formula maker to restart production amid US shortage

( via – – Tue, 17th May 2022) London, Uk – –

Michigan plant had been under investigation for safety concerns and it will take over a month to begin shipping product


The baby formula maker Abbott has reached an agreement with US health regulators to restart production at its largest domestic factory amid a nationwide formula shortage that has left shelves bare and parents scrambling.

Monday’s agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amounts to a legally binding agreement between regulators and the company on steps needed to reopen the plant in Sturgis, Michigan, which had been under investigation for safety concerns.

However, it will be well over a month before any new products ship from the site to help alleviate the situation. After production resumes, Abbott said it will take between six and eight weeks before the formula will begin arriving in stores.

Abbott is one of just four companies that produce roughly 90% of US formula, and its brands account for nearly half that market.

The company didn’t set a timeline to restart production or offer further details about the terms of the deal.

The FDA announced additional steps to ease the supply chain crunch, saying it was was streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping more formula into the US.

“The FDA expects that the measures and steps it’s taking with infant formula manufacturers and others will mean more and more supply is on the way or on store shelves moving forward,” FDA commissioner Robert Califf told reporters.

Califf said the US will prioritize companies that can provide the largest shipments and quickly show documentation that their formulas are safe and compatible with US nutrition standards. The policy is structured as a temporary measure lasting six months.

It comes as Joe Biden’s administration faces intense pressure to do more to ease the shortage that has left many parents hunting for formula online or at food banks.

Abbott’s plant came under scrutiny early this year after the FDA began investigating four bacterial infections among infants who consumed powdered formula from the plant. Two of the babies died.

The crunch intensified when, in February, the company halted production and recalled several brands of powdered formula, squeezing supplies that had already been tightened by supply chain disruptions and stockpiling during Covid-19. The shortage has led retailers such as CVS and Walgreens to limit how many containers customers can buy in each visit.

Outrage over the issue has quickly snowballed and handed Republicans a fresh talking point to use against Biden ahead of November’s midterm elections.

After a six-week inspection, FDA investigators published a list of problems at the Abbott factory in March, including lax safety and sanitary standards and a history of bacterial contamination in several parts of the plant.

The Chicago-based company has emphasized that its products have not been directly linked to the bacterial infections in children. Samples of the bacteria found at its plant did not match the strains collected from the babies by federal investigators. The company has repeatedly stated it is ready to resume manufacturing.

Former FDA officials say fixing the type of problems uncovered at Abbott’s plant takes time, and infant formula facilities receive more scrutiny than other food facilities. Companies need to exhaustively clean the facility and equipment, retrain staff, repeatedly test and document there is no contamination.

Pediatricians say baby formulas produced in Canada and Europe are roughly equivalent to those in the US. But traditionally, 98% of the infant formula supply in the US is made domestically. Companies seeking to enter the US face several major hurdles, including rigorous research and manufacturing standards imposed by the FDA.

Steven Davis, a San Diego father, has faced heart-wrenching challenges finding formula for his medical fragile daughter, who was on an Abbott formula but has had to switch with the recall and subsequent shortages in other brands.

Zoie Davis was born 19 months ago with no kidneys, a rare life-threatening condition that requires dialysis and a feeding tube until she weighs enough for a kidney transplant. She’s 4lb shy of that milestone, said Davis, a mortgage lender.

“Her life is dependent on her weight gain,” he said.

Davis said he used an organic brand from overseas until costs and customs hurdles made that too difficult. Friends and strangers from out of state have sent him other brands, but each time she switches it requires more blood tests and monitoring, Davis said.

Despite her challenges, Zoie is walking, talking and “doing pretty good” on other developmental milestones, Davis said.

“She’s a shining light in my life,” he said.

The shortage is weighing particularly on lower-income parents such as Clara Hinton, 30, of Hartford, Connecticut, who has a 10-month-old daughter, Patience, who has an allergy that requires a special formula.

Hinton, who has no car, has been taking the bus to the suburbs, going from town to town, and finally found some of the proper formula at a box store in West Hartford. But she said the store refused to take her food stamps card, and she recently ran out of formula from an already opened can she got from a friend.


“She has no formula,” she said. “I just put her on regular milk. What do I do? Her pediatrician made it clear I’m not supposed to be doing that, but what do I do?”

By Guardian staff and agencies

Tour of The EcoVillage of Ithaca, Could Communal Living Be The Future

Source: Flock Finger Lakes

The EcoVillage at Ithaca was established in 1991 and has become a mature communal village with three neighborhoods developed on 10% of the land with 90% of the land devoted to farmland and natural areas.


Given that we're interested in communally living at Flock, we took quite a bit of notes from the EcoVillage, which is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.

Why Kombucha Makers Spend Millions to Make the Drink Less Boozy

Source: BI

Anywhere from 1% to 3% alcohol by volume naturally occurs in kombucha. That’s because the tea is fermented. But the current law says producers can never go over the legal limit of .5% ABV. Except, controlling the alcohol levels is expensive and complicated. Producers have to redo their recipes, get a distillery license, or pay extra taxes. If they don't, they could risk penalties or get their product pulled from shelves. Could a proposed Act to raise the limit make things easier on producers?

Valneva approved to be UK’s sixth Covid vaccine

( via – – Thur, 14th April 2022) London, Uk – –

Medicines regulator says it is first in world to approve Valneva product

A Covid-19 vaccine developed by Valneva has been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).


The UK’s independent medicines regulator is the first in the world to approve the Valneva product, MHRA said.

It is the sixth Covid vaccine to be granted an MHRA authorisation.

The approval comes as the number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales continues to rise, although levels remain well below those reached during previous waves of the virus.

By PA Media

The rise (and fall?) of the Covid testing industry

Source: CNBC

The multi-billion dollar Covid-19 testing industry emerged practically overnight to meet sudden demand for coronavirus tests. But with Covid-19 testing requirements now easing, what does its future look like? —–

The Covid-19 testing industry sprung up almost overnight. There was an overwhelming demand for tests around the world, and entrepreneurs reacted quickly – pouring money into hiring staff, securing supplies and building laboratories.

Together with more established players, testing capacity ballooned and a brand-new industry was born. Qured is one of those newcomers. It was launched in 2017 as a doctor-on-demand service, but in 2020, the company spotted an opportunity it couldn't ignore.



“It was really demand from our patients, which drove our pivot towards Covid testing,” said Alex Templeton, CEO and co-founder of Qured. Initially, Qured focused on helping businesses bring their staff back to work safely, but it was an innovation in rapid self-testing for travel that put Qured on the map.

“We just started thinking about how to validate that it's you who's done it, that you've swabbed correctly. We figured out that a video call was the way to really solve this,” Templeton said.

This innovation resonated with British Airways, and in February 2021 the carrier launched a partnership with Qured. From there, growth exploded, with the company striking deals with American Airlines and Heathrow Airport, as well.

Heathrow Airport drops mandatory face mask rules for passengers

( via – – Wed, 16th Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

The UK's largest airport has dropped mandatory face masks for passengers.

Heathrow Airport no longer requires people to wear them in its terminals, railway stations or office buildings but will continue to recommend they do so.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the latest airlines to relax their policies on face coverings.

Passengers must still wear them on board flights if the country they're travelling to requires it.

‘Plan B' measures ended in late January, meaning masks were no longer legally required on some public transport and in shops.


However Heathrow, which handles a large number of international flights, had kept the rule that face coverings must be worn, until this week.

Heathrow's chief operating officer, Emma Gilthorpe, said the airport was pleased to move away from mandatory face mask requirements.

She said: “While we still recommend wearing them, we can be confident the investments we've made in Covid-secure measures – some of which aren't always visible – combined with the fantastic protection provided by the vaccine will continue to keep people safe while travelling.”

Heathrow said that if there was a significant rise in infections or a future variant of concern, it would not hesitate to bring the mandate back.

The airport said face coverings would remain available for people who still want to wear them.

Virgin Atlantic said it was also changing its face mask policy from Wednesday, making it a personal choice for customers and crew to wear them on board.

This will only happen on services where international regulations on mask-wearing do not apply.

For now, that means flights between Heathrow and Manchester and destinations in the Caribbean such as Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua.

The airline said customers may be asked to wear a mask when getting on and off planes and at destination airports.

It highlighted that on routes to or from the US, masks would still be required until at least 18 April.

Virgin Atlantic's chief customer and operating officer, Corneel Koster, said its policy would be introduced gradually. He encouraged passengers to respect each other's choices.

From Wednesday, British Airways (BA) customers will only have to wear a face covering on board flights if the destination they're travelling to requires it.

BA's chief operating officer, Jason Mahoney, said the move was “welcome” and “a positive step forward”.

Earlier this month, the airline and tour operator Jet2 relaxed its rules on face coverings for flights to and from England and Northern Ireland. Since Friday, Tui has done the same.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has said he would like to see the end of mandatory face masks by April or May. He added that cabin crew were being consulted.

The aviation industry is hoping that the easing of travel restrictions will lift the curtain on a busy summer, after two years of major disruption due to the pandemic.

From Friday, all travellers will be able to enter the UK without filling in a passenger locator form or taking Covid tests.


Holidaymakers will still need to be aware of, and follow, and rules where they're going.

On Friday Heathrow's chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the recovery of aviation “remains overshadowed by war and Covid uncertainty”.

The airport's passenger numbers last month were still nearly 50% down on pre-pandemic levels.

However the airport is recruiting 12,000 staff to try and cope with demand during the summer peak.

By By Katy Austin

Caretech sibling founders plot bid to take social care group private

( via– Mon, 7th Mar 2022) London, Uk – –

Farouq Sheikh and his brother Haroon are assembling the financing needed to mount a takeover bid for the company they founded in 1993, Sky News learns.

The of Caretech are plotting to make an offer for the social care group that would see it delisted from the London Stock Exchange.

Sky News has learnt that Farouq and Haroon Sheikh, who set up Caretech in 1993, are in talks to secure the financing required to launch a takeover bid for the company.


City sources said the discussions were at an early stage, although Caretech's independent board members are said to have been notified of the co-founders' intentions.

The brothers, who are executive chairman and chief executive respectively, own a minority stake in the business themselves but need to raise hundreds of millions of pounds to make a formal offer.

Caretech provides social care and education services for adults and children, principally on behalf of local authorities, to which it charges fees.

Its specialist hospitals and residential homes look after adults with autism and brain injuries, while it also operates schools and fostering agencies for children.

In December, the company reported underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of more than £100m on revenues that were up by more than 13% to almost £490m.

If the brothers proceed to a formal offer, it would be the latest in a string of “public-to-private” transactions and provide an indication that deal-making activity in the City is not being brought to a halt by market uncertainty caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

One source suggested that a stock exchange announcement was likely to be made by the company confirming the approach on Monday morning.

Caretech had a market capitalisation at Friday's close of £664m, having seen its shares rise by just over 10% during the last 12 months.


The value of a formal offer from the co-founders is unclear, although it is expected to be at a substantial premium to the current price.

Caretech declined to comment.

By Mark Kleinman

McDonald’s pig policy fight escalates with billionaire Carl Icahn board nominations

( via – – Mon, 21st Feb 2022) London, Uk – –

Billionaire Carl Icahn has stepped up his fight with McDonald's over the welfare of pigs used in its food chain.

Mr Icahn, whose no-nonsense reputation for shaking-up companies made him a Wall Street legend, wants to put two people on McDonald's board.

He owns only 200 McDonald's shares but, reportedly spurred on by his animal welfare activist daughter, that gives him leverage to agitate for change.


McDonald's says it has led the way in improving animal welfare standards.

The battle centres on claims about pregnant sows being kept in small crates, a practice Mr Icahn said was “obscene”.

He said McDonald's had not lived up to a promise to phase out the sourcing of pork from pigs housed in so-called gestational crates, a practice targeted by animal rights activists.

Mr Icahn had asked all McDonald's pork suppliers in the US to move to “crate-free pork”, along timeframes he had set.

Now Mr Icahn has proposed that Leslie Samuelrich and Maisie Ganzler stand for election at the 2022 annual meeting, a statement by the fast food giant said.

Activist investors such as Mr Icahn – one of a handful of feared corporate raiders said to have been the model for Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street – normally focus on companies they believe need restructuring.

But he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he was moved to do something at McDonald's by his daughter, an animal lover who has worked for the Humane Society.

McDonald's pledged to stop ordering pork from suppliers putting pregnant pigs in crates back in 2012. The firm said it had “led the industry” since then and about a third of US pork suppliers have moved to group housing systems.

It said it expected to source 85% to 90% of its pork from these suppliers by the year's end. All of the pork it buys will come from these suppliers by 2024.

McDonald's said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue to work with the industry to improve standards, but that some of Mr Icahn's demand were unreasonable.

The chain also noted that Mr Icahn was the majority owner of Viskase, which makes and supplies packaging for the pork and poultry industry.

It added that he had “not publicly called” on Viskase to make similar commitments. Mr Icahn did not immediately respond to a BBC request for comment.

As the founder and controlling shareholder of Icahn Enterprises, Mr Icahn has a net worth of $16.8bn (£12.3bn), according to Forbes.

He previously spent several months advising former US President Donald Trump on regulatory reform, before stepping down amid controversy.

However, he is unlikely to succeed with the nominations, observers said.

“Mr Icahn's profile means McDonald's feels a need to respond even though his stake is so small,” Mak Yuen Teen, a professor at NUS Business School in Singapore, told the BBC.


“It does seem that McDonald's has been rather slow in fulfilling this particular commitment made 10 years ago. It's only now that it's accelerating the fulfilment when activists are publicly highlighting it.”

McDonald's said it sourced only approximately 1% of US pork production, and that it did not own any sows, or produce or package pork in the country.

It said the board would evaluate Mr Icahn's nominees “as it would any other candidates”.