News

The City had its eye on the break-up of consumer goods giants yesterday as Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser were in the spotlight.

Arts community unites to call for release of dissident Ai Weiwei

A global campaign was gathering pace last night for the release of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained by authorities on Sunday while attempting to board a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong.

Businesses urged to 'radically change' way they promote women

The Davies report calls on leading firms to fill one in four board positions with women by 2015 – or face compulsory quotas

Investment Column: GSK is healthy, and it's not just the drugs

Unilever; RPS Group

PG Tips maker agrees to halt animal tests on its tea

The maker of PG Tips has agreed to stop testing its teas on animals, after activists threatened to launch a name-and-shame publicity campaign to highlight the company's experiments on rabbits, rats and pigs.

Nudge or fudge? Public health fears as Lansley retreats from regulation

Tougher regulation of junk food, smoking and cheap alcohol cast aside as Government prefers to ‘encourage’ better public health

Cash Ventures: Oxfam chief in talks to raise a 'fund of funds'

Dame Barbara Stocking, chief executive of Oxfam GB, is in talks with European financial services groups about creating a "fund of funds". This would raise capital to invest directly in projects to help would-be entrepreneurs in some of the world's poorest regions.

Business Diary: Amazon's promo for Poundland

Much sound and fury already about Amazon's "lightning deal" pre-Christmas promotions that require you to have the reaction times of an Olympic athlete on your mouse if you want to get the really good prices. We'd advise anyone unhappy with the promotion to follow the advice of one customer, which was prominently displayed on the main deal page. They were highlighting the place to get real bargains from: Poundland. Funny how the post didn't last terribly long but we were tickled by a couple of alternatives that popped up yesterday: "Wowee, something I actually wanted," said one, along with, "What a load of cr*p". So they're not silencing all the critics just yet.

Veteran comic – and Albania's favourite – Sir Norman Wisdom dies, aged 95

Charlie Chaplin called him his "favourite clown," and generations of British filmgoers would have wholeheartedly agreed.

Quorn sale to carve chunk out of Premier's debt

Premier Foods yesterday said it was considering offers for its meat substitute business including "Quorn". The company said it had "received approaches" for the business – which could be worth up to £250m – and was now considering a possible sell-off.

Unilever takes fight to P&G with Alberto Culver deal

Unilever has agreed a $3.7bn (£2.3bn) deal to buy the personal care company Alberto Culver, in a move that will see it overtake Procter & Gamble (P&G) as the world's leading manufacturer in the hair conditioning market.

Why your sustainable fish may not be as guilt-free as you think

Since its establishment more than a decade ago, the reputation of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been as spotless as the consciences of shoppers who buy fish bearing its blue "tick" logo in the expectation it has been sustainably caught. Until now.

Rising costs at Unilever

The consumer goods giant Unilever has missed its second-quarter targets on sales and margins and warned that it expects slow economic growth to continue in developed markets.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there