Cannabis firm confirms investment talks with Marlboro maker – BBC News
Image copyright Getty Images Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is in talks with a Canadian cannabis producer over a potential investment in the firm.
Canada’s Cronos Group confirmed the discussions but said it had not yet reached an agreement.
It follows reports that Altria was in talks to acquire Cronos as it moves to diversify from traditional smokers.
Canada legalised recreational cannabis in October – the second country in the world to do so.
Cronos confirmed in a statement “it is engaged in discussions concerning a potential investment by Altria Group Inc. in Cronos Group.”
“No agreement has been reached with respect to any such transaction and there can be no assurance such discussions will lead to an investment or other transaction involving the companies.”
Canada legalises sale and use of cannabis Corona beer firm pours $4bn into weed Tobacco giant invests in medical cannabis Several other companies around the world are pushing into the marijuana sector.
Corona beer owner Constellation Brands has said it would pour some $4bn (£3.1bn) into Canada’s top cannabis producer, Canopy Growth, in a deal marking the largest investment in the industry to date.
Tobacco firm Imperial Brands is investing in UK biotech company Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, while a recent media report said Coca-Cola was in talks with a Canadian producer Aurora Cannabis about developing marijuana-infused beverages.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned to legalise cannabis, arguing laws criminalising its use were ineffective given Canadians are among the world’s heaviest users.
Cannabis possession first became a crime in Canada in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001.
Protest-hit France ‘to halt fuel tax rise’ – BBC News
Image copyright AFP Image caption Central Paris has seen vehicles burned, business premises damaged and hundreds of arrests Fuel tax rises which have led to weeks of violent protests in France have now been postponed for six months.
The move was announced in a televised address by PM Edouard Philippe, who said anyone would have “to be deaf or blind” not to hear or see the anger.
The protests have hit major cities, causing damage and disruption over the past three weekends.
The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government.
Who are the ‘gilets jaunes’? Jobseeker: Macron should help me find work The “yellow vests” are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.
President Emmanuel Macron was elected last year with an overwhelming mandate for sweeping economic reform, but his popularity has fallen sharply in recent months amid accusations that he is a “president for the rich”.
Four people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism have been widely condemned.
What did the prime minister say? Mr Philippe said that the next planned rise in the so-called carbon tax on vehicle fuel, which had been due to come in on 1 January, would be suspended for six months to allow consultations across the country to see what accompanying measures might be introduced to ease the burden for the worst-off.
He also said planned increases in gas and electricity prices this winter would be halted, and that a toughening of the rules for vehicle emissions tests would also be postponed.
It is a major climbdown by the government of President Macron, who has said the measures are necessary to combat climate change and meet budget deficit reduction targets.
Image copyright EPA Image caption Vandalism was rife during the protests in Paris, including here at the Arc de Triomphe “This anger, you would have to be deaf and blind not to see it, nor hear it,” said Mr Philippe after meeting lawmakers from the governing party La Republique en Marche.
“The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay. That’s also what we want. If I didn’t manage to explain it, if the ruling majority didn’t manage to convince the French, then something must change,” he added in his televised address.
“No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger.”
But he said the violence must stop. “If there is another day of protests, it must be declared in advance and must take place calmly.”
He also warned that people should not expect better public services alongside lower taxes.
Why the widespread anger? Mr Macron was elected on a platform of economic reform which would improve the lives of French people via lower unemployment and a kick-started economy.
But many feel that has not emerged. An analysis of the 2018-19 budget carried out by France’s public policy institute, for example, found that incomes for the poorest quarter of households would largely drop or stay the same under the plans.
Middle-income earners would see a modest bump – but the greatest beneficiaries would be those who were already wealthy, in the top 1%. The pattern is worse for retired people – almost all of whom will be worse off.
Image copyright EPA Image caption Mr Macron (L) had vowed not to capitulate to street protests Macron’s difficulty By Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris
Will it be enough? That is the first question. Will the yellow vests feel they have won a big enough concession from the government, and therefore call off their protest?
There are plenty of voices that can be heard today saying they want more. Why is it only a suspension of the tax rise, they ask, and not an abolition? What is to guarantee that the government won’t reinstate it next June? Maybe we need to step up the pressure.
But by making a concession, the government does not need to satisfy everyone. It needs only to satisfy a large enough bloc of “moderates” among the gilets jaunes, and wean them away from the barricades.
If that happens, then the movement will lose momentum. And though it won’t be over, the end will be in sight.
My bet would be that this will be what happens. Opinion polls will show a general approval of the government’s concession. The gilets jaunes en masse start to waver. But there’s still a protest by hardliners on Saturday.
Maybe a parting shot, but still – and maybe because of that – a dangerous moment.
Read more from Hugh How has the news been received? The first question is whether the concession will be enough to satisfy the protesters.
Some have vowed to keep up a blockade at an oil depot in Lorient in the north-west of the country, and there have been calls for further demonstrations on Saturday.
Yellow vest spokesman Benjamin Cauchy said the movement wanted a cancellation – not a postponement – of the taxes.
“The measures announced today do not satisfy us at all, for the simple reason they don’t go far enough,” he told reporter Chris Bockman in Toulouse.
“The French people want a complete political transformation. They want to change the way things have been for the last 30 years.
“We’re sick and tired of taxes being raised and the quality of public services going down. There are more and more people out there who can’t make ends meet each month, more and more people are sleeping rough and yet we continue to raise taxes.
“Where is the money going? Where is it being used?”
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption France fuel protests: Who are the people in the yellow vests? Fears that violent protests in the capital could continue next weekend have led Paris St Germain to postpone their League 1 home football match on Saturday.
PSG v Montpellier off at police request Who are the protesters? The “gilets jaunes” movement began as a protest against a rise in duties on diesel, which is widely used by French motorists and has long been less heavily taxed than other types of fuel.
The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by about 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s.
Mr Macron has blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise, but said higher taxes on fossil fuels were needed to fund renewable energy investments.
The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol from 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw for the protesters.
Protesters say Mr Macron is out of touch, particularly with non-city dwellers who rely on their cars.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Changes affecting ambulance drivers are part of a raft of reforms by President Macron The movement has grown to reflect a range of grievances, including the marginalisation of rural areas, high living costs, and general anger at President Macron’s economic policies.
The protests have no identifiable leadership and gained momentum via social media, encompassing a range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in between.
In recent days, ambulance drivers and students have launched their own protests.
‘I didn’t know teeth whitening was illegal’ – BBC News
‘I didn’t know whitening teeth was illegal’ 4 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Brenda McFadyen says she didn’t know she was breaking the law A woman convicted of illegally whitening people’s teeth has told BBC Scotland she did not know what she was doing was against the law.
The General Dental Council (GDC) says only registered dentists should carry out teeth whitening.
But private companies offer training in how to oversee the procedure.
Brenda McFadyen, from Clydebank, was fined £1,000 after she pled guilty to the illegal practice of dentistry at Glasgow Sheriff Court last month.
The 63-year-old said she was angry that she had been prosecuted and she now wants to warn others not to get involved in offering teeth whitening products and services. What is teeth whitening? Image caption Figures suggest one in eight Scots have had it done
Celebrity culture and reality shows such as The Only Way is Essex have contributed to a big growth in the popularity of teeth whitening treatments.
The procedure involves bleaching your teeth using a whitening product usually containing hydrogen peroxide.
Figures suggest one in eight Scots have had their teeth whitened but it is against the law for anyone who is not registered with the GDC, which regulates the UK dental industry, to practise dentistry. Image caption It involves bleaching teeth using a whitening product ‘Bit of extra income’
But Ms McFadyen said she did not know she was doing something illegal until the police knocked on her door in Clydebank on a Saturday night earlier this year.
“I had been teeth whitening for three or four years. In my eyes I wasn’t doing anything illegal but I had to go to court and plead guilty and I was hit with a £1,000 fine,” she told BBC Scotland.
“It was just a bit of extra income. We are both retired, you’re trying your best to get on in life. And at my age, this is what I’ve had to go through.
“They’ve taken my name and they’ve ruined it.”
Ms McFadyen was prosecuted under the Dentists Act 1984 after the GDC employed private detectives to gather evidence that she was whitening teeth.
The GDC told BBC Scotland it was protecting public safety.
Head of criminal enforcement, Katie Spears, praised the fine handed to Ms McFadyen and said it reflected the “seriousness” of the offence. Image caption The GDC says the law in relation to teeth whitening is very clear Image caption Dentists use custom-made trays to apply the whitening product
Dentists regularly carry out teeth whitening but private companies also train people in how to oversee the procedure.
The GDC has not brought any cases against training companies but it has prosecuted 31 individuals across the UK this year.
Ms Spears added: “There are big training providers who try to mislead members of the public into signing up to their training courses and buying their equipment and they make claims which are simply not true.
“The law in relation to tooth whitening is very clear and the only way you can have it safely done is through a registered dentist.” Image caption Dentist Jaspal Purba says he has treated patients who have come to him with complications after having their teeth whitened
It is unclear how many people are injured as a result of illegal teeth whitening and there is no suggestion that any of Ms McFadyen’s clients were harmed.
BBC Scotland spoke to the dental hospitals in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee where the most serious cases would be treated. None of them had any referrals in relation to teeth whitening in the past year. I have seen a few cases of allergic reaction and swelling of the lips and the tongue Jaspal Purba, Dentist
But dentist Jaspal Purba, from Bupa Dental Care, has treated patients who have come to him with complications.
“Allergies alone can be quite serious and can be life threatening if they begin to affect your airways,” he said.
“I have seen a few cases of allergic reaction and swelling of the lips and the tongue.
“But the most common complications I have seen, if someone has not had a custom-made tray, is burns of the lining of the mouth and the gums.”
Ms McFadyen said she is still struggling to come to terms with what happened and she wants to warn others against getting involved in teeth whitening.
“Nobody should be out doing this,” she said.
“There will be someone out there who will come for them and they (the GDC) will come sooner rather than later.” Related Topics
Ministers to publish full Brexit legal advice – BBC News
Theresa May suffers three Brexit defeats in Commons 5 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Brexit Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The moment the voting figures were announced and the government was told to disclose its legal advice over Brexit. Theresa May has suffered three Brexit defeats in the Commons as she set out to sell her EU deal to sceptical MPs.
Ministers have agreed to publish the government’s full legal advice on the deal after MPs found them in contempt of Parliament for issuing a summary.
And MPs backed calls for the Commons to have a direct say in what happens if the PM’s deal is rejected next Tuesday.
Mrs May said MPs had a duty to deliver on the 2016 Brexit vote and the deal on offer was an “honourable compromise”.
She was addressing the Commons at the start of a five-day debate on her proposed agreement on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and future relations with the EU.
The agreement has been endorsed by EU leaders but must also be backed by the UK Parliament if it is to come into force. MPs will decide whether to reject or accept it on Tuesday 11 December.
Mrs May said Brexit divisions had become “corrosive” to UK politics and the public believed the issue had “gone on long enough” and must be resolved.
In other Brexit-related developments: Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has quit the party in protest at its direction The BBC said it had been unable to agree a format for a televised Brexit debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn following discussions with the parties The UK should be able to unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU, according to a top European law officer Analysis: A terrible day for May but… Image copyright PA The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg
The prime minister has had a terrible day today as the government made history in two excruciating ways.
Ministers were found to be in contempt of Parliament – a very serious telling off – and the government had a hat trick of defeats – the first time since the 1970s that’s happened.
As you’d expect too, MP after MP after MP rose after Theresa May’s remarks to slam her deal as Tory divisions were played out on the green benches, with harsh words exchanged.
But in this topsy-turvy world, the overall outcome of the day for Mrs May’s big test a week tonight might have been not all bad… What was the legal advice row? Image copyright PA Image caption The attorney general said his full advice to ministers should remain confidential
By 311 votes to 293, the Commons supported a motion demanding full disclosure of the legal advice given to cabinet before the Brexit deal was agreed.
The move was backed by six opposition parties, including Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party which has a parliamentary pact with the Conservatives.
It came after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published a summary of the advice on Monday and answered MPs questions for three hours – but argued that full publication would not be in the national interest. Mark D’Arcy: What contempt challenge means
Labour had accused ministers of “wilfully refusing to comply” with a binding Commons vote last month demanding they provided the attorney general’s full and final advice.
After Labour demanded the advice should be released ahead of next Tuesday’s key vote on Mrs May’s deal, Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was “unimaginable” this would not happen.
In response, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she would “respond” on Wednesday, but would ask the Commons Privileges Committee to consider the constitutional repercussions. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption BBC political correspondent Leila Nathoo explains how things unfolded
An attempt by ministers to refer the whole issue, including the government’s conduct, to the committee of MPs was earlier defeated by four votes.
The privileges committee will now decide which ministers should be held accountable and what sanction to apply, with options ranging from a reprimand to the more unlikely scenario of a minister being suspended from the Commons.
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said the result left the government “on the ropes”, adding: “Theresa May’s majority has evaporated, and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it.” MPs seek to influence Brexit process
The prime minister suffered a further setback on Tuesday as MPs backed, by 321 votes to 299, changes to the parliamentary process should the Commons vote down her deal next week.
If that happens, the government has 21 days in which to return to the House and set out what it plans to do next. Can the government avoid Brexit defeat?
But Tory Dominic Grieve’s motion means that instead of MPs being confined to merely taking note of what the government tells them, the Commons would be able to exert more influence by voting on what they wanted the government to do as well.
Tuesday’s vote, in which 26 Tory MPs rebelled, could potentially tilt the balance of power between government and Parliament if, as expected, MPs push for a “Plan B” alternative to Mrs May’s deal and also seek to prevent any chance of a no-deal exit.
Mr Grieve, who has expressed support for another Brexit referendum, told Channel 4 News he was not seeking to “guarantee a particular outcome” if Mrs May’s deal went down.
But he said it would “allow the UK time to consider its options”, including potentially re-starting negotiations with the EU or giving the public the final say. What did the PM say? Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Theresa May: “Worth taking a moment to reflect on how we got here.”
As she sought the backing of the Commons for her Brexit deal, the prime minister said she was confident the UK would enjoy a “better future” outside the European Union.
She said the “honourable compromise” on offer was “not the one-way street” many had portrayed it to be and that the EU had made it clear that the agreement would not be improved on.
“I never said this deal was perfect, it was never going to be. That is the nature of a negotiation,” she said.
“We should not let the search for a perfect Brexit prevent a good Brexit… I promise you today that this is the very best deal for the British people and I ask you to back it in the best interest of our constituents and our country.” And what about her critics?
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a bad deal for the UK and Labour would seek a vote of no confidence in Mrs May if she could not get it through Parliament.
“This House will make its decision next Tuesday,” he said. “I hope and expect this House will reject that deal.
“At that point, the government has lost the confidence of the House. Either they have to get a better deal from the EU or give way to those who will.” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Not everyone agreed with Boris Johnson’s analysis of the Brexit deal…
Nigel Dodds, the leader of the DUP in Westminster, said the agreement “falls short” of delivering Brexit “as one United Kingdom” and would mean entering “a twilight world where the EU is given unprecedented powers over the UK”.
“We would have to rely on the goodwill of others to ever leave this arrangement,” he said.
“So… the UK’s future as a strong and independent global trading nation standing together is in real and imminent jeopardy – an outcome that doesn’t honour the referendum or take back control of our laws, our money and our borders.”
Ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dismissed the deal as a “paint and plaster pseudo-Brexit” and said its supporters would be “turning their backs” on the 17.4 million Leave voters.
“If we try to cheat them now, as I fear we are, they will spot it and will never forgive us,” he said. ‘Moment of self-harm’
The leader of the SNP in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said beneath the “theatre” of the past few months was the “cold, hard truth” that this deal was “a moment of self-harm in our history”.
He said it was “difficult” and “a real sorrow” to even respond to a motion that could see the UK leave the EU – an institution that he called the “greatest peace project in our lifetime”.
“It is not too late to turn back. Fundamentally, there is no option that is going to be better for our economy, jobs, and for our communities than staying in the European Union.
“And it is the height of irresponsibility of any government to bring forward a proposition that is going to make its people poorer.”
However, in closing the debate shortly after 01:00 GMT on Wednesday, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay argued the deal would bring “real changes which will improve the livelihoods of people up and down the country”.
“This deal is a choice between the certainty of continued co-operation or the potentially damaging fracture of no deal, or indeed the instability of a second referendum vote,” he said.
“Rejecting this deal would create even more uncertainty at a time when we owe it to our constituents to show clarity and conviction.”
Former leader Nigel Farage quits UKIP – BBC News
Former leader Nigel Farage quits UKIP 4 December 2018 These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Nigel Farage has quit UKIP, saying the party’s leader Gerard Batten seems to be obsessed with Islam and ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
Speaking on LBC radio, the former leader of the Eurosceptic party said he made the decision with a “heavy heart”.
But he said he did not “recognise” the party anymore and it was turning a blind eye to extremist politics.
Mr Batten survived a vote of no confidence on Monday, after he appointed Mr Robinson as an adviser.
However, the party’s ruling body said it did not endorse Mr Robinson’s appointment and he was barred from membership “through his associations”.
Mr Farage – who joined the party’s forerunner, the Anti-Federalist League, in 1992 – said he had worked “tirelessly” for UKIP with the aim of forcing a vote to “get us back our independence” from the EU.
But he said under Mr Batten’s leadership “a lot has changed”.
“[Mr Batten] seems to be pretty obsessed with the issue of Islam, not just Islamic extremism, but Islam, and UKIP wasn’t founded to be a party fighting a religious crusade,” he said.
“[He is] also obsessed with this figure Tommy Robinson…”
Mr Farage said the association of the former EDL leader brought “scuffles” and “violence” to the party, adding: “Many have criminal records, some pretty serious, and all of it has been dragging UKIP away from being an electoral party into a party of street activism.” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption In October, Mr Batten called Tommy Robinson is a “tremendously brave man”
Mr Batten and Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, are due to appear together at a pro-Brexit march this weekend. Mr Farage said the “image” that will give Brexit is “something that our enemies will use against us for perhaps many years to come”.
“Damaging UKIP is one thing, damaging the Brexit cause is even worse,” he added. “The brand has now been so damaged, so tarnished, that it is not able to pick up and won’t be able to pick up the political opportunity that is there staring it in the face.” ‘Committed to a true Brexit’
After Mr Farage quit the party, Mr Batten said he gave “full credit” to him for the part he played in winning the 2016 EU referendum for the Leave side, but said Mr Farage had “left the party in spirit” after the vote.
Mr Batten also said: “[UKIP] stood on the edge of destruction in February 2018 and Nigel chose to play no part in rescuing it. I am pleased that I was able to do precisely that.
“Under my leadership, the party has been saved financially, recruited thousands of more members, and we have risen in the polls. We are going from strength to strength.”
He added: “I am not going to return like with like in this instance and instead wish Nigel well in his media career. I doubt he will be asking me to go on his show.” Related Topics