1 - EU referendum: Tory MP will take forward bill - click here.
2 - Two Saudi princes lose appeal to keep business dispute secret - click here.
3 - UK High Court rules Goldman Sachs tax deal lawful - click here.
4 - North Dakota abortion law challenged - click here.
5 - RP Martin suspends chief amid Libor probe - click here.
6 - House to vote yet again on repealing health care law - click here.
7 - Judge: city must continue Sandy Hotel Program - click here.
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China agrees free trade deal with Switzerland
China has agreed the technical details of a free-trade agreement with Switzerland, and the deal is likely to be signed in coming months. The agreement follows a deal between China and Iceland last month, which was Beijing’s first trade agreement with a European country. The deal with Switzerland, which took more than three years to negotiate, is set to include some reductions in tariffs in sectors such as manufacturing and chemicals, as well as in agriculture. Most European countries are unable to sign a free-trade agreement with China, because they are members of the EU, which refuses to agree to Beijing’s precondition that China be considered a market economy.
EU warns China over telecom payments
The EU warns it may investigate claims that Chinese telecom firms have been paid subsidies, allowing them to flood markets with cheap equipment. The EU fears that illegal payments may be helping firms such as China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE, at the expense of European producers such as Ericsson. However, the EU will not act immediately, in the hope that a deal can be reached between the two sides.
Risky business in tricky times
by Linda Julian
You don't need to be reminded that we're living and working through extraordinary and turbulent times. One tempting response to the tough business climate is to become excessively risk averse and tighten controls to a point where they stifle business development -- another is to go on a "risk binge". Right now, among professional practices, we see both these responses in play.
Realistically identifying and assessing market risks, followed by informed choices about business development, is the right way to move forward in these tricky times.
These tips may help:
Think carefully before you act. Be sure that your clients, staff, and competitors take cues from what you do.
Take a fresh look at your value proposition -- this time, most definitely from the client perspective. The time is ripe to re-craft your messages to ensure you are selling what clients want to buy right now: results, certainty, ease of doing business, as well as all the lovely "feel-good" factors.
Nebulous, general marketing and branding is low risk but usually also low return Well-conceived and targeted business development is also low risk but with better prospects of healthy returns.
Right now, you can safely assume clients apply microscopic scrutiny to value for money. This is not the time to nickel and dime clients, nor is it smart to pad out timesheets and bills to improve your current month figures
Now is the time to shower extra attention on clients loyal to you in the past. Reduce risk of a competitor luring your clients away by stepping up the service and value.
Encourage clients to maintain or increase their spending with you on services which produce for them the greatest measurable value in the shortest timeframe. Estimate (yes, quantify and then articulate) the business impact on them of your proposal. Promote your services around measurable results ahead of "soft" benefits.
Make you and your firm a fit for the client rather than asking clients to do contortions to fit you Don't let your rules and regulations, procedures, and administrative requirements stand in the way of getting good clients to do good business with you -- lest they be enticed away by another professional services firm which is a whole lot less bureaucratic.
Accept that many of your clients are under more pressure than ever -- and not just financial pressure. Business is simply harder than before. Don't add to their stress and nudge them to an "I'm over that professional services firm -- lots of others would really like my business" statement.
Be flexible. There are other ways to do things and now might be a good time not to rigidly follow the pattern of your past.
Recognise business development initiatives and people who take measured risks to get results. Be prepared to resource and doubly reward successes.
Choose external consultants and advisers carefully. Check that they have in-depth insights into your target markets and a track record of succeeding in the face of challenges like those you face. Take a hard look at any grandiose ideas and panaceas they offer and be especially wary of "one size fits all" solutions.
Accept that developing business is not risk free. Only rarely are results guaranteed. Not marketing does, however, guarantee results.
Linda Julian is at www.julianmidwinter.com.au
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Brazil looks to build a 10,000-mile virtual fence
Brazil's borders are so vast, and the terrain so inhospitable, that attempting to secure them has seemed a virtually impossible task. But Brazil's rapidly expanding economy has made the country a magnet for illegal immigration, and other illicit activities, and now the country has announced its own border protection program. Called the Sistema Integrado de Monitoramento de Fronteiras (Sisfron), it is intended to act as a virtual border shield along a frontier that stretches more than 10,000 miles and is shared with 10 other countries. The system will use a combination of satellite technology, electromagnetic signaling, tactical communications, drones and an increased army presence to monitor the border areas. This will unfurl in stages. The first pilot project will get underway on the stretch of border with Bolivia and Paraguay. Bolivia is one of the biggest regional producers of cocaine. Paraguay is known as a smuggling haven for many black market goods. But the plan isn't without critics. Brazil's border is about five times longer than the US's Southern frontier. According to experts, only about 20 percent of the area that Brazil is trying to cover is actually accessible. Most of it lies in thick Amazon forest, marshland, or is traversed by large river systems. The United States' own experiment with a high-tech border system has fared poorly.
Brazil justice council effectively legalizes same-sex marriage
Brazil's National Council of Justice on Tuesday ruled that notaries public cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Brazil. The decision follows legislation in Argentina and Uruguay, which both legalized same-sex marriage in recent years. The ruling, entered on May 14 and effective May 16, prohibits authorities from refusing to perform same-sex marriages, register same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, or convert same-sex civil unions into marriages at the couple's request. There is an opportunity for a judicial appeal to Brazil's highest court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal.
Signs of closer ties between Brazil and the US
Brazil is the kind of trading partner the US needs, and it supports about 300,000 jobs in its northerly neighbor. It also buys the types of products the US wants to sell more of – aircraft parts, machinery and plastics. US services exports to Brazil have also increased, more than tripling between 2002 and 2011 to nearly $20bn. For Brazil, the US, with its transparent business practices and focus on innovation and intellectual property, is the kind of trading partner it prefers. After an initial honeymoon with Beijing in the first decade of this century, when China became its biggest trading partner, Brazil is growing frustrated with aspects of the business relationship. Mindful that US universities are one means of improving its competitiveness, Brazil is sending a large number of students under its R$3bn ($1.5bn) science without borders scholarship program to colleges in the US. Brazilian companies, meanwhile, are tapping the strengthened capital markets of the US for private sector investment. The growing relationship is leading to hopes that thorny technical issues may one day be worked out. These include visa-free access for Brazilians to the US and a tax treaty that would simplify business dealings between the two. The two countries, which are competitors on global soya, orange juice and other commodities markets, are occasionally at odds on trade. “Brazil is on the short list of countries that will most shape the 21st century. US and Brazilian foreign policy must adjust accordingly.
Bankruptcy costs attacked
Federal watchdogs are preparing to exert more control over costs in big bankruptcy cases. In the initial push, the first overhaul of guidelines intended to keep costs in check in about 17 years is expected to be unveiled by July 1. It aims to tamp down on fee and expense applications submitted by attorneys for corporate debtors and sometimes creditors. Next in line: revisions of existing guidelines for other bankruptcy professionals, such as financial advisers and bankers. No timeline has yet been set for those efforts. The challenges come from the US Trustee Program, the wing of the Department of Justice that monitors bankruptcy cases and that is handling the guidelines, as well as some bankruptcy judges. Bankruptcy professionals have specialized expertise—some charge as much as $1,000 an-hour—and typically get paid before creditors who are owed money from distressed firms. The concern animating the guidelines is that unjustified costs can give the impression that professionals are feasting off a corporate carcass that rightly belongs to the people and businesses they are serving. In large Chapter 11 cases, the corporate debtor typically foots the bill for its own lawyers and advisers and professionals retained by some creditors. Some in the field say time and money spent scrutinizing small costs itself adds up and can distract from the bigger task of repayment and reorganization. The push on costs comes as expenses from flights and hotels to photocopies and minibar candy billed by bankruptcy professionals are under greater scrutiny than ever, according to dozens of lawyers and other advisers.
Facebook tells court 'Like' feature vital to free speech
Facebook's "Like" feature is vital to 500 million people who share ideas on the social network and must have free-speech protection under the US Constitution, a lawyer for the company told a federal appeals court. "Any suggestion that such communication has less than full constitutional protection would result in chilling the very valued means for communication the Internet has made possible."
Holder orders criminal investigation of IRS
US Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) unfairly scrutinized tax-exemptions for conservative groups. The agency initially singled out groups with applications containing the names "Tea Party" or "Patriots," but expanded to target groups that promoted Constitutionalism. The practice of subjecting conservative groups to extra scrutiny went on for 18 months. The Treasury Inspector General's report suggests that poor management led to "insufficient oversight" in the review of hundreds of advocacy groups. The report states that "the criteria developed by the Determinations Unit gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission."
Some lawmakers want big-budget groups included in IRS debate
The Justice Department is investigating the IRS's flagging of grass-roots conservative groups that sought nonprofit status. But some lawmakers want the debate extended to look at the well-financed activities of existing 501(c)(4) groups that spent millions in the 2012 elections.
EU poll highlights homophobic abuse
A quarter of gay people surveyed in a major EU poll say they have been subjected to attacks or violent threats in the past five years. FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said "big challenges" remained when it came to battling discrimination against Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) people across the EU. Some 300 politicians and experts are gathering in The Hague to discuss shaping new European Union policies to stamp out homophobia.
Wells Fargo ordered to pay $203 million for misleading customers
A federal judge on Tuesday reinstated a $203 million penalty against Wells Fargo in a class action suit alleging that the bank affirmatively misled customers and then charged excessive overdraft fees. Rather than processing purchases in a chronological order, as is the common practice, the bank processed its customers' purchases from largest to smallest. The penalty was originally ordered in August 2010, but the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit tossed the order in December. The case's original judge, Judge William Alsup, reviewed the case and reinstated the penalty after concluding once again that the bank misled its customers about the posting order of charges, and then proceeded to charge the customers for overdraft fees. Wells Fargo plans to appeal the decision. - click here
Regulators tighten rules on trading of derivatives
Federal regulators approved new rules on Thursday to shine a light on Wall Street trading, but they also softened a crucial aspect of the plan in the face of lobbying pressure from the nation's biggest banks.
Congress asks Google about glass privacy
Eight members of Congress on Thursday asked Google Inc. Chief Executive Larry Page to make assurances about privacy safeguards for the company's high-profile Google Glass wearable-computing device, which isn't yet for sale to the public.
UN chief in Russia as Syria crisis deepens
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar
Amr Moussa Considers Election Boycott
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England
Syria crisis: US steps up aid to rebels at talks in Turkey
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt
Acting IRS director resigns over targeting of conservative and pro-Israel groups
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel
US lawmakers to PA: Axe official who praised terror
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel
Fire service 'needs transforming'
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England
Thank you, Angelina Jolie
CNN International, London, England
France and Italy have 'structural not economic' problems, says ally of Angela Merkel
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England
Husband 'strangled his wife before he hanged himself' in central London flat
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England
Nicole's back-row rendezvous with her singer husband
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England
Bulgarian truckers block road into Turkey
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France
NIGERIA: Nigeria begins offensive against Boko Haram Islamists
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
EU looks to Turkey to help Greek Cyprus
Hurriyet Daily News, (Liberal, English-language), Istanbul, Turkey
Millions escape brunt of Cyclone Mahasan
Independent The, London, England
Russian scientists develop ovulation app
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia
Multi-million dollar cigarette smuggling ring with possible inks to terrorism uncovered in New York
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England
Countryfile presenter John Craven celebrates new BBC contract at the age of 72
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England
Spurs hold off Warriors to advance
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand
Bombers target markets, mosque in Iraq, 25 dead
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan
Beckham Ending Pro Soccer Career
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea
Baby born drunk after pregnant mum goes binge drinking
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India
Industrialist shot dead on Agra-Jaipur highway
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India
Hashimoto stays in the hot seat
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan
Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker wanted for murder
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand
Australian mine puts largest 'red' diamond on market
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore
What happened to son of 'Kaput'?
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia
Blatter attacks 'unacceptable' Roma racism fine
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan
French FinMin Pierre Moscovici sees growth returning in H2, 2013
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India
Signs of Syrian chemical weapons attack reported by BBC
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Obama stands against flurry of scandal
Globe and Mail The, Centrist daily, Toronto, Canada
Rick Ross Dropped By Reebok Over Pro-Rape Lyrics
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S
Mexican Communities Sue Pemex for Environmental Justice
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy
ABN AMRO cuts 400 jobs as prepares for eventual sale
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S
Political storm over IRS targetting scandal shifts to U.S. Congress
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in 'crack cocaine' video scandal
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario
Nigeria begins raids on Boko Haram
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England
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