By Sonya Dowsett and Jose Elías Rodríguez MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government is working against the clock to reach a deal with builders over a multibillion euro bail-out for nine bankrupt motorways which could directly hit the country's deficit. Talks that have dragged on for months were abandoned at the end of last year, but have now resumed in the hope of finding a solution before the first of the companies starts liquidation proceedings in about a month. "We are still working with the government on this," said Julian Nunez, the chairman of Seopan, an association that represents Spanish builders like ACS and OHL , many of which won concessions to build toll roads from the government during Spain's construction boom. The government hoped to reach a solution soon, he said, and nothing was ruled out.
By Tom Bergin LONDON (Reuters) - Amazon's tax affairs could come under more scrutiny in Britain, tax experts said, after a judge questioned whether it really was organized in the tax efficient way it said it was. The ruling comes as big technology groups, including Amazon, face increasing scrutiny in Britain over their tax practices. A UK judge ruled earlier this month that Amazon had infringed the trademark of soap maker Lush by posting advertisements on Google mentioning "Lush soap" and by offering customers who searched for "Lush soap" on its own website a list of options. Since Lush products were not available on Amazon's UK website - on the manufacturer's insistence - the judge ruled customers could be confused.
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Rick Perry says Republican governors like him are leading the nation's economic recovery.
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says the United States' standing in the world has diminished under President Barack Obama, and its next leader faces a tough task in rebuilding America's might.
By Li-mei Hoang LONDON (Reuters) - British engineering company Rolls-Royce said on Friday it would fund the purchase of German carmaker Daimler's 50 percent stake of a jointly owned power systems company using cash and some borrowing. Rolls-Royce said it had ample liquidity to take full ownership of the three-year-old joint venture Rolls-Royce Power Systems with Daimler's holding estimated to be worth 1.9 billion pounds ($3.18 billion). "The using of cash and borrowing facilities to pay for this clearly means that the related interest charge is modest and therefore the enhancement to Rolls-Royce's earnings is probably 5 or 6 percent and a useful little fillip," he said. "Having full control over a business that has significant potential synergies with other part of Rolls-Royce gives you a free hand and that has got to be good," he added.
By Pascal Fletcher and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats it linked to a raid on an exiled Rwandan general's Johannesburg home, and Rwanda has retaliated by ordering out six South African envoys, officials said on Friday. The row strained ties between two African states involved in efforts to bring peace to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where South Africa has troops in a U.N. brigade that fought last year against rebels whom U.N. experts said received support from Rwanda. Kigali denied backing the Congolese rebels. Late on Monday, armed men broke into the Johannesburg home of former Rwandan army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, an exiled critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
This week the Liberal Democrats were beaten in a council by-election in Nottingham by the Bus Pass Elvis Party. It doesn’t seem to have stopped the Party’s self-congratulatory mood as they gather in York for their Spring Conference for a little more conversation.
By MacDonald Dzirutwe HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Friday suspended a senior official who had asked party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to quit, a move which has divided a party recovering from election defeat last year. MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said the suspension of deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma was irregular and said members had been intimidated during a meeting he said was not properly constituted. Biti, finance minister in a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party until last July, said Mangoma had not been given a proper opportunity to defend himself and the national council members had not conducted a vote as required under party rules. "We are very frightened about the mutation of the MDC into another ZANU-PF and in my capacity as secretary general I have a duty to protect a movement, and one which so many people believe in," Biti said, speaking at his law firm in Harare.
Canada will impose a travel ban on the people it blames for the Ukraine crisis, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday, without giving specific names. The Canadian government has already suspended military cooperation with Russia and said it will not recognize any referendum held in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea as long as Russia's "illegal" occupation continues. Harper said in a statement that the ban would affect "a number of individuals responsible for threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Canada is home to a sizable Ukrainian diaspora, and the Conservative government has strongly condemned Russia's actions in Crimea.
By Gernot Heller BERLIN (Reuters) - A German business group says the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia should the Ukraine crisis worsen would have a huge effect on the global economy. Eckhard Cordes, head of Germany's Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, told Reuters: "We feel a clear sense of unease and the fear that the crisis will worsen, bringing with it a spiral of sanctions which will have a massive impact on the economy." Some 6,200 German firms are active in Russia, and have invested 20 billion euros in the country, while 300,000 German jobs are dependent on trade with Russia, Cordes said. Germany is also reliant on Russian energy, and obtains 40 percent of its gas imports from Russia and a third of its oil, although gas stores are well stocked after a mild winter. The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War - resulting from the overthrow last month of Ukrainian Pesident Viktor Yanukovich after violent protests in Kiev - escalated on Thursday when Crimea's parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia.
By Sarah White and Blanca Rodríguez MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's government on Friday approved new rules to help struggling companies cut debt and avoid bankruptcy as the country heads into economic recovery with weak job growth. It also creates a mechanism for creditors to write off part of a borrower's debt. Spain's economy is emerging from two recessions, but record high bankruptcies are expected to continue as tens of thousands of small companies struggle with debt left over from the crisis. Spain had few tools to help companies cut their debts ahead of a formal bankruptcy process through the courts.
By Pascal Fletcher and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats it linked to a raid by gunmen on a dissident exiled Rwandan general's home and Rwanda ordered out six South African envoys in retaliation, a diplomatic source said on Friday. Late on Monday, armed men broke into the Johannesburg home of former Rwandan army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, an exiled critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters South African security services had tracked the attackers. "It was very clear that they were intelligence personnel attached to the Rwandan embassy," the source added.
[UN News]The International Criminal Court (ICC) today convicted former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga of war crimes committed during a deadly 2003 attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
By Sudip Kar-Gupta LONDON (Reuters) - FTSE fell to a three-week closing low on Friday as a landmark corporate bond default in China, the world's top metals consumer, hit major mining stocks. Lingering concerns about the crisis in Ukraine, after Russia's effective seizure of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, also weighed on the market. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index briefly edged into positive territory after stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data, but it fell back and ended down by 1.1 percent, or 75.82 points, at 6,712.67 points. That was the FTSE's lowest close since it ended at 6,663.62 points on February 14.
By Daren Butler DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - The face of jailed Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan briefly beamed down from billboards in southeast Turkey until police tore down the posters, a mark of official unease over his enduring influence among Kurds as local elections loom. "There is a feeling that if ... we achieve a stronger (election) result, the peace process will advance," said Gultan Kisanak, mayoral candidate in Diyarbakir for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) which governs the city. "But if we relax and our votes decline, we Kurds fear that the peace process could collapse," she said as campaigning got under way in the largest city in the mainly Kurdish southeast. The BDP has the same grassroots supporters and shares a similar goal of political autonomy for the largely Kurdish southeast region as Ocalan's banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.
By Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's president on Friday ruled out any ban on Facebook and YouTube after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the sites could be shut to stop his foes anonymously posting audio recordings purportedly exposing corruption in his inner circle. In the latest recording, released on YouTube late on Thursday, Erdogan is purportedly heard berating a newspaper owner over the telephone about an article and suggesting the journalists be sacked, in comments that will further stoke concerns over media freedom and Erdogan's authoritarian style of leadership. Erdogan, who rejects any accusations of corruption, blames U.S.-based Turkish Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, a former ally, for the wiretaps which he says have been "fabricated". Gulen, who denies any involvement, has many followers in Turkey, especially in the police and judiciary.
By Colleen Jenkins FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Reuters) - Opening arguments in the military court martial of a U.S. Army general accused of forcibly sodomizing a female captain with whom he had a secret sexual relationship provided sharply conflicting accounts on Friday of the end of the affair. Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair stands accused of forcing the junior officer under his command to perform oral sex, grabbing her genitalia against her will and having intercourse with her in public places. The rare trial of a high-ranking U.S. military official is unfolding on a base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, amid a growing debate among U.S. lawmakers over how best to curb sexual assault in the military. "This case is one of abuse of position, abuse of command, abuse of power, abuse of rank," said lead Army prosecutor Lt. Colonel Robert Stelle on Friday.
By Steve Slater LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays is changing its auditor of the past 120 years and Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland could follow suit as Britain's bank auditing landscape gets shaken up by new rules. Britain is making listed companies put out their audit work to tender every 10 years and the European Union is forcing them to change every 20 years. PwC, which has audited Barclays since 1896, will not be invited to pitch. Deloitte has been its auditor since 2000.
[AI London]The International Criminal Court has convicted Germain Katanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for his part in a vicious attack on a village in eastern Congo where civilians were massacred.
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Former presidential candidates and a few new potential White House contenders known for their focus on social values are trying out their speeches, as early auditions for the next Republican presidential contest rolled on Friday at the nation's largest annual gathering of conservative activists.