1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062
By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Perry CAIRO (Reuters) - A hardline Islamist leader said the army had driven Egypt to the "edge of a precipice", as a new constitution likely to ban Islamic political parties was set to be approved on Sunday by the panel that drafted it. The 50-member constituent assembly was due to finish voting on a draft that reflects how the balance of power has shifted in Egypt since secular-minded generals deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July after mass protests against him. A major milestone in Egypt's political roadmap, the constitution must be approved in a referendum before new elections which Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, driven underground by aggressive security measures, is unlikely to contest.
By Angus McDowall RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia seems to have few viable options for pursuing a more independent and forthright foreign policy, despite its deep unease about the West's tentative rapprochement with Iran. Upset with the United States, senior Saudis have hinted at a range of possibilities, from building strategic relations with other world powers to pushing a tougher line against Iranian allies in the Arab world and, if world powers fail to foil Tehran's nuclear ambitions, even seeking its own atomic bomb. Russia is on the opposite side to Riyadh over the Syrian war and China's military clout remains modest compared with the United States'. Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers.
Australia's largest ever consumer class action lawsuit, in which customers of several banks are fighting for the return of more than Aus$240 million (US$220 million) in fees, began in Melbourne on Monday. Law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing some 43,500 ANZ Bank customers who believe a range of charges they paid were excessive, in the first of several hearings planned as part of the case. "So you might be a dollar over on your account or a day late in your payment and the banks will slug you with a fee that's out of all proportion to what it costs them for that minor transgression," said Andrew Watson, a lawyer for Maurice Blackburn. "It's time for ANZ Bank customers to have their day in court."
British Prime Minister David Cameron emphasised trade on Monday in his first visit to China since incurring Beijing's wrath for meeting the Dalai Lama. Cameron arrived in the world's second-biggest economy with "the largest British trade mission ever to go to China" in tow, said a statement about the trip from the British embassy. His first official meeting was with Premier Li Keqiang, who made an apparently oblique reference to the patching up of a dispute over Cameron's May 2012 meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, whom Beijing reviles as a separatist.
Iran said on Sunday it wanted stronger cooperation with U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, as it seeks to ease concerns among Gulf Arab neighbors about a potential resurgence in its influence following a nuclear deal with world powers. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, on a tour of Gulf Arab states, said after talks in Kuwait that no date had been set for an expected visit to Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia, Shi'ite Iran's main regional rival.
By Yasmine Saleh and Tom Perry CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army's roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalised on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour, seen as a front for army rule since he was installed to head the interim administration. The draft also says the "election procedures" must start within six months of the constitution's ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.
By Tom Bergin LONDON (Reuters) - In 2006, Britain's energy regulator reviewed how the gas and electricity market was functioning. Summarising its findings, it noted the possibility that its rules on pricing had been overly generous to the network owners. The report was one of many produced by regulator Ofgem, tasked by the government with overseeing an industry that was broken up and sold off by the state during the 1980s and 1990s. "The fact that network businesses .... have recently changed hands at a premium to the regulatory asset value (Ofgem's own valuation of the assets) suggests considerable appetite among the investment community and indicates, in hindsight, that past price control reviews could have been somewhat tighter than they were," Ofgem said in its 2006 report 'Financing Networks'.
By Kevin Yao BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States may see further sovereign rating downgrades if it fails to improve its debt service capability, although a near-term cut looks unlikely, the head of Chinese credit rating firm Dagong said. Beijing-based Dagong Global Credit Rating Co grabbed the media spotlight in October by cutting the U.S. rating by one notch to A-minus from A, despite a deal by Congress to raise the government's borrowing ceiling. We won't cut the rating at will," Guan Jianzhong, chairman of Beijing-based Dagong, told Reuters in an interview. "We are very worried about the U.S. economy.