The US Senate has voted overwhelmingly for a debate on a landmark immigration bill, which if signed into law would pave the way to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, including some 260,000 Indians. A permanent, common-sense solution to our dysfunctional system is in sight. This bipartisan legislation is the solution our economy needs. It is the solution immigrant families need, Senate majority leader Harry Reid said. Acknowledging that this bill isn't perfect and compromise is necessary and inevitable, the Democrat leader said this measure takes important steps to reform the broken legal immigration system, strengthen border security and hold unscrupulous employers accountable.
Turkish police fight protesters, clear square
Turkish riot police fought running battles with pockets of protesters overnight, clearing the central Istanbul square that has been the focus of nearly two weeks of protests against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. By dawn, Taksim Square, strewn with wreckage from bulldozed barricades, was largely deserted and taxis crossed it for the first time since the troubles started. Several hundred remained in an encampment of tents in Gezi Park abutting the square. Erdogan, who has repeatedly dismissed the demonstrators as riff-raff, was expected to meet a grouping of public figures about the protests on Wednesday.
EU tax chief calls for wider bank data swap
The European Commission proposed to expand the kind of customer information that banks must surrender to authorities around the European Union, as political momentum grows to clamp down on tax dodging. Algirdas Semeta, the EU official in charge of tax policy, outlined proposals on Wednesday for banks to disclose account balances, dividends and capital gains, to catch sophisticated schemes not covered by the simpler EU rules now in place. But the commission's suggestion will likely face opposition from Luxembourg, which does not want to be forced to lift its veil of banking secrecy higher than that of neighbouring Switzerland.
BP cuts global gas reserves estimate, mostly for Russia
Oil major BP steeply cut its estimates of global gas reserves on Wednesday, revising Russian reserves down sharply and putting Iran at the top of the world league table. In its benchmark annual statistical review, BP put global proven gas reserves at 187.3 trillion cubic metres as of the end of 2012, down from its estimate of 208.4 trillion a year ago. The cut of 21 trillion equals roughly seven years of global gas consumption. Russia, the world's biggest gas reserves holder for many years, was responsible for the bulk of the reduction, with its reserves estimate downgraded to 32.9 trillion from 44.6 trillion.
France to defend cultural exceptions to the end
France said on Wednesday it would ensure cultural exceptions on its products were preserved in any transatlantic trade deal, a stance which might block the planned opening of talks between the European Union and Washington. France defends and will defend the cultural exception to the end that's a red line, culture minister Aurelie Filippetti told Reuters TV, adding that France would do this even if it is alone in doing so. Asked if Paris would go as far as blocking the opening of the talks, for which the EU's executive commission wants member states to give it a negotiating mandate at a meeting this Friday, she replied: France is extremely determined.