John Aglionby

International investigators are on their way to the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which came down on Thursday in eastern Ukraine killing 298 people. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the Boeing 777 airliner. At a meeting of the UN Security Council, the US has said the aeroplane was shot down by a surface to air missile and that it would have been hard for the pro-Russian separatists to operate a complex missile system by itself. The separatists are denying any involvement.

International calls for a full and transparent inquiry into what happened to the downed airliner are mounting.

By John Aglionby and Mark Odell

 

John Aglionby

Russian President Vladimir Putin is addressing both chambers of the Russian parliament on his plans for Crimea. On Tuesday morning he directed legislators and the government to move forward on a treaty to incorporate the Ukrainian peninsula into Russia.

By John Aglionby in London, Kathrin Hille in Moscow and FT correspondents around the world

 

John Aglionby

The stand-off between Russia and the G7 over Moscow’s intervention in the Ukrainian region of Crimea continued on Monday. Financial markets reacted sharply to developments: fears of a war wiped a tenth off the value of Moscow’s stock exchange, sent the rouble tumbling to an all-time low and pushed up the price of commodities. At the UN in New York, the security council meeting turned into a showdown between Russia and several other nations, including the US and UK, which strongly condemned its incursion on Ukraine’s territorial integrity. And tensions were high in Crimea where it was reported Russia had given Ukrainian military forces an ultimatum to surrender.

By John Aglionby and Leyla Boulton in London, Shannon Bond in New York and FT correspondents around the world

 

John Aglionby

Bill de Blasio celebrates his election triumph with his family. Reuters

Three months ago, Bill de Blasio was trailing in fourth place in the crowded Democratic race to become the party’s candidate in the New York’s mayoral election. Yet on Tuesday night the 52-year-old public advocate swept to one of the largest victories in the city’s electoral history. This is how he managed it.

1) He played the the “Tale of Two Cities” card – the wealthy and less well off – to great effect. He promised to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 a year to pay for pre-school education – a policy President Barack Obama supported. Despite this, according to an exit poll in the New York Daily News, he still won among voters earning more than $100,000. Read more

John Aglionby

Ted Cruz takes the Senate floor

Ten things about Senator Ted Cruz, 42, the junior senator from Texas, who has been talking for more than 14 hours on the Senate floor in a bid to cut off funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

1) Cruz was one of only three senators to vote against the nomination of John Kerry as secretary of state. “We’ve got two pending nominations, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, both of whom are very prominently anti-US – less than ardent fans of the US military.”

2) In his speech in July 2012, after winning the Republican nomination to run for the Senate he invoked Milton Friedman, the economist. “We should take it as a providential sign that today would be the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman,” Mr Cruz said. “A true champion for liberty, and we are walking in Uncle Milton’s footsteps.” Read more

John Aglionby

Detroit filing for chapter 9 bankruptcy might have come as a shock to outsiders and anyone glancing at the city’s slick official website, but people who know the home of Motown well say there has been a certain inevitability to its demise.

Doron Levin, who first reported from the city in 1984, in a blogpost for Fortune, blames generation after generation of elected officials who were blind to the long-term implications of their policies:

“[They] dithered and dissembled and argued, instead of undertaking tough measures to close fiscal gaps. In truth, the city’s financial liabilities were created by the very people who should have been resolving them: one administration after another promised wages, job guarantees and pensions to city workers that were simply unsustainable.”

 Read more

John Aglionby

The allegations against Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, an accountant in the Vatican’s internal accounting administration, are – albeit tangentially – the latest in a litany of scandals to affect the Vatican bank. Over the last three years, the 71-year-old Institute of Religious Works, as the bank is officially called, has been tainted by claims of money-laundering, corruption and incompetence.

The crisis began in September 2010 when it came under investigation by Italian authorities who had frozen €23m the bank was trying to transfer to accounts in Italy and Germany without releasing full details of the intended beneficiaries. The bank denied any wrongdoing. The funds were released but the investigation continues.

The Vatican responded with striking rapidity to the bank’s top two officials, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and Paolo Cipriani, being placed under investigation; Father Frederico Lombardi, the chief spokesman, even wrote to the FT defending the two menRead more

John Aglionby

A demonstrator holds a Brazilian flag in front of a burning barricade during a protest in Rio de Janeiro on Monday

The protests sweeping Brazil began in São Paulo, the country’s commerical capital, last week as a demonstration by students against an increase in bus fares from R$3 to R$3.20 ($1.47) per journey. They have swelled into an outpouring of popular discontent over everything from the billions of dollars the 2014 football World Cup will cost the taxpayer to the police’s heavy-handed reaction to last week’s protests. Commentators say they are probably the country’s largest since the end of the 1964-1985 dictatorship.

Here’s a reading list to help assess whether they are likely to escalate further or fizzle. Read more

John Aglionby

Differences between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other leaders of the Group of Eight nations over Syria are likely to dominate the first day of the summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland as host David Cameron seeks to keep the focus on trade, tax and transparency.

By John Aglionby, Lina Saigol and Lindsay Whipp. All times are BST

 

John Aglionby

The US government’s secret internet surveillance programme, codenamed Prism, began when the National Security Agency signed up Microsoft as its first partner on Sept 11, 2007, less than a month after the passing of the Protect America Act which authorised it.

♦ Yahoo was added on 12/3/2008, Google on 14/1/2009, Facebook on 3/5/2009, PalTalk on 7/12/2009, YouTube on 24/9/2010, Skype on 6/2/2011, AOL on 3/3/2011 and Apple in October 2012, , according to a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Guardian and the Washington Post .

♦ The companies liaise with the NSA through the FBI’s data intercept technology unit. Twitter is conspicuously absent from the list. Read more