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

John Aglionby

- ‘The troika decision-making [is] baffling and the vision of the founding fathers of the single currency [is] a mockery,” argues Christopher Pissarides, an adviser to the president of Cyprus, as other small eurozone nations are feeling increasingly defensive about their economies.

- Stefan Wagstyl suggests that the latest Brics summit has exposed the limits of the five nations’ possible co-operation. (Imagine a group of five friends who get together to build a holiday house but can’t agree on what it should cost, where to put it or who should pay for it.?) Meanwhile Gideon Rachman reckons that Brazil is the only Brics country that still qualifies to be a member of the club. Read more

John Aglionby

The US House of Representatives easily but grudgingly passed a compromise bill to avert the fiscal cliff but the deal triggers a fresh showdown in two months, over spending and the deficit.

Andrew Higgins of the New York Times reports from Latvia on how the government’s austerity measures have revived the economy. Read more

John Aglionby

Predictions that the world would end today proved misplaced but Jamil Anderlini has shone a light on the crackdown on a Chinese doomsday cult – Eastern Lightning.

Roula Khalaf writes in a Global Insight how the shifting balance in Syria presents a new opportunity to end the conflict, while the New York Times reports on the impact of President Bashar al-Assad’s use of cluster bombsRead more

John Aglionby

- China has just completed its leadership transition and while the Communist party congress was carefully scripted, plenty of questions remain unanswered. The FT’s Beijing bureau chief Jamil Anderlini discusses the extent to which the party is in decline, while the FT’s Asia editor David Pilling sets some benchmarks for incoming leader Xi Jinping.

- Gershon Baskin, a mediator in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit – who was held hostage by Hamas, writes that the Israeli offensive in Gaza was a mistakeRead more

John Aglionby

- It’s hard not to be drawn into the salacious elements of the David Petraeus resignation scandal. The Daily Telegraph’s Jon Swaine has examined the Jill Kelley and her twin sister’s financial woes. Of the more serious issues, the FT looks at the scrutiny around the FBI’s investigation and the Atlantic addresses the growing militarisation of the CIA.

- On a related theme, the BBC examines the cult of the American generalRead more

John Aglionby

- “Beijing looks as if the government declared martial law in the midst of a floral convention” – FT Beijing bureau chief Jamil Anderlini discusses Chinese society’s ever greater expectations amid the start of the Communist party congress that will choose the country’s new leadership.

- FT China correspondent Kathrin Hille analyses how and why outgoing president Hu Jintao has kept the next generation of leaders on a short leash , and the concern raised by his call to build up the nation’s sea powerRead more