New York

♦ An FT investigation has uncovered the key role played by Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and UniCredit in the reform of the Vatican bank, by refusing to provide financial services over the past two years.
♦ The World Trade Organisation’s 159 members managed to agree on something for the first time in its 18-year history last week – a sign that the organisation is “coming alive”.
♦ Yingluck Shinawatra’s position as Thai prime minister is in jeopardy because of opposition hatred for her brother – a force that has defined her premiership and driven instability.
♦ Bedouin gangs in the Sinai have discovered that taking hostages is more profitable than human smuggling.
♦ Bill de Blasio’s challenge as New York mayor will be to negotiate and pay for a way out of the impasse between the administration and the unions of city workers. 

Bill de Blasio (Getty)

By Luisa Frey

On Tuesday night 52-year-old Bill de Blasio won the New York mayoral election in one of the largest victories in the Big Apple’s electoral history.

De Blasio beat Joseph Lhota by a 49-point margin (73 per cent to 24 per cent), which is the widest in a mayoral election since Edward Koch won a third term in 1985 by 68 points. De Blasio is also the first Democrat to win in nearly 25 years. 

woman smokingNew York City’s 18-year-olds can vote in their first election next week, but soon they won’t be able to buy a pack of cigarettes.

The city’s famously tough smoking laws got even tougher on Wednesday when the city council voted to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 – the federal minimum – to 21.

New York isn’t the first US locale to tighten age restrictions – you have to be 19 to buy smokes in several states, including New Jersey, and two towns in Massachusetts have raised their age limit to 21 – but the council bragged of being the first “major city” to pass such a strict rule. 

G8 summit There have already been rifts over the issue of armaments in Syria.
♦ While leaders have been at loggerheads, Assad’s regime has been able to take advantage of the lack of US leadership, writes Roula Khalaf.
♦ The decision to send unspecified military support to the rebels will be dangerous, but it is more risky to stay out, says David Gardner: “Leaving Syria to its present devices will create an Afghanistan in the eastern Mediterranean”.
♦ Maureen Dowd thinks that Obama is being “schooled” by the Clintons: “After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom.”
Tax avoidance will be another G8 hot topic: Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, thinks corporate tax systems need to be simplified. If you want to read more about the debate so far, take a look through our reporting on the Great Tax Race.

♦ Mayor Bloomberg takes on a new cause: making it mandatory for New Yorkers to separate their food scraps for composting.
♦ Food for thought: is marriage in decline because there is less demand for husbands?
♦ China plans to move 250m rural residents – that’s about five times the population of South Korea – into newly constructed towns and cities over the next 12 years. Elsewhere in the world, cities are turning into vast gated communities for the one per cent.
♦ The BBC speaks to Sonali Deraniyagala, who lost everything in the 2004 tsunami.  

 

Welcome to a storm-curtailed review of US election coverage after a day on which both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney stopped campaigning because of Tropical Storm Sandy.

As the Financial Times reports, the campaigns caught their breath as a combination of practical difficulties in travelling and organisation, and a desire not to be seen to be practising politics as usual at such a moment took hold. Mr Obama was assuming his commander-in-chief role at the White House.

Politico.com asked a question few were expecting to have to pose: could Sandy delay the election next Tuesday? Forecasting that seemed as difficult as predicting the weather.

“Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “There’s very little precedent for such an act.”

Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state “has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”

The flooding that hit the north-eastern coast of the country, killing at least 16 people, was a disaster big enough to stop the juggernaut of campaigning, so the only non-storm news was the latest set of polling data. 

From ghost towns to rooftop farms, here are our picks for today: