Must-Reads from Around the World

On deck for Wednesday: The Italian government fires an entire city council for suspected ties with the mafia, the IMF lowers its global growth forecast, and the U.S. military reportedly gets more involved in the Syria crisis.

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Italian Massimo Di Caterino, (40), alleged to be the last boss of the Mafia is led by police after his arrest on October 6, 2012.

Mafia Links — The Italian government fired the entire council of the city of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy for suspected ties to the mafia, notes the BBC. The mayor and all 30 city councillors were fired for allegedly having ties with the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate, which is one of the world’s largest criminal organizations. Rome dissolved the city administration to prevent the mafia from taking over the local government, said the BBC.

Brazilian Corruption — A high-profile corruption scandal in Brazil is raising hopes for the country’s judicial system, as prominent politicians and bankers involved in the scandal face the prospect of receiving jail terms, reports the New York Times. The Supreme Court found more than 20 of the 38 defendants in the case guilty of crimes that include receiving cash for votes, embezzlement of public funds, and money laundering. According to the Times, Brazil’s elite often flout laws with impunity and the fact that the trial has reached this stage “points to a rare breakthrough in political accountability and a crucial streak of independence in the legal system.”

Global Growth Forecast — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its forecast for global growth to 3.3% for this year, according to Reuters, and warned that the slump might be prolonged if European and U.S. policymakers are unable to fix their economic problems. Global financial conditions are predicted to remain “very fragile” in the immediate future “because repairing euro zone problems will take time and there are concerns about how the U.S. economy will cope with the expiry of tax cuts early next year,” wrote Reuters. The IMF also stated that global output will grow at 3.6% in 2013.

Helping Hand – The United States military secretly sent a task force of over 150 planners and specialists to Jordan in order to help forces there deal with Syrian refuges, the New York Times reports. The task force is led by an American office and will prepare for “the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned so the turmoil in Syria expand to a wider conflict.” It’s estimated that there are presently 180,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border into Jordan and officials had discussed setting up a buffer zone between Syria and Jordan.

Dam Protests – Over 120 demonstrators gathered in the Amazon to protest Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam, the country’s second largest hydroelectric power station, Forbes reports.  The most recent Belo Monte project includes a plan to dam a portion of the Xingu River and has met considerable criticism – including from filmmaker James Cameron. Local tribes are protesting because they “are worried that the dams will block water ways and dry up the river beds they depend on for travel and fishing.”

Emerald Oil – It looks as though Ireland may earn a significant amount of revenue from new oil rigs off the cost of Cork, according to the BBC. It could take up to two years to begin the extraction process, but the payoff could be in the billions of pounds and the Emerald Isle would garner at least 25 % of all profits.  Critics of the project suggest that Ireland needs to reform its natural resource laws and protections.  Ireland has never successfullly extracted oil in the past.

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