Brazilian Congress — Brazil has been attempting to combat government corruption, yet the lower chamber of Congress has picked Henrique Alves, who is under investigation for graft, to become its speaker, notes Reuters. And last Friday, the Senate chose Renan Calheiros as its president: He resigned from the post in 2007 because of a scandal involving payments by a lobbyist to maintain his former mistress. Still, thanks to an unprecedented clean-up in Brazilian politics of late, six ministers — four of them members of Congress — were fired for corruption and graft over the past two years. Although the Supreme Court ruled that members of Congress should be stripped of their political rights, they have yet to be expelled. The assembly’s reluctance “to expel corrupt politicians has enhanced the views of many Brazilians that officials elected to Congress are enriching themselves at the expense of the nation,” writes Reuters.
Marseille’s Makeover — The southern French port city of Marseille is trying to shed its image of poverty and crime after being designated as European Capital of Culture for 2013, reports the New York Times, which the paper compares to “winning the Olympics.” France’s second-largest city is spending nearly $135 million on the makeover. “From a poor, rough, crime-ridden and corrupt crossroads whose economy declined with the end of colonialism to an attractive tourist destination of sun, sea, seafood and culture,” writes the Times.
Drug-Resistant TB — Five developing nations plagued with infectious-disease problems have agreed to work together for the first time to combat an epidemic of drug-resistant tuberculosis, notes the Wall Street Journal. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the BRICS countries — signed the deal “after a year of dire reports about the worsening of drug-resistant TB globally despite progress in reducing the incidence of regular TB,” according to the Journal. The BRICS nations, with their booming economies and emerging middle classes, are under increasing pressure to address their health problems with their own funds, rather than take donations from wealthy developed countries like the U.S., comments the WSJ.
Soccer Betting Scam – 680 suspicious matches fixed in a global betting scam run from Singapore have been identified in an inquiry by European police forces, the European anti-crime agency Europol, and national prosecutors, said Reuters. Investigators found that between 2008 and 2011, 308 suspicious matches were played in Europe, while another 300 were identified in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Last year an anti-corruption watchdog revealed that $1 trillion is gambled on sport each year — $3 billion a day – with most of the money coming from Asia and bet on soccer matches. Investigators said that no names of players or clubs will be released while the investigation is ongoing. Yet the BBC revealed Tuesday that Liverpool said they haven’t been contacted by Europol, in response to reports suggesting their 1-0 home win over Debrecen in the Champions League group stage in 2009 is under suspicion. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the British club.
Historic Egypt Visit – The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is on the first official visit to Egypt since the Islamic revolution in 1979, reports the BBC. Mr. Ahmadinejad, who was greeted by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on arrival, is to take part in a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation which begins on Wednesday. Although relations between the two countries have improved since Morsi’s election in June, the two heads of state continue to disagree on certain issues, such as the Syrian conflict. “If Tehran and Cairo see more eye-to-eye on regional and international issues, many (issues) will change,” Ahmadinejad said before leaving Tehran.
Comic Relief – According to the Guardian, Comic Relief should never really have worked. Nevertheless, Feb. 5 marks the 25th anniversary one of the U.K.’s most successful charities and fundraising events. Since the first Red Nose Day was held in 1988, £800m ($1.26bn) has been raised for an estimated 40 million people in 70 of the world’s poorest countries. It has also helped support 10 million people across the U.K. A major success has been particularly notable in the field of education – between 1999 and 2008 the number of children attending school in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 46.5 million. Click here to see the BBC look back over the last 25 years.