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Banking in the Vatican

By Alessandra Quattrocchi in Features, March 9, 2013

The scandals and mysteries of the Vatican Bank may well have been behind the Pope’s decision to resign. The new Pope who is currently being chosen will face considerable pressure to reform and offer greater transparency in both the Church’s financial and ethical dealings.

And the winner is…

By Carlo Ungaro in Politics, March 2, 2013

Reflections on post-electoral politics in Italy. With no clear winner emerging out of the election, a new era of uncertainty opens for Italian politics. How can the country get out of the post-electoral impasse? Italy is facing a period of turbulence without parallel in its post-war history writes Carlo Ungaro the former Italian diplomat.

Wine tasting: Is ‘terroir’ a joke?

By Orley Ashenfelter - Olivier Gergaud, Victor Ginsburgh - Karl Storchmann in Features,

Does terroir really affect a wine’s quality? Are wine experts incompetent? Like many cultural commodities, it seems that the quality of wine is not an objective trait. Rather, these commodities become whatever we want them to become.

Egypt: out of control?

By Issandr El Amrani in Politics, February 20, 2013

Egypt appears to be spinning out of control. The current crisis is a prolongation of the crisis that emerged late last year over a decree by President Morsi suspending some judicial decisions and giving himself additional powers, followed by the rush to approve a new constitution.

China’s Sudan Challenge

By Giorgio Cafiero in Politics, February 16, 2013

Can China manage an effective partnership with both Sudans? Sudan’s 2011 partition has presented China with a new set of challenges. Beijing will be challenged to advance its interests in the Sudans while upholding its foreign policy principle of non-intervention in other states’ affairs.

Lake Nemi: Diana’s Sacred Grove

By Ludovico Pisani in Travel Writing,

The remains of Ancient Rome’s most mysterious and violent cult, dedicated to the goddess Diana, can still be found on the shores of Lake Nemi, near Rome. Archaeologist Ludovico Pisani guides us through the legends surrounding the “Rex Nemorensis”, the high priest who was obliged to murder his predecessor.

Cliffs avoided, mountains ahead

By Olivier Blanchard in Economics and Finance,

Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s Chief Economist, argues that important progress has been made by putting the crisis behind us but that recovery continues to be hampered by the need for fiscal consolidation and a weak financial system.

The Economic Fundamentals of 2013

By Nouriel Roubini in Economics and Finance, February 6, 2013

Nouriel Roubini, Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics takes a look ahead at what awaits us in 2013. US fiscal policy, the Eurozone, the BRICs, China and the Middle East are all giving cause for worry.

Why Russia is not Losing Siberia

By Ben Judah in Politics, February 5, 2013

The Yellow Peril was a feature of life in Soviet times and the demographics on either side of the Russia-China border do little to convince the fearful that Siberia will not be colonised by the Chinese.

Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest

By Allston Mitchell in Arts and Culture, February 2, 2013

In Susan Brigden’s new biography of the poet and diplomat Thomas Wyatt, the first truly modern voice in poetry is revealed as a canny player in the capricious and dangerous court of Henry VIII. A complex and flawed man of great genius whose poems were of unrivalled originality.