Ten Of The Most Corrupt Countries In The World

Ten Of The Most Corrupt Countries In The World

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. “Friedrich Nietzsche  

Transparency International, an anticorruption agency monitors the relationship between politics and money around the world. Measuring corruption is difficult and subjective, but  the group compiled a Corruption Perceptions Index. The lowest ranked nations were all plagued by “conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary and a lack of independence in the media.”

Fair  and just government rule is an important  step in pulling a country out of the cycle of poverty. When the government is corrupt, natural resources are destroyed. The death toll rises when people have to bribe for inadequate health care,clean water or food.  The first step to putting an end to poverty is putting an end to government corruption.

Unfortunately, there are way more than ten countries – many being in Africa. I compiled the ten from a few different lists. 

1.Somalia in Eastern Africa heads almost all the lists as the world’s most corrupt country. It has been there for the last ten years. Corruption in Somalia takes the form of mass murder.  Three decades of war and droughts forced half of the population to be dependent on foreign food aid shipments which are controlled by the local warlords. Desperation turns ordinary citizens into pirates on the many Somalian pirate ships to feed their families. Bribery, voter intimidation and no way of keeping track of the number of voters, makes change in government difficult.

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2. Corruption in North Korea is a widespread and  a growing problem. It is hard to get the facts because it is the most totalitarian Communist regime left in the world.  North Koreans assume that any official in a position to take bribes will. Corruption is part of the fabric of daily life. Strict rules and serious punishments imposed by the regime, for example, against accessing foreign media  are commonly evaded by offering bribes to the police.

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3. Afghanistan is always in the top four as one of the most corrupt countries. The casual disregard of legality is noticeable. Most of the money from international aid never filters down to the people who need it. There is no punishment for corruption.  The interior minister was also made a drug czar which was too much for the international community to handle. Britain pulled their funding. Drug trafficking and vote rigging  are  very visible.

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4. Sudan is one of the worst nation’s in the world for human rights violations. Corruption exists in every section of the economy and every level of government. There is no freedom of the media so it is hard for the average person to get any information. Bribery is necessary for any  public services and in dealing with police. The UN is ineffective  in this country because of government intervention.

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5. Corruption is at the root of the power struggle in South Sudan causing the continued violence. Government officials have built personal fortunes while their country suffers and starves. Both sides have been blamed for mass rape, massacres, denial of aid, sexual slavery, burning of food supplies and villages, killing civilians and the use of child soldiers.  Both sides, have been looting the country’s natural resources and using international aid to fund their militias to fight each other.  There is no accountability for the atrocities and looting of state resources, or for the famine that has resulted.South Sudan is the world’s newest country (2011) and the hope they had five years ago is dwindling.

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6. Angola is a country rich in diamonds, oil and serious corruption. The president is a billionaire. Government workers are rich. Villagers live without health care, education and adequate food. Angola has the  highest child mortality rate in the world which is mostly preventable.   Corruption kills. The US and western oIl companies have a great relationship with Angola. If we do not condemn it, then we have a part in it.

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7. Not much has changed since the revolution in Libya in terms of corruption and financial mismanagement. The systemic corruption is not limited to a few institutions but becoming normal in people’s lives. The bribe culture still flourishes. The oil based economy is a huge source of corruption with  very little filtering down to the people who need it.

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8.In post war Iraq a corrupt political class has pillaged the country’s money, forcing corruption at every level. The senior political leaders have taken most of it. Organized corruption syndicates run the country and militia. Plunging oil prices and the War against the Islamic State are putting Iraq’s dwindling finances in major jeopardy. Corruption exists because it is allowed to exist. Having being governed by a dictator for so long, the people don’t understand self governance.

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9. The Myanmar government has acknowledged the problem of widespread corruption. it will take time to have an impact on all the private sector and government corruption. Land ownership and the jade business are still run by military.  Multiple exchange rates and corruption are serious barriers to trade and investment in Myanmar. Nepotism, personal connections and bribery are more important than qualifications.  Myanmar is one of four major producers for opium and heroin. Money intended to help the  public is more often used for personal gain.

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10. Corruption seems to go hand and hand with human rights violations and Venezuela is no exception. Government funds meant to serve the people are mismanaged, stolen or spent. Medicine and food meant for the poor are sold to other countries.Venezuela is an oil rich country and the fact that so many live in poverty without government aid is shameful. There is so much corruption and mismanagement from the government to the private sector that food and medicine are rotting in warehouses instead of being distributed. Journalists who try to report anything are jailed.

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Other very highly corrupt countries are Haiti, Guinea Bissau,  Eritrea. Syria, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan,Burundi, Cambodia, Zimbabwe,Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fly safe,

JAZ

How To Sleep On A Plane

How to Sleep On A Plane

“Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with long uncomfortable flights and losing your luggage.” Regina Nadelson

I hate hate hate people who can sleep on planes.

I’ve always been a terrible sleeper. During the day I’ve been the tired friend, mother, partner, student, employee who is drinking coffee to stay awake. At night I’m someone who makes ridiculous sleep deprived decisions, does crazy internet shopping, sends weird incoherent emails, googles everything, signs up for online classes and watches
reruns of shows that I would never watch when they were on. Once I cut bangs. Another time i joined an online dating site while i was dating someone. Now I write blogs like this one.

A plane just makes it worse for me.

Obviously the best way to sleep on a plane is to travel in first class, followed by business class, three seats together in coach, two seats together in coach or an empty middle seat. New Zealand Air has “couch,” three coach seats for two people.

The next choice is the window seat. It is definitely better for sleeping. But I don’t like feeling locked in so I have to take the aisle.

Make some kind of footrest and take your shoes off. Use your carry on luggage if you need to. It is helpful to have your feet raised.

Come prepared. Bring something to block out the noise – ear plugs that you buy in the airport or toilet paper will suffice in a pinch. Noise canceling headphones are a good investment if you fly a lot.  While you still have Wi-Fi, and before you put your phone on airplane mode, download a few relaxing songs and apps. Sleep Machine and Ambi Science Pure Sleep are recommended apps. Anything that can calm down your brainwaves will work.

Bring an eye mask to block out the light. Yes it will mess up your hair but the chances of looking great after a twelve-hour flight are not good anyway.

The neck pillow is controversial. There are certain people who don’t like to look dorky in an airport carrying around a blow up neck pillow. I get that. But it is worse to wake up with a creak in your neck and you will sleep better if your head is not rolling around.

Keep warm. Bring extra socks, a blanket, a snuggly or a shawl. Airlines like to freeze you out and if you should fall asleep, you will wake up if you are cold.

Wear something comfortable on the plane. Or if you are a person who likes to look cute in airports (single) bring something comfortable to change into. I do that as soon as I get on the plane. Sweats and cuddly socks are always in my carry on for flights over six hours. It is not as easy as you think to change in those tiny bathrooms. I don’t recommend tight jeans.

Eat something before you fly so you are full but not bloated. They say healthy soup, kale and salmon are good for this. But they say that those foods are good for everything. You can not sleep if you are hungry. You definitely don’t need those salty snacks that make you feel bloated.

It helps if you schedule flights when you are actually tired. An early morning flight without coffee is good and if you stay up late the night before packing, you have a chance of falling into an exhausted sleep. (a trick my son uses)

Make sure to fasten your seatbelt over your blanket. Stewardesses who may never talk to you otherwise will wake you up for this. Then try to get back to sleep.

Everyone should smell neutral on a plane. Why do I even have to include this? Are their cultures, religions or countries that don’t believe in showering before flying? I don’t think so. Do we really need to be smelling your perfume from three rows behind? I am allergic to perfume so it is a problem for me.

Many people love to drink alcohol on planes to relax. It does help at first but then you wake up with low blood sugar, have bad jet lag and sometimes a hangover. It’s a personal choice.

I’m not sure if you are supposed to advocate pharmaceuticals in a blog. As a non sleeper I have tried everything. A rule of thumb is do not take anything that puts you out until the plane is in the air for a bit – especially if you are a snorer or a drooler. I think snorers and droolers should not fall asleep in a public place anyway. One time there was a problem with the plane and we had to get off after everyone was seated. They had to wheel off a famous person snoring loudly with drool all over her face. It was frightening. I live in fear that total strangers will see me like that. I never take anything strong enough to put me out.

Homeopathics and prescription medications that you have taken before can be useful. I use melatonin and valerian root, Melatonin sometimes gives you bad dreams so make sure you have taken it before. I had to fly two weeks after 9/11. The few people on the plane, stewardesses and pilots all looked terrified. I took ativan. It helped. I took it for a few years every time I flew after that. Now I meditate and only take it on long flights to help me sleep. I’ve tried Nyquil, Tylenol PM, Sleepy Time tea, warm milk, downloaded weird guided meditations, taken strange things from the health food store, a sleep remedy from a Mexican pharmacy and I once took something that was only legal in Canada. None of that works for me but feel free to try them.

The best thing is to do whatever it is that alleviates stress for you and relax. That will help you sleep.
“Looks like I picked the wrong day to give up smoking”.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Top Ten Things Not To Bring On A Plane In Your Carry On Luggage

Top Ten Things Not To Bring On A Plane In Carry On Luggage

“Don’t let your luggage define your travels, each life unravels differently.” unknown

1. box cutters – ok I get this one.

2. Snow globes larger than a tennis ball. I think that they mean the large intricate ones that you buy in Christmas markets in Austria, Germany or Eastern Europe. I’m guessing it has more than 3 and half ounces of liquid. How do the TSA agents  feel taking Santa on a sleigh in the snow away from a kid in the airport at Christmas? I love snow globes.

3. Anything that looks like or can be used as a weapon – toy guns, baseball bats, hockey and lacrosse sticks ski poles, sabers, swords, knives of any kind and scissors that are not for nails.

4. Liquids over 3.4 oz. This limits my food shopping when I travel and my impulse food buys in the airport gift shops. This includes interesting sauces, weird nut butters, dips and spreads, jams, jellies, preserves, wine, liquors, salad dressings, olive oils, vinegars – things I am not comfortable with in my checked luggage. The TSA rule of thumb to remember is “If you can spill it, spread it, smear it, squeeze it, spray it, pump it, or pour it,” then travelers should check it. Why does the TSA being cute annoy me?

5.Guns, gun powder, bullets, explosive devices, spare parts of guns and fire arms, grenades, flares, gunlighters and ammunition. So where can you actually have this stuff? I would like to avoid those areas.

6.Tools over seven inches. This includes hatchets, axes and saws. I like this one. I often see people on planes who look crazy.

7.Anything flammable. I’m good with that. I have bad fire karma. My house burned down twice as a kid. The second time it was hit by lightning. This is probably not a good time to tell that story.

8.Illegal controlled substances. Does that mean drugs? Watch a few episodes of Locked Up Abroad (they are almost always picked up in the airport)  and you probably won’t want to be carrying that with you. These are not Martha Stewart prisons.

9.Disabling chemicals – bleach, fire extinguishers, chlorine, spray paint, tear gas, recreational oxygen (what is fun oxygen?) How did they make up this list? Did someone think of things that could be dangerous? Was it a committee? Are these things that were confiscated? I have to say I would also be suspicious of someone with a fire extinguisher, spray paint and tear gas in their carry on.

10. Anything they feel like taking. I’ve lost many lip glosses, lipsticks, tweezers, batteries and sewing kits. Sometimes I feel protected and other times I feel they are saving the world one confiscated item at a time.

Fly safe,

JAZ