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

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Around The World With Beaded Bracelets

Around The World With Beaded Bracelets

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, – happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.” Brenda Ueland

That should really be the name of my blog. I don’t know when it started but I buy cheap ethnic bracelets in different countries around the world for myself and gifts. People like them. (temple cedar bracelets – Viet Nam)

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I try to spend under five dollars a bracelet and buy them in markets or from street vendors. A dollar or two is even better. (ceramic – Mexico)

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It is an easy to pack gift and a nice memory for me of a country I have been to. I mix them all up and wear them almost every day. Today I am wearing Argentina, Mexico, Myanmar and Thailand. (Myanmar, Thailand)

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It’s good to buy indigenous jewelry because it helps the local communities. Many countries have stores or markets that feature local artisans. The bracelets are made from wood from local trees, nuts, seeds, glass, silver, tin, brass, bamboo, woven, pottery and even plastic. Sometimes they have religious significance and sometimes only decorative.(Peru)

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My favorite one comes from Panama and is made from a tagua nut which is known as vegetable ivory. Due to tagua’s properties in color, appearance, hardness and feel like those of natural ivory, it is being substituted for the latter one. This helps in the depredation of elephants while at the same time keeps rain forests from being deforested which in turn favors the ecosystems and the environment.

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I also buy ethnic designed bracelets for myself. When I wear them, they remind of the special day in the country where I bought them. (Myanmar, Cambodia, Murano glass – Italy, Argentina, real coral-Croatia)

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Another important factor to consider is that making things by hand provides work to thousands of people in these poor countries giving them and their families a better life and the opportunity of offering their children a better education. (shells-Panama)

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Shopping for bracelets is perfect street consumerism for me.(Coca nut -Argentina)

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There is the thrill of finding the bracelet among the crafts and tourist crap. I know these look touristy but there was a beach in Panama that was covered in these pinkish orange shells so they remind me of that beautiful beach. Yes I brought home a bag of the shells also.  (Panama)

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Then there is the delicate negotiation of getting the right price without insulting anyone.There is the danger of going too low and the stupidity of paying too much. (plastic- Turkey or anywhere that has real Turquoise)

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Finally we have the adrenalin rush of the purchase. (Aborigine – Australia)

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It makes my world better and their world better. It’s a win – win situation.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Countries That I Used To Know

Countries That I Used To Know

‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. – Mahatma Gandhi

If you are looking for missing countries from the maps of your school days, here is a list of all the names. Countries have split apart, gotten back together, gained/lost independence or just didn’t like their names. How do we understand our place in the world if we don’t know about other places? Americans typically score very low in geographic literacy. What happens in the world is connected to where it happens in the world. We are supposed to be a “global village.” We should know the correct name of our neighbors and be interested in why they changed them.

. Used to Be                                                    Now

Burma                                                             Myanmar

Ceylon                                                            Sri Lanka

Czechoslovakia                                               Czech Republic, Slovakia

Rhodesia                                                         Zimbabwe

Southwest Africa                                              Namibia

French Somaliland                                           Djibouti

Tanganyika and Zanzibar                                 Tanzania

French Sudan                                                  Mali.

Basutoland                                                     Lesotho

Zaire                                                              Democratic Republic of Congo

The Gold Coast                                             Ghana

Dutch Guiana                                                Surinam

East Pakistan                                               Bangladesh

Western Samoa                                            Samoa

East Germany and West Germany               Germany

North Yemen and South Yemen                  Yemen

North Viet Nam and South Viet Nam           Viet Nam

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)       Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan

Yugoslavia                                                  Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia                                       and Montenegro, and Slovenia

Tibet                                                          Xizang Autonomous Region Of China

We can’t afford not to pay attention to the world anymore. We have to change the story.

Fly safe,

JAZ

How To Be An Explorer Of The World

How To be An Explorer Of The World

“The list is the origin of culture,” Umberto Eco 

How To be An Explorer Of The World by Keri Smith  is a book with 59 ideas for how to get creatively unstuck. It began with  a simple list by the author scribbled on a piece of paper in the middle of the night.

Always be looking (notice the ground beneath your feet). (Oaxaca, Mexico, Ben Goodman)

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Consider everything alive and animate. ( Barro Colorado Island, rainforest, Panama)

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Everything is Interesting. Look closer. (Dubrovnik, Croatia)

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Alter your course often. (Great Wall, China)

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Observe for Long Durations (and short ones). (Vancouver, Canada)

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Notice the stories going on around you.(Museumplatz, Vienna)

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Notice Patterns. Make connections. (Istanbul, Turkey)

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Document your findings (Field notes)   in a variety of ways. ( Beijing,China )

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Incorporate indeterminacy. (no photos  because we don’t know how it will turn out)

Observe movement. (Intha fishermen,  Lake Inle Burma)

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Create a personal dialog with your environment. Talk to it. (Silver Pavilion, Kyoto)

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Trace things back to their origins. (Machu Picchu, Peru)

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Use all of the senses in your investigations. ( Bangkok, Thailand)

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Fly Safe,

JAZ

How To Leave Myanmar

“If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all”.
- William F. Buckley, Jr.

How To Leave Myanmar

There are very flew airlines that fly to Myanmar and flights are booked months in advance.

You will be taken to the airport by an English speaking guide and a driver. They will not be allowed into the airport.

Wait on line for two and a half hours.  A line means that any foreign  tour guide carrying fifty passports will be waved in front of you. Airline personnel from any airline can bring random people and  large  familes in front of you at all times.

Just because the concierge at your hotel (right out of a Somerset Maugham novel) tells you that he has gotten you a seat on the morning flight, doesn’t mean that it will be true when you get to the  airport desk.

Talk your way into getting a seat on the evening flight. Make sure to get a confirmation number.  Otherwise this same scenerio will repeat in the evening.

Everyone will be rude to you.

Spend day alone in Yangon, Myanmar without friends or English speaking tour guide.

Driver is waiting to take you back to the hotel. “Schwedegon?” he says.  He has decided to take me to the most important Buddhist Temple in Myanmar. He knows that I did not go the day before with my friends. I decide that he doesn’t look like a terrorist or serial killer and say ok. I walk around with him and  his friend ( who appears at the temple)  for an hour on  the grounds of this exquisite temple. I wondered when I became a person who walked alone in Burma with two young men in longyi (sarongs) who did not speak English.  I rely on my vast knowledge of gestures and hand motions.  I hope I am not doing the Macarena or the Hokey Pokey.

.Everyone at the hotel knows that you didn’t get on the flight.  They have a room waiting for you and your luggage is quickly whisked away. The concierge unasked says he cannot find an English speaking tour guide  . Instead he has found a car and driver who speaks English for twenty dollars for the afternoon. By English, it means he knows a few words.

You decide to go back to Scott Market to shop since you wont be going to the local areas.  It doesnt look as strange today.   You run into the young girl monk who you took pictures of yesterday. She is so happy to see you and brings you to her friend’s shop.  You buy a painting from a kid. Word spreads that someone is buying art. You are surrounded by kids and paintings.  They are not supposed to take folded money in Myanmar but they take it in the market. You run into your English speaking tour guide with a new group .  He has been worrying about you and is happy to see  that you are fine. The driver is more of a body guard/package carrier. He is only a bit happier than my son to be shopping but  has good humor about it. He laughs when I tell him that I will let his wife know what a good shopper he is . He shakes his head.

.You leave the market on a very long narrow street.  The car in front of you is stuck. Three very skinny people get out and push the car very slowly down  the street. Everyone is teasing them. We follow very slowly behind them.

The tour sends another English speaking tour guide and driver to take you to the airport. He turns out to be the person that your travel doctor in LA has told you to contact to find his aids orphanages to help. He knows all the best Buddhist teachers in Burma.

This time , the driver is allowed in to the airport to help you with your luggage. The girl at Security waves hello and says welcome back.

Everyone is nice to you.

The man who this morning was bringing everyone in front of me smiles and says “I remember.”  He takes my luggage. He points to a chair. He puts up ten fingers. In ten minute he comes over to get me. My luggage is already up on the counter. A woman is standing there with fifty passports. He waves me in front of her.  That is Myanmar.

Tar Tar ( from  British rule –  Ta Ta) and Fly Safe,

JAZ