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

Ten Of The Hottest Countries In The World

Ten Of The Hottest Countries In The World

“The heat made people crazy. They woke from their damp bedsheets and went in search of a glass of water, surprised to find that when their vision cleared, they were holding instead the gun they kept hidden in the bookcase.”  Kristin Hannah

Summer in an already hot country might give you the feeling of what hell would be like – where summer never ends.

Libya is considered to be the world’s hottest country. The hottest place in the world is El Azzizia, Libya. The Libyan desert covers much of the country making it quite hot. It’s very easy to get blisters and diseases on your skin from the heat. If for some reason you are going –  like to fight in a war or if you are Anthony Bourdain, cover up.

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Saudi Arabia is one of the hottest and one of the richest countries in the world. The country consists mostly of Arabian desert and luckily has air conditioning. The religious make the pilgrimage to Mecca. If you are unaccustomed to scorching hot temperatures and no rainfall then you should probably avoid the summer months.

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Oman is also one of the richest and hottest countries in the world. Public transportation is air-conditioned. Some of the women say they get used to wearing the burkah and it protects them from the sun. If you are not a fan of being covered up in desert heat and humidity, avoid the summer.

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Sudan gets almost no precipitation year round. It is one of the driest countries on the planet making it one of the hottest as well. Severe food shortage last summer was one of the worst due to wars and poor harvests. It is not usually a tourist destination due to violence, disease and poor infrastructure.

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In addition to ISIS and terrorist bombings,  Iraq is very hot in the summer. Bagdad is one of the hottest cities in the world with a lot of power outages due to everyone trying to use air conditioning. On some days you cannot stand in the sun for even a few minutes.They have had a few mandatory “heat holidays.’ It doesn’t sound like a holiday I will be taking.

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Somalia may not be one of the safest countries in the world but it is one of the hottest. There is little to no rainfall and no food grows due to lack of irrigation.  It is not your every day vacation spot,though there are always people who want to go somewhere new. Being near the equator it is always hot but June through September are brutal months.

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Hot countries and Africa go hand in hand. Most of Algeria is desert.The summers are dry, moist and hot and it can stay hot most of the year. It is best to not go to North Africa in summer especially if you are planning to visit the Sahara.The US State Department reinstated its travel advisory so you might want to go somewhere else hot.

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Iran is not a tourist destination at the moment and especially not in summer when it is scorching hot. It is especially hot if you have to follow Islāmic dress codes. Iran’s anti West policies have not made it a popular holiday spot with Americans but the always adventurous Europeans are traveling there in the cooler months. In July and August the heat is exhausting.

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India is a large country but the hot winds off the Indian Ocean in the summer bring sweltering temperatures. Rajasthan has the highest summer temperatures in India. Severe heat waves cause many deaths. Summer is not the time to visit.

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Parts of Mexico are very hot in the summer. It’s not the hottest country but it’s in the top ten.  There is a lot of dry brush around. Mexico is not all beaches. It has year round high temperatures. Plan your visits to Mexico during the cooler seasons or maybe not in the next four years.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Fake News

Fake News

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” Mitch Hedberg

Today President Trump closed his twitter account. The UN  divided up all the Syrian refugees  and every nation in the world took some in. Peace was declared in Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Congo.  Other African countries are going to follow their example.  With a lot of effort on both parts, a peace agreement to the mutual satisfaction  of both sides, was finally reached between Israel and Palestine.  In a historic quick defeat resulting in no casualties, the Arab Nations banded together and defeated Isis. They are planning a joint effort against other terrorist groups as well. Boko Haram returned all the girls to Nigeria. They were unharmed and well taken care of. The Muslims Clerics issued a doctrine saying all girls must attend school. A mysterious virus is killing the opium and coca plants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The Mexican cartels are looking into other businesses – perhaps building supplies. Scientists say that the hole in the ozone layer is noticeably smaller and that climate change is reversing due to the joint efforts of every country in the world.

The Republicans  have repealed and replaced Obama Care with a low-cost high level health care plan pleasing the medical profession, the patients and the insurance companies. Donald Trump has created so many new jobs that we need to take in more immigrants to fill them. Suicide and murder rates are the lowest they have ever been. America has been declared a smoke free country. A new drug has been approved that cures Cancer, Diabetes, MS, Autoimmune Diseases, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Racism. Pharmaceutical companies are working over time to cure-all other diseases as well. American billionaires have all banded together to eradicate homelessness and they are expecting everyone to have homes by 2025. The government has poured money into education and mental illness research and treatment. The police have issued a new  policy stating that if you get to your car while they are writing a parking ticket, they will rip it up. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in one hundred years.  Kindness is up fifty percent  and continues to soar.

If we are going to have fake news and alternative facts, let’s use it for good. Why not fake what we want the world to be like? Why not pretend to be the people that we didn’t think we could be?

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Most Dangerous Countries Not To Visit Right Now

Ten Most Dangerous Countries Not To Visit Right Now

“Hitler didn’t travel. Stalin didn’t travel. Saddam Hussein never traveled. They didn’t want to have their orthodoxy challenged.” — Howard Gardner

I was thinking about the countries I would be most afraid to travel to. I decided to look on the internet at other people’s lists. Many  countries were the same – the usual suspects, unstable governments, high crime rates, drug cartels, terrorists, kidnappings – all things that could ruin a vacation. There were a couple of surprises. Russia and the United States were on a few top ten lists. The reason is that we have enemies. We invaded countries and had a major terrorist attack. We have gangs, crime, drug problems and random, crazy shootings. There are people from peaceful countries that are afraid to come here.

The list of dangerous countries changes with economic and political stability.  I’m not sure of what the time limit is but when a certain amount of time passes and nothing terrible happens, people start traveling to a country on the danger list again. They are not in order because the order changes  based on acts of violence.  Some of these countries have been on this list for a very long time.

1. Syria If you are in Syria, you should leave immediately. Kidnapping  of foreign nationals, terrorism, polio and ongoing military clashes make it an extremely dangerous place to be at the moment. Thousands of people have already been injured or killed. If you insist on going, travel with an armed guard. If you are stopped, they will assume you have picked a side and you could be executed.

2. Afghanistan  It is probably not a good idea to travel to Afghanistan especially if you are from a country in the NATO Alliance. The Taliban  has issued a threat against every citizen of these countries. The American government has pretty much issued the same travel advisory about Afghanistan.  There are a few tourists but keeping them safe is difficult.  Some of them have not come back. Afghanistan has spectacular scenery. There are snow-capped mountains in the Hindu Kush and Pamir ranges, Buddhist monuments and Islāmic temples,. No one knows  if it will ever be safe for tourism because it is ten years after the international community has come in and it is still unsafe.

3. Iraq  As the cradle of civilization, Iraq  has always been a pilgrimage site. The lack of security, daily bombings, shootings, and unstable infrastructure make it very difficult to even get a tourist visa. The few western tourists that come to Iraq,  travel with an armed guard in an unmarked vehicle. They try to blend in and not call attention to themselves, and are stopped at many checkpoints. The violence seems to be getting worse so the small tourism that they do have will soon decrease.

4.Venezuela   There is no travel advisory for Venezuela other than avoiding the Colombian border. There are violent street demonstrations, kidnappings and armed robbery. It doesn’t help that Venezuela has one of the top five murder rates in the world.  (Jamaica’s is higher and they have plenty of tourists)  A  friend of mine who travels with the World Athletic Organization  said that he never felt fearful except after landing in Venezuela. It felt like anything could happen in that country. Chavez shut off the internet the weekend he was there.  Whatever improvements the Chavez government brought to Venezuela, tourism wasn’t one of them. The situation has improved since his death, but due to crazy monetary policies, it is hard to attract foreign investments and even tourists. Venezuela has the Andes, the Amazon rainforest, the world’s tallest waterfalls and an amazing Caribbean coastline but they have a lot of damage to undo before there is even pre Chavez tourism.

5. Somalia The situation in Somalia is getting better after a twenty year conflict. A traveler still has to travel with armed guards. The first tourist came to Somalia a couple of years ago. He was retired and visiting all the countries in the world and wanted to check Somalia off his list.  At first, no one believed that he was a tourist. The story made all the newspapers. It is a beautiful country with fantastic beaches and the hope is that there will be peace, tourism and economic stability with this new election.

6. Pakistan Tourism in Pakistan has definitely been declining over the last twelve years. But the mountain climbing community was undeterred. Five of the world’s fourteen highest mountain peaks are in the Gilgit-Baltistan range, which includes K2, the second highest mountain in the world. Last year the Taliban killed ten climbers at the base camp of Nanga Parbat. The mountain climbers who bring so much revenue to the region, stopped coming and that loss has been staggering. The US government feels that we are at risk for random attacks from Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups  throughout Pakistan. The British government advises against travel to Pakistan due to random terrorist attacks and violence.

7. Sudan is the third largest country in Africa and has been affected by civil war for the last forty years. Seeing the Blue and White Nile River and camel market at Khartoum sound appealing, but the recent indictment of Sudan’s president for war crimes and the killing and starvation in Darfur might make it a less than perfect travel destination.  Southern Sudan is considered extremely dangerous due to bandits and terrorist attacks. There is a general threat of terrorism throughout the Sudan and tourists should avoid protests, demonstrations and anywhere there are large gatherings of people. The Australian government asks that people reconsider their need to go there due to violent civil unrest and kidnappings.

8. Democratic Republic of Congo is one of Africa’s most interesting countries. Travelers want to see the Congo River, volcanoes and gorillas. The area is plagued with  extreme violence, instability, kidnappings, robberies and warlords. The travel advisory is don’t go unless you have to or unless you are Anthony Bourdain.

9. Libya is in a state of political instability due to a weak provisional government replacing the Gaddafi regime. There is still fighting between armed militia groups. If you are already in Libya, stay away from large public gatherings, demonstrations, and sites of civil or militia conflict. As of January 2014 the assassination campaign that was mainly targeting Libyans has now begun to affect foreign visitors. It would not be a bad idea to postpone your travel plans to Libya unless of course you are Anthony Bourdain.

10. North Korea I had trouble picking my tenth country. I couldn’t decide between Iran, Egypt, Burundi and North Korea. They are all good choices for dangerous. I went with North Korea because they have nuclear weapons and they make it very difficult to visit. Going in and out of the country is hard and you could be “detained” as an American for the slightest negative remark. This makes it difficult for someone like me without a good filter. Arbitrary arrest of Americans is common.  Walking around without your guide can get you both in trouble. Talking to North Koreans without permission can get you all in trouble. It’s never a good idea to travel to a country that America has recently severed diplomatic relations with if you happen to be American.

Writing this I felt real gratitude to my grandparents that I never met for getting on that boat and coming to America. I appreciate the freedom, comfort and privileges of living here that I usually take for granted. Things aren’t so great with our country right now but maybe the message in the mess is that we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do better.

Fly safe,

JAZ