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Yesterday I posted an item about how UNESCO may allow Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the corrupt dictator who rules Equatorial Guinea, to endow a prize in his own name. In return, UNESCO would pocket $3 million in cash from Obiang.
Today Freedom House released a new report, Worst of the Worst 2010: The World’s Most Repressive Societies, which identifies “the world’s most flagrant human rights abusers.” Equatorial Guinea joined eight other countries and one territory — Burma, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tibet — in that illustrious category. To give you an idea of how bad the situation in is those bottom-dweller nations, wonderful countries like Belarus, Laos, and Saudi Arabia didn’t make the list.
Incidentally, for his $3 million Obiang wants UNESCO to name the prize the “Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences.” The prize is meant to reward scientific research that leads “to improving the quality of human life.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”