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Yesterday evening, as I was on Pakistani TV’s “The Platform” with former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Gen. Asad Durrani and Colonel Michael Shuhmacher discussing private security contractors in Pakistan, Transparency International announced its new figures on corruption. Pakistan had slid to position 143 from 139 out of 178 countries assessed. It was bad news but not particularly surprising to commentators.
More surprising, to me: the United States dropped from 19 to 22. America is no longer seen as being in the top tier of least-corrupt countries, which includes western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Instead it belongs to the second tier, which includes Eastern and Southern Europe. The index has consistently shown the perception of corruption in the United States as steadily rising. My hunch is that this focuses on government contracting, but the notes released by TI point only to “widespread concern over a lack of government oversight.” Still more revealing: Iraq and Afghanistan rank 175th and 176th respectively, putting them among the five most corrupt countries on earth. Is being occupied by the United States or receiving massive U.S. government contracts somehow correlated to corruption?
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.
Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:
Kentucky is the saddest state.
An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”