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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 — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
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.
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Amount of laundry an average American family of four washes in a year (in tons):
A study of female Finnish twins found that relative preference for masculine faces is largely heritable.
It was reported that visits from Buddhist priests could be purchased through Amazon in Japan, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra began streaming performances through virtual-reality headsets.
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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.'”