Sunday, July 20, 2014


The government in Kinshasa, the capital, is weak and corrupt, leaving this vast nation rotten at its core. The remote east has plunged straight into anarchy, carved up by a hodgepodge of rebel groups that help bankroll their brutality with stolen minerals. The government army is often just as sticky fingered and wicked. Few people in recent memory have suffered as long, and on such a horrifying scale, as the Congolese. Where else are men, women, and children slaughtered by the hundreds, year after year, sometimes so deep in the jungle that it takes weeks for the truth to come out? Where else are hundreds of thousands of women raped and just about nobody punished?

To appreciate how Congo descended into this madness, you need to step back more than a hundred years to when King Leopold II of Belgium snatched this huge space in the middle of Africa as his own personal colony. Leopold wanted rubber and ivory, and he started the voracious wholesale assault on Congo’s resources that has dragged on to this day. When the Belgians abruptly granted Congo independence in 1960, insurrections erupted immediately, paving the way for an ambitious young military man, Mobutu Sese Seko, to seize power—and never let go. Mobutu ruled for 32 years, stuffing himself with fresh Parisian cake airlifted into his jungle palaces while Congolese children curled up and starved.

But Mobutu would eventually go down, and when he did, Congo would go down with him. In 1994 Rwanda, next door, imploded in genocide, leaving up to a million dead. Many of the killers fled into eastern Congo, which became a base for destabilizing Rwanda. So Rwanda teamed up with neighboring Uganda and invaded Congo, ousting Mobutu in 1997 and installing their own proxy, Laurent Kabila. They soon grew annoyed with him and invaded again. That second phase of Congo’s war sucked in Chad, Namibia, Angola, Burundi, Sudan, and Zimbabwe—it’s often called Africa’s first world war.

In the ensuing free-for-all, foreign troops and rebel groups seized hundreds of mines. It was like giving an ATM card to a drugged-out kid with a gun. The rebels funded their brutality with diamonds, gold, tin, and tantalum, a hard, gray, corrosion-resistant element used to make electronics. Eastern Congo produces 20 to 50 percent of the world’s tantalum.

Under intense international pressure in the early 2000s, the foreign armies officially withdrew, leaving Congo in ruins. Bridges, roads, houses, schools, and entire families had been destroyed. As many as five million Congolese had died. Peace conferences were hosted, but cordial meetings in fancy hotels didn’t alter the ugly facts on the ground. The United Nations sent in thousands of military peacekeepers—there are around 17,000 today—but the blood continued to flow. Donor nations sank $500 million into an election in 2006—Congo’s first truly inclusive one—but that didn’t change things either.

Congo’s east remained a battle zone. Ugandans, Rwandans, and Burundians kept sneaking across the borders to sponsor various rebel outfits, which kept using minerals to buy more weapons and pay more rebels, like the wig-wearing Cobra Matata boys. Despite the international outcry, no one knew exactly what to do.


Angola is a country located in southwestern Africa, the name itself comes from the word Bantu kingdom of Ndongo, whose name for its king is ngola.

Angola, more than three times the size of California, extends for more than 1,000 mi (1,609 km) along the South Atlantic in southwest Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo are to the north and east, Zambia is to the east, and Namibia is to the south.

A plateau averaging 6,000 ft (1,829 m) above sea level rises abruptly from the coastal lowlands. Nearly all the land is desert or savanna, with hardwood forests in the northeast.

It was first settled by Bushmen hunter-gatherer societies before the northern domains came under the rule of Bantu states such as Kongo and Ndongo.

The original and very first inhabitants of Angola are thought to have been Khoisan speakers. After 1000, large numbers of Bantu speakers migrated to the region and became the dominant group.

In 1482, the Portuguese first landed in (now northern Angola), they encountered the Kingdom of the Kongo, which stretched from modern Gabon in the north to the Kwanza River in the south. Mbanza Kongo, the capital, had a population of 50,000 people. South of this kingdom were various important states, of which the Kingdom of Ndongo, ruled by the ngola (king), was most significant. Modern Angola derives its name from the king of Ndongo.

On 1482, the region was said to be explored by a Portuguese Navigator named Diego Cao. Soon Angola became a link in trade lines with India and Southeast Asia. A few years later they were a major source for slaves during Portugal's New World Colony in Brazil.

A government was starting to come together after the Berlin Conference back in 1885. The borders were secure and soon the British and Portuguese started investing into the colony, they brought over fostered mining, agriculture as well as the first railways in the country.

South America

If you thought America’s government was corrupt, a new report suggests you may be on to something.

Transparency International published its annual Corruption Perception Index, which measures the levels of public sector corruption in 177 of the world’s territories and countries. America did not fare too well.

The United States failed to place even in the top ten cleanest countries, barely cracking the top twenty. According to the 2013 CPI report, America is the world’s 19th least corrupt country. The US held the same spot in 2012.

Apart from New Zealand, the five cleanest were all Northern European. These included, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Singapore, which is an Asian country, was also ranked as one of the least corrupt countries.

Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Sudan were found to be the world’s most corrupt countries. The vast majority of the countries with the highest percentage of public sector corruption were located in the Middle East or in the continent of Africa.

To measure a country’s public sector level of corruption, the CPI looks at the amount of money laundering, bribery, voter fraud, abuse of power, and any other factors that contribute to corruption. Analysts then add up a country’s score, which can range from 100 — least corrupt — to zero — most corrupt.

It derives its information from a variety of sources, including World Bank and World Economic Forum assessments, the African Development Bank’s governance ratings, and Transparency International’s Bribe Payers Survey.

EU and Western European countries had an average score of 66, while Sub-Saharan African countries showed the highest perceived levels of public sector corruption, averaging a score of 33. The United States scored 73.

Although Spain is a member of the EU, recent political scandals caused it have the largest total decline, dropping six points from its 2012 score. Among other incidents, the king’s son-in-law was charged this year with embezzling millions in public funds.

Overall, the 2013 study concluded that more than two-thirds of the 177 nations surveyed scored under 50, indicating that there is widespread government corruption throughout the globe.

North America

America is a continent that is divided in three parts: Central, North and South. Yet, when people say "America" it is immediately clear that they don't mean the continent with 35 ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse countries, they mean the United States of America.

That might be where the aggressive envy many South Americans have towards the US starts: why do we have to be "South Americans" and people from the US get to be just Americans, no explanatory prefix required?

But that's just the beginning of it.

The northern continent of the Western Hemisphere, extending northward from the Colombia-Panama border and including Central America, Mexico, the islands of the Caribbean Sea, the United States, Canada, the Arctic Archipelago, and Greenland.

The third largest continent, linked with South America by the Isthmus of Panama and bordering on the Arctic Ocean, the N Pacific, the N Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean.

It consists generally of a great mountain system (the Western Cordillera) extending along the entire W coast, actively volcanic in the extreme north and south, with the Great Plains to the east and the Appalachians still further east, separated from the Canadian Shield by an arc of large lakes (Great Bear, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario); reaches its greatest height of 6194 m (20 320 ft) in Mount McKinley, Alaska, and its lowest point of 85 m (280 ft) below sea level in Death Valley, California, and ranges from snowfields, tundra, and taiga in the north to deserts in the southwest and tropical forests in the extreme south. Pop: 332 156 000 (2005 est). Area: over 24 000 000 sq km (9 500 000 sq miles)

Although the United States is seen as a deeply divided country politically, with many extremely conservative and outdated laws and views (this image is particularly true of southern states), there are states that are very liberal and are attractive to Brazilians. California and New York, in particular, are attractive to LGBT communities here, because of the acceptance they imagine is rampant. Having a pro-LGBT rights president is also a huge plus. While the United States is still seen by many as homophobic, misogynist, sexist and classist – these conditions are still worse in Brazil.

But perhaps the biggest draw to the United States is the relative accountability of your political leaders. Barack Obama should be considered a national treasure. If the United States doesn't want him, we will take him. The man is not perfect, but at least he tries to improve the country and respects his people. Here in South America, politicians constantly embezzle money, are hardly ever held accountable for their crimes, and generally neglect the population. I don't know how much corruption goes on in American specifically, but I am willing to bet that it nowhere near as prevalent and blatant as in Brazil and many other South American countries.

Of course, the US has a huge problem with the privacy invasion perpetrated by the NSA, as was revealed by this very publication. They have spied on world leaders, including Brazil's president. And while the US government attempts to dodge accountability, it was also revealed that Brazil's government has also been spying on the US and other countries' leaders. So it seems like the Brazilian government is also abusive in the name of "national security". In terms of political impact, it has definitely soured a usually smooth diplomatic relationship, but this hasn't really changed the opinions of the masses.

The way the people are treated here, the constant misery we see in the streets, the violence and the government continually spitting in our faces by stealing public money – and giving priority to unnecessary international events – is more than many of us can bear. This is especially true when we are dominated and overwhelmed by the culture of a country that, while again, is not perfect, is definitely much more successful than ours.

The negligence our population suffers is the reason why the view of America as an "escape" is held predominantly by the middle to upper class: the lower income population isn't exposed to American culture. They, too, deeply feel the leaders' abuse of power, but it is the middle to upper classes who have the resources needed to leave.

It is for these reasons that Brazilians have aggressive envy of America, and why more privileged Brazilians escape to the US, be it via a yearly trip or permanent immigration. Though the problems of the United States are clear, the opportunities are much more attractive than in our own country and our neighbors'. We know that despite our potential, we can't get our act together – most of my extended family has escaped to first world countries, primarily to the US.

Although the trend of escaping to the US existed before Obama's presidency, his leadership has convinced me and many others that our people deserve greater respect from our leaders. The accountability and pressure Obama is put under by the American people is, in and of itself, remarkable to us. So if you really don't want Barack Obama to be your president anymore, give him to us. We'll take him.

Widespread Corruption.

Another difference between Third World and developed countries is their differing degrees of what John Bailey and Roy Godson (2000) call governability, that is, “the abilities that government has to allocate values over society, to exercise ultimate authority in the context of generally accepted rules and procedures.” So defined, governability can be measured in terms of the state’s administrative capacities in a number of areas including how well the state can administer justice and guarantee the basic rights of its citizens. In that respect, Mexico differs sharply from the United States and Canada, a difference that is characteristic of the Latin and Anglo-Saxon culture areas of the Western Hemisphere.

For example, corruption is a persistent problem that bores deeply into Mexican institutions, seriously impeding the proper operation of the state. Journalists and social scientists have described this problem for the former administration in Mexico (Riding 1984, Oppenheimer 1996, Rotella 1998, Morris 1991, Bailey and Godson 2000) and indeed it is still a serious problem for the Fox government. The police in Mexico, poorly paid, untrained and under the influence of patronage, have a terrible record not only of enforcing the law but for being law-breakers themselves. Local, state and federal police sometimes work for local politicians and even drug lords as armed guards. In some cases, they run their own criminal enterprises. A saying heard in Mexico goes, “if you get mugged don’t yell, you may attract the police.” There are hundreds of cases reported by Mexican human rights organizations, ordinary Mexican citizens, and American and Mexican-American visitors about police stopping travelers and demanding money from them. People who are sometimes stopped for infractions are held for long periods until their relatives can buy their freedom. Sometimes, when crime victims file complaints the police abuse them. Kaplan tells of a Mexican citizen in Mexico City who reported a stolen car. The police wanted to take his wife to the station to file a complaint. The crime victim would not let them take her, for once they got her to the station, he said, they would rape her. Indeed, rape by police is not uncommon in Mexico where prosecution of guilty parties is difficult and in most cases impossible.

Sometimes no infractions are involved and the mordida (bribe) becomes outright extortion. If the victim is too poor, he often ends up in prison where he must pay for the most rudimentary of needs such as a bed to sleep on and some modicum of protection from other inmates or his jailers. One of the worst abuses of Mexican police is their custom of torturing suspects in order to extract confessions. A joke heard in Mexico tells of a contest between the FBI, Scotland Yard, and whatever Mexican police force is the brunt of the joke. The three agencies let a rabbit loose, and bet on which one can find it the fastest. The Mexican police come in first with an elephant in handcuffs, the elephant constantly muttering “I’m a rabbit, I’m a rabbit.” According to the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other human rights organizations in Mexico and abroad, Mexico has the worst record of torture in the world. The Washington Post detailed this widespread police abuse as well as the grave deficiencies in the Mexican justice system and the way in which corruption is crippling the function of the state (Sullivan, Jordan, 2002).

Illegal aliens from Central America cross Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala either to work in Mexico or to make the clandestine transit through Mexico to the United States. Such people are at risk for abuse at the hands of corrupt Mexican police and immigration officials. After a visit to Mexico’s southern border, United Nations special rapporteur Gabriela Rodriquez said: “Mexico is one of the countries where illegal immigrants are highly vulnerable to human rights violations of degrading sexual exploitation and slavery-like practices, and are denied access to education and healthcare” (Grayson 2002: 10). Mexican illegals on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border are likewise the victims of such abuses by Mexican police. Shortly after his election Vincente Fox went to the border at Nogales and asked the police to stop abusing emigrants, whom Fox called “heroes.”

Friday, March 28, 2014


European Union is destroying democracy and promoting corruption. Any opposition to the EU is suppressed by successfully manipulating conservative economic ideologies and the symbolism of Europe.

Transparency International has published its first Europe-wide check-up on the robustness and resilience of nation’s anti-corruption systems. This report is a test of systemic strengths and weaknesses, not a compendium of the region’s worst examples of corruption. It shows politics, business and the wealthy make a potent mix, one that is undermining public confidence.

For some time, TI asserts, many people in developed countries have assumed corruption only really exists in the poorer corners of the world. This has bred complacency and, as fighting corruption has not been a priority, ‘there is much to be done to get the European house in order.’

But concern is growing among Europeans, TI believes. The fear is this complacency has allowed corruption to fester. As the recession and economic depression enters its fifth year, patience with politicians is wearing thin. This report is ‘a call to action’ for European governments to wake up to the realities.

TI has unsurprisingly found ‘huge variation’ across the continent. And its findings somewhat conform to stereotype.

Central and eastern European countries, and Portugal, Italy, Spain and Greece are sources of concern while the Scandinavians are leading in integrity.

Despite a ‘flurry of legislation’ since joining the EU, in Bulgaria and Romania scandals and impunity persist. In the southern European countries the report tells of ‘serious deficits in public sector accountability and deep-rooted problems of inefficiency, malpractice and corruption.’

But besides these general sources of concern, no-one comes out of this report as clean as a whistle.

Europe’s key strengths are in its laws preventing corruption, established oversight of public expenditure and the continents electoral processes. But its weaknesses lie in its politicians and the private sector.

The European Union glorifies itself as the representative of Europe, which greatly consolidates the economic and political potential of the continent. The development of the EU is always praised as a doubtlessly progressive historical process increasing the welfare of the Europeans and ensuring human rights and democracy.

However, broadly known economic data clearly shows that since the establishing of the European Union, the economy of its members has been weakening in relation to the rest of the world. The introduction of euro pushed the countries of Western Europe into a deep economic crisis; and, despite the fact that the European Economic Community has recently been the most efficient economic organization in the world, the European Union has already turned into a heavy burden for its citizens.

Political parties and businesses ‘exhibit the highest risks of corruption across Europe.’ TI’s report identifies two areas in particular of considerable concern. Two points where business and politicians meet: party funding and lobbying.

Extensive experience of some countries in Eastern and Central Europe suggests that the European Union promotes corruption in its members not only by the means of enormously puffing up the number of bureaucrats and creating countless opportunities for bribery via various funds and programmes.

For example, having just joined the European Union, Lithuania in 2004 became the most corrupt state in Europe.

The EU destroys all the democratic and legal institutions capable of limiting its powers and influence. By unscrupulously interfering into internal policy of its member states, the European Union undermines even the democratic responsibility of politicians, which always blame the EU in public for their own crimes and mistakes.

By the way, the European Union undermines human rights too. The members of the European Union are free of critcs from most international organisations; therefore, the arbitrary powers of politicians and bureaucrats towards ordinary people there have become virtually uncontrolled.

It can be seen clearly in Lithuania, where due legal process has become a privilege of the rich. According to public opinion polls conducted after joining the European Union, already about a half of the Lithuanians do not consider Lithuania to be a democratic state any more.

‘Europe’ is a positive and inspiring word not only for Europeans; therefore, although the EU represents only a part of the European continent, its bureaucracy is trying hard to monopolize the powerful symbol. EU bureaucrats exploit successfully the humble posture towards themselves of many non-EU states.

For unknown reasons, even Russia accepts not being considered a part of Europe although it occupies a big part of the continent. Apparently Russians do not notice that in this way they indirectly recognise their cultural and moral inferiority in the eyes of the whole world.

The propaganda of the European Union does not meet with any considerable resistance because the EU bureaucracy already controls not only Western, but also Central Europe, and a great part of Eastern Europe. By cynically manipulating economic ideologies, the symbolism of Europe, and the mythology of ‘the historical mission of the European Union’, EU ideology makers and propagandists successfully neutralise any external and internal opposition.

Out of the 25 European countries assessed only two do not have any binding regulations on political donations – Sweden and Switzerland. This ‘is a significant area of risk’ and while these two are the focus of TI’s criticism, the UK is not forgotten. The report identifies the lack of any upper limit on political contributions in Britain as contributing to the ‘on-going erosion of public confidence in the political process.’

Big money and big business in party funding are also ripe for abuse. The case of Conservative party former co-treasurer Peter Crudas is a prime example. He was secretly filmed claiming he could sell dinner with David Cameron and possibly the chance to influence policy for £250,000. The Bureau has uncovered the weight of donations to the Tory party coming from the hedge funds and financiers of the City. The taint that millionaires and the financial services industry have bought influence at the top of the party has dogged the Conservatives.

Europe’s political parties must work harder to ensure their funding is transparent. But this report declares that across Europe parliaments and governments must bring transparency to lobbying. Only six of the 25 countries assessed have any kind of regulation at all. Only two of them have lobbying laws, Poland and Lithuania, both of which have come in for criticism. Poland’s law is too vague, only requiring ‘professional lobbyists’ sign a register. Lithuania’s lobbying law is described by TI as ‘completely deficient’.

In a series of extensive investigations the Bureau has exposed sharp practice by British lobbying firms and uncovered claims by senior executives at leading firm Bell Pottinger that it could give its clients access to the heart of the British government. The UK is now considering some form of statutory register of lobbyists and their connections with politicians but campaigners and lobbyists have criticised proposals as inadequate.

The perception that cash buys you access at the expense of Europe’s electorate is pernicious. It is compounded when legislation designed to bring greater transparency to politics are threatened. In a report that touches briefly on specifics and discusses risk a great deal what is stark is that European governments all run the risk of being accused of corruption and malpractice. At a time when Europe is smoldering with discontent and distrust, without transparency in their dealings the wealthy mixing with politicians is pouring oil on the flames.

You can read the report here.


A world’s smallest continent, South East of Asia, and a country situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Aboriginal tribes are thought to have migrated from southeastern Asia 20,000 years ago; first Europeans were British convicts sent there as a penal colony.

A commonwealth comprising the continent of Australia, the island state of Tasmania, two external territories, and several dependencies. The first British settlement, a penal colony at Port Jackson (now part of Sydney), was established in 1788. The present-day states grew as separate colonies; six of them formed a federation in 1901. In 1911 Northern Territory joined the commonwealth and the Capital Territory, site of Canberra, was created. Canberra is the capital and Sydney is the largest city. Population: 20,400,000.

A former British colony, now an independent member of the Commonwealth, constitutional links with Britain formally abolished in 1986; consists chiefly of a low plateau, mostly arid in the west, with the basin of the Murray River and the Great Dividing Range in the east and the Great Barrier Reef off the NE coast. Official language: English. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: dollar. Capital: Canberra. Pop: 19 913 000 (2004 est). Area: 7 682 300 sq km (2 966 150 sq miles)

Australia has been ranked the eighth least corrupt nation in an international ranking of 180 countries.

It has gained one place since last year, in figures released by Transparency International (TI).

New Zealand and Denmark were deemed to have the lowest levels of perceived corruption, while Somalia and Afghanistan had the highest levels.

IF, AS an Australian citizen, you perform an act of bribery offshore, you can be fined $1 million, jailed for 10 years and your company can be fined $10 million, which all sounds very proper except that nobody has ever been prosecuted.

Offshore corruption is suddenly on the agenda. Just as we recovered from the Stern Hu affair - where an Australian citizen working for miner Rio Tinto got 10 years' jail for corruption - BHP is being investigated over bribery allegations in Cambodia.

But you won't find Australian regulators doing anything here. The Rio scandal was uncovered by officials in China. The BHP case was started by America's powerful Securities and Exchange Commission.

We have the Commonwealth Criminal Code (2001), which opened up offshore jurisdictions to Australian regulators.

And it's true the fines were lifted to the million-dollar level just a few months ago - they used to be tiny - $66,000 for individuals and $300,000 for companies.

But unless you have someone enforcing the law, the bad guys go about their business undeterred. In effect, it means that if you have a brown paper bag of unmarked bills under a full moon on the beach at Far Away Island you don't really have to worry about the ''Australian'' regulator. As for the local regulator … they might just be coming down the beach to meet you.

It is logical to assume that if giant Australian companies are getting into trouble, then a host of smaller operators might usefully be monitored.

This is not conjecture; it's a safe assumption based on what has just occurred in the US where last year the Department of Justice revealed that the number of ''offshore corruption'' cases it is working on has tripled in two years. ''It's a remarkable increase in the volume of investigations,'' says Michael Ahern, executive director of Transparency International (Australia), an organisation that tracks offshore corruption.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on expert and business surveys to measure the perceived levels of corruption in the public sectors of various countries.

The Berlin-based organisation said countries whose infrastructure had been "torn apart" by conflict needed help from outside to prevent a culture of corruption taking root.

"The international community must find efficient ways to help war-torn countries to develop and sustain their own institutions," TI head Huguette Labelle said.

Overall, the 2009 corruption list is "of great concern," the organisation said, with the majority of countries scoring under five in the ranking, which ranges from zero (highly corrupt) and 10 (very clean).

The most corrupt nation on Earth remained Somalia, the impoverished and war-torn Horn of Africa state that has been without a functioning government for two decades, notching up a score of 1.1.

A decade ago Australia was the top-ranked ''clean'' country in the world by Transparency International. Today it has fallen to eighth place. It might come as a surprise to many people but Australia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Australia's worsening record in offshore corruption relates largely to the Australian Wheat Board scandal in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which involved government kickbacks.

But the ranking is likely to deteriorate further with the Rio case and - potentially - BHP'S ''Cambodia'' case, news of which broke only in recent days and relates to alleged bribery at a former bauxite operation.

The BHP case has prompted questions about both the significance of the event and the manner in which the corporation - for all its stated ambitions to be a top-class corporate citizen - disclosed the bad news at the bottom of a production report.

''Disclosure is crucial,'' says James Thier, of Australian Ethical Investments. ''Australians have a relatively good reputation in this area. The essential issue is the policy of the companies themselves, and it could always be better.''

Although recent events have pointed towards Asia and China, the global flashpoint for offshore corruption is in Africa, where the volume of mining and exploration activity has reached unprecedented levels. And Australians are coming up against other ''offshore players'', especially China, where attitudes to bribes can differ.

Australia might not score as well as we might like in the Transparency International tables or on the OECD's offshore bribery scorecard. In fact, at the OECD we are classified as having ''little or no enforcement'', along with such countries as Mexico and Turkey. But it's worth noting that under the OECD agreement - the 2009 convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials - China is not even on the list because it has not signed up.

Politicians wax fat with illegal perks provided by the ruling elite. While the average citizen remains ignorant to what is taking place, the alert observer can build a case against the institution of ‘party politics’.

Once more the Australian family is being put to the sword. The Rothschilds Group of Bankers, who own the ‘Zionist Banking Manipulators.’ (As they do every other Zionist Banking Manipulators Bank in every country in the Western World ) are going to up interest rates until people paying off mortgages are driven to the wall.

The men of straw who run the Australian economy(?) for the Rothschilds don’t care that usurious interest rates make it impossible for Australian marriage spouses to live together as a family.

For the last fifty-three years (when Ben Chifley died ) successive malpracticing Governments have stolen Home Ownership not only from the lower class but from the middle class. Circa 1986, a hike of interest rates to 17.5 per cent by Hawke ~Keating ~ Dawkins and Button saw many farmers kill their families before turning the gun on themselves ~ having lost the family farm which had been theirs for generations.

Some two million families have disintegrated since1972. Political Parties are made up of every type of bluebeard.

A ‘blue’ card is not necessary so we get paedophiles, lesbians and opportunists who delight in destroying families as it makes it easier to get at the children. (Take a lookat Queensland’s ‘foster’ families record )

We get people who receive $1 million after three terms and still ask poorer people for donations to pay their court costs! It is quite simple, as the record speaks for itself, we get arsehole after arsehole. The politicians who manage Australia for the Rothschild-‘Illuminati’ have destroyed some 2 million families by encouraging them to ‘invest’ in nefarious schemes then commence to bleed them dry.

It shouldbe noted here that a hike in interest rates does not affect politicians,bureaucrats and bank staff. In an Australian ‘democracy’ some are more equal than others. Also, as noted before, all politicians own rental property and have a constant need for tenants.
They have a sound interest in making sure home borrowers go broke.

African countries accounted for half of those in the bottom 20 of the list, including Angola which is now the continent's top oil exporter after emerging from a 27-year civil war.

But it was not just countries riven by conflict that saw their ratings slide. Italy, a member of the Group of Seven rich countries, came in at 63rd on the list, from 55th last year.

Fellow EU member Greece fared even worse, at 71st, slipping from 57th.

Seemingly winning the fight against corruption were Liberia - whose score improved from 2.4 to 3.1, shooting up 41 places to 97th - and Gambia, which went from 158th on the list to 106th.

Other significant improvements were registered by Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Montenegro and Malawi.

The United States inched up from 7.3 to 7.5 but dropped one place in the rankings to 19th. China's rating was stable at 3.6 but also fell seven places to 79th.

Russia continued to be very low down in the list, coming in at 146th place, although its score edged higher to 2.2 from 2.1.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Corruption in Asia continues to be a drag on growing economies, draining billions of dollars from economic development and triggering a public backlash in some places. Calls for reform are coming from the private sector and United Nations even as the region’s economic prospects improve.

When protestors took to the streets of Bangkok last year, calls were made for the Thai Government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to address signs of growing corruption in Thailand.

A 79-year-old businessman pointed to rising costs of doing business, including bribes for officials.

“I am an industrialist. I cannot stand anymore because we have to pay under the table so much money," he said. "Before, all right you have to accept that before it was about five and ten per cent. But now it’s a minimum 30 per cent - minimum is 30 per cent."

Estimates for how much economic activity is lost to corruption are difficult to judge, but a recent study by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce concluded that over two per cent of national output or some $11 billion is likely to be lost to corruption this year.

The university said many from the private sector who were surveyed said they are paying more bribes to government officers and politicians to win government contracts.

Thai political economist, Pasuk Pongpaichit, says although there is evidence that indicates authorities are making progress in curbing lower level corruption, the slowing global economy means growing competition for lucrative government contracts.

"Globalization, the international pressure for Thailand to become more transparent is being felt and various government departments are responding to it. It doesn’t mean that things are going to happen very quickly," she said. "On the other hand, as the world economy is slowing down and the local business is become more competitive, you could see that on specific cases the rate of corruption may have increased because of the higher competition.”

Analysts say the Thai Government is already under scrutiny for spending more than $11 billion on water management infrastructure following the 2011 floods and a further $67 billion on rail and other building projects. Economists have also charged a $33 billion rice price support program for farmers is beset by corruption allegations.

Bandid Nijathaworn, a former central bank deputy governor and now president of the Thai Institute of Directors, says corruption in Thailand appears to be more of a problem now than 10 years ago.

"Corruption is a global problem," he said. "You see corruption appearing as headlines in many countries. So it has become a global issue both in national organization and individual country’s governments trying to tackle it. In the case of Thailand we are having a greater challenge because the problem seems to be worsening than maybe 10 years ago.”

Despite posting robust economic growth during the past decade, many countries in Asia still rank poorly on international anti-corruption indices.

A recent report by the U.S.-based Center for International Policy said that in China alone between 2001 and 2010, $2.74 trillion in illegal funds left the country, through criminal financial schemes, corruption, tax evasion or other illegal activities. For Thailand the figure stood at $64 billion over the same period. In India, the center of major ant-corruption rallies last year, the figure stood at $123 billion.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regional anti-corruption adviser, Shervin Majlessi, says given Asia’s growing influence in the world economy, there is a greater need for oversight.

"Generally, speaking when you have this kind of fast economic growth we are witnessing in this region, it comes with the same challenges and opportunities in terms of corruption," he said. "The challenge is obviously there is more financial flows, there are bigger contracts, procurements, the opportunities for corruption to increase. So you need stronger anti-corruption systems and regimes in place."

In 2003 the U.N. passed a Convention against Corruption. In South East Asia, Burma, ratified the convention in December - the last to do so of the 10 member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

UNODC’s Majlessi says for ASEAN governments the key is to implement the reforms set out under the U.N. convention.

"Now the whole of ASEAN is finally covered by this convention. So this is kind of positive news," he said. "There is a key challenge in the implementation of this kind of international norms and standards and that taken time including legal reforms, international reforms and most importantly political will to actually implement this kind of instrument."

The Asian Development Bank is also supporting ASEAN through a Corporate Governance Scoreboard to promote transparency in business.

Thai Institute of Directors' Bandid Nijathaworn, who oversees a new group of companies aimed at fighting corruption, says private sector involvement is also critical for anti-corruption efforts to succeed.

“I think the momentum is building and people and people feel that in order to address the corruption issue you need to look at both the demand side and the supply side of corruption," he said. "Usually companies are being looked at on the supply side of the corruption, so getting the companies together we hope to reduce the supply side of corruption.”

Analysts say the corruption fight needs to go beyond government law enforcement, and include non-government and private sector organizations.

The Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva attracted delegates from 55 countries, indicating that open, public data is indeed becoming a global movement around the world.

How is Open Data adopted in Asia, the largest continent of this planet where 60 per cent of the world’s population live?

Asia has some of the most advanced internet economies, as well as some of the least developed countries with hardly any access to information or information infrastructure, neither analogue nor digital.

At OKCon, 26 participants from 11 Asian countries were present, including Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Russia. In this blog, I focus on selected East Asian and Pacific countries: New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea (North Asian and Pacific nations); and Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar (South-East Asian nations). Getting reliable data from all 49 Asian countries would require much more research, and these countries are grouped together in the Worldbank Knowledge Economy Index.

Despite being grouped together in the Worldbank Knowledge Economy Index (KEI), these countries have vastly different economic rankings. New Zealand achieved the highest Knowledge Economy score, closely followed by Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, whereas Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar score lowest in all KEI categories (ICT, education, economic incentive and institutional regime, innovation). Other key indicators relevant for Open Data development are the Corruption Perception Index (Transparency International), the World Internet Statistics and the Democracy Index (EIU) as a measure for general governance and functioning of government.

According to the 2012 World Internet Statistics, the overall internet penetration in Asia is only 27.5 per cent, but this still means the Asian continent is home to more users than any other, with over 1 billion. Internet penetration across the listed countries ranges from 1 per cent in Myanmar to 88 per cent in New Zealand; again with a wide gap between North and South East Asia (except for Singapore with 75 per cent).

South East Asia has often been described as “information black hole” in scholarly research on national information strategies, with many governments restricting or denying access to information to their citizens, often based on the assumption that government information by default is a secret. Earlier this month, the government of Vietnam enacted the “Decree 72” which limits the use of blogs and social media to “providing or exchanging personal information”, and prohibits them from being used to disseminate news or even information from government sites. 

The law also bans content which could be “harmful” to national security or which opposes the government. This kind of restriction is based on the perception that governments own the information and can control its use, and that information-empowered citizens and businesses are potentially dangerous.

While North Asian countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia, mostly have Freedom of Information (FOI) laws in place (with the exception of Hong Kong); in South East Asia, FOI laws are more the exception than the rule. Even in the otherwise highly developed information economy of Singapore, there are many areas where the government argues that information needs to be kept confidential in the public interest, which explains why citizens cannot access and analyse data related to the size of assets in the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), a sovereign wealth fund owned by the Government of Singapore.

Sometimes laws are in place, but they are not fully applied. In Thailand, the country’s Official Information Act (OIA) was enacted in 1997, but “the concept of freedom of information is totally new to both Thai state officials and to the people. Thai society thus needs some time to learn more about the Information Law. State officials have to understand the procedures of law enforcement better so that they know how to provide information services and disclose information to meet public requests. Meanwhile, people should recognize their right to know and know how to utilize the Information Act as a means of access to state information. 

Thai society should recognize information law as an essential part of establishing accountable and transparent government and as a crucial part of eventually building up civil society” (Quote by N. Seriak, Office of Official Information Commission). In 2000, the law was therefore amended to include strategic guidelines on how to promote and develop the acknowledgement of the Act’s content, its utilization, the mechanism and the procedures to utilize the Act to meet people’s right to access information. This example illustrates that the idea of open information also requires a new way of thinking about information, both for government officials and citizens.

Only 4 of the listed 15 countries are full democracies according to the EIU index – New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea; they are also members of the OECD. The majority of countries in Asia fall into the categories of “flawed” democracies (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia), Singapore is a “hybrid system” and at the bottom are authoritarian governments such as Vietnam, Laos (lowest overall score) and Myanmar, which is now currently moving into another phase of political governance. In August this year, Myanmar officially ended censorship, thereby jumping up to 151st out of 179 countries in the World Press Freedom index.

There are few economic studies about the tangible and intangible value of open information, perhaps because the causality is not directly measurable, most of the time. On the other hand, it might be easier to analyse examples on the cost of non-open data, in hindsight of events where data was not available.