Recently in Corruption Category

Can Google bring democracy to Arabs?

Technology never ceases to amaze me;

“Since Bahrain’s government blocked the Google Earth website earlier this year for its intrusion into private homes and royal palaces, Googling their island kingdom has become a national pastime for many Bahrainis.

The site allows internet users to view satellite images of the world in varying degrees of detail. When Google updated its images of Bahrain to higher definition, cyber-activists seized on the view it gave of estates and private islands belonging to the ruling al-Khalifa family to highlight the inequity of land distribution in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

A senior government official told the Financial Times that Google Earth had allowed the public to pry into private homes and ogle people’s motor yachts and swimming pools. But he acknowledged that the government’s three-day attempt to block the site had proved counterproductive.

It gave instant publicity to Google Earth and contributed to growing sophistication among Bahrainis in circumventing web censorship.

It also provided more ammunition to democracy activists ahead of parliamentary elections this Saturday, the second since King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa began introducing limited political reforms in 2001. “

Via FP blog.

Mahmood’s Den
Bahrainis use Google Earth to spy on royals' palaces

Afghanistan Drug Control- GAO’s views

A recent report from GAO; Afghanistan Drug Control: Despite Improved Efforts, Deteriorating Security Threatens Success of U.S. Goals

“The prevalence of opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking in Afghanistan imperils the stability of its government and threatens to turn the conflict-ridden nation once again into a safe haven for traffickers and terrorists. To combat the drug trade, the U.S. government developed a counternarcotics strategy consisting of five pillars--alternative livelihoods, elimination and eradication, interdiction, law enforcement and justice, and public information. The Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005 directed GAO to examine the use of all fiscal year 2005 funds administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State (State) for Afghan counternarcotics programs. To comply with this mandate, we examined progress under each counternarcotics pillar, challenges faced, and efforts to ensure that funds were used for intended purposes. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed pertinent USAID and State documents and met with cognizant U.S. and international officials in Washington, D.C., and Afghanistan. GAO makes no recommendations in this report. USAID, State, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice were provided a draft of this report, but did not provide formal comments.”

Podcast of the Day- Ponzi’s Scheme

Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend
“Before Charles Ponzi (1882-1949) sailed from Italy to the shores of America in 1903, his father assured him that the streets were really paved with gold and that Ponzi would be able to get a piece. Mitchell Zuckoff, Professor of Journalism at Boston University and former reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist for the Boston Globe, observes in his engaging and fast-paced biography, Ponzi learned as soon as he disembarked that though the streets were often cobblestone, he could still make a fortune in a culture caught in the throes of the Gilded Age. Learn about Ponzi's mercurial rise and fall as he conjured up one get-rich-quick scheme after another. Zuckoff reveals how the Boston Post uncovered this 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' system (as it was then known), and how Ponzi's life unraveled.”

Economists and Integrity

Two economists who recently lost part of their titles;

Andrei Shleifer ’82 isn’t the only Harvard economics professor to have been stripped of his endowed title after allegedly getting his hands dirty.

Martin L. Weitzman, the Harvard faculty member accused of stealing horse manure from a Rockport, Mass., farm in April 2005, has also recently lost his title as the Ernest E. Monrad Professor of Economics.

David Warsh has an interesting column on the issue. He concludes;

“There is, indeed, a common thread running through both incidents: a rather startling arrogance; in each case a Harvard professor acted as though he were entitled to take whatever he wanted, regardless of the law. Granted, there is not much moral equivalence between a $900 quarrel in a small town, on the one hand, and, on the other, an unrepentant betrayal of an adoptive country, an alma mater, hundreds of employees and a raft of friends (which also cost Harvard well over $30 million and much reputational capital). Applying the same penalty to the perpetrator of a misdemeanor as to a man who smuggled Soviet-style values into the highest levels of government and education in the United States might seem to send no more weighty a message to the Harvard faculty than, Don't get our name in the newspapers by breaking the law. But perhaps it is too early to say.

Small gestures, cunningly contrived, can have big effects. The price of not doing the right thing is going up as well.”

What is Harvard teaching its students? Mankiw, please explain?


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