Ten most corrupt countries of the world

You spend every holiday weekend annoyed that you can’t talk your way out of a speeding ticket. If only there were some way out of that predicament … aside from taking your lead foot off the gas, right? You may be out of luck on the New Jersey Turnpike, but there are plenty of places in the world where money talks, according to a new study by Transparency International. So, if you tend to disregard local laws and customs, you may want to pick one of the 10 countries below for your next vacation.

WARNING: You may need to bring a bit of fire power for some of these destinations.

1. Somalia:
Is this even a country? It has no real government to speak of, not to mention a history of piracy, mob violence, warlord brutality and kidnapping. So, chew a little khat to take the edge off.

The Good News: You can’t really break any laws where there aren’t any.

2. Myanmar: Okay, the human rights issue here is pretty severe, and the military regime is known for being among the most repressive and abusive in the world. So, don’t complain about the thread-count in your hotel.

The Good News: There’s plenty of wildlife to enjoy as a result of slow economic growth. A bleak financial outlook is good for the environment!

%Gallery-106020%3. Afghanistan: Ummmm, there’s a war going on there – you may remember that. So, you’re dealing more with warlords than conventional law enforcement officials. This takes some of the predictability out of your mischief, and it does amp the risk up a bit.

The Good News: There are several options for civilian flights. Also, fishing is fine, but you can’t use hand grenades.

4. Iraq: Again with the war … The easiest way to get there is to wear a uniform, but that will make bribing your way out of trouble far more difficult.

The Good News: Prostitutes may not be in abundance, but if you have an itch in Baghdad, you’ll probably find someone to help you scratch it.

5. Uzbekistan: The CIA describes the government as “authoritarian presidential rule.” Is there really anything else you need to know? Yes, there is: Uzbekistan has a nasty human trafficking problem.

The Good News: Uzbekistan’s currency is the Ubekistani soum – that’s what you’ll use to bribe your way out of trouble.

6. Turkmenistan: Uzbekistan’s neighbor is no prize, either. Instead of trading in skin, though, Turkmenistan prefers drugs. It’s described in the CIA World Factbook as a “transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russia and Western European markets.”

The Good News: If you’re in the heroin business, this is a crucial stop in your supply chain. If you’re not, well, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to care about the place.

7. Sudan: The global financial crisis of 2008 actually affected this country. Until then, money was flowing in just as fast as oil could flow out. Then, economies crumbled around the world, which dealt a nasty blow to the country.

The Good News: There’s at least one form of equal rights in Sudan: both men and women can be drafted into military service.

8. Chad: Why is Chad so corrupt? Well, this may have something to do with the human trafficking problem, which the country “is not making any significant efforts” to address. Rebel groups in the country add to the likelihood for mayhem.

The Good News: Chad ranks 190 worldwide in terms of GDP, which means your bribe dollars will go much further than in more developed nations.

9. Burundi: A dispute with Rwanda over sections of the border they share has resulted in various conflicts and a spirit of lawlessness that will make your own nefarious plans pale in comparison.

The Good News: Though landlocked, there is probably some great real estate alongside Lake Tanganyika.

10. Equatorial Guinea: Any country that has failed to try to combat human trafficking is probably a top spot for corruption, so it isn’t surprising that Equatorial Guinea made the top 10.

The Good News: Government officials and their families own most of the businesses in the country, so any broad complaints can be addressed by a handful of people.

[photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr]

“Narco cinema” offers B-movie depiction of “life” in Mexico

Mexico is famous for many things: tequila, a glorious cuisine, gracious people, beautiful beaches, puking spring breakers. Unfortunately, in the last year, the beleaguered nation is getting more attention than usual for its vicious drug cartels. Although the violence isn’t directed at tourists, fear is a powerful thing. Tourism– especially in Baja-has dropped drastically, further devastating an already impoverished country.

But. In the last decade, talented Mexican filmmakers such as Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Amores Perros”) and Alfonso Cuarón (“Y tu mamá también”) have made a major impact worldwide, proving that new Mexican cinema is a force to be reckoned with. Unbeknownst to most of the global market, however, Mexico is importing something way more awesome than Gael Garcia Bernal flicks (you’re still my boy, Gael) and coke: narco cinema.

VBS.TV broadband television co-founder Shane Smith visited Texas, Tijuana, and Mexico City to explore the films inspired, and often funded by, Mexico’s drug cartels, a genre known as narco cinema. Smith went so far as to talk himself into a role as an extra in one film, after outfitting himself in the requisite endangered animal-skin cowboy boots, Western-style suit, and cowboy hat. Fledgling narcos might want to consider investing in designer Miguel Caballero’s bullet-proof clothing line.

Smith also explored the musical equivalent of narco cinema. “Narcocorridos” are often the basis for the films. They’re reworked versions of traditional Mexican Revolutionary songs, but if musicians get careless and sing in the wrong territory or about the wrong person, they get whacked. According to a source interviewed by Smith, there have been 25 musicians murdered in Mexico since 2007, most of them narcocorridos.

According to VBS, Mexico is considered the superhighway of drugs entering North America. It supplies most of the coke, meth, marijuana, and poppy derivatives consumed in the United States, and today the Mexican drug trade is a $100-billion-a-year industry. Approximately 30 percent of that is reportedly repurposed to bribe government officials and law enforcement.

Smith explains that drug culture has infiltrated Mexican society, from religion (there’s a patron saint of drug trafficking) and music, to film. Narco cinema came about in the 1980s, inspired by the B-movie tradition of the Mexican cinema of the ’60s and ’70s. The genre is Quentin Tarantino meets Sergio Leon: extreme carnage, guns, big trucks and hats, explosions, slutty women, and drugs. Because 82 percent of the Mexican population can’t afford to see mainstream theater releases, cheap, straight-to-video accessibility have helped narco cinema become increasingly popular. Mexicans of all ages now watch these films, as something of a national pastime. Better that than DWTS, I say.

American Airlines employees busted for drug-smuggling

22 people were arrested Tuesday amidst allegations of smuggling drugs from Puerto Rico into the US on American Airlines planes. Nine of the people arrested were employees of the airline, who allegedly sent over 9,000 kilograms – almost 20,000 pounds – of cocaine to US destinations that included Miami, Orlando and New Jersey. According to the US Justice Department, the ring has been operating since 1999.

The workers are a mix of ground crew and baggage handlers who are suspected of using suitcases to smuggle the drugs onto the planes. According to the AP release, Puerto Rico is a popular entry choice for drug traffickers, as once the drugs reach the island, they don’t have to pass through customs in the US.

Agents from the FBI and DEA arrested the suspects at locations in Miami and Puerto Rico in a joint effort cleverly named “Operation Heavy Cargo”. If convicted, the suspects face life in prison and fines up to $4 million.

American Airlines issued a statement saying, “As a company, we hope that the actions of a few employees don’t reflect negatively on the tens of thousands of ethical American Airlines employees who work hard to serve the public daily.”