Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'corruption'

Of Cults and Cops in the Dominican Republic

October 25th, 2013 · No Comments

There’s no question that the Academy for Future Health seems like a rather nutty organization; if Google’s translation of its German-language philosophy is to be trusted, then the Academy apparently believes that the Vatican has ties to extraterrestrials, and that a bunch of elite financiers are hip to an approaching Doomsday. So when police in […]

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A Question of Competence

February 25th, 2013 · No Comments

Guinea’s political opposition is none-too-pleased with the current regime’s decision to outsource the management of May’s election to Waymark, a South African information technology firm. At first glance, these objections may seem flimsy, based more on xenophobia than legitimate fear of cronyism. But if you scratch beneath the surface a bit, you can get a […]

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The Tongasat Affair, Cont’d

November 29th, 2012 · 1 Comment

We last wrote about Tonga’s unusual space enterprise, Tongasat, back in December 2010, when we focused on the alleged religious motivations of Princess Pilolevu Tuita, the firm’s majority shareholder. After a long quiet spell, the controversial company is now back in the news, as a pawn in a political tug-of-war between a Tongan opposition leader […]

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A Voice from the Murk

November 19th, 2012 · 3 Comments

Aside from being the native land of Microkhan’s most beloved soccer star, Benin is also currently home to one of the sketchiest political dramas in the Eastern Hemisphere. To hear the nation’s government tell it, President Yayi Boni (above) narrowly escaped death when a plot to poison him fell apart—a plot masterminded by a wealthy […]

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No Half Measures

September 19th, 2012 · 1 Comment

The Ivorian government thinks it’s trying to do its cocoa farmers a solid by guaranteeing export prices, rather than leaving folks at the mercy of a capricious market. But the farmers don’t seem to appreciate the gesture, for the way the prices are apparently being calculated by bureaucrats who don’t understand the country’s on-the-ground realities: […]

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The Jueteng Economy, Cont’d

September 18th, 2012 · No Comments

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about the Philippines’ futile efforts to stamp out jueteng, an illegal lottery analogous to the mob-run numbers games of yore. At that time, the government was about to launch legal lotteries that would offer higher payouts than their underground counterparts—the same strategy that states in the U.S. used to […]

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The Value of a Vote

June 22nd, 2012 · 1 Comment

This weekend’s national election in Papua New Guinea is a real grudge match between bitter enemies: Sir Michael Somare, the dominant figure in the nation’s politics since independence, and Peter O’Neill, the man who replaced him as prime minister under dubious circumstances. The nastiness of this rivalry is reflected in the cost of electoral corruption, […]

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“One Day It Might be Your Houses”

May 15th, 2012 · No Comments

The last time we checked in with Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea’s lone female legislator, she was proposing a bil that would set aside a percentage of parliamentary seats for women. Since then, she has become the head of the nation’s forlorn opposition, a role which has brought her into frequent conflict with PNG’s thoroughly […]

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That’s All I Can Stands

May 7th, 2012 · No Comments

Will future historians look back upon Angela “LaGija” Dlamini as the great tea-leaf reader of Swazi politics? In recent days, her husband, the absolute monarch King Mswati III, has come under an unusual amount of fire for his profligacy—it is still tough to imagine, for example, why he merited a new $46 million jet, or […]

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A Questionable Deterrent

April 12th, 2012 · 3 Comments

In countries where the rule of law is less-than-robust, traffic cops can often best be classified as entrepreneurs rather than law-enforcement officials. Their main concern is not keeping the streets safe, but rather extracting bribes from unfortunate drivers—a pursuit that has made some Zambian policeman rather wealthy by that nation’s standards: Home Affairs Minister Kennedy […]

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Spot the Obscenity

March 16th, 2012 · No Comments

It has been far too long since I have cast Microkhan’s spotlight on Papua New Guinea, one of this project’s most beloved topics of conversation. The troubled country has an election due this summer, one that could well be delayed by a government desperate to cling to power. In the meantime, that government is wrestling […]

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Leopard, Leopard, Burning Bright

March 6th, 2012 · No Comments

The recent kidnapping of two Assamese forestry officials may have been peacefully resolved, but the caper hints at a deepening problem in India’s long troubled North-East. No, not the continued prevalence of insurgent groups that double as organized-crime outfits, but rather the bulldozing of woodlands that are the region’s foremost natural resource. The forestry officials […]

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The Forces Arrayed Against Nachos

February 24th, 2012 · 3 Comments

I’m a sucker for creative metrics, such as measuring a creature’s ferocity by how quickly it can skeletonize a cow. One of my favorites is the way in which a nation’s development is assessed by how rapidly it’s being colonized by Western franchises. Take Indonesia, which is revealed here to be “opening a new convenience […]

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Men Rule Everything Around Me

December 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Interesting little tidbit in this excellent profile of Lady Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea’s only female legislator, who is pushing a controversial bill to allocate a set percentage of parliamentary seats for women: Kidu knows that if the bill fails then when she retires next year PNG will likely become the 10th nation in the […]

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The Sobotkas of Lagos

October 18th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Advocates for limited government appear to have a new icon in Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s finance minister, who appears to subscribe to Ronald Reagan’s fabled view on the public sector. Just check out what she’s doing at Nigeria’s ports, where an alphabet soup of government agencies have been fleecing importers and exporters alike for ages: […]

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Everything Counts in Large Amounts

October 14th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Buried in this alarming account of crooked Brooklyn cops is a brief aside about how New York City is settling up with the scandal’s victims. Dozens, if not hundreds of men were falsely imprisoned after having drugs planted on them by police striving to hit their monthly arrest quotas. How much money do those men […]

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Only the Little People Pay Taxes

September 29th, 2011 · 2 Comments

For all but dedicated observers of southern African politics, King Mswati III of Swaziland is known primarily for his polygamous lifestyle and its attendant chaos. But the absolute monarch deserves scorn not for his libertinism, but rather the absolutely atrocious way he has handled Swaziland’s public finances. Mswati’s financial recklessness is the reason his nation […]

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What’s Yours is Mine

August 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

King George Tupou V of Tonga is a man accustomed to getting what he wants, regardless of his desire’s impact on his people or his ability to govern. So it is somewhat heartening to learn that the monocle-wearing monarch was recently pressured into dropping plans to add another seven-figure sum to his already burgeoning coffers: […]

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The Art of Seeming Like You Care

July 26th, 2011 · 3 Comments

As I believe I’ve mentioned in this space before, the best teacher I ever had was a rotund, sweaty Jesuit who presided over my 10th-grade history class. Among his many wise lessons was one that invoked Napoleon’s rise to power as a case study. He argued quite convincingly that the French Consulate was designed with […]

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Hiding in Plain Sight

May 3rd, 2011 · 4 Comments

I somehow doubt we’ll ever hear the full story regarding what Pakistan’s intelligence apparatus knew about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts these past five years. It is totally naïve to think they knew naught, of course; the big question is who in the spook food chain was in on the conspiracy, and (perhaps most important) what […]

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Blaming the Better Half

January 14th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I’ve spent a fair chunk of the morning immersed in the goings-on in Tunisia, where embattled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is rapidly losing his grip on power. What strikes me most about the protests is the fact that so much rage has been directed at Ben Ali’s wife, the former Leila Trabelsi, a […]

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Jimmy Rasta on the Skids

November 30th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Try as I might to keep apprised of the political situation in the Solomon Islands, I regrettably lose track of the thread from time to time. Thanks, then, to the commenter who recently showed up to offer his two cents regarding Jimmy “Rasta” Lusibaea, the former ethnic militia leader who had become the Solomon Islands’ […]

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Justice for Paw Paw

October 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I’ve previously examined the economics of Nigerian filmaking, a business that rewards both the prolific and the extremely cost-conscious. The industry’s margins are typically razor thin because producers begin with the assumption that 70 percent of each movie’s revenue will end up in the hands of pirates. The trick to longevity, then, is to create […]

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Turn Off the Dark

October 25th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The mere act of flicking on a light switch is something that can’t be taken for granted on the Navajo reservation, where tens of thousands of homes still lack electricity. Nowhere else in America do so many live in darkness, a fact driven home by this eye-popping stat: More than 18,000 households on the reservation […]

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Teach a Man to Fish

September 7th, 2010 · 5 Comments

The last time that Microkhan checked in with Jimmy “Rasta” Lusibaea, he had just found the Lord after a lifetime of sin. The former head of the Malaita Eagles Force (MEF), the Solomon Islands’ most feared militia, Lusibaea had spent years defending his peoples’ turf against ethnic rivals. The MEF was once so powerful that […]

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Jyoti Devithe is Not a Happy Camper

July 29th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Full context here. Devithe, a legislator in the Indian state of Bihar, probably had her heart in the right place, since massive, endemic corruption can be tough to tolerate. But it’s rarely advisable to take a page from the Taiwanese parliamentary playbook.

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Making a Mint Off Evil

July 28th, 2010 · 9 Comments

The case against former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré appears to be as damning as they come. Like many of the twentieth century’s great monsters, Habré was fairly assiduous about documenting his regime’s brutality; according to this essential dossier, he received over 1,200 personal memos regarding the torture of dissidents, many of whom were eventually murdered […]

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Jamaica’s Crossroads

May 26th, 2010 · 2 Comments

As the violence continues in Kingston, let’s pause to consider the scope of Jamaica’s problems. By any measure, the nation should have long ago started working its way toward the middle of the development tables. Think about how much the place has going for it: lots of bauxite, fertile soil, an English-speaking populace, a thriving […]

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The Provider

May 24th, 2010 · 5 Comments

America’s long-running (and endlessly futile) War on Drugs is on the verge of claiming another casualty: the government of Jamaica. The Caribbean nation’s capital is partly in flames today, as residents of Tivoli Gardens battle police with fire bombs and heavy weaponry. The reason for the bloodshed is the government’s call for the surrender of […]

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Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

March 18th, 2010 · 12 Comments

Yesterday’s New York Times featured a piece on the lavish lifestyles of South African president Jacob Zuma and his fellow African National Congress bigwigs. The article was accompanied by a photograph of Zuma sitting on a gilded banquet chair, which bears a striking resemblance to a throne. (Note to Zuma’s handlers: If your boss is […]

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