Every year, the group Transparency International releases its Corruption Perception Index, which measures the perception of corruption – misuse of public resources, bribery, and backdoor deals, to name a few – in countries worldwide. On a scale of 0 (most corrupt) to 10 (least corrupt), no country scores a 10 and more than two-thirds of the 183 countries on the index score below a 5. The US comes in at 7.1. The index is built using data from surveys examining enforcement of anticorruption laws, tracking of public funds, kickbacks in government contracts, etc.
Today is the 176th birthday of Mark Twain, or as his parents knew him, Samuel L. Clemens. Twain is best known for his American fiction, including “Tom Sawyer,” but he was also an intrepid traveler and travel-writer who paved the way for the Bill Brysons of our day. In “Innocents Abroad" he wrote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Here are five delightful travel quotes from Twain's writings:
On Dec. 5, leaders from Afghanistan, NATO, and neighboring countries will meet in Bonn, Germany, to discuss the future of Afghanistan after US troops withdraw. The second conference comes 10 years after the first Bonn Conference, which took place months after the Sept. 11 attacks and the American-led invasion of Afghanistan. Here’s a look at what it is, what’s at stake, and why it matters.
China is the world’s biggest creditor, with foreign exchange reserves of around $3.2 trillion. Europe would like Beijing to use some of that money to lend a hand and help bail out the eurozone. China has stressed it will not be a savior to Europe, and there are a reasons it won't. However, there are a few reasons China could change course and come to the rescue. Here are three:
The offices of a French satirical magazine were bombed early today, after the periodical published an issue about the Arab Spring with a caricature of the prophet Muhammad. The magazine featured the Muslim prophet as a “guest editor” for the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, threatening “100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!” Images of the prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam and have proved a source of controversy in recent years. Most disputes have stemmed from Western publications operating in countries with free speech and large Muslim immigrant populations. While Muslims contend that such images are deeply offensive and must not be published, free speech advocates have countered that the rules of an open society should not place prohibitions on religious drawings. And though not all incidents have resulted in violence, a number of have drawn widespread protest and unrest around the globe. Here are three that caught attention worldwide:
According to Amnesty International’s annual Death Sentences and Executions report, at least 527 people were executed in 23 countries in 2010, plus thousands in China. The number of people executed worldwide since 2007 is more than 2,500. Here are the five countries registering the most executions since 2007:
For the second year in a row, the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge topped America’s Harvard University in the annual QS ranking of the world’s top universities. Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a UK-based higher education consulting firm, released its much-anticipated list of the top 300 today. Academic reputation – a subjective assessment – accounts for 40 percent of the score that determines where schools end up on the rankings. You can get a closer look at the methodology here. This year’s top 10 dropped American universities Princeton and California Institute of Technology in favor of two other leading US schools. You can check out last year’s top 10 here and explore why QS’s rankings caused such a stir.