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Transparency International recently published their latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), laid out in an eye-catching map of the world with the least corrupt nations coded in happy yellow and the most corrupt nations smeared in stigmatising red. The CPI defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private benefit", and draws its data from 12 different institutions including the World Bank, Freedom House, and the World Economic Forum.

When I first saw this map I was struck by the fact that most of the yellow areas happen to be rich Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, whereas red covers almost the entirety of the global South, with countries like South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia daubed especially dark. 

This geographical division fits squarely with mainstream views, which see corruption as the scourge of the developing world (cue cliche images of dictators in Africa and bribery in India). But is this storyline accurate?

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/flipping-corruption-myth-201412094213280135.html

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Israel Kamakawiwoʻole is one of the symbols of Hawaii. One can argue about the artistic significance of his work, but one can also see the difficult history of the island nation reflected in the fate of this musician, as if peering into the waters of the Pacific Ocean. This history speaks not only through his life story and lyrics. The way Kamakawiwoʻole’s songs were received – so strongly correlated with the nationality of the listener – also says as much about the fate and misery of the Hawaiians. 

https://przekroj.pl/en/culture/the-double-life-of-israel-jan-blaszczak

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In the 1980s, illegal blood donation stations moved into rural areas of Henan province in central China and offered to pay for blood. These operations extracted plasma, then sold it on to institutional buyers. For the peasants in villages like Wenlou, this was a quick and easy way to make money. But these illegal stations were often run with a negligent approach to hygiene and sterilization. The result was an AIDS epidemic that tore through the community and still lives on today.

http://www.sixthtone.com/news/897/village-aids-tore-apart

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Active volcanoes fascinate and frighten simultaneously. They bring life as well as death. Observing them is an absolute must – if you’re seeking to combine an admiration for the beauty and power of nature with a shiver of emotion and a pinch of fear.

Polish blogger and traveller Hanna Bora has done it herself, and prepared a short guide for us based on her travels.

https://przekroj.pl/en/science/lava-leisure-tours-hanna-bora

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Since the airport’s opening in 1995, there have been endless rumors and theories. People say our underground tunnels lead to secret meeting facilities for the world’s elite. Our blue horse is thought to be cursed. Some believe we are connected to the new world order and the freemasons. Some people even say that we are home to a colony of lizard people.

https://www.flydenver.com/great_hall/denfiles

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Kevin Cazad has never been to China. Born and raised in California, the 31-year-old works as an IT support technician at an Amazon warehouse. Yet the young American has been the subject of dozens of Chinese media articles over the past two years.

The reason is a post Cazad shared on the forum of WuxiaWorld — a popular website that translates Chinese fiction into English — about how his newfound love of martial arts epics had helped him beat a cocaine habit. “WuxiaWorld took up all my time and I was able to forget about wanting any drugs,” he wrote.

http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1004682/the-chinese-e-publishers-making-an-epic-journey-to-the-west

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Photography is all about light — something that’s hard to come by in winter when you live in Murmansk, the world’s largest city above the Arctic Circle. Add to that subzero temperatures and biting cold wind blowing from the Arctic Ocean, and you’ve got unpleasant shooting conditions for your average urban photographer. For Serj Ius, -38ºC isn’t all that bad. Born in Murmansk, he has been documenting his hometown since 2000. 

https://www.calvertjournal.com/features/show/9540/chasing-light-russia-dark-winter-photography

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As it turns out, a language’s grammatical gender can have significant and surprising effects on cognition. In one study, for example, Russian speakers were asked to personify the days of the week. They consistently personified the grammatically masculine days (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday) as males and the grammatically feminine days (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) as females. When asked why they did this, they were unable to explain themselves.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-conscious/201209/masculine-or-feminine-and-why-it-matters

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Is there anything inherently “doggy” about the word “dog”? Obviously not—to the French, a dog is a chien, to Russians a sobaka, to Mandarin Chinese-speakers a gǒu. These words have nothing in common, and none seem any more connected to the canine essence than any other. One runs up against that wall with pretty much any word.

Except some. The word for “mother” seems often either to be mama or have a nasal sound similar to m, like nana. The word for “father” seems often either to be papa or have a sound similar to p, like b, in it—such that you get something like baba. The word for “dad” may also have either d or t, which is a variation on saying d, just as p is on b. People say mama or nana, and then papa, baba, dada, or tata, worldwide.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/10/words-mom-dad-similar-languages/409810/

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Korporacija Sheriff u Pridnjestrovlju je sveprisutna: osnovala je i stranku koja je na posljednjim izborima dobila 35 od 43 mandata, a petnaestak zastupnika ujedno su zaposlenici tvrtke. I u Moldaviji su testirane korporativne tehnologije vladanja. ‘Transnistria nije nikakav ostatak sovjetske prošlosti, nego mogući model naše budućnosti’, kaže Vitalie Sprinceana

https://www.portalnovosti.com/u-sheriffovoj-drzavi

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On 11/22/2019 at 11:25 AM, Lazar said:

Korporacija Sheriff u Pridnjestrovlju je sveprisutna: osnovala je i stranku koja je na posljednjim izborima dobila 35 od 43 mandata, a petnaestak zastupnika ujedno su zaposlenici tvrtke. I u Moldaviji su testirane korporativne tehnologije vladanja. ‘Transnistria nije nikakav ostatak sovjetske prošlosti, nego mogući model naše budućnosti’, kaže Vitalie Sprinceana

https://www.portalnovosti.com/u-sheriffovoj-drzavi

Cyberpunk je ovde...

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Da li je najbolje zamisliti novac kao fizičku robu, kao dragocenost koja nam samo olakšava razmenu, ili je bolje posmatrati ga prvenstveno kao kredit, knjigovodstveni sistem, kruženje menica – u svakom slučaju kao društveni ugovor? To je rasprava koja u različitim oblicima traje hiljadama godina. Ono što nazivamo „novcem“ uvek je mešavina jednog i drugog i, kao što sam već tvrdio u knjizi Dug: prvih pet hiljada godina (2011), tačan odnos snaga između dve komponente varira kroz vreme. U srednjem veku, svakodnevne transakcije u Evroaziji obično su obavljane korišćenjem kredita, dok se za novac verovalo da je apstrakcija. Do promene percepcije došlo je sa usponom globalnih evropskih carstava u 16. i 17. veku i poplavom zlata i srebra opljačkanog u Americi. Istorijski posmatrano, ideja da zlato jeste novac dominira u periodima nasilja, masovnog ropstva i haranja predatorskih armija. Najveći deo sveta upravo je tako doživeo susret sa imperijama Španije, Portugalije, Holandije, Francuske i Velike Britanije.

https://pescanik.net/granice-ekonomije/

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With a few minor exceptions, there are really only two ways to say “tea” in the world. One is like the English term—té in Spanish and tee in Afrikaans are two examples. The other is some variation of cha, like chay in Hindi.

Both versions come from China. How they spread around the world offers a clear picture of how globalization worked before “globalization” was a term anybody used. The words that sound like “cha” spread across land, along the Silk Road. The “tea”-like phrasings spread over water, by Dutch traders bringing the novel leaves back to Europe.

https://qz.com/1176962/map-how-the-word-tea-spread-over-land-and-sea-to-conquer-the-world/

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Red Journey is the result of a year-long road trip through the 15 former Soviet republics. I travelled from my hometown of Antwerp to Vladivostok and back, without taking an aeroplane. Slowly over land, by bus and train, I photographed subjects and stories and impressions.

https://www.calvertjournal.com/features/show/4989/great-journeys-nick-hannes-road-trip-photography

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Bhutan often tops the list of happiest places to live, and is a model of harmony in a hyper-capitalized world. However in the face of all this supposed harmony, Bhutan hides a very dark history. Bhutan is the world’s biggest creator of refugees by per capita.

https://thediplomat.com/2016/09/bhutans-dark-secret-the-lhotshampa-expulsion/

By 1996, over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees were living in refugee camps in Nepal. Many have since been resettled in Western nations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_cleansing_in_Bhutan

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Every morning, Huang Yung-fu flips on a light, shuffles out of his two-room bungalow in sandals and carries a handful of paint tins into the streets outside. While the city around him sleeps, Huang crouches on a stool for three hours and quietly decorates the drab cement walls, pavement and windows with an explosion of playful murals in kaleidoscopic colours.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/gallery/20181128-the-96-year-old-painter-who-saved-a-village

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Anyone looking for evidence of a growing economic and ideological conflict between China and the United States will have no trouble finding something—the trade war now roiling both countries’ economies, the standoff between police and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, Beijing’s swift retaliation against the NBA over a single Houston Rockets executive’s tweet in support of those same protesters. President Donald Trump seems to think a new cold war is at hand. His national-security strategy statement identifies China as an adversary bent on dismantling a U.S.-centered global order and forging a new one in its own favor. This point of view is catching on outside the administration, too. Earlier this year, the Committee on the Present Danger relaunched once again. First organized in the late 1940s to push for a massive military buildup and revived in the 1970s to promote a more confrontational approach toward the Soviet Union, the group now seeks to mobilize Americans for an existential struggle against China.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/12/cold-war-china-purely-optional/601969

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Za poštare imam samo poštovanje. Dobro, i duboko razumevanje. Pored toga još i strepim. Od pre dva dana, poštari su izloženi nasilju vlasti i poslodavaca. Nezakonitim pritiscima lomi se njihov štrajk. Ne dajte se, poštari! To želim da im viknem. Ko još šalje novogodišnje čestitke, krajnje mu je vreme da počne da koristi društvene mreže, umesto da krivi poštare u štrajku što pisma neće stići na vreme. 

https://pescanik.net/postovanje-postari/

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Kad smo kod čaja. Portugalci imaju alternativno objašnjenje kad je poreklo reči tea u pitanju :)

"Travel back in time to 1662, when Catherine of Braganza (daughter of Portugal’s King John IV) won the hand of England’s newly restored monarch, King Charles II, with the help of a very large dowry that included money, spices, treasures and the lucrative ports of Tangiers and Bombay. This hookup made her one very important lady: the Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. 

When she relocated up north to join King Charles, she is said to have packed loose-leaf tea as part of her personal belongings; it would also have likely been part of her dowry. A fun legend has it that the crates were marked Transporte de Ervas Aromaticas (Transport of Aromatic Herbs) – later abbreviated to T.E.A."

Tvrdnja je zabavna, ali po svemu sudeći netačna. Svakako je zanimljiva priča o tome kako je Katarina donela modu čaja u Englesku, gde se on do tada konzumirao skoro isključivo kao lek.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170823-the-true-story-behind-englands-tea-obsession

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Northern Tajikistan's Isfara is a bit of a forgotten district when it comes to tourism, but slow travelers can really enjoy themselves here. There's a ghost town, lovely mosaics and an exclave for those who like Soviet history. There's a woodcarving master and a 1000-year old wooden mausoleum if you like crafts and ancient things. If you like selfies, there is a statue of a giant apricot. And if you just want to chill, there are some really good tea houses.

All excellent excuses to get off the beaten track and into the lives of people you would otherwise never get to meet.

https://caravanistan.com/tajikistan/north/isfara/

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