New Zealand is World’s Least Corrupt Nation

New Zealand is perceived as the least corrupt nation on earth, and Somalia and North Korea are seen as the most corrupt, a German watchdog organization said in a report released this week. The United States ranked 24th least corrupt on a “corruption perceptions index,” the fourth-best in the Western Hemisphere. Canada ranked 10th, the Bahamas is 21st and Chile is 22nd.

In addition to Somalia and North Korea, which are tied for last at No. 182, the bottom of the list includes Myanmar, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Sudan,Iraq, Haiti and Venezuela.

The report was prepared by the independent, nonpartisan Transparency International organization, which says it drew its conclusions based “on different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions.”

The information used to compile the index includes “questions relating to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public-sector and anti-corruption efforts,” Transparency International said.

Perceptions are used, the organization said, because corruption is a hidden activity that is difficult to measure.

The index uses a scale of 0-10 to measure perceived corruption, with zero representing highly corrupt and 10 being very clean. New Zealand, the highest-ranked nation, has a 9.5 score. Somalia and North Korea, the lowest-ranked, have 1.0.

The United States scored 7.1, while Canada is 8.7 and Chile is 7.2. Haiti, the lowest-ranked nation in the Western Hemisphere, scored 1.8. Next-worst is Venezuela with 1.9. The complete report, released Thursday, can be seen at


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Huge Crack Observed in Antarctic Glacier

A huge crack in one of the glaciers in Antarctica has been discovered as a major iceberg started breaking up. For the first time, details of the measurement of the crack have been given by NASA.

The six-year Operation IceBridge of NASA is now in its third field campaign from Punta Arenas, Chile. The largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown, this mission is geared to produce unparalleled 3D views of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheet, ice shelves and sea ice. Normally, the glaciers of the Antarctic, and Greenland, Ice Sheets produce icebergs that separate from the main ice streams where they travel to the sea. This process is called calving. [Read more…]