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Resource Curse

December 3, 2005
AN OLD JOKE IN MEXICO held that the United Nations ranked Mexico the fifth-most corrupt nation on Earth only because the Mexican government had paid a bribe not to top the list. Corruption is an insidious societal cancer that saps development and spreads poverty. It's also a bit like bad driving, in that everybody thinks the worst offenders are their own countrymen. Actually, there is a way of quantifying such things.
October 26, 2007 | Michael L. Ross, Michael L. Ross is and the director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA and an associate professor of political science.
Last Friday, President Bush announced new sanctions against Myanmar's military government. But world oil prices -- which hit record levels last week -- may undercut their effect. Myanmar has recently gained admission to an elite club of states whose governments use their oil and natural gas to buy their way out of trouble. Call them the petro bullies. Myanmar is Asia's fastest-growing petroleum exporter; China is the world's fastest-growing importer.
January 2, 2006 | Nancy Birdsall, NANCY BIRDSALL is the founding president of the Center for Global Development (
WHEN THE World Bank agreed to finance an oil pipeline for Chad four years ago, it went in with eyes wide open. Mindful of the possibility that the oil profits might be squandered -- or stashed in overseas bank accounts by corrupt officials -- the bank required Chad to agree to put aside the profits in special funds for education, health and other poverty-reduction programs. Ten percent was to be stashed in a rainy-day fund to help the country once the oil ran out.
March 27, 2014 | Sarah Chayes
On Feb. 20, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan fired his respected central bank governor, who was trying to discover what had happened to an estimated $20 billion that disappeared from the nation's oil revenue over an 18-month period. Four days later, across the country in the parched northeast, members of the Boko Haram extremist group attacked a public boarding school, shooting children in their sleep and setting school buildings afire. It was the latest in a string of massacres by the group, whose statements call for an Islamic state ruled by sharia law in Nigeria.
May 27, 2007 | Evan Osnos, Chicago Tribune
The air underground was dank and smelled of labor. Hunched in his one-man mine, Zorigoo clawed at the dirt with a homemade pick. He scooped earth into a bucket and hoisted it through the sunny hole above, where his wife, Saraa, began sifting the soil for a telltale glint. A 21st century gold rush has begun to transform the economics, politics and environment of this ancient land of Huns and Khans.
April 6, 2009 | Robyn Dixon
Sitting on a cheap vinyl chair in a cramped office, his desk topped with a small green-and-blue flag and a plastic ice cream container holding pencils, Magosi Tumagole could be a small-town accountant, not the royal elder of Africa's richest tribe.
March 24, 2013 | By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
TAGHAR, Afghanistan - In a rugged valley outside Kabul, where mud-walled villages blend into bare scrubland, a team of international mining experts and Afghan trainees set up camp over the winter to probe the region's mineral resources. Protected by armed guards, they spent three months drilling test holes into the snowcapped peaks, as curious goat- and sheepherders looked on. "We hit copper damn near everywhere," said Robert Miller, a Colorado-based mining executive recruited by the Pentagon to help advise Afghan authorities on how to develop the country's natural resources.
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