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Does America have a corruption problem?

Transparency International's new Corruptions Perceptions Index is out, and it's bad news for the United States: For the first time, America has slipped out of the ranks of the 20 least corrupt countries, falling below Qatar and ranking just above Uruguay to take the not-so-coveted 22nd spot.

Obviously, anyone's who's been to either of those two countries will recognize the absurdity of the ranking (after all, the government Qatar is basically run by one family that also owns or controls a huge swath of the economy -- nepotism is not a dirty word here, it's how you get things done), but it's a troubling finding nonetheless. The United States has a lot of work to do to overcome its new global image as a bastion of crony capitalism run for the benefit of big banks with political connections.

The news is likely to give a boost to those who argue that the bailouts of large financial institutions were a mistake, rather than a necessary if unsavory measure needed to prevent global economic armageddon.

Other findings of note: Russia is now all the way down at 154th place, near the bottom of the list. Italy also had a bad year, sinking from 63rd to 67th. On the positive side of the ledger, hard-luck Haiti saw its ranking improve from  168 to 146, and tiny Bhutan jumped 13 places to 36th. Failed  states took their usual place at the far bottom of the list, with Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, and Somalia filling out the last four slots.

Full rankings below the jump:

Rank

Country

Score

Surveys

1

Denmark

9.3

6

1

New Zealand

9.3

6

1

Singapore

9.3

9

4

Finland

9.2

6

4

Sweden

9.2

6

6

Canada

8.9

6

7

Netherlands

8.8

6

8

Australia

8.7

8

8

Switzerland

8.7

6

10

Norway

8.6

6

11

Iceland

8.5

5

11

Luxembourg

8.5

5

13

Hong Kong

8.4

8

14

Ireland

8.0

6

15

Austria

7.9

6

15

Germany

7.9

6

17

Barbados

7.8

4

17

Japan

7.8

8

19

Qatar

7.7

7

20

United Kingdom

7.6

6

21

Chile

7.2

7

22

Belgium

7.1

6

22

United States

7.1

8

24

Uruguay

6.9

5

25

France

6.8

6

26

Estonia

6.5

8

27

Slovenia

6.4

8

28

Cyprus

6.3

4

28

United Arab Emirates

6.3

5

30

Israel

6.1

6

30

Spain

6.1

6

32

Portugal

6.0

6

33

Botswana

5.8

6

33

Puerto Rico

5.8

4

33

Taiwan

5.8

9

36

Bhutan

5.7

4

37

Malta

5.6

3

38

Brunei

5.5

3

39

Korea (South)

5.4

9

39

Mauritius

5.4

6

41

Costa Rica

5.3

5

41

Oman

5.3

5

41

Poland

5.3

8

44

Dominica

5.2

3

45

Cape Verde

5.1

4

46

Lithuania

5.0

8

46

Macau

5.0

3

48

Bahrain

4.9

5

49

Seychelles

4.8

3

50

Hungary

4.7

8

50

Jordan

4.7

7

50

Saudi Arabia

4.7

5

53

Czech Republic

4.6

8

54

Kuwait

4.5

5

54

South Africa

4.5

8

56

Malaysia

4.4

9

56

Namibia

4.4

6

56

Turkey

4.4

7

59

Latvia

4.3

6

59

Slovakia

4.3

8

59

Tunisia

4.3

6

62

Croatia

4.1

8

62

FYR Macedonia

4.1

5

62

Ghana

4.1

7

62

Samoa

4.1

3

66

Rwanda

4.0

5

67

Italy

3.9

6

68

Georgia

3.8

7

69

Brazil

3.7

7

69

Cuba

3.7

3

69

Montenegro

3.7

5

69

Romania

3.7

8

73

Bulgaria

3.6

8

73

El Salvador

3.6

5

73

Panama

3.6

5

73

Trinidad and Tobago

3.6

4

73

Vanuatu

3.6

3

78

China

3.5

9

78

Colombia

3.5

7

78

Greece

3.5

6

78

Lesotho

3.5

6

78

Peru

3.5

7

78

Serbia

3.5

6

78

Thailand

3.5

9

85

Malawi

3.4

7

85

Morocco

3.4

6

87

Albania

3.3

6

87

India

3.3

10

87

Jamaica

3.3

5

87

Liberia

3.3

4

91

Bosnia and Herzegovina

3.2

7

91

Djibouti

3.2

3

91

Gambia

3.2

5

91

Guatemala

3.2

5

91

Kiribati

3.2

3

91

Sri Lanka

3.2

7

91

Swaziland

3.2

4

98

Burkina Faso

3.1

6

98

Egypt

3.1

6

98

Mexico

3.1

7

101

Dominican Republic

3.0

5

101

Sao Tome and Principe

3.0

3

101

Tonga

3.0

3

101

Zambia

3.0

7

105

Algeria

2.9

6

105

Argentina

2.9

7

105

Kazakhstan

2.9

8

105

Moldova

2.9

6

105

Senegal

2.9

7

110

Benin

2.8

6

110

Bolivia

2.8

6

110

Gabon

2.8

3

110

Indonesia

2.8

9

110

Kosovo

2.8

3

110

Solomon Islands

2.8

3

116

Ethiopia

2.7

7

116

Guyana

2.7

4

116

Mali

2.7

6

116

Mongolia

2.7

6

116

Mozambique

2.7

7

116

Tanzania

2.7

7

116

Vietnam

2.7

9

123

Armenia

2.6

7

123

Eritrea

2.6

4

123

Madagascar

2.6

6

123

Niger

2.6

4

127

Belarus

2.5

3

127

Ecuador

2.5

5

127

Lebanon

2.5

4

127

Nicaragua

2.5

6

127

Syria

2.5

5

127

Timor-Leste

2.5

5

127

Uganda

2.5

7

134

Azerbaijan

2.4

7

134

Bangladesh

2.4

7

134

Honduras

2.4

6

134

Nigeria

2.4

7

134

Philippines

2.4

9

134

Sierra Leone

2.4

5

134

Togo

2.4

4

134

Ukraine

2.4

8

134

Zimbabwe

2.4

7

143

Maldives

2.3

3

143

Mauritania

2.3

6

143

Pakistan

2.3

7

146

Cameroon

2.2

7

146

Côte d´Ivoire

2.2

7

146

Haiti

2.2

3

146

Iran

2.2

4

146

Libya

2.2

6

146

Nepal

2.2

6

146

Paraguay

2.2

5

146

Yemen

2.2

4

154

Cambodia

2.1

9

154

Central African Republic

2.1

4

154

Comoros

2.1

3

154

Congo-Brazzaville

2.1

5

154

Guinea-Bissau

2.1

3

154

Kenya

2.1

7

154

Laos

2.1

4

154

Papua New Guinea

2.1

5

154

Russia

2.1

8

154

Tajikistan

2.1

7

164

Democratic Republic of Congo

2.0

4

164

Guinea

2.0

5

164

Kyrgyzstan

2.0

7

164

Venezuela

2.0

7

168

Angola

1.9

6

168

Equatorial Guinea

1.9

3

170

Burundi

1.8

6

171

Chad

1.7

6

172

Sudan

1.6

5

172

Turkmenistan

1.6

3

172

Uzbekistan

1.6

6

175

Iraq

1.5

3

176

Afghanistan

1.4

4

176

Myanmar

1.4

3

178

Somalia

1.1

3

Passport

China's Ann Coulter

I don't advise anyone to willingly dive into the fever swamps of the opinion pages of the Chinese state-run press, but sometimes it's good fun.

Take, for instance, this recent offering by People's Daily columnist Li Hongmei, who writes like a computer-generated parody of a Chinese hard-liner:

You do not need to toil at work, and bend on dizzily complicated formula or spend months in the Lab, but Nobel Prize is still like the beautiful passing clouds, just hard to touch. It takes no more efforts but a fatal bite to one's own Mother, he will be awarded the top honor, and catapulted to "the international stardom" overnight. People with human conscience must despise the idea, but Liu Xiaobo and the like will pounce on the chance to win a quick success. 

Ms. Li was last seen ripping "Uncle Sam" as "too senile to lead Asia" and, my personal favorite, dissing Norway as "a Kart-like country with a tiny population of 4 million." Please weigh in below if you can figure out that last one.

(Hat tip: @TomLasseter)