Friday, December 10, 2004

I love puzzles!

This one is a toughie though:
Suppose that a big corporation headquartered in New York City were the center of the largest embezzlement scheme in world history ($21 billion), which enriched big oil companies, foreign dictators, terrorists, and its own employees. Further, suppose that the corporation's own union had declared its lack of confidence in the corporation's management, because of endemic corruption, and because of senior management's lax attitude towards sexual abuse, including coercive sex with underage girls.

Also suppose that the son of the company president was getting paid by another business that profited from the embezzlement scheme, and the company president had claimed that his son's affiliation ended in 1999, but actually the son continued with the business until 2004. And suppose that the company president and his staff were obstructing government investigations into their own corruption. Oh, and let's also suppose that the corporate president and his underlings had attempted to influence the recent U.S. presidential election.

You can be quite sure that a scandal of this incredible scope would be aggressively covered by the newspapers. And it has been covered by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Sun, and The Times of London, all of which advanced the story last month with major articles. But none of these stories were reprinted in The Denver Post, which has not written a word about the scandal's developments in the last month. The Rocky Mountain News did slightly better, with a nine-paragraph article on page 34A of last Saturday's paper.

Why are the Denver papers so reticent about informing their readers about such a big scandal?
No peeking at the answer. And it isn't just Denver, of course.

Here's another one:
Which of the following recent news stories is the odd one out:

(a) United Nations accused of cover-up of sexual harassment by senior official.

(b) U.N. soldiers in Africa accused of sexual trafficking in minors.

(c) Son of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan accused of profiting from U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal until early this year.

(d) U.S. Senator urges Kofi Annan to resign after his committee discovers that the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program transferred $21 billion to Saddam Hussein.

(e) U.N. "High Level Panel" of eminent persons urges greater powers for world body.
Here's a hint:
No one is ever asked to resign for wrongdoing at the United Nations.
Kofi Annan is the symbol of the United Nations' lack of accountability. He is never held responsible for what goes wrong, because the United Nations is never held responsible, either. It sails in a cloud of noble idealism over the actual failures, hypocrisy, corruption and outright criminality that attend some U.N. actions on the ground below.

And there is a polite consensus outside the United States not to notice the glaring contradictions between idealism and reality.
But it's not all bad news - Annan's one virtue: He weakens the U.N.