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Corruption eats away at public confidence in governments. While the cynical see it as the way things get done, there's ample evidence in today's stories that in democracies, or in authoritarian China, bribery is seen as a scourge. Transparency International (www.transparency.de) is a civic group that tracks public perceptions of how ethically clean or dirty a nation may be. In its latest survey of 90 nations, Peru ranks 44. Late Saturday evening, Peru's President Alberto Fujimori announced new elections and said he won't run (page 1). The move followed the release of a videotape allegedly showing Fujimori's spy chief bribing a member of parliament.

On Transparency's list, China stands at 63. China is trying to alter these public perceptions with a popular film and major anti-corruption trials in five cities .

But in Russia (No. 82), the acceptance of corruption has reached such a level, that when one newspaper alleges fraud in the recent presidential election of Vladimir Putin, other news organizations simply shrug .

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB..

*REGIS WHO? The Monitor's Robert Marquand says the celebrity status of movie stars in India is so humongous, that it is hard to find a comparison anywhere else. Bob says his housekeeper, Sabrina, is a big fan of "Kaun Banega Croreplati" (India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"). To be more accurate, she's a fan of the host, Amitabh Bachchan, who is India's Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, and James Dean all in one actor. Sabrina's favorite episode was when Mr. Bachchan asked a contestant if she'd slept well the night before the show. "Yes," said the woman. "What? Weren't you thinking about the show?" he asked. "No," she replied. "Weren't you thinking about the money?" "No." "What were you thinking about?" he asked. "I was thinking about you," she said.

Let us hear from you.

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