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Power Corrupts

Author: Brian Klaas

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Does power corrupt? Absolutely. This is the podcast about the hidden—and often nefarious—forces that shape our world. Election rigging. Smuggling. Narcopolitics. Ransom. Conspiracy Theories. North Korean bank heists. Cults. Drug Lords. Voodoo. Money laundering. Assassinations. Unhinged conspiracy theories. Unbelievable stories. Stitched together with the help of world-leading experts. Created and narrated by Dr. Brian Klaas, a political scientist and columnist for The Washington Post.

Join our exclusive Patreon community for uncut interviews, episodes early and much more: Patreon.com/powercorrupts
42 Episodes
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Does power corrupt? Absolutely. This is the podcast about the hidden—and often nefarious—forces that shape our world. Election rigging. Smuggling. Narcopolitics. Ransom. Conspiracy Theories. North Korean bank heists. Cults. Drug Lords. Voodoo. Money laundering. Assassinations. Unhinged conspiracy theories. Unbelievable stories. Hear the trailer now and subscribe. Season 2 coming February 6th 2020.     ----       Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
How to Rig an Election

How to Rig an Election

2019-05-0150:41

How do you rig an election—and get away with it? Why did a cult try to poison an entire county to win a local election? And what about using disappearing ink, or threatening arson, or name doubles? This episode shows how the amateurs rig elections — with hilarious mix-ups and puréed beavers — and how the pros get away with it.     Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ------   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer is George McDonagh. Alex Portfelix is the producer and sound editor. Theme music is by Scott Holmes. News clips in this episode came from PBS, KKGW in Portland, Euronews, and CBS News.
Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy Theories

2019-05-0155:511

Why do some people believe unhinged conspiracy theories? How are they affecting our politics? How did insane theories—like QAnon—convert millions of people? Did John Kerry split a hurricane in half with a laser beam from Antarctica? What's really lurking beneath the Denver airport? And what can we do about these unhinged beliefs, given that America now has a Conspiracy-Theorist-in-Chief?     Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ------ Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer is George McDonagh. Alex Portfelix is the producer and sound editor. Theme music is by Scott Holmes.
Narcopolitics

Narcopolitics

2019-05-0159:402

How have drugs been used in warfare? Why does the cocaine in London nightclubs pass through a dictatorship in West Africa? Why did British soldiers get high on hallucinogens and try to talk to birds? How does heroin bought in the West create a market for child brides? And, should we legalize some drugs?      Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts   ------   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer is George McDonagh. Theme music is by Scott Holmes, and additional music by Lee Rosevere, John Bartman, and Kevin McLeod.  
Why did a West African rebel leader send his troops into battle completely naked, protected only by talismans? How did threats of voodoo and invisible zombies stave off a US invasion of Haiti? And why was a journalist nearly killed when local villagers mistakenly thought he was a vampire? In this episode, we explore the wild and weird world of the politics of magic and witchcraft. Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.  
Disinformation is a powerful weapon. It forces your enemy to inflict damage upon themselves based upon lies that you've deliberately spread. How did a homeless man's corpse help win World War II? How does reality television function in Russia, given that the media is so tightly controlled? And what happens when fake video gets so good that we can't tell the difference between fiction and reality?    Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.  
Ransom

Ransom

2019-05-2352:54

What's it like to be held by Somali pirates for 977 days? Or to meet your Dad for the first time after he's been held in a basement in Beirut for nearly 7 years? Are you more likely to be killed as a hostage if you're American than if you're French? And how does economic game theory help us answer the question: what is the price of your freedom?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Smuggling

Smuggling

2019-05-3059:351

What's the best way to smuggle a crocodile onto an airplane? What is the journey actually like for migrants getting smuggled from Afghanistan to Australia? Why is the European Union paying migrant smugglers in Niger to open bakeries? Will Trump's proposed border wall actually do anything to stop smuggling? And how should you go about smuggling your pet turtle onto an airplane?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Why did the war in Afghanistan hinge on the ability of a teenager to help buy 100 million bullets for the US military? Where do you even go to buy 100 million bullets? What are international arms dealers actually like? Is the US facilitating war crimes in Yemen while simultaneously transferring weapons to terrorists? And why is so much of the world's corruption wrapped up in gunrunning?    Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Assassinations

Assassinations

2019-06-1358:27

Why did the CIA try to kill an African political leader with poisoned toothpaste? How did a sturdy couch save a leader from being killed during an elaborate plot involving a self-sinking boat and a collapsing ceiling? Was a recent attempt to blow up Venezuela's dictator with a small consumer drone a genuine attack, or just a pretext to crack down on his political opponents? Is democracy more likely to emerge when dictators are assassinated, or does it just make the situation worse? And which US president got shot in the chest by a would-be assassin but continued speaking for 90 minutes, even as he was bleeding before the crowd?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
What's something that you do every 2 weeks? For Michelle Lyons, over a span of 12 years, she watched someone get executed every two weeks in Texas. What are inmates like on their last day alive? Did she have misgivings watching people take their last breath? And what do people who are strapped to the gurney actually say for their final statements?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.  
An Eye for an Eye?

An Eye for an Eye?

2019-06-2701:02:34

Nick Yarris spent 22 years on death row. At one point, he even escaped. But then, right before he was slated to be executed, DNA evidence proved he was innocent. Is the death penalty justified? Can a just society execute people? Are you more likely to be executed if you kill a white person? And why do most death sentences come from a tiny number of American counties?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Why are countries that are rich in natural resources so often poor and war-torn? You’ve probably heard of blood diamonds, but what about blood vanilla, blood microchips, or blood chocolate? How are rebels and terrorists funding themselves with watermelons and wheat? We crisscross the globe from Papua New Guinea to Madagascar to find out.   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.  
You’ve probably heard of money laundering, but how does it actually work? How did billions of dollars of dirty gold from South America become clean cash in Florida and Ohio? How do crooks launder money using video games? Why are journalists getting killed for exposing money laundering? And what in the world is “cuckoo smurfing”? Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Nukes

Nukes

2019-07-1853:271

How did 2 guys you've never heard of save the world from nuclear apocalypse? Can nuclear weapons be hacked? What's the most consequential honeymoon in human history? Why was a British nuclear weapon designed to contain live chickens in the bomb casing? And why are nuclear bombs useful for detecting art forgeries?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Letters of Last Resort

Letters of Last Resort

2019-07-2558:06

The UK has a new prime minister. On his first day, Boris Johnson will handwrite four identical letters to the captains of Britain's nuclear submarines. They are one of the most closely guarded secrets of the British government. And those Letters of Last Resort will only be opened if London is wiped out by a nuclear blast. The letters must answer a straightforward but morally complex question: should the UK fire back with nuclear weapons? To deter nuclear attacks, the answer must be yes. But can we stomach that answer, given that nuclear retaliation could endanger the survival of our species?   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.  
From Dictator to Demigod

From Dictator to Demigod

2019-08-0101:02:151

Why do dictators and despots create outlandish myths about themselves? Why spread lies claiming that you've written 18,000 books or that you personally invented hamburgers? Why waste millions on a golden statue of yourself that rotates to face the sun? It turns out there's a method to their madness. In this episode, we examine some of the weirdest and most brutal dictators on the planet to understand the three step playbook for how despots across the globe try to transform themselves from flawed tyrants into seemingly flawless demigods with a cult of personality. Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
When you think of heists, you probably think of masked men, bank robbers, and priceless art. But governments carry out heists, too. In this episode, we explore a billion dollar bank heist carried out by North Korean hackers; a heist carried out by a dictator who pledged to rule for a billion years (and was obsessed with mayonnaise); and a jewel heist that destroyed diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand for a generation.    Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
The Anatomy of Evil

The Anatomy of Evil

2019-08-1501:06:51

What makes ordinary people commit extraordinarily violent acts? Is it their brain chemistry? Social pressure? Or a charismatic leader telling them it's their patriotic duty? In this episode, we explore the morality of a scientist who gave life to billions--but also facilitated the murder of millions; a psychiatrist who studied the brains of Nazi war criminals; a Rwandan who lost most of her family in the 1994 genocide; and hear from two experts on how authoritarian leaders can convince seemingly kind people to murder their neighbors.   Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.
Children of Monsters

Children of Monsters

2019-08-2259:00

To end our first season we look at Nepotism. What’s it like to be the son or daughter of a dictator? Why did one dictator’s son go from a high-flying life playing football in Italy to being shorn like a sheep in the hands of rebels? Why did the cannibal emperor of Bangui murder a woman who claimed to be his long-lost daughter? And in the cutthroat world of politics, is nepotism necessary to survive? We’ll answer those questions across the globe from Equatorial Guinea to Uzbekistan and from Libya to the United States.  Support the show on Patreon at Patreon.com/powercorrupts   ----   Power Corrupts is written and narrated by Brian Klaas. The executive producer and sound editor is George McDonagh.  
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Comments (23)

H Mailer

These stories are bone chilling man...!!!! Excellent job bringing these horrific stories to light. I can't help thinking of the Trump family when listening...Ugh

Sep 5th
Reply

Виолетта Марсикова

It is very interesting Podcast! Thank you)

Nov 14th
Reply

Noz

A well researched, well produced and fascinating series. A very informative and sometimes horrifying listen. Highly recommended.

Oct 17th
Reply

Sarah Trull

When is the next season???

Sep 29th
Reply

Cameron Mitchner

130002130002

Jun 22nd
Reply

Tat

Love this podcast. See you next season!

Apr 26th
Reply

William Kimaru

Very informative...I enjoyed the historical perspective on the subject

Apr 19th
Reply

Chloe Watson

Why no new episodes??

Oct 20th
Reply

Bad Robot

could you please make an episode about Koch industries please

Aug 15th
Reply (2)

Bad Robot

can you talk about Koch industries please

Aug 15th
Reply (1)

jersey2777

why are the pcasts sputtering?!

Jun 6th
Reply

Sankalpa Wackboy

Beautiful episode. Opened my eyes a lot.

Jun 6th
Reply

Adam Warringer

Hahahahaha first 2 opening sentences and already mentioning Donald Trump. What a joke instantly at opener.

May 3rd
Reply (7)
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