The List

The World's Worst Daughters

Last week, FP ran down the worst behavior from the sons of world leaders. Now, it's the ladies' turn.


Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for amfAR

Dad: Uzbek President Islam Karimov

Age: 37

Bad behavior: Karimova is known in Europe as a jet-setting socialite and philanthropist and has been spotted at events with Sharon Stone, Elton John and, reportedly, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. But back home, Karimova is likely being groomed as successor to her brutal dictator father and has used his influence to amass her own formidable financial holdings.

The consequences of crossing Karimova became clear in 2001 when she divorced her husband, an Afghan-American businessman with extensive holdings in Uzbekistan, and took their children out of the United States in violation of a court order. The unfortunate ex-husband’s Coca-Cola bottling factory in Uzbekistan was promptly shut down, three of his relatives were imprisoned, and 24 were deported at gunpoint to Afghanistan. In 2006, Karimova, whose business interests include most of Uzbekistan’s tea industry, reportedly sent hooded men with machine guns to shut down a rival company and liquidate their holdings.

In recent years, Karimova has been focusing on her budding music career. A music video she recorded under the name GooGooSha, her father’s pet name for her, was in near-constant rotation on Uzbek MTV in 2006.


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Dad: Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein

Age: 41

Bad behavior: It's an understatement to say that Raghad Hussein and her father have had their ups and downs. In 1995, her husband Hussein Kamel, one of Saddam's top ministers, defected, and the couple fled to Jordan. Saddam coaxed them into returning in 1996, then promptly forced them to divorce and had Kamel executed. Raghad doesn't seem to bear a grudge though, saying years later that, "all families have misunderstandings."

After fleeing back to Jordan after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Hussein was taken in by the royal family of Jordan. Unlike the thousands of Iraqi exiles who live in desperation throughout the Middle East, the Jordanians have provided Hussein with a deluxe apartment and servants and paid for her clothing, jewelry, and even cosmetic surgery. Hussein set a new standard for gall by writing to then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft requesting that jewels from Saddam's palace and the cash found on her father when he was arrested be returned to her.

In 2007, Iraq's interior ministry charged Ms. Hussein with financing Sunni insurgents, an offense punishable by death. She has been placed on an Interpol red list, but the Jordanian government has denied requests to extradite her. She last made a public appearance in Yemen in 2006, shortly after her father's execution, where she praised him as a loving father and a hero to Arabs.


File Photo

Dad: Late Burmese prime minister and president Ne Win

Age: 57

Bad behavior: Before the current military junta took power in 1988, Burma was ruled by prime minister and later president Ne Win, who ruled the country as a one-party Marxist dictatorship from 1962 to 1988. As Win (already 52 when he began his rule) grew older, he began to rely more and more on Sandar, his favorite daughter, to help run things. Throughout the 1980s, Sandar’s power grew as she assumed more and more responsibilities for the rapidly failing state. She controlled party officials’ access to her father, and then oversaw the appointment of Col. Khin Nyhut (a future prime minister under the junta) as chief of intelligence, providing her with even more control over the regime.

When her father stepped down in 1988, Sandar Win played a key role in suppressing the following pro-democracy movement that was led by Aung Sun Suu Kyi. After the military junta took over the country, Win preserved her father’s power behind the scenes during the 1990s, while she used her connections to continue enriching her family’s business ventures. Some saw Sandar as Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s greatest rival if the junta fell. Then, at the beginning of this decade, her husband and their three sons were arrested for plotting to overthrow the junta. Win was not implicated directly, despite many considering her the brains behind the plot, but her family’s influence was finally dead. Like her opponent Aung Sun Suu Kyi, she was placed under house arrest. Reports indicate she was finally released in December.



Dad: Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Age: 27

Bad behavior: When Pinthongta Shinawatra became the richest stockholder in Thailand in 2004, few observers were surprised. Before Thaksin was deposed in a military coup in 2006, his family benefited tremendously from the rampant nepotism during his five-year term as prime minster, with his own children netting millions. Along with her brother Pangthongtae, she made a large profit by buying 329.2 million shares in a Thai communications company for 1 baht each from one of the family’s offshore holding company, and selling them for almost 50 times their value to a Singaporean company. The ensuing transaction netted $464 million, and Pinthongta’s father kept the transaction hidden from Thai tax officials.

Since her father lost the premiership, Pinthongta has been busy protecting both her father’s record and her own funds. A court in Thailand ordered her and her brother in 2007 to pay $293.6 million in taxes for the stock transaction, and just this February a court upheld the Thai state’s decision to freeze more than $350 million of the pair’s assets. Meanwhile, she refused to testify against her parents in their own tax-evasion case, and she continues to defend her father’s record in public, all while running the family’s still-intact property business. And with substantial portions of her fortune, as well as the rest of the family’s, likely hidden in overseas accounts, Thai authorities will have a hard time halting her life of luxury.



Dad: Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo

Age: 42

Bad behavior: Her father may be notorious for political corruption, but daughter Iyabo started out promisingly enough, earning graduate degrees in epidemiology from UC-Davis, Cornell, and Wake Forest and publishing a number of papers in U.S. medical journals. She seemed headed for a distinguished career in medical research until she returned to Nigeria in 2004, fleeing her estranged husband with their U.S.-born son. The father has filed kidnapping charges against her in a U.S. court, which are still pending. Obasanjo also reportedly owes her ex-husband $35,000 in unpaid child support and is on an Interpol watch list.

After coming home, she decided to go into the family business: abuse of power and graft. After serving as health commissioner in her father’s government, Obasanjo was elected to the Nigerian Senate in 2006, where she proceeded to take full advantage of the office.  In 2006, Obasanjo reportedly accepted thousands of dollars in bribes, including a Toyota Land Cruiser, from an Austrian company in exchange for using her connections to help it bid on energy contracts with her father’s government. She is also accused of withdrawing $85,000 from Nigeria’s meager health budget for personal use. Obasanjo has described the accusations as “blackmail.”

The List

The List: The World's Biggest Military Boondoggles

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has taken drastic measures recently to cut the Pentagon's bloated weapons projects. But other countries are struggling with their own defense albatrosses, too.


Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Country: Britain

Budget: $10.6 billion for six ships

Status: Delayed

The plan: Advertised as the "world's most advanced warship" by defense contractor BAE Systems, the T45 is the Royal Navy's next-generation air defense platform. The destroyers will be armed with the newly developed Primary Anti-Air Missile System, whose surface-to-air Aster missiles are said to be capable of destroying a fist-sized target traveling at Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, from 19 miles away.

But this destroyer's problems more than match its ballyhooed capabilities. The T45 has been plagued by delays and massive cost overruns -- the project is two years behind schedule and 29 percent more expensive than estimates initially suggested. The HMS Daring, Britain’s first T45, was rushed into service late last year without a missile system -- all but crippling the ship -- and won't be fully operational until as late as 2011. Recent reports suggest the Ministry of Defence wants to put a T45 in the Thames River during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to ward off any attempts at an airborne terrorist attack.


Country: Russia

Budget: $500 million and counting

Status: Stalled

The plan: Russia's minister of defense hopes to have this missile operational by the end of 2009, but even after 10 years of work, it’s still not clear the kinks have been ironed out. A variant of the land-based Topol-M missile, the Bulava is a three-stage projectile with a theoretical range of 8,000 kilometers. Allegedly hardened against electromagnetic, physical, and radioactive interference, and possibly capable of making in-flight evasive maneuvers, the missile is touted by some supporters as unstoppable.

The Bulava can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, each with a 150-kiloton yield. It was created in part to modernize the sea-based arm of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, but mostly to restore the country's pride and self-confidence after the political and economic instability of the 1990s. The missile’s only downside may be that it just doesn't work. Out of the Bulava's 11 flight tests, six -- including the latest one this month -- have failed. Back to the drawing board.


The Chongqing Times via

Country: China

Budget: Unknown

Status: In development

The plan: The Chinese are known to have considered a domestic aircraft-carrier program in the past, and have even purchased old Soviet-era carriers to take apart and examine. Beijing made waves in April when it announced ambitious plans to construct its own “large surface-combat ships” and other sophisticated naval weapons systems as part of a massive ongoing modernization campaign. The government claims it will finish two carriers in the next decade: a lighter, 60,000-ton craft ("085 Project") by 2010, which would house between 30 and 40 J-10 fighter jets -- or 10-20 Russian Su-33s -- and the big kahuna ("089 Project"), a world-class, 93,000-ton nuclear-powered super carrier for 2020.

But can China deliver? Critics say the country has neither the technology nor the skills nor the time to achieve its targets. It could conceivably field a small carrier fairly soon -- a military hardware expo on July 4 revealed mock-ups closely resembling a Soviet Kuznetsov-class vessel. That type of carrier, however, doesn’t feature the steam catapults necessary to launch heavier, more sophisticated planes off the deck. China would have to design such a system from scratch or modify its existing maglev technology to fit. The albatross potential here is considerable.



Country: France

Budget: $4.7 billion and counting

Status: Stalled

The plan: The French Navy is eager to procure a second aircraft carrier to replace two that were scrapped in recent years. The asbestos-infested FNS Clemencau (pictured) was decomissioned in 1997, and the Foch was sold to Brazil in 2000. With a displacement of 75,000 tons, the Porte-Avions 2, known as the PA2 for short, will likely be powered by electric engines and should have room to carry roughly 50 aircraft. The project began as a joint effort between France and Britain, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy withdrew from the agreement last year, saying he wouldn't make a final decision about ordering a new carrier until 2011.

Critics complain that postponing the PA2 project would leave France without a single carrier when the FNS Charles de Gaulle gets a refit starting in 2015. But the delays could actually play to the country's advantage. The PA2 was to use Britain's experimental Queen Elizabeth-class design -- an unpopular architecture that ruled out any possibility of a nuclear-powered engine.

New design studies being conducted this year suggest that France might ultimately reject the British design altogether, start from scratch, and include all the features it wanted the first time around. The bad news? France has allocated only $280 billion to its entire defense procurement budget for the next decade, and 30 percent of that will already have been spent by the time Sarkozy makes up his mind.


AFP/Getty Images

Country: Multiple

Budget: $27.7 billion

Status: Endangered

The plan: Under a contract awarded to the European Aeronautic Defense and Space company, the A400M military transport aircraft is being designed for nine countries. The plane boasts four special turboprop engines (allegedly the largest ever made in the West) and can take off and land on short runways. It is built to hold as many as 120 soldiers in full battle gear, up to 66 stretchers for evacuating the wounded, or nine military cargo pallets.

But the versatile plane isn't going anywhere fast. Nearly 200 of them are on order, yet the project is almost four years overdue and $7 billion over budget. At this point, the nine customers could cancel their orders, get a partial refund amounting to $8.5 billion, and reinvest it in much cheaper American C-130Js. But they won't, because while the contract doesn't explicitly contain a "buy European" clause, this is the European Union’s opportunity to prove it has its act together on defense. It may have to wait a while.