Last updated: 9 december, 2010 - 10:01 GMT

The Americas

Extreme World: Oiling the Machine

click Extreme World is a new season of coverage on TV, radio and online, examining the global differences that divide us.

Over the next few months the BBC will be exploring eight key themes that illustrate the contrasts in our extreme world.

They include click Hot and Cold, click Corruption, click Dying, click Crime, click Education, click Business, click Pollution and click God.


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Corruption is a problem that exists all over the world.

In some countries it persists in all forms in everyday life from top to bottom and in others it is only in certain sections and hidden from the general population but very few places, if any, are totally free from it.

$100 bills

"Corruption is a human problem - it comes out of the sense of community."

Big city politics in America is rarely for the faint-hearted, but few places have such a reputation for bare-knuckle self interest and outright venality as Chicago.

For more than a century, the city's wheels have been oiled by patronage, bribery, and graft.

In this documentary, local journalist Steve Edwards takes to the mean streets of his hometown - meeting the political bosses behind the so-called "machine" that has controlled democracy for so long, and asking why the Windy City is such a hotbed of corruption.

First broadcast 8 December 2010

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