Each year at this time, Freedom House issues a reporton the state of global media freedom. The overall findings for 2012 were bleak: Just 14 percent of the world's population lives in societies that enjoy vibrant coverage of public affairs, a legal environment that undergirds a free press, and freedom from intrusion by the government or other political forces. The countries profiled are members of an ignoble club -- the 10 most serious violators of press freedom in the world.
Corrupt dictators who take bribes and loot their treasuries are rightly condemned by governments and other observers in developed countries. But the extent to which this plundering is aided by lax and weakly enforced money laundering laws in the West has too often escaped notice. It is remarkably easy for these criminals to hide their identities behind anonymous shell companies and bank secrecy in order to bring their dirty money into the United States and Europe.
The Reverend Leon H. Sullivan is remembered today as one of the most respected leaders of the American civil rights movement. For many decades, he served as pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, a northern city with a reputation for hostility to racial change. From early on, Sullivan identified lack of economic opportunity as a crucial element of racial inequality. Thus among his first campaigns was an economic boycott directed at major corporations in Philadelphia that refused to interview young black job applicants. “Selective patronage,” Sullivan called it.
This past Tuesday, the Unesco–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences was awarded for the first time. The award recognizes the achievements of scientific research that “have contributed … to improving the quality of human life.” Unfortunately, the man who proposed and funded this award, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, is among the most corrupt and repressive dictators in Africa, or indeed anywhere. In other words, he is a political leader who has devoted a long career to worsening the quality of life for the people of Equatorial Guinea.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Sudan, North Korea and Uzbekistan are prominent among the most repressive regimes in the world, according to a report released by Freedom House. The study, “The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2007,” named seventeen countries with the worst records for political rights and civil liberties, and pointed to thirteen countries which have been on the list for five years or more.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
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