While Madrid is traditionally empty in August, the city is now literally packed with Catholic pilgrims of all ages, who have come from all around the world to attend the World Youth Days, presided by the Pope Benedict XVI. Authorities estimate that around 1.4 million people have flooded the city. From the very beginning the event has created resistance in the general public, as the investment of approximately 70-100 million euros is seen as exaggerated, in a time when politicians are demanding austerity measures for a country facing severe economic recession. They criticize, for example, that the centre of Madrid will be closed to traffic for more than four days, causing a lot of problems for normal citizens who have to work. Furthermore, the pilgrims have been given benefits that any unemployed Spaniard would desperately need: they have been given places to stay for free, food for free and while public transport in Madrid went up by 50% this month, being a pilgrim gives you a whopping 80% discount for all travels. This has caused major irritation in an already angry population, who are demanding answers as to why a constitutionally secular country should give this kind of support to any religion, while at the same time neglecting it’s own citizens.
MALAYSIA - A US diplomatic cable 08KUALALUMPUR806 released by WikiLeaks on July 29, 2011 documents the arrest of controversial Malaysian blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, as well as how the US would respond to the arrest. Kamaruddin, a contentious figure in Malaysia, had been quite outspoken with his criticism of the incumbent government at that time.
On September 12, 2008 Kamaruddin was arrested at his residence under the Internal Security Act (ISA) – which allows for detention without trial. Kamaruddin’s arrest came days after Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi threatened to use the ISA to repress those purportedly stoking racial and religious tensions. The arrest was meant as a deterrent to the growing Internet media; it was also meant as a message to the political Opposition, which had vowed to topple Badawi’s coalition later that month.
Malaysia's on-line news sources and blogs have blossomed over recent years as an alternative to the government dominated mainstream media. This trend has only increased after the March 8 elections, in which Abdullah and his UMNO party suffered a major setback,” 08KUALALUMPUR806 stated.
08KUALALUMPUR806 states that: “the arrest is another sign of insecurity on the part of Abdullah and the UMNO party. The government’s use of ISA sends a strong warning to other opposition bloggers to curb their activities. The arrest may intimidate some activists, but it could result in a backlash by the independent media and bloggers, and increase public disaffection with Abdullah’s leadership.”
May 3, Global Press Freedom Day
Bulgaria’s ranking in freedom of press, published by Freedom House on the eve of May 3, the global press freedom day, is slipping down once again. Even though the country went down by just one spot, compared to last year, the trend that began in 2005 is continuing. A trend which can be noticed in the rankings of another large human rights organization “Reporters without Borders.”
The reasons for this trend are complex and have been analyzed in detail in the report on Bulgaria of Reporters without Borders, published in February 2009. It stresses on “power reflexes,” inherited by the totalitarian pass; economic pressure on journalists; murky ownership of large media and the role of the shady groups, striking terror of physical retribution with the non-conformists.
Several months later, in the eve of the general elections, American Ambassador Nancy McEldowney sends a classified report to the State Department, focused on Bulgarian media [09SOFIA304], where the diagnosis is harsh and the language far away from diplomatic: venality, corruption, political servitude, paid for with dirty money from the gray economy.