The country received a score of 95 in Freedom House’s 2017 report, losing five civil liberties points in the freedom of expression and belief, rule of law, and individual rights categories. Finland, Norway and Sweden are tied at number 1 with a score of 100. Freedom means different things to different people.
But Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that releases an annual report on freedom around the world, measures it in terms of civil liberties and political rights.
Their annual report, Freedom in the World, “operates from the assumption that freedom for all people is best achieved in liberal democratic societies.”
In 2018, more than 130 in-house and external analysts and advisers from academia, think tanks, and human rights institutions created the report by collecting data from media, research articles, government documents, and other sources.
That data was then used to score a country’s political rights on a scale of 0-40 and its civil liberties on a scale of 0-60.
Freedom House measured political rights by the degree with which a country’s elections are free and fair, as well as by how much political pluralism and participation there is. Civil liberties, on the other hand, were measured by how free and independent the media is and how much freedom of expression and assembly there is.
“Political rights and civil liberties around the world deteriorated to their lowest point in more than a decade in 2017, extending a period characterized by emboldened autocrats, beleaguered democracies, and the United States’ withdrawal from its leadership role in the global struggle for human freedom.
Democracy is in crisis. The values it embodies—particularly the right to choose leaders in free and fair elections, freedom of the press, and the rule of law—are under assault and in retreat globally.” ~~~Michael J. Abramowitz, President, Freedom House
BERLIN — Firefighters are pumping rainwater from basements and clearing flooded road tunnels after a storm swept through parts of western Germany overnight.
Germany’s far-west Aachen region was the hardest hit, with rescue services receiving hundreds of calls. Aachen police say nobody was harmed in the storm.
France, Belgium and Luxembourg were also affected by heavy rain and hail — weather that is more often seen during the summer than the spring.
Recent days have seen unseasonably warm weather in parts of western Europe.
The storm was moving north Monday toward Denmark.
Originally, the media claimed it took 48 hours for Cecil to die. We don’t know where that number came from. But because Cecil was radio collared we could tell exactly when he was at the site where he was hunted and follow his pathway until the time when the hunters went back and killed him. We could tell it was between 10 and 12 hours. He was mortally wounded and moved only about 300 meters in 12 hours, which is hardly any distance for a lion at all. He was clearly very badly injured.
We don’t know exactly what happened because the hunters aren’t going to tell us. We think he probably got shot with the arrow, ran maybe 20-40 meters, possibly into some thick vegetation. We think the hunters said, “He is going to die, so we’ll just wait until he’s dead from the arrow wound.”
Part of the reason for that is that Walter Palmer is a bow hunter and many hunters like him want to get their trophy recorded in a record book. One of the regulations for bow hunters is that the animal has to be killed with a bow and arrow. You can’t go and shoot it with a rifle later.
I can’t understand what motivates somebody to kill something that beautiful for pleasure. But to then say, “I’m going to leave this animal to die in pain from an arrow wound because I want to get my name in a record book,” is absolutely crazy. It was this mistreatment of a sentient animal that people found so outrageous.
Bill Cosby has been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.Judge Steven T O’Neill repeatedly called for order as the court erupted as the jury delivered its shock verdict, unanimously finding Cosby guilty on all three counts of aggravated sexual assault: administering an intoxicant, rendering his victim unconscious and penetrating her without consent.The seven men and five women reached their verdict after 14 hours of deliberation and a trial lasting 14 days.Constand was in court to hear the verdict read at Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
The Kremlin says it has nothing to do with Russian civilians fighting in Syria but on three recent occasions groups of men flying in from Damascus headed straight to a defense ministry base in Molkino, Reuters reporters witnessed.
Molkino in southwestern Russia is where the Russian 10th Special Forces Brigade is based, according to information on the Kremlin website.
The destination of the Russians arriving from Syria provides rare evidence of a covert Russian mission in Syria beyond the air strikes, training of Syrian forces and small numbers of special forces troops acknowledged by Moscow.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Feb. 14 Russians may be in Syria but “they are not part of the armed forces of the Russian Federation”. He referred Reuters to the defense ministry when asked why civilians fighting in Syria return to a military base. The ministry did not immediately respond.
A duty officer at the 10th special forces brigade, asked why non-military people were entering the military base, said: “Nobody enters it, as far as I am aware … You’ve seen them, okay. But you should not believe everything … You can maybe. But how can we comment on what other organizations do?”
More than 2,000 Russian contractors are fighting to help Syrian forces recapture land from their opponents, several sources, including one contractor, have said.
The contractors are transferred by Syrian airline Cham Wings, the sources said.
Reuters reporters saw a Syrian Cham Wings charter flight from Damascus land at the civilian airport in Rostov-on-Don on April 17 and watched groups of men leave the terminal through an exit separate from the one used by ordinary passengers.
They boarded three buses, which took them to an area mainly used by airport staff. A luggage carrier brought numerous oversized bags and the men, dressed in civilian clothes, got off the buses, loaded the bags and got back on.
The three buses then left the airport in convoy and headed south; two made stops near cafes along the way and one on the roadside. All three reached the village of Molkino, 350 km (220 miles) south, shortly before midnight.
‘Not British enough’: ex-high commissioner’s baby denied UK passport in 2011
A former British high commissioner whose baby son was initially denied a British passport after being born abroad, said it demonstrated a Home Office which defaults to refusal wherever possible.
Arthur Snell, who served as high commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago for four years, was left feeling “powerless and nervous in spite of my privileged position” after his newborn was refused citizenship in 2011.
Snell, who has since left the Foreign Office, tweeted:
He said he was forced to reapply, and for two months his son was in effect stateless as he was ineligible for Trinidadian citizenship.
Snell, now a foreign policy consultant, told the Guardian: “I want to stress, the inconvenience that I went through was nothing compared to what the Guardian has uncovered in terms of what happened to the Windrush generation, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am trying to equate my own experience to that.”
Amber Rudd is under renewed pressure to resign after denying the Home Office imposed targets for the number of people it wants its enforcement teams to deport – only for a report to appear to contradict her.
The Home Secretary will have to explain herself to Parliament after being summoned by Labour to answer an urgent question on the issue.
Questioned about the Windrush scandal on Tuesday, Ms Rudd had told MPs on a powerful parliamentary committee that there were no targets for deportations, adding: “That’s not how we operate”.
But questions were raised about her evidence to the Home Affairs Committee after a government document from 2015 emerged showing that targets for “voluntary” deportations did exist.
Ms Rudd’s claims also contradicted evidence given to the same committee by representatives of immigration staff, who insisted employees are given targets for how many people they should deport.