Some Up to Date Facts on Denmark
Maybe an odd thing to blog here, but anyhow: for the first time since WW II Denmark has a positive net assets balance. It was announced today by the Central Bank in Copenhagen, and as you may notice, Denmark came from a debt position at almost 50% of GDP in 1988 to a plus at a few percent today.
In 1982 socialdemocrat PM Anker Jørgensen gave up and handed over power to the conservative Poul Schlüter who held office until 1993. His government founded the economic policy, later continued by socialdemocrat PM Poul Nyrup from 1993 till 2001 and present PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen, that wiped out the devastating debt resulting from the irresponsible build up of the welfare society from the beginning of the 1960'es.
And from another corner: Reporters Without Borders recently placed Denmark number one at their World Press Freedom Index - together with Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
What do these seven countries hold in common? Well, to mention a few: they are rich, well established democracies from Northern Europa and they are small countries. Execpt Ireland they are all protestant.
Three of them (Ireland, Iceland and Denmark) are at the top 10 of the Economic Freedom Index and all seven are among the countries labeled Free at the World Freedom Index.
Freedom is the key to economic progress, clearly demonstrated by all major indexes in the world. Apart from that, freedom is in fact quite nice!
Click Continue .. to go on with some details on Press Freedom in Denmark versus Saudi Arabia .!
To balance the # 1 position at the Press Freedom Index however, the contry report from House of Freedom on the same topic does have some remarks:
Legal Environment: 2 Political Influences: 3 Economic Pressures: 5 Total Score: 10
Danish media enjoy strong constitutional protections and a long tradition of press freedom. Independent print and broadcast media reflect a wide variety of views and are often critical of the government. However, there are some tensions between the government and the media. In April, Jesper Larsen and Michael Bjerre, two journalists with the conservative daily Berlingske Tidende, faced criminal charges for publishing extracts of confidential military reports passed on by a former intelligence officer. The reports, used by the government when it made its decision to go to war against Iraq, allegedly cast doubt on the existence of weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence officer who leaked the reports was also charged. The government finances four of the five national television networks and several radio stations, though their editorial boards are independent. Several private cable and satellite television channels also exist, as do private radio stations, which are tightly regulated.
The same report for Saudi Arabia reads:
Legal Environment: 29 Political Influences: 28 Economic Pressures: 23 Total Score: 80
Status: Not Free
Authorities do not permit criticism of Islam or the ruling family by domestic media, and a national security law prohibits criticism of the government. These prohibitions are echoed by a media policy statement that urges journalists to "uphold Islam, oppose atheism, promote Arab interests, and preserve cultural heritage." Newspapers are created by royal decree, and all journalists must register with the 2Ministry of Information, which also appoints all editors in chief. Saudi Arabia's first professional journalists association was granted a charter in 2003, though the Ministry of Information can veto any of its decisions.
The print media are privately owned but publicly subsidized and are often closely associated with members of the royal family. Authorities frequently ban or fire journalists and editors who publish articles deemed offensive to the country's powerful religious establishment or the ruling authorities. Official censorship is common, as is self-censorship. Nevertheless, recent years have seen newspapers report on previously taboo issues-such as crime, corruption, women's rights, religion, terrorism, and elections in neighboring states-without prior authorization. In 2004, newspapers featured extensive coverage of upcoming municipal elections. In addition, two London-based dailies, Al-Sharq al-Awsat and Al-Hayat, were available and read widely, though content was tempered to comply with government guidelines. In March, authorities banned Al-Sharq al-Awsat journalist Faris Hizam Al-Harbi for his reporting on terrorism and corruption. The following month, Al-Harbi was detained and then released after about two weeks in custody. In December, journalists from the domestic newspapers the Saudi Gazette and Al-Madina were detained (and later released) at the trial of arrested advocates of democratic reforms.
The state-owned Saudi Press Agency does not deviate from official government positions. The broadcast media are government owned and subject to rigorous government censors; private radio and television stations cannot broadcast from Saudi soil. However, satellite television-through which Saudi citizens have access to foreign news channels such as Al-Jazeera and CNN-is widespread, despite its illegal status. In January, the government launched an all-news satellite channel, Al-Ikhbariya, which featured a female presenter in its opening broadcast, a first for Saudi media. The channel was established as an alternative to Al-Jazeera, which has repeatedly drawn the ire of authorities and is barred from covering the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
The government continues to censor foreign publications before they enter the country, blacking out and banning some objectionable materials. Foreign broadcasts are similarly censored, and references to politics, pork or pigs, alcohol, sex, and religions other than Islam are removed. The entry of foreign journalists is tightly controlled through the granting of visas, though restrictions have eased significantly in recent years. In June, BBC cameraman Simon Cumbers was shot dead while filming the house belonging to an al-Qaeda terrorist killed in 2003 by Saudi police. A BBC security correspondent, Frank Gardner, was injured in the attack.
The Internet is widely available, but the government has employed a sophisticated filtering system to block access to Web sites deemed morally or politically inappropriate. Some users circumvent these controls by accessing servers based in the more liberal Gulf states. Government officials reportedly ordered mobile phones with cameras to be banned from the country.