Russia’s press freedom score back down after crackdown

Jan 31, 2013 15:36 UTC

Russia has had a busy year clamping down on dissent, and now the Kremlin’s got something to show for it. The international non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders released its annual press freedom index on Wednesday, knocking six points from Russia’s 2012 score and ranking the country 148th out of 179 in the world for respecting media freedom.

According to the report, an “unprecedented” number of protests following Vladimir Putin’s return to a third term as president prompted Russia to respond by introducing more repressive measures. Let’s take a quick look at where Russia lost points. The report first provides context for the government’s response:

“Opposition protests on an unprecedented scale showed civil society to be more vocal than ever.”

Last winter, anti-Putin protests attracted large turnouts, with the biggest demonstrations drawing up to 100,000 people.  Protesters donned white ribbons, a symbol of the protests, and often braved below-freezing temperatures to voice their anger over Putin’s now 13-year rule.

In February 2012, a feminist punk band called Pussy Riot garnered international attention when three women clad in balaclavas stormed Moscow’s main cathedral, shouting anti-Putin slogans. This, among other government protests, was unacceptable to the Kremlin, and a Russian court sentenced members of Pussy Riot to years in harsh prison camps on charges of “hooliganism.”

Motor City poster boy Lutz touts horsepower — and hybrids

Paul Lienert
Jan 18, 2013 20:11 UTC

DETROIT – Is Bob Lutz the poster boy for the 2013 Detroit auto show?

This year’s event, like Lutz, seems like a throwback to an earlier era. And, like Lutz, is rife with contradiction.

Where Detroit shows in recent years have exhibited a heavy green theme, electric and hybrid vehicles seem almost like an afterthought at this year’s event – a reflection perhaps of the public’s ambivalence toward green cars.

In an abrupt departure, this year’s event instead showcases a clutch of new luxury and performance models that appear to fly in the face of energy and environmental conservation.

Mali and the Afghanistan comparison

Jan 17, 2013 18:31 UTC
A Malian soldie

A Malian soldier stands guard as Mali’s President Dioncounda Traore visits French troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney

The French intervention in Mali this week raises the specter of another first-world nation’s rather recent mission to weed out Islamic militants. As France’s jets pummel the desert and its troops face ground battles against al Qaeda-linked rebels, a troubling analogy has presented itself in media reports and analyses: Will Mali become France’s Afghanistan?

France’s mission in Mali is to prevent the Sahel region from becoming a terrorist planning and training ground, particularly for al Qaeda’s North African wing, AQIM. The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera explains the situation in terms of the conditions in Afghanistan before the U.S. intervention in 2001.