Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

HUNGARY – Prime Minister wants drug tests for journalists

BUDAPEST – The Hungarian prime minister, who has vowed to remake his country into a “non-liberal” state as he moves closer to Moscow, called Friday for mandatory drug testing of journalists and politicians.

Viktor Orban‘s plan alarmed critics, who called it an attack on civil liberties and a cynical attempt to combat his declining popularity.

A member of his governing Fidesz party had recently suggested mandatory annual drug tests for 12- to 18-year-olds as well, but that plan has apparently been dropped.

In an interview on state radio, Orban said drug use and the “drug mafia” are a growing threat and that his government will fight back during the rest of its term, which lasts until 2018.

“Politicians, journalists and those filling positions of public trust have to be included (in the drug tests) because it is clear that those who consume drugs cannot be relied on in the fight against drugs,” Orban said.

“We have to clarify where everyone stands. We have to announce this fight, and the drug mafia has to be squeezed out of Hungary with the most draconian punishments and the most precise procedures by the authorities,” Orban said.

Journalists and civil-rights leaders were outraged.

The head of the Association of Hungarian Journalists said that while it was too soon to give a definitive opinion about the proposal, it was a reminder of darker times.

map-hungary“If it becomes law, then I would say it creates a very sad situation in Hungarian life by bringing back the concept of collective guilt, an evil memory,” Karoly Toth said.

The proposal suggests that “media workers are some sort of depraved people,” said Zsuzsanna Gyongyosi, president of the Association of Independent Journalists.

At the same time, Gyongyosi said she agreed with the idea put forward by an opposition group that would make all lawmakers in parliament take a breath alcohol test before entering the chambers.

Balazs Gulyas, who has organized recent anti-Orban protests, said the drug tests would “stigmatize journalists as drug users” and were another effort to limit media freedoms.

“It is quite scary that now the government is directly targeting journalists,” said Gulyas, a leader of large rallies against a now-shelved plan by Orban to tax Internet use.

Since he took power in 2010, Orban has consolidated power for his Fidesz party, tightening control over the media and courts and attempting to crack down on independent civic groups.

The U.S. government and international organizations have expressed alarm at what they see as a weakening of democratic guarantees in the country, which threw off communism 25 years ago and is now a member of the European Union. …

SPAIN – Google News to shut down in Spain over ‘Google Tax’

Google says it will shut down its Google News service in Spain following a [disagreement] with the country’s government over a law that will require the Internet search company to pay news organizations for linked content.

The move appears to mark the first time globally that the tech giant will shutter the service and comes ahead of intellectual property laws – dubbed Google Tax – which are due to go in effect in Spain on Jan. 1.

The Spanish government passed the copyright law in October which imposes fees for online content aggregators such as Google News in an effort to protect the country’s print media industry.

map-spainGoogle’s decision means that not only will there be no more Google News in Spain but there will be no Spanish news publisher content in any other Google News edition.

Google said in a statement on Thursday that its news product for Spain will stop linking content from Spanish publishers on Dec. 16.

The law allows publishers to claim up to €600,000 ($746,238) to websites for link to pirated material.

Google maintains it obeys all copyright laws while sending more people to websites highlighted in its News services. The company also allows publishers to prevent material from being displayed in Google News, an option few websites choose because the service is an important traffic source to sell ads.

After Germany revised copyright laws last year in a way that could have required Google News to make royalty payments, Google required publishers to give consent for summarizing content and most did. …

Richard Gingras, head of Google News, said: “This new legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not.

“As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach is simply not sustainable.”

CHINA – Government bans national anthem at weddings and funerals

China has banned the national anthem from being performed at weddings, funerals, commercial and other non-political events, state media reports.


The national anthem may still be sung to celebrate Chinese victories in sports and athletics.

Under new rules, the anthem is to be reserved for major political and diplomatic occasions, as well as places such as sporting arenas and schools.

The rules aim to “standardize proper etiquette” for the anthem, Xinhua news agency* said, citing the authorities. [*Xinhua is the Chinese Communist government’s news agency]

map-chinaIt said those who broke the rules would be “criticized and corrected.”

According to Xinhua, a Communist Party statement had regulated the use of the anthem, which reflected “national independence and liberation, a prosperous, strong country and the affluence of the people.”

For instance, the agency said, the anthem could be played when Chinese athletes won medals, and “at arenas where national dignity should be fought for and safeguarded.”

China’s national anthem is known as The March of the Volunteers. It dates back to days before the 1949 Communist revolution, and includes the lyrics “Brave the enemy’s fire, march on!”

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at MyFox Tampa Bay on Dec. 12, London’s Daily Telegraph on Dec. 11 and BBC News on Dec. 12.)


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1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) capital
b) location/the countries that share its borders:
c) the religious breakdown of the population:
d) the type of government:
e) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch]:
f) the population:

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to for a list of continents.]

NOTE: Before answering the questions below, read the info under “Background” and watch the videos under “Resources.”

a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) For what reason does the prime minister say his plan is necessary?
c) What do you think of the prime minister’s reasoning after reading his opponents’ response?

3. For SPAIN:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What is a news aggregator (or content aggregator)?
c) The law in Spain was intended to help Spanish media – what was the intent of the law?

4. For CHINA:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Why is the government implementing this new rule?
c) What will happen to citizens who break the rule (law?)?
d) Read the info under “Background.” What do you think of these new rules to be imposed by China’s communist government?

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  • A defining moment in Prime Minister Orban’s political journey came in July, when he said he was building “an illiberal state, a non-liberal state,” and cited Russia, China, Turkey and Singapore as successful models. At the same time, he has been moving closer to Russia, forging energy deals with Moscow and criticizing Western sanctions imposed after the Kremlin’s aggressions in Ukraine.

Critics such as Gulyas say the drug-testing proposal is also a way for Orban to distract attention from the economic malaise and other frustrations in the country.

“How serious can this drug mafia be if Orban didn’t talk about it for four years?” Gulyas said. “Either he was blind during his previous term or this is just a cheap populist ploy.”

Polling company Ispos estimated that the Fidesz party has lost 800,000 voters in the past two months, its popularity among all voters falling from 35 percent in October to 25 percent in December.

While the far-right Jobbik party rose to 14 percent from 12 percent, most of the disaffected Fidesz voters now seem to be undecided. Those saying they had no party preference rose from 30 percent to 39 percent in those two months.

According to one expert, alcohol abuse is a far greater problem. The country of nearly 10 million has some 800,000 alcoholics and 20,000 drug addicts, says toxicologist Gabor Zacher, head of emergency services at Military Hospital in Budapest.

Critics said Orban’s 2010 move to give tax exemptions to home distillers of palinka, a traditional fruit brandy, showed disregard for the alcoholism scourge. The exemption was struck down by European Union earlier this year.

Orban’s party overwhelmingly won re-election earlier this year after changing the election rules in its favor. But his popularity seems under threat, with several large street protests in past weeks and opinion polls showing falling support for Fidesz. (from the FoxNY news report above)


  • “March of the Volunteers” has been the anthem of the People’s Republic since 1949.
  • The anthem is not allowed to be played or sung at private weddings and funerals, dancing parties, commercial events, or any other setting with “an inappropriate atmosphere.”
  • When singing the anthem, people should dress appropriately, stand still and be full of energy, according to the government.
  • People must sing the powerful marching song in its entirety, enunciate every word and follow the rhythm. No one is permitted to start or stop singing midway — and altering the melody, lyrics or musical arrangement is forbidden.
  • No whispering, applauding or talking on the phone, either, while the anthem is played.
  • There is no official word, yet, on how violators would be punished. (from a CNN news report)
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