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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson deletes language promising inclusive and discrimination-free communities from department’s mission statement, and separately a HUD employee accuses him of conducting a “witch hunt” against a department whistleblower. Justice Department sues to block laws in California and other states that bar police from asking people about their citizenship status and extend similar “sanctuary” protections to undocumented immigrants. City officials in Jackson, Mississippi, vote to permit gay pride parade, reversing course after lawsuit alleging discrimination and free speech violations. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today


Ben Carson Removes Anti-Discrimination Language From HUD Mission Statement
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is changing the mission statement of his agency, removing promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities. The mission statement had been developed with input from both Carson and his deputy, but it’s not clear whether the new language is final.

HUD employee accuses Carson of conducting ‘witch hunt’ on whistleblower
A HUD employee has accused Secretary Ben Carson of conducting a “witch hunt” against a whistleblower and painted a picture of chaos and mismanagement that could hinder a congressional investigation into the agency.

Justice Dept. suing California over sanctuary laws, Gov. Brown calls it a ‘political stunt’
California Gov. Jerry Brown has slammed the Trump administration’s latest salvo against the Golden State—the Justice Department announced Tuesday night it is suing to block state laws that extend protections to people living in the U.S. illegally—claiming it’s a move that will “further divide and polarize America.”

Mississippi town to allow gay pride parade, reversing denial
Leaders of a Mississippi college town voted Tuesday to permit a gay pride parade, reversing a previous denial and moving to defuse a lawsuit alleging discrimination and free speech violations. The parade will be held March 24.


Saudi network ban on Turkey TV shows is ‘political’: minister
The decision to ban popular Arabic-dubbed Turkish TV shows by MBC—the largest private media network in the Middle East—is a “political move” and “clear censorship,” a Turkish minister said.

Media muffling in Bangladesh
If the Digital Security Act, recently approved by the country’s cabinet to tackle cybercrime and protect national security, gets a nod in Parliament, journalists could be convicted of espionage. Various sections of this law impinge upon the right to freedom of speech and expression, thereby preventing journalists from gathering information against the government.

Sri Lanka blocks Facebook, social media, amid riots
Sri Lanka blocked access to Facebook and suspended internet services in a troubled central district after police warned that rioters were using social media to spread anti-Muslim sentiment.

Ahead of planned mass protest, DSS frees detained journalist
The journalist, Tony Ezimakor, is the Abuja Bureau Chief of the Daily Independent newspaper. He was arrested last week by the DSS for publishing a story on the alleged payment of $2 million to the Boko Haram terrorists for the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls.

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