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More mail bombs are found en route to current and former top government officials who have been critical of the Trump administration. Extreme right-wing conspiracy theories discounting the seriousness of attempted attacks move rapidly into mainstream, carried by high-profile conservative commentators. Despite technology companies’ efforts to stem disinformation, multitude of false and misleading reports on migrants and attempted mail bombings show limits of tech companies’ attempts to respond to disinformation before midterm elections. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Two More Bombs Found, Sent to Cory Booker and CNN
Federal authorities discovered two more explosive devices, one addressed to Senator Cory Booker and the other to James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence. A total of 12 packages have been found so far. “This is definitely domestic terrorism,” Mr. Clapper told CNN, where he works as an analyst.

‘False Flag’ Theory on Pipe Bombs Zooms From Right-Wing Fringe to Mainstream
A conspiracy theory, that the bombs were a “false flag” operation concocted by leftists to paint conservatives as violent radicals ahead of the midterms, took shape shortly after the news broke. Cable news and social media networks allow hastily assembled theories to spread to millions in an instant; by the time the official, evidence-based explanation has taken shape, it has already been drowned out.

Why False Narratives about the Migrant Caravan and Mail Bombs Won’t Go Away on Social Media
Despite hiring thousands of employees and investing in quelling phony information two years after the problem emerged during the 2016 election, tech companies have struggled to respond to the torrents of false and misleading reports on social media about the migrant caravan in Mexico and the attempted mail bombings.

“Well-Read Black Girl” Is Bigger Than Founder Glory Edim
Well-Read Black Girl started as an online community in 2015 and now has over 140,000 followers; last September hundreds attended the inaugural festival. In an interview, Edim recalls reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in high school, saying the experience “changed my thinking about literature, who can write, and whose voice is important.”

All Books Except the Bible, “Christian Publications,” Banned at Forrest Co., MS Jail
A lawsuit filed by the Human Rights Defense Center and Mississippi Center for Justice says Forrest County jails unreasonably censor books, contending that incarcerated people are “allowed to read only the Bible and sometimes other Christian publications.” Books and publications mailed were returned undelivered by officials.


Imprisoned Ukrainian Film Director Sentsov Makes His Will Public
In his will written on September 7 when he was still on a hunger strike, Oleg Sentsov asks his associate, film director Yevhenia Vradiy, to make movies based on his five scripts, Rhinoceros, Kai, Brilliant World, Crows, and Kristi, the last three of which he has written while in custody. Sentsov was awarded the Sakharov Prize yesterday.
RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY *PEN Case List: find out more about Oleg Sentsov here

Tania Bruguera Shows Solidarity for Photographer Shahidul Alam at Tate Modern
On Tuesday Tania Bruguera took over Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London for an intervention in solidarity with detained Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam. Bruguera, who has spent time detained in Cuba, organized the intervention as part of her 10,143,210 exhibition, responding to the international refugee crisis.
HYPERALLERGIC *PEN Case List: find out more about Shahidul Alam here

University Backed by George Soros Prepares to Leave Budapest Under Duress
The Central European University would stop admitting new students in Budapest, and will move to Vienna, after failing to resolve a dispute with the government. “We are unable to secure the guarantees we need from the Hungarian government to preserve our academic freedom,” said the university’s president, Michael Ignatieff.

The Three Types of WhatsApp Users Getting Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Elected
The messaging app has around 120 million active users in Brazil, and has proved to be the ideal tool for mobilizing support for the far-right candidate, and spreading fake news. A small group of influencers share fake news, using sophisticated image and video editing software to create convincing and emotionally engaging digital content.

How the Apartheid Regime Burnt Books—in Their Tens of Thousands
During South Africa’s apartheid era, thousands of books were banned, ranging from Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Insulted and Humiliated to popular Westerns writer Louis L’Amour’s Hopalong Cassidy series. The practice revealed a darker side of the library profession, complicit in the book burning.

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