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Law enforcement, journalists, and the California state government clash over law that makes it easier for the public to obtain police records relating to instances of police misconduct and abuses of power. Rutgers students who campaigned for higher minimum wages on campus pled guilty to criminal charges stemming from their protests and have been fined. Washington Post and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos faces criticism from Post employees for the advertisement it ran during the Super Bowl. In the fallout from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s racist yearbook pictures, calls for dialogue about racism abound, but their impact is hard to measure. PEN America announces the career achievement award honorees ahead of the Literary Awards Ceremony on February 26. (Find out more.) -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


Cops Are Battling Journalists over California’s New Police Transparency Law
The state legislature passed a law that made it easier for the public to obtain police records. But even before the law went into effect on January 1, police unions began a legal effort to prevent any disciplinary records and personnel files created before 2019 from being released.

Rutgers Students Who Protested for Minimum Wage Increase Are Fined $750 Each
On the day Governor Phil Murphy signed the $15 minimum wage bill into law, a group of Rutgers University student activists who campaigned for that cause on campus pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from a minimum wage protest.

Bezos’s Post Ad, Reportedly a Late Switch, Draws Ire from Staff
An ad for the Washington Post, which Bezos bought in 2013 for $250 million, drew flak for wasting money on self-promotion rather than journalism itself. The criticism came from the very people it was designed to promote.

Why Calls for Racial Dialogue so Rarely Lead to It
“We spend a lot of time thinking about the white person and whether they’re innocent in their hearts or not and whether their opinions are valid and just from that you know these conversations can’t be productive because they’re not dealing with this larger context.”

Sandra Cisneros to Receive PEN/Nabokov Award for International Literature
Sandra Cisneros, the Mexican American novelist whose books “The House on Mango Street” and “Woman Hollering Creek” are widely considered contemporary classics of American literature, has won the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.


Saudi Female Activists Face Jail Conditions Akin to Torture, Say U.K. MPs
The conclusions indicate growing unease among western allies over alleged rights abuses under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, who is already facing opprobrium over the murder Jamal Khashoggi last year.

Pre-Election Dismissal at Ukraine’s Public Broadcaster Sparks Outcry
The supervisory board of Ukraine’s public broadcaster has fired the operator’s director without explanation in a closed-door decision just two months before a potentially divisive presidential election.

‘An Insult’: French Writers Outraged by Festival’s Use of ‘Sub-English’ Words
A celebration of the “Scène Young Adult” in Paris next month has drawn the condemnation of dozens of French authors and intellectuals, who have described the adoption of English terminology as an “unbearable act of cultural delinquency.”

China’s Online Censorship Stifles Trade, Too
“China has long defended its censorship as a political matter, a legitimate attempt to protect citizens from what the government regards as ‘harmful information.’ … But you don’t need to be a trade theorist to realize that the censorship is also an extremely effective barrier to international trade.”

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