As yet more competing versions of the story surrounding the firing of the FBI director emerge, President Trump tweets a threat to do away with daily White House briefings where journalists ask questions and, instead, have his spokespeople communicate only via “written responses.” Presidential derision of journalists and news outlets (“chained lunatic,” “dumbest,” “got some problems”) reporting the story continues, with lambasting of newsweeklies, newspapers, and networks, even as he sits down for interviews with them. Meanwhile, the president’s dismissal of Russian hacking as Democrats’ excuse for losing the election comes up against his two top intelligence officials’ Senate testimony that Russian cyberactivities are the foremost threat facing the United States. And hardly anyone gives much attention to a presidential executive order establishing a commission on purported voter fraud headed by a Kansas official widely seen as a fan of restrictive voting laws. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

PEN America’s take on today’s most pressing threats to free expression


Trump threatens to cancel White House briefings because it is ‘not possible’ for his staff to speak with ‘perfect accuracy’
President Trump threatened Friday morning to end White House press briefings, arguing that “it is not possible” for his staff to speak with “perfect accuracy” to the American public. In a pair of tweets sent Friday, Trump suggested he might do away with the daily press briefings at the White House and instead have his spokespeople communicate to the public only via “written responses.”

Donald Trump Hurls Insults At TV Hosts Who Are Critical Of His Presidency
In an interview with Time, Trump discussed the media he consumes and said he has “been able not to watch or read things that aren’t pleasant” as president. That seems to contradict his Twitter feed ― which he often uses, sometimes in real time, to denounce networks that report critically on his policy decisions.

Intelligence Officials Warn of Continued Russia Cyberthreats
On the same day that President Trump went on Twitter to renew his claim that the focus on Russian hacking was “a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election,” his two top intelligence officials told the Senate on Thursday that Russian cyberactivities were the foremost threat facing the United States and were likely to grow only more severe.

Trump signs executive order creating voter fraud commission
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday creating a commission to examine voter fraud and voter suppression, after repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that fraudulent voting constitutes a major and ongoing problem in the United States.

First Amendment defenders think free speech is fading at colleges
In campus clashes from California to Vermont, many defenders of the First Amendment say they see signs that free speech, once a bedrock value in academia, is losing ground as a priority at U.S. colleges.


Turkey detains another journalist, opposition newspaper editor
Oguz Guven, the editor of pro-secular Cumhuriyet newspaper’s online edition, tweeted Friday “I’m being detained.” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said Guven was detained for a news article on the death of prosecutor Mustafa Alper in a traffic accident. Details about the article in question have not been released.

The Thai Junta Is Demanding That Facebook Censor Posts It Deems ‘Insulting’ to the Monarchy
The BBC reports that Facebook has been given a list of more than 130 posts that must be removed by next Tuesday, claiming that the content violates the kingdom’s lèse-majesté law — draconian legislation ostensibly meant to protect the image of the royal family but which in practice is used to suppress dissent.

Facebook Deletes Dutch Abortion Pill Page
Facebook has removed a women’s health organization page for providing information about how to access abortion pills, claiming the group was “promoting drug use.” The Facebook page of the Dutch women’s group Women on Web was unpublished on Thursday, marking the second time the organization has been involved in a censorship dispute with the social network.

Tajikistan: Journalist Fined, But Authorities Won’t Say for What
A court in Dushanbe has fined a journalist with Ozodagon online news agency for allegedly failing to report and abet a criminal act. Sources familiar with the case said that Mijgona Halimova was ordered to pay 25,000 somoni ($2,900), a crippling amount in Tajikistan. The journalist has been informally warned against divulging any specific details about the case in public, however, on pain of an eventual custodial sentence.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise in China. We found that the Internet fuels — and fights — this
In February, citing concerns about terrorist activities, authorities implemented new rules in Xinjiang requiring car owners to install GPS devices to ascertain vehicle movements. Xinjiang also implemented a ban on burqas, veils and “abnormal beards” this year, a move officials say is to combat “extremism” among the Uighur ethnic minority, a Muslim group concentrated in the region.

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