A massive “ransomware” attack demonstrates global vulnerability to cyber tactics, and it may be based in part on leaked code developed by the U.S. National Security Agency. A report shows how Sinclair Broadcast Group, trying for a deal that would put it into 70 percent of the nation’s TV markets, pushes its right-leaning ownership agenda, including with ‘”must run” segments that arrive at stations after being produced at central headquarters. And PEN Trustee Masha Gessen reprises her Arthur Miller Lecture closing the 2017 PEN World Voices Festival with a shivery treatise under the headline The Autocrat’s Language in The New York Review of Books. -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


Ransomware attack ‘like having a Tomahawk missile stolen’, says Microsoft boss
Security officials around the world are scrambling to find who was behind the attack which affected 200,000 computer users and closed factories, hospitals, and schools by using malicious software that believed to have been stolen from the US National Security Agency.

Sinclair Requires TV Stations to Air Segments That Tilt to the Right
They are called “must-runs,” and they arrive every day at television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group — short video segments that are centrally produced by the company. Station managers around the country are directed to work them into the broadcast over a period of 24 or 48 hours.

The Autocrat’s Language
Now words did not mean their opposite anymore. They just meant nothing. The phrase “dictatorship of the law” is so incoherent as to render both “dictatorship” and “law” meaningless. Donald Trump has an instinct for doing both of these kinds of violence to language. He is particularly adept at taking words and phrases that deal with power relationships and turning them into their opposite.

Under Trump, inconvenient data is being sidelined
The Trump administration has removed or tucked away a wide variety of information that until recently was provided to the public, limiting access, for instance, to disclosures about workplace violations, energy efficiency, and animal welfare abuses.

How Trump gets his fake news
While the information stream to past commanders-in-chief has been tightly monitored, Trump prefers an open Oval Office with a free flow of ideas and inputs from both official and unofficial channels. And he often does not differentiate between the two. Aides sometimes slip him stories to press their advantage on policy; other times they do so to gain an edge in the seemingly endless Game of Thrones inside the West Wing.


Venezuela Tries Protesters in Military Court ‘Like We Are in a War’
President Nicolás Maduro, beleaguered by a second month of protests against him, has prosecuted political rivals under terrorism laws and expanded his powers by emergency decrees. Now, the president is turning to military courts to tighten his grip further, prosecuting demonstrators and other civilians in tribunals that the government closely controls.

Ex-Muslims slam Facebook for ‘censoring pages that disrespect Islam’ as pages are shut down
An anonymous group of ex-Muslims has slammed Facebook for its censorship of anti-Islamic content as several pages are shut down and banned for allegedly violating community rules.

Czech President Sparks Outrage with Comments About Journalists
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in China, Czech President Miloš Zeman took a characteristic swipe at the media. Caught on mic just ahead of a joint press briefing with Mr. Putin, Mr. Zeman noted that there were too many journalists present and that they should be “liquidated”. The joke triggered a volley of negative reactions in the Czech Republic where media freedom and efforts to influence the free press are now very much in the spotlight.

Journalists in Gaza face intensifying crackdown
Amer Baalousheh, a journalist from the Gaza Strip, never expected the Hamas-affiliated security services to abduct journalists whom they consider against the movement until it happened to him. He was abducted from the streets of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on April 29.

Cuba: Where underground arcades, secret networks, and piracy are a way of life
Now, despite trade embargoes, despite the nearly non-existent internet and government controlled media and censorship, Cuba surprises once more in its ability to overcome the seemingly insurmountable by embracing all aspects of video games.

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