The Trump administration budget provides for an “orderly wind-down” of the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities (see PEN’s statement here). A federal court revives Wikimedia challenges (joined by PEN America) to warrantless mass surveillance. Fox News withdraws controversial report on the murder of a former DNC staffer as inadequately substantiated. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech on race, history, and confederate symbolism goes viral. Amazon will open its first brick-and-mortar retail bookstore in midtown Manhattan tomorrow. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

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


Donald Trump’s Newly Released 2018 Budget Calls for Eliminating the NEA
Donald Trump’s much-anticipated 2018 budget proposes steep cuts to domestic programs—including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A spokesperson for the NEA confirms that the president’s 2018 budget proposes the elimination of the department, and includes a request for $29 million from Congress to shut down the agency in an orderly fashion.

Wikipedia can pursue NSA surveillance lawsuit: U.S. appeals court
A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a Wikipedia lawsuit that challenges a U.S. National Security Agency program of mass online surveillance. The decision could make it easier for people to learn whether authorities have spied on them through Upstream, which involves bulk searches of international communications within the internet’s backbone of cables, switches and routers.

Fox News Retracts Story Linking Murder of D.N.C. Aide to 2016 Presidential Campaign
Fox News on Tuesday retracted a story linking the murder of a Democratic National Committee staff member with the email hacks that aided President Trump’s campaign, effectively quashing a conspiracy theory that had taken hold across the right-wing news media. It was a rare acknowledgment of error by the network.

Mitch Landrieu Reminds Us That Eloquence Still Exists
These are hard days of coarse language — of tweets and catcalls that appeal to the worst in us, not the best. Maybe that’s why a big, sweeping, old-fashioned speech delivered in New Orleans on Friday made such an impression on me. It was the masterpiece we needed at the moment we needed it, and I fear that it was lost in the brutal whirl of news these days. It shouldn’t be.

Amazon brings its physical bookstore to New York
A luxury shopping complex on New York’s Columbus Circle opens to a new tenant Thursday: Amazon. While some may be excited that this is an “Amazon Store,” similar to Apple and Microsoft’s respective flagship stores located just blocks away, Amazon says its goal for the new store is the same as it was when the online retail giant first started two decades ago: To sell books.


University of Maryland backs Chinese student’s controversial commencement speech
The University of Maryland has supported a controversial commencement speech by a Chinese student, which has been met with outrage from Chinese people in the video’s YouTube comments section, on Chinese social media, and mainstream Chinese media outlets. Using the fresh air of America as an analogy, she praised free speech and the lack of government censorship in the United States.

Journalists across West Bengal protest ‘police brutalities’
Indian journalists rallied and protested in Kolkata and the districts in protest against “police barbarism” and in solidarity with colleagues injured by security forces. Representatives of journalists also submitted a deputation to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi seeking his intervention to stop such assaults.

Zimbabwe: Outrage As Bona Mugabe to ‘Censor’ Public Entertainment
President Robert Mugabe’s daughter Bona Mugabe-Chikore has been appointed to sit on the new Censorship Board, a move which arts activists said it’s a “disaster” meant to “suppress information”.

Supreme Court urged to clarify law on protection for journalists’ sources
The legal battle between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Vice over a journalist’s background materials continues with a new application to the top court saying “clarification is desperately needed.” Protection for a journalist’s sources currently exists in legal void that needs filling given the importance of media to our democracy, a new application to the Supreme Court of Canada states.

Inside and outside: On the 100th day of Deniz Yucel’s imprisonment
Turkey accuses German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel of inciting hatred and terrorist propaganda. In the following letter, his wife Dilek Mayaturk Yucel describes what life has been like since his arrest 100 days ago.

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