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A group of Democratic senators introduce a bill compelling the director of national intelligence Dan Coats to submit a report on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. On Read Across America week, teachers, students, and the National Education Association debate the merits of continuing to read beloved classics, including children’s books, containing racist and offensive stereotypes. PEN America announces the PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award and its first-ever recipient, Kenneth Lonergan, ahead of the 2019 Literary Awards Ceremony this evening. (Tune in here.) Univision anchor detained, then released, after a confrontational interview with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Observers predict a particularly bad year for free expression in China, as 2019 marks a number of anniversaries of protest crackdowns and human rights abuses. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


Democratic Senators Want Intelligence Community to Submit Report on Khashoggi’s Murder
A group of Democratic senators introduced a bill that would require the leader of the intelligence community to submit an unclassified report on the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Classic Books Are Full of Problems. Why Can’t We Put Them Down?
“That tension between [Dr.] Seuss and Seuss-free classrooms is emblematic of a bigger debate playing out across the country—should we continue to teach classic books that may be problematic, or eschew them in favor of works that more positively represent of people of color?”

Kenneth Lonergan to Receive Inaugural Mike Nichols Award at PEN America Literary Awards
The honor aims to highlight transformative works that inspire audiences in the same way that Nichols did throughout his career. Lonergan is best known for co-writing “Gangs of New York” and for writing and directing the films “You Can Count On Me,” “Margaret,” and “Manchester by the Sea.”

A Bookstore Owner Was in the Hospital. So His Competitors Came and Kept His Shop Open.
The volunteers worked at competing bookstores in the San Diego area and were willing to juggle their schedules or work during their free time to pitch in. One couple came down from Los Angeles.


Oscar-Winning Director Cuarón Supports Imprisoned Sentsov *PEN Case List: Learn More
Mexican director, screenwriter, and producer Alfonso Cuarón, who has just won an Oscar for Best Director, stepped in to advocate for filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is imprisoned in Russia after being convicted of false terrorism charges.

Univision Journalist Jorge Ramos Free after Being Reported Detained in Venezuela
Univision said journalist Jorge Ramos and a TV crew have been released after being “arbitrarily detained” in Caracas, Venezuela. The TV network said they were interviewing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, but he didn’t like their questions.

2019 Is a Sensitive Year for China. Xi Is Nervous.
“But [Xi’s] remarks made clear that especially in 2019—a year of politically sensitive anniversaries—the party would aggressively extinguish sparks that could ignite protests and turbulence.”

Tommy Robinson Banned from Facebook and Instagram
Tommy Robinson, the far-right founder of the English Defence League, has been permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breaking the sites’ policies on hate speech.

India Is Lashing out at Internet Platforms. It Could Threaten Communications Worldwide.
The biggest internet platforms already labor to remove illegal content, but countries committed to free expression have granted those services immunity for user violations. That way, the companies do not have an incentive to over-censor. India wants to jettison this immunity.

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