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The campaign committee for Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman, has been funding a website billed as a local “news” source. The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group, seeking FCC approval to expand to even more markets, is asking newsroom managers to contribute to its political action committee. A legal battle is unfolding over a lawsuit accusing the alt-right leaders of the Charlottesville rally engaged in a conspiracy to foster racial hatred and are responsible for the death and injury that resulted; the leaders claim a First Amendment defense. Buzzfeed reports on new warnings from Aviv Ovadya, a technology expert who predicted the vulnerability of social media and other digital platforms to plots to “undermine a cornerstone of human discourse: the credibility of fact.” -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Devin Nunes’ campaign has a ‘news’ site
The site, CARepublican.com, features headlines ranging from national politics stories to state and local matters and college football. Nunes, like President Trump, regularly asserts that news coverage critical of him is fake. His campaign’s foray into the news and information space would follow similar efforts by members of both parties.

Sinclair Broadcast Group solicits its news directors for its political fundraising efforts
Sinclair is the largest station owner in the country and is poised to become even larger with its pending $3.9 billion purchase of Chicago-based Tribune Media. But encouraging its news directors to contribute to its political effort, in the view of some experts, breaches a long-standing ethical obligation among journalists.

Planners of Deadly Charlottesville Rally Are Tested in Court
As the case moves forward, it is likely to explore the limits of the First Amendment’s broad free-speech provisions and the principle that incitements to violence are not protected. Discovery in the case may also expose the links between the far-right groups and their often opaque sources of financing.

He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse.
For Aviv Ovadya the shock and ongoing anxiety over Russian Facebook ads and Twitter bots pales in comparison to the greater threat: Technologies that can be used to enhance and distort what is real are evolving faster than our ability to understand or mitigate it. The stakes are high and the consequences disastrous.

‘Hurtful’ Harper Lee and Mark Twain dropped from Minnesota curriculum
A Duluth school district has pulled To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum, arguing that the use of racial slurs risked students being “humiliated or marginalized.” Schools have wrestled with how to teach the two novels, which regularly feature on the ALA’s list of most challenged titles.


Prominent Turkish journalist back on trial despite release order *PEN Case List
Journalist Mehmet Altan was ordered to be freed by the Constitutional Court, but its ruling was not implemented by the criminal court in a move that outraged supporters. Dozens of Turkish journalists have been arrested since the 2016 failed coup in what critics see as a major erosion of freedom of speech.

Ugandan cartoonists are offering some of the sharpest criticism on the state of the country
The media environment in Uganda has been in steady decline for the last decade. Unlike the rest of the country’s media, cartoonists have largely managed to avoid the government’s tightening grip on freedom of expression. That’s allowed cartoonists to pen some of the most strident media criticism in the country right now.

Women In Pakistan Are Calling Out The Country’s Censor Board For Banning ‘Padman’
While Akshay Kumar’s Padman released all over the world on February 9 to rave reviews, Pakistan is one country where the film has been banned. The film’s Censor Board refused to certify the film, saying, “We can’t allow our film distributors to import films which are against our traditions and culture.”

He Fought for Iran’s Environment and Was Arrested. Now, He’s Dead.
The death of Kavous Seyed Emami is among a number involving recently detained activists in Iran. On Saturday, Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, Tehran’s public prosecutor, said that several people who had been posing as environmentalists were arrested and charged with espionage, according to a report from the Young Journalists Club.

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