DARE: Devin Nunes Sues Twitter and Three Users for Defamation
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Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) sues Twitter and three users for defamation. (See PEN America’s statement on the case and constitutionally protected satirical speech here.) President Trump expected to sign executive order linking federal research funds for colleges and universities to protections for free speech. Unusually large number of women reportedly denied U.S. visas to attend United Nations women’s conference in New York. Professor, lawyer, and equal rights advocate Anita Hill to receive PEN Courage Award in recognition of her singular role in challenging sexual harassment in the workplace and the abuse of power, and a career spent combating the silencing force of sexism. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager
The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today
After Devin Nunes Sues @DevinCow, the Twitter Parody Gains a Half-Million Followers
Fake funny animal accounts with a political twist are a popular Twitter trope. It seems unlikely this case will succeed in court, given longstanding free-speech protections for parody and opinion. Others have tried suing over fake social media accounts.
NEW YORK TIMES
The U.S. Denied Visas to Women from Africa and the Middle East Hoping to Attend the UN’s Women Conference
Dozens of women have been denied visas to attend a major United Nations women’s conference in New York. Women from African and Middle Eastern countries that fell under Trump’s travel ban were disproportionately affected. The U.S. is obliged under a treaty to not restrict people or NGOs from attending the UN headquarters.
Trump Set to Sign Executive Order on Campus Free Speech
It’s not clear how the policy would work. Trump, who previously threatened to withdraw federal funding to the University of California, Berkeley, has said he wants “very costly” penalties for schools that don’t “support free speech.”
Anita Hill to Receive ‘Courage Award’ for ‘Truthtelling’
Anita Hill is having a moment: she was the hit among Hollywood’s A-list at this year’s Oscars’ afterparty; she’s casting a shadow over the potential presidential run of former vice president Joe Biden; and she’s a leading face of the #MeToo movement. Now she’s been named the winner of this year’s Courage Award from PEN America.
Alaa Al Aswany: Egypt ‘Sues Novelist for Insulting State’
The bestselling author Alaa Al Aswany has said he is being sued by military prosecutors in Egypt for insulting the president, armed forces, and judiciary. Aswany, who lives in the US, said the lawsuit was connected to his last novel, “The Republic, As If,” and columns he had written for Deutsche Welle Arabic.
Widow of Slain Mexican Journalist ‘Targeted by Spyware’
Griselda Triana, the widow of slain Mexican journalist Javier Valdez, was targeted by government-owned spyware less than two weeks after the prominent reporter was killed, according to Citizen Lab, a Toronto-based internet watchdog group.
Burundi Authorities Detain Schoolgirls Accused of Scribbling over President’s Picture
“It is true that scribbling (on the president’s picture) is a punishable offence under the Burundian law, but since it was committed by teenagers, I believe this is a mitigating circumstance,” said a children’s rights defender. Students have in the past been kicked out of school for similar offences, with some jailed and released.
China Wants Soft Power. But Censorship Is Stifling Its Film Industry
“The ‘soft power’ in U.S. films has been very subliminal and subtle since the post-WW2 era,” said Italian film director Gianluigi Perrone, who has experienced censorship in China. “The messages in Chinese films have to be so explicit that it’s too direct for Western audiences. It overcomes the entertaining part.”
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