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Vilification of philanthropist human rights benefactor George Soros began on the far right and migrated toward mainstream. Google employees walk out to protest company’s big payouts to executives accused of sexual harassment. As midterms near sparks fly over campaign ads and messaging accused of being racist. National Security Adviser John Bolton says United States is now conducting offensive cyber operations to thwart election interference. -Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer

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


How Vilification of George Soros Moved From the Fringes to the Mainstream
On both sides of the Atlantic, a loose network of activists and political figures on the right have spent years seeking to cast George Soros not just as a well-heeled political opponent but also as the personification of all they detest. Soros has been elevated by Trump and his allies to even greater prominence in the narrative they have constructed for the closing weeks of the 2018 midterm elections.

Google Employees Walk out to Protest Treatment of Women
The Google protest, billed “Walkout For Real Change,” is unfolding a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin—who reportedly received a $90 million severance package even though Google concluded the allegations against him were credible.

Outrage Erupts over Trump Campaign Ad Blaming Democrats for Immigrant Who ‘Killed Our People’
President Trump’s campaign claimed in an ad that Democrats are responsible for a Mexican citizen who killed two California deputies, and Trump’s critics have called the spot racist and divisive. The inflammatory ad is part of Trump’s ongoing push to make immigration a key issue ahead of the midterm elections next week.

Bolton Says U.S. Is Conducting ‘Offensive Cyber’ Action to Thwart Would-Be Election Disrupters
The United States is “right now undertaking offensive cyber operations” to safeguard next week’s midterm elections, though it was “too soon to tell” whether they are having an effect, White House national security adviser John Bolton said today.

Trump’s Crackdown on Immigrant Activists Is an Attack on Free Speech
Ravi Ragbir, who believes he was arrested in retaliation for his outspoken criticism of Trump, is arguing before an appeals court that he is a victim of a campaign of political terror against migrant communities. As a prominent community organizer for families facing deportation, he alleges that he was unjustly targeted.


China’s High-Tech Censorship and Surveillance Tools Are Inspiring Other Countries, Study Says
The annual Freedom House study of 65 countries found global internet freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2018, amid a rise in what the group called “digital authoritarianism.” Chinese officials have held sessions on controlling information with 36 of the 65 countries assessed, and provided telecom and surveillance equipment to a number of foreign governments.
*Find out more about the Chinese government’s vast online censorship and surveillance machine in our report, Forbidden Feeds.

China’s Frontier of Fear
Authorities in Xinjiang have forced the locals to submit to the collection of biometric data, including voice, blood, DNA samples, and iris scans. In what appears to be an even more intrusive version of its “social credit” system rolling out across China, the data collection and electronic eavesdropping allows authorities to identify, monitor, and restrict the activities of potential troublemakers among the populace.

Kiev Synagogue Was Bugged, Chief Rabbi Says
Secret recording devices and other surveillance activities were discovered at one of Kiev’s main synagogues, according to Moshe Azman, a chief rabbi of Ukraine. Under communism, Jewish communities and individuals came under constant surveillance in the former Soviet Union, to which Ukraine used to belong.

How the BBC Quietly Built One of the World’s Largest Collaborative Journalism Efforts Focused Entirely on Local News
The project functions like a wire service for more than 90 news organizations representing 800 news outlets around the country, allowing them to share and use each other’s content. The BBC provides the infrastructure and has promised to spend £8 million a year (around $10 million) in the partnership for the next 11 years.

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