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DARE To Be Informed

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


Trump proposes eliminating the arts and humanities endowments
A deep fear came to pass for many artists, museums, and cultural organizations nationwide early Thursday morning when President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Federal judge in Hawaii blocks new travel ban nationwide; Trump vows to pursue his case ‘all the way’
A judge has blocked the major provisions of Trump’s revised ban on refugee resettlement and travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said his ruling applies nationwide and will go to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a ruling blocking Trump’s original travel ban.

Small Conservative Outlet Lands The Only Press Spot On Tillerson’s Plane To Asia
Erin McPike, the White House correspondent for the Independent Journal Review, a small conservative outlet, was the only journalist to have a seat on the trip. The State Department had said that it was planning on taking a smaller plane.

How the surveillance state threatens free speech
The most secure electronic systems cannot offer perfect privacy, but operate to obscure meaningful data better than the competition. It can also provide the government increased access to a citizen’s private life, habits, and private thoughts.


Beauty and the Beast: Disney rules out censoring gay scene for Malaysia
The live-action film had been due to open in Malaysia on Thursday but the release is now in question. The film has offended social conservatives for making LeFou, sidekick to villain Gaston, the first openly gay character in a Disney film.

Warrant to raid Scottish journalist’s home raises press freedom fears
Andrew Smith, a freelance news photographer, took images of an altercation outside Inverness sheriff court but was asked to hand them over to police. After he refused to do so, a warrant was granted to enter his home and seize “if necessary by force” all his electrical equipment, including cameras, computers and phones.

China’s internet censorship under fire – but proposal against controls gets censored
During this month’s meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, deputies and delegates criticised the central government’s tightening of internet restrictions.

Disappearing books: How Russia is shuttering its Ukrainian library
After Russia’s only state-run Ukrainian language library was dragged into a political dispute between the two countries, its 52,000 books are being transferred to Russia’s main foreign language library. But the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, employees, and members of Russia’s large Ukrainian diaspora say it is a closure in all but name.

Deeper Analysis

The Real Cost of Abolishing the National Endowment for the Arts
President Trump’s budget proposal to cut the NEA, whose grants are bestowed to all 50 states in the nation and in all congressional districts, would have a disproportionate impact on organizations in rural and underserved communities.

Rebels with a cause: Africa’s whistleblowers need urgent protection
Despite the rising value of whistleblower disclosures, a vast majority of countries have weak or no specific rights protecting them. In Africa only seven of 54 countries have passed whistleblower laws, compared with 11 of 28 EU countries. In 2016, six journalists were killed and 41 languished in prisons across sub-Saharan Africa.


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