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The federal government wants protesters to have to pay to use parks, sidewalks, and other public spaces in Washington, DC. A group of U.S. senators urge the Secretary of State to press Myanmar for release of jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write honorees. A federal appeals court overturns dismissal of challenge to Washington’s cyberstalking law that claimed the state statute violates free speech rights. Norm Macdonald’s appearance on The Tonight Show is canceled by NBC after comments seeming to defend entertainers accused in #MeToo cases. The Education Department reopens cased brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration ignored evidence of a hostile environment at the school in closing the case. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


The Trump Administration Wants to Tax Protests. What Happened to Free Speech?
“For the first time, the government wants demonstrators to pay to use our parks, sidewalks and streets to engage in free speech in the nation’s capital. This should be called for what it is: a protest tax. If enacted, this bold effort to burden and restrict access to public spaces for First Amendment activities would fundamentally alter participatory democracy in America.”

U.S. Senators Urge Pompeo to Press for Release of Reuters Journalists Jailed in Myanmar *PEN Case List
Eleven Republican and Democratic senators led by Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) urged the Secretary of State to “use all tools at your disposal,” including imposing more economic sanctions, to ensure “the immediate, unconditional” release of two Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar.

Norm Macdonald ‘Tonight Show’ Appearance Is Canceled After #MeToo Comments
NBC canceled Norm Macdonald’s appearance after comments made in an interview defending several entertainers accused of wrongdoing, including Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr. Macdonald apologized on Twitter, saying the two performers were “very good friends of mine” but that he “would never defend their actions.”

Does Washington Cyberstalking Law Violate Free Speech Rights? Bainbridge Man Gets New Chance to Make His Case
Richard Lee Rynearson III of Bainbridge Island faced allegations of online harassment against a neighbor and fellow community activist, Clarence Moriwaki, who sought and obtained a protection order against Rynearson’s online activities. His lawsuit alleges the statute is overbroad and violates the First Amendment.

Education Dept. Reopens Rutgers Case Charging Discrimination Against Jewish Students
The Department’s new head of civil rights has reopened an old case against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration, in closing the case, ignored evidence that suggested the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students. The Education Department’s approach is based on a contested definition of anti-Semitism.

FBI Trains Colorado Politicians On How To Avoid Becoming ‘Fake News’
For the first time ever, the FBI is training political candidates in Colorado how to spot people who may want to hijack their identity and spread misinformation. The FBI training was aimed at helping candidates identify the latest cyber threats and teaching them how to protect their email and online accounts against hackers.


China’s Crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uighur Muslims Draws International Concern *PEN Case List
“The last time Jewher Ilham saw her father, Ilham Tohti, was over 5 years ago at the Beijing airport. He had secured a position as a visiting scholar at Indiana University, and she planned to accompany him on the trip. Ilham Tohti was prevented from leaving China, and is serving a life sentence on “separatism-related” charges.”

Myanmar Group Founded by Prominent Dissident Urges Release of Reuters Reporters *PEN Case List
An organization founded by one of Myanmar’s most famous political prisoners and an old ally of Aung San Suu Kyi called for the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, journalists jailed after being found guilty of violating an official secrets law.

Google Fights French ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ in EU Court
Google clashed with the French government over a 2014 decision at the European Court of Justice that allowed individuals, under certain conditions, to have references to them scrubbed from search engine results. Google opposed the decision but complied by delisting search references once requested across its European domains.

Nepal’s Communist Government Tightens Its Grip on Civil Society
The new National Integrity Policy proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs is set to tighten the government’s grip on NGOs, laying out policies for monitoring their activities. Its policies expand to diplomats, constitutional bodies, professors, teachers, doctors, private sector firms, and cooperatives.

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