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President Trump falsely claims that the findings of an independent study on the death toll resulting from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico—nearly 3,000 Americans—were wrong, and concocted by Democrats to make him look bad. Mother Jones reports on growing targeting of journalists for harassment and threats of physical harm. Google employees are quitting over the company’s censored search app developed for China. Facebook expands fact-checkers ability to assess false photos and videos. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Trump Falsely Claims Nearly 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico ‘Did Not Die’
Trump has consistently denied any fault for his administration in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In fact, the President has instead sought praise for his handling of the storm, saying earlier this week that it was “an incredible, unsung success.”

Trump’s “Enemy of the People” Rhetoric Is Endangering Journalists’ Lives
“According to law enforcement and security leaders, the targeting of journalists has steadily intensified, from organized campaigns of personal harassment to bomb threats and vows of assault, rape, and mass shootings. Two sources say they’ve repeatedly seen evidence of threats directly channeling the president’s rhetoric.”

Google Employees Are Quitting Over The Company’s Secretive China Search Project
The revelation of plans for the search engine, known as Project Dragonfly, provoked an immediate backlash within the company’s rank and file. One employee who’d been asked to work on the project decided to quit, another transferred teams, and internal forums were flooded with thousands of posts, comments, and emails debating the ethics of the project.

Facebook Expands Fact-checkers’ Ability to Debunk False Photos and Videos
The company announced that it is giving all 27 of its global fact-checking partners the ability to debunk photos and videos on the platform. Once a piece of content is rated as false, its future reach in the News Feed will be reduced by up to 80 percent and a fact check will be appended in the Related Articles section.

PA Prison Books and Mail Policies Draw Protests, Petitions, and Possible Legal Challenges
In the West Philadelphia office of Books Through Bars, dozens of packages of books addressed to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania state institutions have been sitting for weeks. On Monday the lockdown was lifted, but as part of $15 million worth of new security measures, the Department of Corrections is cutting off inmates’ access to long-standing volunteer-run free books programs.

A Newspaper Diminished by Cutbacks Prepares to Cover Another Monster Storm
In 1999, the Raleigh News & Observer mobilized most of its 250 newsroom staff to cover Hurricane Floyd and its aftermath, and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news the following year. The newspaper is preparing to cover Hurricane Florence, with a newsroom that has shrunk from 250 journalists to just 65.


Authorities Ban Protests against Jailing of Reuters Journalists, Threaten Arrests *PEN Case List
The administrator of Yangon’s Bahan Township summoned the organizers of a protest march planned for Sunday to demand the release of jailed Reuters journalists Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe, and warned the organizers they could face arrest for “unlawful” protest.

Egypt Releases Woman Arrested for Sexual-Harassment Complaints
Mona Mazbouh, who spent three months in jail after posting a video on Facebook complaining about sexual harassment during a month-long visit to Egypt, was released Thursday. Her case drew international criticism of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s security policies.

Ibsen Play Is Canceled in China After Audience Criticizes Government
Performances of “An Enemy of the People” by the Schaubühne Berlin company in Nanjing during which audiences were invited to voice their complaints about society were abruptly canceled after audiences in Beijing last week shouted criticisms of their authoritarian government.

GCHQ Data Collection Regime Violated Human Rights, Court Rules
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the British intelligency agency GCHQ’s methods for bulk interception of online communications violated privacy and failed to provide sufficient surveillance safeguards. It also found that sharing intelligence with foreign governments was not illegal, and explicitly confirmed that bulk interception with tighter safeguards was permissible.

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