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President Trump repeats denigrating comments about U.S. judicial system he called “laughing stock.” Digital local news outlets in five urban centers shut down by owner following New York site’s staff vote to unionize. Trump twitter account deactivated for 11 minutes, apparently by customer support employee on last work day. Billionaire investor Robert Mercer steps down from helm of giant hedge fund as his backing of Steve Bannon and other polarizing political figures causes some backlash; also giving up stake in Breitbart News. After Jemele Hill controversy, ESPN sets out new social media rules for staff that discourage commenting on political issues unrelated to sports. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Trump says “a lot of justice” needs to be fixed, after “laughing stock” remarks
On Wednesday, after the New York City terrorist attack that killed eight people and injured 12, Mr. Trump said the U.S. needs to get tougher in protecting the country and be less politically correct. Mr. Trump has called for the death penalty against Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old suspect in the attack.

DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize
When the DNAinfo and Gothamist New York newsrooms first moved to join the union in April, management warned that there might be dire consequences. DNAinfo’s chief operating officer sent the staff an email wondering if a union might be “the final straw that caused the business to close.”

Twitter employee ‘deactivated’ Trump account on last day
Tweets from Mr Trump, who has 41.7 million followers, have frequently caused controversy. The latest incident has sparked debate about the security of the president’s account, given the potential consequences of posts falsely attributed to Mr Trump being published.

Robert Mercer steps down from hedge fund, sells stake in Breitbart
Robert Mercer singled out Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur and former senior editor at Breitbart whose actions “have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate,” Mercer wrote. Breitbart has come under fire for ties to white nationalists and Yiannopoulos.

ESPN Lays Out New Social Media Guidelines for Employees
On issues of politics, the policy does not outright forbid ESPN employees from addressing social issues on their feeds but it does urge them to use caution. ESPNers are urged to limit their political commentary to topics “related to a current issue impacting sports” and “refrain from overt partisanship.”


Prominent international writers ask China to release widow of Nobel winner *PEN Case List
53 authors have called for Liu Xia’s release in recognition of China’s international obligations, including as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and its own constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and other rights. Although Chinese officials claim she is free, Xia is cut off from the outside word.

8 arrests at Georgia demo over player’s gay rights armband
It was not clear how many of those arrested were members of Georgian March, an anti-immigrant and anti-gay rights group which claims to be protecting the “purity” of society in the Caucasus nation. Its members also called for the football federation’s entire leadership to resign because the federation had supported Kashia.

South Sudan media regulator bans press groups, raising censorship fears
The move is the latest example of what rights activists say is an increasingly hostile and restrictive approach by the government towards the press in the world’s youngest country. Foreign correspondents also face difficulties in reporting from South Sudan, with at least 20 reporters being denied entry by authorities this year.

‘Getting Away With Murder’ In Somalia, Where Journalists Are Killed With Impunity
Mohamed Ibrahim, now the Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists, has covered politics in the capital city of Mogadishu for 15 years. Throughout his career, Ibrahim says he has been threatened, harassed and assaulted several times, mostly by al-Shabab militants and senior officials of the Somali government.

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