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President Trump now says there will be “severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia is found to have murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi; also during 60 Minutes interview, he says Russian President Vladimir Putin is “probably” involved in assassinations of dissidents, but “it’s not our country.’’ Colorado Association of Libraries says suit filed by two parents who claim pornography was distributed to their children is far-reaching attempt to censor electronic materials available at local and school libraries. Republican senator from Georgia snatches cellphone from student while being asked about voted suppression. New Yorker report takes new look at how conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group influences its many stations across the country, although they are branded as independent major network outlets. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Trump vows ‘severe punishment’ if Saudis killed Jamal Khashoggi
Trump does not want to “hurt jobs” by sanctioning Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, but has promised “severe punishment” if regime involvement in the journalist’s death is confirmed. Trump also said the fact that Khashoggi was a reporter made the case “really terrible and disgusting.”

Putin is ‘probably’ involved in assassinations and poisonings, but ‘it’s not in our country,’ Trump says
“Probably he is, yeah. Probably,” Trump told CBS’s Lesley Stahl when asked during an interview on “60 Minutes” whether he thinks Putin is involved “in assassinations, in poisonings.” A long line of Russian dissidents, journalists and others critical of Putin have been poisoned or died under mysterious circumstances.

Colorado Association of Libraries blasts pornography lawsuit as censorship crusade, attempt to undermine “fundamental tenets of a free society”
The lawsuit claims that EBSCO Industries Inc. and the library consortium knowingly provided sexually explicit and obscene material to school children. “Their true aim is to censor all electronic materials from school and public libraries,” said Carol Smith, president of the Colorado Association of Libraries.

A senator snatched a student’s phone while being asked about Georgia voter registration uproar
“U.S. Senator David Perdue just snatched my phone because he won’t answer a question from one of his constituents,” the student can be heard saying as he follows Perdue. “He’s trying to leave because he won’t answer why he’s endorsing a candidate who’s trying to purge people from voting on the basis of their race.”

The Growth of Sinclair’s Conservative Media Empire
Sinclair has achieved its formidable reach by exploiting loopholes in regulations. Sinclair’s stations—there are often several in the same broadcast area, branded as local ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox affiliates—enjoy the trust of viewers because they appear independent, even though much of the content is dictated at a national level.


Mahmoud Hussein’s detention renewed for the 17th time
Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has been in prison in Egypt for 661 days. Five days after his initial arrest, Egypt’s interior ministry accused Hussein of broadcasting false news and receiving foreign funds to defame Egypt’s state institutions. Since then he has been denied his legal rights and has yet to be formally charged.

Booker prize novel sparks free speech row in Czech Republic
Man Booker prize-winning novel, The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, which explores gay relationships in Thatcher-era Britain, has sparked a row over morality and media independence in the Czech Republic after it was condemned as “pornographic” when it aired on the country’s leading cultural radio station.

Moroccans finding their voice with online protest pages
“Intolerance towards inequalities is growing” and Moroccans are “more and more aware of their rights and are increasingly expressing their dissatisfaction, their needs and their wants,” said a recent official report. This “major change” is linked to the growth of social media and the “free space for expression and debate” it provides.

Peacetime Spells Death for Colombia’s Activists
Colombia’s government officially declared an end to more than five decades of civil war in 2016, but a chilling aspect of the bloodshed isn’t falling: Killings of the nation’s activists, including union organizers, local councilmen, indigenous leaders and environmentalists who are under vigorous attack across the country.

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