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As Trump and administration loyalists try to deny veracity of Bob Woodward’s new book on the White House, “Fear”, the author—who has written on eight presidencies—issues five-word statement: “I stand by my reporting.” Trump once again raises suggestion that Congress should change libel laws. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg ready appearances before Congress. After dozens of protesters are arrested at Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearings, Trump says it is “embarrassing for the country to allow protesters.” -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

 

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

U.S.

Trump, White House Strike Back at Bob Woodward Over New Book
The White House aggressively challenged aspects of Bob Woodward’s explosive new book on Trump’s administration, which paints a devastating portrait of a presidency careening toward a “nervous breakdown.” Woodward said, “I stand by my reporting.”
CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Trump Suggests Changes to Libel Laws Over Woodward Book
Trump tweeted that Woodward’s book was filled with inaccuracies after the White House panned the manuscript as the product of disgruntled White House employees. “Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?”
HILL

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Testify Before Congress
Sandberg and Dorsey delivered their message at a congressional hearing about countries that seek to spread divisive political messages online using inauthentic accounts—the second major hearing featuring top tech executives this year.
WASHINGTON POST

Trump: Protesting Maybe Ought to Be Illegal
Trump took his attacks on free speech one step further, suggesting that the act of protesting should be illegal. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on,” said Trump.
WASHINGTON POST

A Teacher Made a Hitler Joke in the Classroom. It Tore the School Apart.
“Instantly aware that his stab at Mel Brooks-style parody hadn’t landed, Frisch lowered his arm and tried to explain himself, telling his students that it used to be common to make fun of Nazis. Only recently, he said, had such jokes become taboo.”
NEW YORK TIMES

 
Global

Ukrainian Filmmaker Won’t Stop Hunger Strike, ‘His Only Way to Fight’ Russian Jail *PEN Case List
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov on the verge of starving himself to death in Russian jail will not end his hunger strike because it is “his only way to fight”, a cousin who was one of the last people to visit him told Reuters.
REUTERS

OPINION: Condemn Myanmar’s Attacks on Press Freedom—But Look Closer to Home Too *PEN Case List
“The decision to jail Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for doing precisely what we expect of the best journalists—exposing wrongdoing by those in power—was a blow to all advocates of press freedom. Fearless, independent reporting is vital to democracy.”
GUARDIAN

Saudi Arabia Declares Online Satire a Punishable Offense
Saudi Arabia, which has been criticized for rights record, will punish online satire that “ridicules, mocks, provokes, and disrupts public order, religious values, and public morals” with up to five years in prison as the kingdom cracks down on dissent.
TIME OF ISRAEL

Chakrabarti Denies Anti-Semitism Code ‘Sullied’ by Extra Statement
Baroness Chakrabarti, who carried out a review into anti-Semitism in Labour for Jeremy Corbyn, was criticized for extra wording added to an international definition of anti-Semitism, saying that it should not undermine free speech in Israel.
BBC

Disinformation is Spreading on WhatsApp in India—And it’s Getting Dangerous
The spread of hoaxes and doctored photos during massive floods in Kerala showed, yet again, how easily disinformation can spread on messaging platforms like WhatsApp—and how deadly it can be.
ATLANTIC

A New Study Shows the Growing Perils for Academics Researching China
Attention over academic censorship in China studies is growing in light of increasing coverage and awareness worldwide of Beijing’s policies. “repressive research experiences… collectively present a barrier to the conduct of research in China.”
QUARTZ

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