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Computer systems of cities and towns across America hit by ransomware attacks. ABC faces criticism for hiring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, whose tenure was marked by efforts to advance the president’s false claims and the narrative that the press is the ‘enemy of the people,’ as a participant in its widely-watched show, Dancing With the Stars. City of Norfolk sues Virginia over a law blocking the removal of Confederate statues, citing its free speech rights. California school officials reopen inquiry into students seen to be giving Nazi salutes after new video emerges. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


What Can Be Done To Fight Back Against Ransomware Attacks
In Texas, authorities are dealing with the aftermath of a ransomware attack last week. Twenty-two mostly rural towns had their computer systems locked down by hackers who held their data hostage and demanded millions of dollars in ransom. Experts say attacks like these are on the rise across the U.S.

Don’t Let Sean Spicer Tap-Dance Out of Infamy on ‘Dancing With the Stars’
“To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did, which was to say things so absurdly false that he invited his political side to join him in denying their own eyeballs, to encourage people to believe that facts don’t matter if they hurt your team.”

Norfolk City Officials Sue Virginia over Law Blocking Removal of Confederate Statue
According to a state law enacted in 1904, public war memorials in the state can’t be taken down or altered, leaving local officials unable to act on an approved 2017 resolution aimed at moving the city-owned memorial to a cemetery.

School Reopens Inquiry into Teens Giving Nazi Salute as New Clips Emerge, Reports Say
The new videos appear to show students giving Nazi salutes, marching with a German flag, and wrapping themselves in a Confederate flag, according to a reports from ABC News and the Daily Beast. It was not immediately clear whether they included the same students shown in the previous video.


South Africa Bans Most Displays of the Apartheid Flag, a Symbol of ‘a Crime against Humanity’
Judge Phineas Mojapelo ruled that “gratuitous” display of the Old Flag—a symbol of white-supremacist rule in South Africa—amounted to racial discrimination, hate speech, and harassment under the Equality Act. The court made exceptions for use of the flag that served the public interest, such as art, academia, or journalism.

Bold Women. Scandalized Viewers. It’s ‘Sex and the City,’ Senegal Style.
“Mistress of a Married Man” is part of a burst of TV and film production in which writers and actors openly assert female sexuality, challenge traditional gender roles, and present African stories to African audiences. A state regulator threatened a broadcast ban, citing content likely to harm the “preservation of cultural identities.”

Journalist Describes Life in Kashmir during Communications Blackout after Article 370 Was Abrogated
The abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir sent life in the valley into chaos with a communications blackout. And now, as everything begins to get back on track slowly, details of what the locals think about this move and what they went though during these confused times are emerging.

Conservative Bid to Have Journalist Hand over Trudeau Evidence Fails
A House of Commons ethics committee meeting Wednesday ended with the defeat of a Conservative attempt to request a journalist to produce evidence to determine if the prime minister breached cabinet confidences in interviews about SNC-Lavalin, a company facing foreign bribery and fraud charges.

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