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Fallout over Sinclair Broadcast Group’s “must-run” segments for local news stations continues, with a number of hosts across the country expressing their distaste for the content of the segments and their imposition on trusted local news broadcasters by an openly pro-Trump parent company. EPA sidelines employees who raise concerns about administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management. The Atlantic cuts ties with writer Kevin Williamson, who endorsed hanging women who had abortions, sparking debate over limits of acceptable views in mainstream publications. Revelations that hate speech and incitements to violence spiked and spread on Facebook ahead of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar lead to further criticism of the social media platform from civil society and human rights groups. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator

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


WOAI anchor Delaine Mathieu on Sinclair promos: ‘This was awful’
Anchorwoman Delaine Mathieu wrote on Facebook that it was “awful” having to deliver promos mandated by parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group that seemed to echo the views of President Trump. However, she and chief anchorman Randy Beamer had no choice, she added, if they wanted to keep their jobs.

E.P.A. Officials Sidelined After Questioning Scott Pruitt
At least five officials at the Environmental Protection Agency were reassigned or demoted, or requested new jobs in the past year after they raised concerns about the spending and management of the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt. The concerns included unusually large spending on office furniture and first-class travel.

The Atlantic Cuts Ties With Conservative Writer Kevin Williamson
The outrage over the writer, who spent many years as a correspondent for National Review, fell squarely into a burgeoning culture war over free speech, gender issues and questions about which views deserve a megaphone as prominent as The Atlantic, a magazine that relies on a heavily liberal readership.

Facebook hate speech exploded in Myanmar during Rohingya crisis
Evidence of the spike emerged after the platform was accused of playing a key role in the spread of hate speech as Rohingya refugees were forced to flee Myanmar. These revelations come as Facebook struggles to respond to criticism over the leaking of users’ private data and the spread of fake news and hate speech on the platform.


Egypt prosecutor orders website editor detained for 15 days: sources
Masr al-Arabia’s editor-in-chief, Adel Sabry, was arrested after its office was raided by police who told lawyers the website did not have a permit to operate. Masr al-Arabia is one of about 500 websites that have been blocked in Egypt in recent months. Rights groups say the closures amount to a crackdown on freedom of expression.

Six activists jailed in Vietnam amid crackdown on dissent
The activists have been sentenced to between seven and fifteen years in jail, in a move condemned by the United States as part of a “disturbing trend” by the country’s authorities to restrict fundamental freedoms. The judgment comes amid a wider government crackdown on peaceful dissent in the last 12 months.

Russia seeks to block Telegram messaging app
Telegram is the latest social platform to be targeted as the Russian government seeks to exert greater control over online communications. Similar disputes and threats have been made against major platforms since 2016, which required messaging services to provide authorities with the capability to decrypt online conversations.

Slovak protesters demand police chief be fired over journalist’s murder
The gunning-down of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who investigated corruption among politically-connected business people, and his fiancée at their home in February increased widespread anger about persistent corruption allegations. Thursday’s protesters demanded more tangible change and called for the police chief to resign.

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