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White House press secretary says President Trump didn’t now that anti-Muslim videos he re-tweeted were connected to British far-right group, but he served to “elevate the conversation.” Walmart removes from sale T-shirt that suggests lynching journalists. New NBC analysis shows racist and other divisive content spread by Russian trolls flooding Twitter during 2016. LA Weekly editors and writers laid off after purchase, but buyers remain secretive. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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

U.S.

White House: Trump didn’t know anti-Muslim videos came from U.K. fringe group
Trump garnered criticism when he retweeted videos that appeared to portray Muslims committing acts of violence and were initially posted by a far-right, ultranationalist U.K. figure. Pressed on whether Trump realized that Jayda Fransen, who posted the videos, was the deputy leader of the Britain First group, Sanders said he did not.
POLITICO

Walmart Pulls T-Shirts That Hint At Lynching Journalists
The shirt was being sold by Walmart with a company called Teespring acting as a third-party seller. The retailer removed the shirt within one day of being notified. A Walmart spokesperson says the shirt “clearly violates our policy,” adding that the company is reviewing all of the products it sells from Teespring.
NPR

Russian trolls pushed graphic, racist tweets to American voters
The effort tricked thousands of users into spreading graphic racial epithets across social media, interweaving provocative content with disinformation and falsehoods. The tweets were uncovered in a database more than 202,000 deleted Russian troll tweets that NBC News compiled from three sources familiar with Twitter’s API.
NBC

LA Weekly’s new owners are still a mystery, and people are demanding answers
“In an era of rampant misinformation and distrust, it’s especially important that we do not allow the owners and backers of news organizations to remain a mystery,” Andrew Seaman, SPJ’s ethics committee chairperson, said in a statement. “We cannot allow this to become the norm.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES

Russian parliament to bar all US media from accessing it
Foreign correspondents in Russia can currently access Russian parliament and some government agencies with press credentials issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Asked about the possible ban for U.S. media to report from the Russian parliament, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he views the initiative “with understanding.”
ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Global

China sends its top actors and directors back to socialism school
The fact that China’s top entertainers were gathered to study Xi’s words and praise his guidance represents the Communist Party’s control of all walks of life. It also comes at a time when China is making significant inroads into Hollywood, sparking concerns that Chinese propaganda might gradually seep into the United States.
WASHINGTON POST

Vice News: Canada’s top court to hear press freedom case
Vice News and journalist Ben Makuch are fighting a court order requiring him to hand over communications with terrorist suspect, Farah Shirdon. Makuch wrote three articles about Shirdon’s involvement with the so-called Islamic State in 2014. He has refused to hand over the materials.
BBC

Vietnam Upholds Decade-Long Jail Term For Activist Blogger Mother Mushroom
Mother Mushroom blogged about human rights abuses and corruption for more than a decade. She has criticized the government’s response to a 2016 toxic waste spill by a Taiwanese firm that destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Vietnamese living in four coastal provinces.
RADIO FREE ASIA

U.S. Pledges Hungarian Media Funding to Loosen Orban’s Sway
Stricter media regulation marked one of the earliest and most controversial steps in Orban’s push for an “illiberal state.” Press freedom has slipped in Hungary since Orban’s return, and his allies have bought up newspapers, radio and television stations, often with the help of state loans.
BLOOMBERG

China’s evicting mentions of its “low-end” migrants from cyberspace
China’s censorship machines are rolling at full speed to shut down online discussions and criticism about the evictions. Leaked censorship directives show that Chinese news outlets are banned from publishing investigative reports and commentaries on the incident. Social media posts about the evictions have been mostly deleted.
QUARTZ

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