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Brennan Threatens to Sue Trump to Stop Revoking Security Clearances

Former CIA Director John Brennan is threatening to sue President Donald Trump to stop him from stripping security clearances from other officials who criticize him.

“If my clearances — and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now — if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay,” Brennan told NBC television’s Meet the Press Sunday.

“I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future and if it means going to court, I will do that,” he added.

Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance last week because the president said he had to do something about what he calls the “rigged” investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russian election interference.

Trump said he believes Brennan, who served during the administrations of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is one of those responsible for the investigation.

Brennan was among a group of intelligence officials who spoke with Trump before his inauguation about evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The president also said he plans to or is thinking about stripping nine other current and former senior intelligence officials of their clearances.

More than 75 U.S. intelligence officers have spoken out, saying they have the right to criticize and administration without having to pay a penalty.

Brennan, CIA director during President Barack Obama’s second term, has been a familiar face on television talk shows as one of Trump’s severest critics.

He called Trump’s behavior at the joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki “treasonous.”

He said on NBC that he is not a Democrat or a Republican, instead calling himself just someone who wants to be heard like any private citizen.

“(Trump) is bringing the country down on the global stage. … He’s fueling and feeding divisiveness within our country. He continually lies to the American people,” Brennan said on Meet the Press.

Appearing on the same NBC broadcast, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called Brennan’s charge that Trump committed treason “extraordinary” and said Brennan has no information on whether Trump conspired with Putin.

Giuliani called Brennan a “totally unhinged character who shouldn’t have a security clearance.”

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Brennan Threatens to Sue Trump to Stop Revoking Security Clearances

Former CIA Director John Brennan is threatening to sue President Donald Trump to stop him from stripping security clearances from other officials who criticize him.

“If my clearances — and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now — if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this against other people, to me, it’s a small price to pay,” Brennan told NBC television’s Meet the Press Sunday.

“I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future and if it means going to court, I will do that,” he added.

Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance last week because the president said he had to do something about what he calls the “rigged” investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign and Russian election interference.

Trump said he believes Brennan, who served during the administrations of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is one of those responsible for the investigation.

Brennan was among a group of intelligence officials who spoke with Trump before his inauguation about evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The president also said he plans to or is thinking about stripping nine other current and former senior intelligence officials of their clearances.

More than 75 U.S. intelligence officers have spoken out, saying they have the right to criticize and administration without having to pay a penalty.

Brennan, CIA director during President Barack Obama’s second term, has been a familiar face on television talk shows as one of Trump’s severest critics.

He called Trump’s behavior at the joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki “treasonous.”

He said on NBC that he is not a Democrat or a Republican, instead calling himself just someone who wants to be heard like any private citizen.

“(Trump) is bringing the country down on the global stage. … He’s fueling and feeding divisiveness within our country. He continually lies to the American people,” Brennan said on Meet the Press.

Appearing on the same NBC broadcast, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called Brennan’s charge that Trump committed treason “extraordinary” and said Brennan has no information on whether Trump conspired with Putin.

Giuliani called Brennan a “totally unhinged character who shouldn’t have a security clearance.”

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Women win primaries in record numbers, look to November

Women are not just running for office in record numbers this year — they are winning.

More women than ever before have won major party primaries for governor, U.S. Senate and House this year — setting a U.S. record and paving the way for November battles that could significantly increase the number of women in elected office and change the public debate on issues such as health care, immigration, abortion rights, education and gun control. Some of these candidates could also play a pivotal role in whether Democrats are able to take control of the U.S. House.

Most of these female hopefuls are Democrats, some of whom are first-time candidates who say their motivation to run sprang from President Donald Trump’s election and Republican control of Congress. But other developments factor in, too. The #MeToo movement. Women’s marches. Trump’s nomination of conservative appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“Part of the reason I thought this race was possible, even despite great odds, was because of all the women who are so engaged in my community in a new way,” said Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor who looks to capture a GOP congressional seat in New Jersey.

Sherrill is one of some 200 women who have won their primaries for U.S. House, with 94 of these candidates surviving crowded fields with three or more candidates, according to an analysis of election results. Previously, the most women who had advanced were 167 in 2016, according to records kept by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In the Senate, a record 19 women have won their primaries. And for the first time, 13 women have been nominated for gubernatorial races in a single election year.

And all these numbers are likely to grow with nine states yet to hold their primaries. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Florida are among nine women running for governor who will face primary voters in coming weeks. No more than nine women have ever led states at the same time.

“We are seeing a level of enthusiasm among women voters that we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Democrat Laura Kelly, who is running for governor in Kansas and will need women, independents and moderate Republicans in her bid against Republican Kris Kobach.

There are few instances in which women — in a sense — have already won. For instance, two women will be competing to replace GOP Rep. Steve Pearce in New Mexico and the same is happening in races in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan. But overall gains will also be dependent on how well the 71 congresswomen running for re-election fare in November.

Success in November will go a long way to improving the nation’s dismal record of female representation. Currently, women account for just a fifth of 535 U.S. representatives and senators, and one in four state lawmakers. Six of the nation’s 50 governors are female. Meanwhile, women comprise slightly more than half the U.S. population.

Women appear to be running strong so far. As of mid-August, some 49 percent of women running for the House have advanced to the general election, with about 40 percent in the Senate and about 25 percent running for governor, according to an analysis of election results.

But that’s no guarantee of victory this fall. Many of the women, particularly Democrats, are running in long-held Republican congressional districts or states where Republicans have consolidated support.

One thing women have accomplished already is changing the tone and content of campaigns. They bring their children to rallies and some want their campaign money to pay for child care so they can run. On this count, Liuba Grechen Shirley, the Democratic candidate challenger to Republican Rep. Peter King, has succeeded. In May, the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously to allow the expenditure.

“I was told that with two kids, a husband who worked full time and no child care, that it was impossible,” Grechen Shirley says in an online ad, noting her effort to change the policy. “Well, it wasn’t impossible. It’s just really hard.”

Experienced combat veterans running for Congress this year are featuring their families in their ads as they speak with authority on national security and foreign policy.

“The old model is a little bit like trying to fit women into the mold of male candidates,” said Deborah Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Women had a very narrow path that they could navigate as candidates: What was appropriate to wear, what was appropriate to say. They also were asked: If you win, who is going to take care of your children? This is not a question that men are confronted with.”

Beyond gender, these women are poised to usher in a wave of diversity next year.

Michigan will likely send the nation’s first Muslim-American woman to Congress, after Rashida Tlaib beat a crowded field of Democrats for the 13th Congressional District. No Republican is running in November for the heavily Democratic seat.

There are nearly 50 black women running for Congress this year, from Democrat Lucy McBath who is challenging GOP Rep. Karen Handel in Georgia to Republican Rep. Mia Love’s bid for a third term in Utah.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams is aiming to become the nation’s first black female governor while Paulette Jordan would be the first Native American governor in U.S. history if she wins her race in Idaho. And Democratic voters in Vermont recently selected Christine Hallquist as their nominee, making her the first transgender candidate to win a major-party gubernatorial nomination.

Black women are competing — and winning — not only in districts with a majority black electorate, but also in diverse districts across the country. Each victory is a vote of confidence in their leadership for those who step up, said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, co-founder of Higher Heights for America, which supports black female candidates and galvanizes black women as voters.

“In addition to black women wanting to be part of history, people are realizing that regardless of what you look like, the leadership of the country has been predominantly white and male for far too long,” Peeler-Allen said. “Seeing the value of having diverse voices around decision-making tables is not limited to one demographic group, but includes people who want a more reflective democracy.”

 

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Women win primaries in record numbers, look to November

Women are not just running for office in record numbers this year — they are winning.

More women than ever before have won major party primaries for governor, U.S. Senate and House this year — setting a U.S. record and paving the way for November battles that could significantly increase the number of women in elected office and change the public debate on issues such as health care, immigration, abortion rights, education and gun control. Some of these candidates could also play a pivotal role in whether Democrats are able to take control of the U.S. House.

Most of these female hopefuls are Democrats, some of whom are first-time candidates who say their motivation to run sprang from President Donald Trump’s election and Republican control of Congress. But other developments factor in, too. The #MeToo movement. Women’s marches. Trump’s nomination of conservative appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“Part of the reason I thought this race was possible, even despite great odds, was because of all the women who are so engaged in my community in a new way,” said Democrat Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor who looks to capture a GOP congressional seat in New Jersey.

Sherrill is one of some 200 women who have won their primaries for U.S. House, with 94 of these candidates surviving crowded fields with three or more candidates, according to an analysis of election results. Previously, the most women who had advanced were 167 in 2016, according to records kept by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In the Senate, a record 19 women have won their primaries. And for the first time, 13 women have been nominated for gubernatorial races in a single election year.

And all these numbers are likely to grow with nine states yet to hold their primaries. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Florida are among nine women running for governor who will face primary voters in coming weeks. No more than nine women have ever led states at the same time.

“We are seeing a level of enthusiasm among women voters that we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Democrat Laura Kelly, who is running for governor in Kansas and will need women, independents and moderate Republicans in her bid against Republican Kris Kobach.

There are few instances in which women — in a sense — have already won. For instance, two women will be competing to replace GOP Rep. Steve Pearce in New Mexico and the same is happening in races in Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan. But overall gains will also be dependent on how well the 71 congresswomen running for re-election fare in November.

Success in November will go a long way to improving the nation’s dismal record of female representation. Currently, women account for just a fifth of 535 U.S. representatives and senators, and one in four state lawmakers. Six of the nation’s 50 governors are female. Meanwhile, women comprise slightly more than half the U.S. population.

Women appear to be running strong so far. As of mid-August, some 49 percent of women running for the House have advanced to the general election, with about 40 percent in the Senate and about 25 percent running for governor, according to an analysis of election results.

But that’s no guarantee of victory this fall. Many of the women, particularly Democrats, are running in long-held Republican congressional districts or states where Republicans have consolidated support.

One thing women have accomplished already is changing the tone and content of campaigns. They bring their children to rallies and some want their campaign money to pay for child care so they can run. On this count, Liuba Grechen Shirley, the Democratic candidate challenger to Republican Rep. Peter King, has succeeded. In May, the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously to allow the expenditure.

“I was told that with two kids, a husband who worked full time and no child care, that it was impossible,” Grechen Shirley says in an online ad, noting her effort to change the policy. “Well, it wasn’t impossible. It’s just really hard.”

Experienced combat veterans running for Congress this year are featuring their families in their ads as they speak with authority on national security and foreign policy.

“The old model is a little bit like trying to fit women into the mold of male candidates,” said Deborah Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Women had a very narrow path that they could navigate as candidates: What was appropriate to wear, what was appropriate to say. They also were asked: If you win, who is going to take care of your children? This is not a question that men are confronted with.”

Beyond gender, these women are poised to usher in a wave of diversity next year.

Michigan will likely send the nation’s first Muslim-American woman to Congress, after Rashida Tlaib beat a crowded field of Democrats for the 13th Congressional District. No Republican is running in November for the heavily Democratic seat.

There are nearly 50 black women running for Congress this year, from Democrat Lucy McBath who is challenging GOP Rep. Karen Handel in Georgia to Republican Rep. Mia Love’s bid for a third term in Utah.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams is aiming to become the nation’s first black female governor while Paulette Jordan would be the first Native American governor in U.S. history if she wins her race in Idaho. And Democratic voters in Vermont recently selected Christine Hallquist as their nominee, making her the first transgender candidate to win a major-party gubernatorial nomination.

Black women are competing — and winning — not only in districts with a majority black electorate, but also in diverse districts across the country. Each victory is a vote of confidence in their leadership for those who step up, said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, co-founder of Higher Heights for America, which supports black female candidates and galvanizes black women as voters.

“In addition to black women wanting to be part of history, people are realizing that regardless of what you look like, the leadership of the country has been predominantly white and male for far too long,” Peeler-Allen said. “Seeing the value of having diverse voices around decision-making tables is not limited to one demographic group, but includes people who want a more reflective democracy.”

 

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The Latest: The New Alternative Facts: ‘Truth Isn’t Truth’

11:50 a.m.

 
Move over, alternative facts. Now, truth isn’t truth.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani used the line Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd.

Giuliani was trying to make the case that having Trump sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wouldn’t accomplish much because of the he-said-she-said nature of witnesses’ recollections.

Giuliani says it’s “silly” to say Trump should testify “because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry” because “it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”

Todd insisted: “Truth is truth,” Giuliani responded: “Truth isn’t truth.” The comment left Todd flummoxed.

Trump and his aides have been criticized for spreading lies and disinformation. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway famously referred to it as “alternative facts.”

8:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is insisting that White House lawyer Don McGahn isn’t “a John Dean type ‘RAT.’”

Trump in a series of Sunday morning tweets is responding to a New York Times story reporting that McGahn has given hours of testimony to the special counsel investigating Russian election meddling.

Dean was White House counsel for President Richard Nixon during Watergate. He ultimately cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.

Trump says he allowed McGahn and others to testify. He says, “I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……”

Trump is also calling the investigation “McCarthyism at its WORST,” a reference to indiscriminate allegations made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to expose communists.

 

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The Latest: The New Alternative Facts: ‘Truth Isn’t Truth’

11:50 a.m.

 
Move over, alternative facts. Now, truth isn’t truth.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani used the line Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd.

Giuliani was trying to make the case that having Trump sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wouldn’t accomplish much because of the he-said-she-said nature of witnesses’ recollections.

Giuliani says it’s “silly” to say Trump should testify “because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry” because “it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”

Todd insisted: “Truth is truth,” Giuliani responded: “Truth isn’t truth.” The comment left Todd flummoxed.

Trump and his aides have been criticized for spreading lies and disinformation. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway famously referred to it as “alternative facts.”

8:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump is insisting that White House lawyer Don McGahn isn’t “a John Dean type ‘RAT.’”

Trump in a series of Sunday morning tweets is responding to a New York Times story reporting that McGahn has given hours of testimony to the special counsel investigating Russian election meddling.

Dean was White House counsel for President Richard Nixon during Watergate. He ultimately cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.

Trump says he allowed McGahn and others to testify. He says, “I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide……”

Trump is also calling the investigation “McCarthyism at its WORST,” a reference to indiscriminate allegations made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s to expose communists.

 

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Report: White House Counsel Is Cooperating With Russia Investigation

The White House’s top lawyer has cooperated extensively with the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter, the newspaper said White House Counsel Donald McGahn had shared information, some of which the investigators would not have known about.

McGahn voluntarily cooperated with Mueller’s team as a regular witness, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the White House asked many staffers to do. He was not subpoenaed nor did he speak to them under any kind of proffer or cooperation agreement.

The person also said he did not believe McGahn provided Mueller with incriminating information about Trump. McGahn provided the facts but nothing he saw or heard amounts to obstruction of justice by Trump, the person told Reuters.

According to the New York Times, McGahn in at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, described Trump’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which the president urged McGahn to respond to it.

The newspaper reported McGahn’s motivation to speak with the special counsel as an unusual move that was in response to a decision by Trump’s first team of lawyers to cooperate fully.

But it said another motivation was McGahn’s fear he could be placed in legal jeopardy because of decisions made in the White House that could be construed as obstruction of justice.

McGahn, the newspaper said, shared information on Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and the president’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it.

The newspaper said McGahn was also centrally involved in Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

McGahn cautioned to investigators he never saw Trump go beyond his legal authorities.

A source close to the president told Reuters on Saturday the extent of McGahn’s cooperation was “a tactical or strategic mistake” instigated by Trump’s first legal team and it should not have been allowed to happen because McGahn should have been covered by executive privilege. The person also said Trump is not worried because he does not feel he did anything wrong.

One lawyer familiar with the matter said McGahn could have been subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury if he did not cooperate with Mueller voluntarily and might have lost legal battles if he tried to invoke executive privilege.

William Burck, McGahn’s personal lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s former personal lawyer, John Dowd, told Reuters on Saturday he was aware McGahn had spoken extensively with Mueller’s team.

“Lot to cover,” Dowd said in text message. “Did a great job. McGahn was a strong witness for the President according to Burck and debriefs of DM (Donald McGahn). Not aware of any of the alleged apprehensions manufactured by the NYT.”

Dowd said a decision was made by the president’s legal team for McGahn to cooperate with the investigation.

Rudy Giuliani, who joined the president’s outside legal team after Dowd resigned, told Reuters on Saturday that Trump’s lawyers had been in contact with McGahn’s counsel after he was interviewed and possessed “emails that say he provided nothing that was damaging or incriminating to the president.”

Giuliani said McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller was part of a legal strategy. As an officer of the court, he added, McGahn would have had to resign if he thought the president did anything illegal.

Giuliani said he did not believe McGahn was cooperating against the president, noting Trump’s lawyers and McGahn’s have a joint defense agreement that would have otherwise ended.

Former White House lawyer Ty Cobb, who resigned in May after joining the administration last summer to assist the president with the Russia probe, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment. Trump has repeatedly denounced the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow as a “witch hunt.”

“The president and Don have a great relationship,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a statement. “He appreciates all the hard work he’s done, particularly his help and expertise with the judges, and the Supreme Court” nominees.

Others in the White House have described the relationship as strained. 

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Tech Companies Struggle With How to Curtail Offensive Speech

Twitter users are blocking companies like Pepsi, Nike and Uber on Twitter to pressure the social media firm to permanently ban American broadcaster Alex Jones for what they say are his abusive tweets.

Meanwhile, Twitter reportedly is facing a shutdown in Pakistan because of a government request to block what it deems objectionable content.

The moves come as U.S. internet companies take a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world. The companies have a mostly hands-off policy when it comes to curtailing speech, except when it comes to inciting violence and pornography. But that largely permissive approach is getting a new look.

​Twitter and Alex Jones

Twitter recently slapped a seven-day ban on conservative American radio host Jones for violating its policy on abusive speech, when he appeared to call for violence against the media, something he denies.

On his show this week, Jones noted that Twitter had removed his videos.

“They took me down,” he said. “Because they will not let me have a voice.”

Earlier this month, Apple, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube and other social media limited Jones and his InfoWars media company from their sites. But InfoWars’ live-streaming app can still be found at Google and Apple’s app stores. The on-air personality has put forth conspiracy theories calling some U.S. mass shootings hoaxes.

WATCH: Tech Companies Struggle With How to Curtail Offensive Speech

No more hands off

Internet firms are moving away from the long-held position that they didn’t want to monitor expression on their sites too closely, Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University, said.

“The companies are stuck in the middle and no longer trying to avoid responsibility in a way that I think they were even a few years ago when they were saying we are just neutral platforms,” Raicu said. “They are increasingly taking a more open role in determining what content moderation looks like.”

It’s not just in the U.S. where the internet companies are having to make hard decisions about speech. The firms are also grappling with extreme speech in other languages.

Comments on Facebook have been linked to violence in places like Myanmar and India. A recent article by the Reuters news agency reports that negative messages about Myanmar’s Rohingya minority group were throughout its site.

Some call on social media companies to do more to target and take down hate messages before they lead to violence.

“If Facebook is bent on removing abusive words and nudity, they should be focused on removing these words as well,” said Abhinay Korukonda, a student from Mumbai, India, who is studying at the University of California, Berkeley. “This comes under special kinds of abusive terms. They should take an action. They should definitely remove these.”

Objective standards

Ming Hsu studies decision-making at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He is researching how to come up with objective standards for determining whether certain speech could lead to real-world dangers against people both in the U.S. and across the globe.

“We don’t have actionable standards for policymakers or for companies or even lay people to say, ‘This is crossing the boundaries, this is way past the boundaries and this is sort of OK,’” Hsu said.

Those calls are even harder when looking at speech in other languages and cultures, he added.

“We don’t really have any intuition for who’s right, who is wrong and who is being discriminated against,” Hsu said. “And that gets back to relying on common sense and how fragile that is.”

Tech companies are known for constantly tweaking their products and software. Now it seems they are taking the same approach with speech as they draw the line between free expression and reducing harm.

VOA’s Deana Mitchell contributed to this report.

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Tech Companies Struggle With How to Curtail Offensive Speech

Twitter users are blocking companies like Pepsi, Nike and Uber on Twitter to pressure the social media firm to permanently ban American broadcaster Alex Jones for what they say are his abusive tweets.

Meanwhile, Twitter reportedly is facing a shutdown in Pakistan because of a government request to block what it deems objectionable content.

The moves come as U.S. internet companies take a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world. The companies have a mostly hands-off policy when it comes to curtailing speech, except when it comes to inciting violence and pornography. But that largely permissive approach is getting a new look.

​Twitter and Alex Jones

Twitter recently slapped a seven-day ban on conservative American radio host Jones for violating its policy on abusive speech, when he appeared to call for violence against the media, something he denies.

On his show this week, Jones noted that Twitter had removed his videos.

“They took me down,” he said. “Because they will not let me have a voice.”

Earlier this month, Apple, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube and other social media limited Jones and his InfoWars media company from their sites. But InfoWars’ live-streaming app can still be found at Google and Apple’s app stores. The on-air personality has put forth conspiracy theories calling some U.S. mass shootings hoaxes.

WATCH: Tech Companies Struggle With How to Curtail Offensive Speech

No more hands off

Internet firms are moving away from the long-held position that they didn’t want to monitor expression on their sites too closely, Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University, said.

“The companies are stuck in the middle and no longer trying to avoid responsibility in a way that I think they were even a few years ago when they were saying we are just neutral platforms,” Raicu said. “They are increasingly taking a more open role in determining what content moderation looks like.”

It’s not just in the U.S. where the internet companies are having to make hard decisions about speech. The firms are also grappling with extreme speech in other languages.

Comments on Facebook have been linked to violence in places like Myanmar and India. A recent article by the Reuters news agency reports that negative messages about Myanmar’s Rohingya minority group were throughout its site.

Some call on social media companies to do more to target and take down hate messages before they lead to violence.

“If Facebook is bent on removing abusive words and nudity, they should be focused on removing these words as well,” said Abhinay Korukonda, a student from Mumbai, India, who is studying at the University of California, Berkeley. “This comes under special kinds of abusive terms. They should take an action. They should definitely remove these.”

Objective standards

Ming Hsu studies decision-making at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He is researching how to come up with objective standards for determining whether certain speech could lead to real-world dangers against people both in the U.S. and across the globe.

“We don’t have actionable standards for policymakers or for companies or even lay people to say, ‘This is crossing the boundaries, this is way past the boundaries and this is sort of OK,’” Hsu said.

Those calls are even harder when looking at speech in other languages and cultures, he added.

“We don’t really have any intuition for who’s right, who is wrong and who is being discriminated against,” Hsu said. “And that gets back to relying on common sense and how fragile that is.”

Tech companies are known for constantly tweaking their products and software. Now it seems they are taking the same approach with speech as they draw the line between free expression and reducing harm.

VOA’s Deana Mitchell contributed to this report.

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Report: US Made, Sold Bomb That Killed Yemeni Children 

According to a CNN report, munitions experts say a U.S.-made bomb was used by the Saudi-led coalition in a recent airstrike in Yemen that hit a busload of children in a marketplace, killing 51 people, including 40 children.

CNN said Friday that the experts identified the bomb used in the attack from images taken of a piece of shrapnel shortly after the deadly strike.

According to CNN, the numbers on the shrapnel indicated the explosive was a 227-kilogram, laser-guided MK 82 bomb manufactured by top U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Seventy-nine people were also wounded in the strike, including 56 children.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said earlier this month the airstrike targeted Houthi rebels in the market and conformed with international and humanitarian law.

U.S. President Barack Obama banned the sale of precision-guided weaponry to Saudi Arabia in 2016 after Saudi Arabia used a similar bomb in another deadly attack.

The Trump administration, however, overturned the ban last year.

Liz Throssel, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said after the August 9 airstrike that hit the bus that “any attack which directly targets civilians not directly taking part in hostilities or civilian objects amounts to a war crime.”

She said the perpetrators must be identified, brought to justice and held accountable no matter where, when, or by whom the violations or abuses were committed.

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