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Jameel Jaffer of ACLU named founding director of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute

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Jameel Jaffer

Jameel Jaffer

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger announced last month his appointment of Jameel Jaffer, deputy director at the ACLU, as the founding director of the school’s Knight First Amendment Institute, a new institute created in collaboration with the university and John S. and James L. Knight, which will work to preserve and expand the freedoms of expression and the press in the digital age through litigation, research and public advocacy.

“We’re at a moment in our history when freedom of expression, access to information and high quality journalism have never been more important, yet are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Bollinger. “No one understands that better than Jameel Jaffer. Throughout his accomplished career, Jameel has proven himself to be among the First Amendment’s most effective defenders and we could hardly have a more ideal founding director of the Knight Institute at Columbia.”

Since joining the staff of the ACLU in 2002, Jaffer has served as litigator on some of the most significant post-9/11 cases related to national security and civil liberties. In his role as director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, Jaffer created the organization’s project on speech, privacy, and technology and oversaw a major expansion of the ACLU’s work on issues relating to civil liberties in the digital age. Additionally, he was instrumental in the ACLU’s decision to take on the representation of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

He argued constitutional challenges to gag orders imposed under the Patriot Act, the declassification of sealed judiciary opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and has argued cases at every level of the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He has additionally testified before Congress about a variety of topics relating to national security and civil liberties.

Jaffer is also one of the nation’s leading Freedom of Information Act attorneys, having litigated landmark cases that resulted in the publication of crucial documents about the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism policies.

“The digital age has brought us a wealth of new ways to communicate, but digital technology is also vulnerable to surveillance and control. At the same time, news organizations have fewer resources to fight for access to government records and defend free expression,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation. “Jameel Jaffer’s integrity, intellect and collaborative nature make him the right leader for a new organization. His experience at the intersection of law and technology make him the forward-looking legal strategist the Institute needs to select—and win—precedent-setting battles.”

The Knight First Amendment Institute will seek to address a range of significant and emerging First Amendment issues, all of which Jaffer has the most astute authority on. Some of the matters include electronic surveillance by government; privacy rights on digital platforms; the overall freedom of internet platforms, and the rights and responsibilities of the corporate actors who own those platforms.

“Columbia and Knight Foundation have made an extraordinary commitment to protecting and expanding freedom of expression and of the press in a constantly changing digital environment,” said Jaffer. “I am excited about this opportunity to build an organization dedicated to a mission that’s so essential in a free society.”

A graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as editor of the school’s law review journal, he clerked under Hon. Amalya L. Kearse on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and then to Rt. Hon. Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada. His writing has been published in The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesThe Guardian, and other publications. His new book, The Drone Memos, will be published by The New Press in November.

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Ex-Minneapolis cop charged with George Floyd’s murder

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Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (Diya TV) — One of the Minneapolis police officers fired for their role in the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd died after he was pinned to the ground by those officers, with Chauvin keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The other officers are under investigation, but no charges were announced. The arrest comes after a night of tumult in Minneapolis, where a police station and new housing project were burned down and stores were looted.

Protests that were largely limited to Minneapolis this week have now spread around the nation. From New York to Atlanta, Washington to San Jose, thousands of people outraged over Floyd’s death have taken to the streets. While gatherings started as peace expressions of grief, many of them have turned violent.

President Trump announced there will be a federal investigation over Floyd’s death. But he’s also caused controversy with a tweet quoting George Wallace that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” in reaction to the fires set in Minneapolis.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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In Oval Office, Trump offers personal mediation to India-China

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Trump

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) —  President Trump, when asked in the Oval Office to comment on the growing India-China border dispute, said he would be happy to mediate any issues between the two nations. Trump added he spoke to Prime Minister Modi and claims Modi “is not in a good mood about what’s going on with China.”

The U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum normally holds events at high-end hotels. But this time out, their West Coast Summit brought dignitaries together virtually, featuring speakers like Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and FedEx President Raj Subramaniam to discuss the growing U.S.-India relationship.

The Indian government is allowing Indian Americans with Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards to return. They had restricted such travel as part of India’s strict lockdown two months ago.

And bad weather delayed a landmark U.S. trip into space by NASA and SpaceX. It was to be the first space mission with astronauts aboard powered by a private company. Instead, they will aim to lift off once again on Saturday.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Somber milestone: 100,000 Americans lost to COVID-19

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COVID-19

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Three months into the pandemic, America hit a grim milestone — 100,000 dead in the U.S. at the hands of COVID-19. Cases continue to rise in 14 states, including California. 1.7 million Americans are now afflicted with COVID-19.

In a tweet, President Trump chimed into the growing India-China border dispute, offering to have American officials meditate to keep the peace. China already has ongoing rifts with Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet — regions with underlying calls for independence. And there are many asking for American intervention in those matters. We’ll analyze all of these movements.

Peaceful protests have turned into riots in Minneapolis after the senseless killing of George Floyd by police. The four officers involved have been fired. And now Minneapolis’ mayor wants criminal charges for 44 year old Derek Chauvin, the now fired officer who suffocated Floyd to death while onlookers screamed for him to stop.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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