I’m a Foreign Journalist and I Was Stopped From Covering Standing Rock

Ed Ou, a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, is currently working as a producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covering indigenous communities in North America and is a TED Senior Fellow

[I didn’t even begin to worry until later, when I was told to hand over my phones. The officer said: “Now we just need to look into your cell phone to be sure there’s no photos of you posing next to some dead body somewhere.”

I told the officer that as a journalist, I have a responsibility to not share information that could compromise my sources. This is the same ethical obligation that doctors have to their patients and lawyers have to their clients. The officer demanded my passwords and threatened that if I didn’t provide them, I could be refused entry into the country.


Journalist Ed Ou

The American government says it can use the fact that you are at a border to take everything about your life, comb through it and store it forever. Police officers need a search warrant. Border officers have more latitude. That latitude has limits, but the officers seemed oblivious to those limits. One of them bragged, “Everything you bring through here is mine to go through and take.”

It felt like deja vu. I’ve heard that line before. It was in Crimea after Russian special forces invaded a Ukrainian military base where I was filming. They rounded up all the journalists and seized our memory cards—“for security.” We protested. They told us the same thing. “You’re in our country now, we can do whatever we want.”

I ultimately refused to turn over my passwords. They confiscated my phones anyway, read pages of my journals and photocopied my notes. I felt like I had betrayed my own consciousness. They asked which “extremists” I have been in contact with and how many people I have seen die. Later, I could see that the phones had been tampered with.

After six hours, I was told I was being denied entry. When I asked why, I was told the reasons were “classified.” I wondered if the real reasons had anything to do with the fact that I was going to cover Standing Rock.

On my way out of the interrogation room, the supervisor had one more thing to add. “You’re probably going to write about this. Well, we’re not scared of you. You can say what you want. It won’t change anything.”

We’ll see.

Editor’s Note: The following is a comment from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act, Customs and Border Protection does not discuss individual travelers; however, all international travelers arriving to the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection.

This inspection may include electronic devices such as computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players and any other electronic or digital device.

Keeping America safe and enforcing our nation’s laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the U.S. In Fiscal Year 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection processed more than 383 million U.S. arrivals and conducted 4,764 inspections of electronic media, including 4,444 cell phone inspections. This equates to .0012 percent of travelers undergoing an inspection of electronic media. Fiscal Year 2016 numbers are not available just yet.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection realizes the importance of international travel to the U.S. economy and we strive to process arriving travelers as efficiently and securely as possible while ensuring compliance with laws and regulations governing the international arrival process.]

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I’m a Journalist and I Was Stopped From Covering Standing Rock


“Neutrality” as Collaboration | For Journalists (and not only) Covering Trump, a Murrow Moment

[AS EDWARD R. MURROW wrapped up his now-famous special report condemning Joseph McCarthy in 1954, he looked into the camera and said words that could apply today. “He didn’t create this situation of fear—he merely exploited it, and rather successfully,” Murrow said of McCarthy. Most of Murrow’s argument relied on McCarthy’s own words, but in the end Murrow shed his journalistic detachment to offer a prescription: “This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent—or for those who approve,” he said. “We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”

We’ve reached a turning point, and the two criteria for journalists to abandon their objectivity have come to pass: Trump is widely criticized, even by his own party, giving journalists a lot of company in their criticism of him. When Trump suggested that Judge Curiel was incapable of trying a case because of his parents’ birthplace, even House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, called the comments “racist.”

And Trump’s views appear increasingly deviant. No respected journalist would seek a balancing quote from someone who held such a view about a judge or who suggested, as Trump did last month after the Orlando shootings, that a sitting president was in cahoots with a mass murderer.

Murrow felt compelled to end his broadcast by warning his audienceabout the dangers of staying neutral, as journalists too often do, when the stakes are high: “Cassius was right,” said Murrow. “‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’” If a politician’s rhetoric is dangerous, Murrow implied, all of us, including journalists, are complicit if we don’t stand up and oppose it.]

Read the full article | Columbia Journalism Review

Gunduz Agayev is Back

Artist and activist Gunduz Agayev has, once again, released a series of powerful and thought-provoking images to inspire the masses to think for itself.


Agayev shared on Facebook: 

In the past men created a God of war and blamed mythic Gods for the wars. However, throughout the history only men were responsible for all the bloodshed. Alas, many of us still do not understand this and want to evade the responsibility.

War is a death, a suicide. Nations massacre one another and the whole mankind. Nevertheless, men are able to inhibit this plague. Fortunately, men also invented peace. It is a way of struggle against war. It must be every man’s duty before humanity to continue this struggle.

Imagine: If Children Had The Childhood They Deserved




It’s Been One Year since James Foley’s Execution by ISIL | May We Always Remember the Things that Matter


Foley’s execution at the hands of the Islamic State was made public on Aug. 19, 2014. His death followed nearly two years of captivity in Syria, during which time the Foley family and GlobalPost worked tirelessly for his release. He was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day, 2012.

Foley’s conflict reporting — from Afghanistan to Libya to Syria — exemplifies the intrepid and selfless work of someone willing to risk his life so the world could understand the horrors of modern war.

This short video is a sample of his finest work for GlobalPost.

In Case You Were Wondering about Julian Assange

[The persecution of Julian Assange is about to flare again as it enters a dangerous stage. From August 20, three quarters of the Swedish prosecutor’s case against Assange regarding sexual misconduct in 2010 will disappear as the statute of limitations expires. At the same time Washington’s obsession with Assange and WikiLeaks has intensified. Indeed, it is vindictive American power that offers the greatest threat – as Chelsea Manning and those still held in Guantanamo can attest.

The Americans are pursuing Assange because WikiLeaks exposed their epic crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of tens of thousands of civilians, which they covered up, and their contempt for sovereignty and international law, as demonstrated vividly in their leaked diplomatic cables. WikiLeaks continues to expose criminal activity by the US, having just published top secret US intercepts – US spies’ reports detailing private phone calls of the presidents of France and Germany, and other senior officials, relating to internal European political and economic affairs.

None of this is illegal under the US Constitution.]

Read the full article | COUNTERPUNCH


The Huffington Post

Mark Twain Stories Uncovered by Berkeley Scholars

[Scholars at the University of California, Berkeley have uncovered and authenticated a cache of stories written by Mark Twain when he was a 29-year-old newspaperman in San Francisco. Many of the stories are 150 years old.

Twain wrote some of the letters and stories at the San Francisco Chronicle when it was called the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle, where his job included writing a 2,000-word dispatch every day and sending it off by stagecoach for publication in the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada.

His topics range from San Francisco police – who at one point attempted, unsuccessfully, to sue Twain for comparing their chief to a dog chasing its tail to impress its mistress – to mining accidents.]

Read the full story | THE GUARDIAN


Ansel Adams as a Defender of Constitutional Rights

An issue photographers face when shooting on federal lands, including national parks and monuments, is that they must pay a fee, otherwise the commercial use of these photographs is not legal. There are other implications outside the realm of photography purely in itself, as –this is only one example– journalists consistently have been scrutinized for documenting police officers in action. With the introduction of the Ansel Adams Act in Congress on 1 January 2015, First Amendment rights are being addressed. Esquire has a detailed article on this subject.

Representative Steve Stockman [R-TX-36] referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the Committees on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and the Judiciary.