Jorge Ramos delivered an emotional and powerful speech Tuesday night at the 2014 Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Awards.
Ramos was the recipient of the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award, given for “lifetime achievement in defending press freedom.”
Ramos, the Univision News and Fusion anchor and best-selling author, who has become one of the most respected and outspoken journalists in the United States, spoke about the importance of challenging forces of power, asking the tough questions and pushing back against press censorship worldwide.
“The best of journalism happens when we take a stand: when we question those who are in power, when we confront the politicians who abuse their authority, when we denounce an injustice,” Ramos said before a packed ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. “The best of journalism happens when we side with the victims, with the most vulnerable, with those who have no rights. The best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power.”
“When we deal with the powerful, we have to take a stand,” he went on. “I’m a reporter, I don’t want to be your friend. And trust me, you don’t want to be my friend.”
Ramos has used his passion for journalism to take a public stance on controversial issues like immigration, press freedom and abuse of political power. He spoke in detail about his own journey as an immigrant to the U.S., where he finally found his voice.
“Let me tell what it means for me to be a journalist and to be an immigrant,” he said. “This defines me. I came to the U.S. after they tried to censor me in Mexico. So this country gave me the opportunities that my country of origin couldn’t give me. And, of course, when it comes to immigration, I take a stand.”
Still, there is so much more that must be done to achieve justice for journalists around the world and we cannot stay silent, Ramos said. Silence, he reiterated firmly, is the enemy of journalism.
“Sadly, we stayed silent before the war in Iraq and thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraq civilians died unnecessarily,” he continued. “We have to learn from that. Silence is the worst sin in journalism. But the best is when journalism becomes a way of doing justice and speaking truth to power.”
Ramos pointed to a quote by the great Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel to bring his point home: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”
In closing, Ramos dedicated his award to all the journalists who have died in Syria and Mexico, including two U.S. journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, earlier this year.
“You were our eyes. Now you are part of our soul,” Ramos concluded.
The new House report is tearing apart dozens of GOP claims about the 2012 attack. From Darrell Issa’s ‘stand down order’ to Lindsey Graham’s Hillary slam, see who was discredited.
Here are five claims by current and former members of Congress about Benghazi that the report at least partially rebuts:
1. The safety of American personnel at the American consulate in Libya was undermined by a “stand down order.”
The report makes clear that despite what outgoing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has insisted, there was no stand down order: “No CIA officer was told to stand down.” Instead, “there were mere tactical disagreements about the speed with which the team should depart prior to securing additional security assets,” and officers on the ground acted in “a timely and appropriate manner,” it concludes.
2. The Obama administration ignored calls for help and committed“fatal errors and possible crimes” in its response.
Rebutting repeated claims by fringe Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), the report finds that those on the ground in Benghazi “received all military support available…there was neither a stand down order nor a denial of air support, and no American was left behind.” Further, while the report raises concerns about the process behind writing the talking points then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice used to discuss the attack on television, the report concludes: “U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions.”
3. CIA agents present were polygraphed repeatedly in an effort to determine if any of them were leaking to the media.
While Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has comparedthe Obama administration’s “coverup” of Benghazi to Watergate, the committee “found no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress or polygraphed because of their presence at Benghazi.” Needless to say, the report also concludes that unlike Watergate, the “Executive Branch agencies fully cooperated with the Committee’s investigation.”
4. Hillary Clinton “got away with murder” with Benghazi.
Sorry, Lindsey Graham: “There was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks,” the report says, there was “no specific tactical warning” of any threat to the consulate in Benghazi. Despite the South Carolina senator’s claims, the committee found that while there was sufficient intelligence to discern that the security situation in Libya was deteriorating, no intelligence indicated “planning or intentions for attacks on the Benghazi facility on or about September 11, 2012.”
5. Americans begged for help at Benghazi and none ever came. The only rescuers were Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods, two former Navy SEALs.
Rep.Michele Bachmann, (R-MN) said Doherty and Woods “defied orders and chose to go to the aid of their brothers” when no other help was forthcoming. The report makes clear that Doherty responded to the attack as a part of a team under orders from the CIA station chief in Tripoli and that others came immediately to the aid of the Americans in Benghazi. Resources were promptly diverted to rescue those under attack, the committee found. Bachmann’s other claim—that the Benghazi attack might be the judgment of God—was not addressed by the report.
Since Ferguson, police have killed more than a dozen teenagers, half of them black. Some did nothing more than carry a BB gun.
Tamir Rice wasn’t yet a teenager when he was killed on November 22 in a Cleveland, Ohio park. The 12-year-old boy was shot by a police officer after brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun. A call made to police beforehand described Rice as “a guy with a pistol” on a swing set, but said it was “probably fake.” When officers arrived at the scene, they say Rice reached for his toy, though did not point it at them, prompting a first-year policeman to fire two shots at the Rice from a short distance.
On Monday night, as the Brown indictment verdict was announced, a local councilor summed these up without getting tangling in blame and legalities:
“Perhaps, after our analysis, we learn that the police officer really did fear for his life and did everything right under the circumstances,” City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson said at a meeting. “But there is something fundamentally broken in our system when a young man can have a legal BB gun, and by the end of that day be killed by a Cleveland police officer.”
On the evening of September 21, police were called to check on reports of trespassers with weapons going into an abandoned home in Terrebonne, Louisiana. Cameron Tillman, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead on the scene by a sheriff’s deputy. His brother, who was there, said he was shot opening the door and was unarmed, but the police said he was armed and that a gun was recovered near his body. It was later reported that the weapon was a BB gun that appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol. The The cop was not named, but was identified as an African-American veteran of the division with no prior infractions.
VonDerrit Myers Jr.
VonDerrit Myers Jr. was shot in the head in early October not far from where Michael Brown died two months earlier. The 18-year-old was shot six or seven times in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis after an off-duty police officer fired at him 17 times. Police say Myers charged at the policeman, they wrestled, and then he shot at least three bullets before his gun jammed. Myers had been out on bail in a gun case, but his family claimed he was unarmed and holding only a sandwich in his hand. That night, a crowd of 300 gathered at the scene, and violence broke out: gunshots echoed and police vehicles were damaged. The officer who shot Myers was identified as Jason Flanery, a 32-year-old white patrolman.
After a tire-puncturing spree in late October, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald wasshot dead by a police officer in Chicago. Officers reported to a call about someone breaking into cars in the Archer Heights neighborhood. The teen refused to drop his knife, according to officers, fixed them with “a 100-yard stare,” and walked toward them. That’s when a cop fired at McDonald, killing him.
Few details have been revealed about the shooting of an 18-year-old girl in Long Beach, California last week. Officers were responding to a report of a missing juvenile girl, and found her in the house of Carey Smith-Viramontes. According to police, Smith-Viramontes was armed with a knife and was shot dead by an officer on the scene.
An 18-year-old was killed by police officers after opening fire on a cop with two guns in Kansas City in late October. Jeffrey Holden had reportedly been shooting at houses and passersby before the authorities arrived at the scene. he was listed as a missing person and had two outstanding warrants.
Two armed robbers were killed after holding up a Dollar General Store in Columbus, Ohio in October. Eighteen-year-old Qusean Whitten had jumped from the car he was using to flee the scene and started running when police opened fire.
In early October, 19-year-old Miguel Benton managed to steal an officer’s gun and shoot him twice. Two cops were transporting Benton and another inmate to jail on drug and robbery charges in Georgia when the incident occurred. Another officer shot and killed Benton.
Eighteen-year-old Dillon McGee of Jackson, Tennessee, died after being shot by police officers who claim he was attempting to run them over in a car. On September 26, officers were targeted after approaching a car, driven by McGee, and fired at the driver. McGee was the father of a one-month-old son.
A man welding a baseball bat and a kitchen knife lunged at police officers in his home in Georgia, and was fatally shot in late September. According to the sheriff, 18-year-old Levi Weaver begged the officer to shoot him, and then leapt at him. The officer shot Weaver twice.
A 19-year-old woman was killed in September after an undercover police watched a drug deal go down in Oklahoma City. One of the suspects got in a car driven by Karen Cifuentes and took off, apparently hitting one of the officers who fired then opened fire and killed her.
In August, an 18-year-old was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer after a car crash in a parking lot near a Walmart store. According to police, Sergio Ramos had just robbed a killed an associate when he was confronted by an off-duty cop, reached for the gun in his shorts, and was shot multiple times.
Some 500 anti-police protesters took to Chicago’s streets after a 19-year-old man’s death at the hands of police. On August 24, Roshad McIntosh was being questioned by cops when he began running. Police say he pulled a gun on them, but his family claimed that McIntosh was kneeling on the ground with his hands in the air. Nearly a month later, his mother brought another protest to city hall, demanding answers in her son’s killing.
A mentally ill woman brandishing a power drill was shot dead by an officer after she called 911 and told San Jose dispatchers she had an Uzi. Diana Showman, 19, had come out of her house, ignored demands to put down the weapon, and was shot once. Showman’s parents criticized the officer’s response, saying that the police needed to be better equip to handle mental health issues.
Ferguson protests spread across America, Hong Kong police arrest pro-democracy leaders, and more
1. Ferguson protests spread across the U.S.
Mostly peaceful protests spread from Ferguson, Missouri, across the country on Tuesday following the announcement that a grand jury had decided not to charge Darren Wilson, a white police officer, with the August killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Americans, calling the case a symbol of racial injustice, held at least 170 separate demonstrations, blocking bridges and highways. Protesters filled New York City’s Times Square, holding their hands up and chanting, “Don’t shoot.” [CNN]
2. Hong Kong protest leaders arrested
Hong Kong police cleared barricades from the main pro-democracy protest camp and arrested key student leaders on Wednesday. It was the second day of a crackdown on the demonstrators’ three protest zones that has threatened the future of the two-month-old movement. Among the dozens arrested on Wednesday were protest leaders Joshua Wong, 18, head of the Scholarism group, and Lester Shum of the Hong Kong Federation of Students. “After the clearance operation we don’t have a leader,” said protester Ken Lee, 19. [The Associated Press]
3. Judges rule Arkansas and Mississippi gay marriage bans unconstitutional
Federal judges on Tuesday struck down gay marriage bans in Mississippi and Arkansas. Judges Kristine Baker in Little Rock, and Carlton Reeves in Jackson, Mississippi, ruled that the bans — both approved a decade ago — violated same-sex couples’ right to the equal protection under the law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The decisions, coming in two conservative Southern states, marked the latest in a series of court victories for gay-marriage advocates, but both judges put their rulings on hold pending expected appeals. [Reuters]
4. Winter storm hits the East Coast as Thanksgiving travel rush begins
A powerful winter storm began dumping rain from northern Florida to Maryland early Wednesday, and was forecast to disrupt Thanksgiving travel as it pushed up the East Coast. The nor’easter could bring up to a foot of snow to some parts of the Northeast, with the heaviest snowfall expected from the Poconos to Maine. Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth said the storm would be “nothing too much out of the ordinary” normally, but it could create chaos at airports and on highways since it’s hitting on one of the busiest travel days of the year. [NBC News]
5. New EPA rules aim to reduce ozone pollution
The Obama administration is expected to release controversial regulations on ozone emissions on Wednesday. The sweeping new Environmental Protection Agency rules would lower the allowable threshold for the pollutant, which causes smog and has been linked to asthma, heart disease, and premature death, coming from power plants and factories. Environmentalists and public health advocates applauded the move. Republicans and industry officials said the rules would hurt the economy without benefiting public health. [The New York Times]
6. German politicians set a quota to get more women on corporate boards
Germany’s three-party ruling coalition agreed late Tuesday to require that 30 percent of all positions on corporate boards go to women. The quota will take effect in 2016, and it will apply to at least 108 listed German companies. The accord was initially negotiated last year but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats balked at formally establishing legal quotas. Women currently hold seven percent of board seats at the 30 biggest companies in Germany’s DAX blue-chip index. [Deutsche Welle]
7. Female suicide bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria
Two teenage girls wearing belts laden with explosives blew themselves up in a Nigerian market on Tuesday, killing more than 40 others. The suicide bombings were the latest deadly attacks on civilians in a region in northern Nigeria that has been terrorized by Islamist militants. A day earlier, insurgents disguised as traders indiscriminately gunned down people at another market, and a day before that, another group of militants killed 48 fish traders near Lake Chad. [Los Angeles Times]
8. Health workers killed by gunmen in Pakistan
Three Pakistani women polio workers and their driver were shot and killed on Wednesday. Teams vaccinating children have been targeted frequently by Taliban militants who sometimes claim the health workers are Western spies. This was the deadliest such attack in two years. The victims were shot by two men on a motorcycle as they were on their way to meet a police escort. Polio cases have spiked to a 15-year high of 265 in Pakistan as unvaccinated children fleeing fighting near the Afghan border spread out across the country. [Reuters]
9. Cosby biographer apologizes for excluding rape allegations
Author Mark Whitaker apologized this week for not addressing sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby in his recently published biography of the comedian, Cosby: His Life and Times. New York Times media critic David Carr wrote a column this week scolding journalists, including himself, for not being more aggressive in looking into the allegations — which Cosby’s lawyer has refuted. After the column came out, Whitaker, a former journalist, tweeted that he should have dealt with the rape allegations: “If true the stories are shocking and horrible.” [The Washington Post, The New York Times]
10. Astronauts test 3D printer in space
NASA’s 3D printer on the International Space Station this week successfully produced the first object ever printed in orbit — a faceplate for the printer itself with the logos of NASA and Made in Space, the company that made the printer. Next astronauts will print parts and tools that will be tested back on Earth to see how they stack up against objects made by an identical printer on the ground. The idea is to manufacture parts and tools in space to save time and make the space station more self-sufficient. [CNET]
Here’s why Michael Brown was killed, according to Darren Wilson. (NY Magazine)
What’s next? Ferguson officer not out of the woods yet. (NBC News)
Missouri Governor orders additional guardsmen to Ferguson. (KSDK)
Congressional Black Caucus slams grand jury decision on Ferguson. (BuzzFeed)
Thousands rally across the U.S. after Ferguson decision. (AP)
Inside Sec. Hagel’s sudden firing. (Daily Beast)
Rep. Trey Gowdy reappointed to lead House Benghazi inquiry. (NY Times)
What are you reading this morning? Let us know in the comments, please.