Listen to Khadija Ismayilova tell her story in her own words here on SoundCloud: Khadija is banned from leaving Azerbaijan but was able to convery her experiences over Skype.

Government-Created Revenge Porn:

Journalist Blackmailed and Jailed for investigating corruption

April 2017


Khadija Ismayilova was punished in a uniquely cruel and humiliating way after she investigated corruption at the highest levels of government in Azerbaijan. As a journalist, she suspected she was being watched, but she didn’t expect to be secretly filmed in her bedroom and blackmailed with the tapes.

You might call it “government revenge porn.”

Khadija specializes in reporting corruption and pioneered investigative journalism in Azerbaijan with her investigations into the personal wealth of the ruling Aliyev family, and the corrupt means by which they accumulated it. Her desire to follow this pursuit deepened in 2005.  That’s when another journalist, Elmar Huseynov, was murdered on the front steps of his apartment block. He was shot in the mouth five times. He too had been investigating corruption in the ruling family of Azerbaijan – the Aliyevs.

As Khadija says, the message was clear. ’The very fact that Elmar Huseynov was shot in his mouth was saying that it was to silence him. That was quite descriptive. And there was a silence: nobody was writing about the [Aliyev] family for many years. Elmar Huseynov was the bravest.”

Khadija says that when she saw photos of Huseynov’s son kissing his dead father, she decided not to have a family of her own, or get married–she didn’t want others to suffer because of her work. Rather than deterring Khadija, the murder of her peer spurred her to follow (more…)

Stacia Kalinoski watches a medical study video of herself, in the midst of a seizure. This was the first time Stacia had ever witnessed how her body acts out during a seizure; she has no actual recollections of the seizures.

Stacia Kalinoski has turned the painful yet uplifting story of her epileptic seizures into a powerful documentary, Brainstorm, airing next on PBS station TPT (KTCA) in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area on Friday, April 21 at 9 pm. For more information about Brainstorm, go to

Struggling with Seizures:

A Former TV Reporter’s Battle to Beat Epilepsy

April 2017


I thought I was perfectly fine. A college student, an athlete, and studying journalism in preparation for a career in television news. Life was good.

But then, in the fall of 2005, as I was about to embark on my junior cross country running season at the University of Minnesota, it happened: my very first seizure.

I don’t remember anything about it, except that I was in my apartment. My roommate witnessed it and called 911. I vaguely remember getting out of the ambulance, and going into the emergency room.

Doctors checked me out, did a few tests, and released me.

I learned that anyone can have a seizure, at any age. Our brains are constantly sending messages to other parts of the body through the nervous system, a network of billions of neurons. They travel via an electrical current. Any number of things can disturb the brain, and suddenly neurons will start misfiring and create a seizure. (more…)