February 2014 | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

February 2014

Sidney's Picks: Filthy Water Towers, an Historic UAW Vote, and More

The Best of the Week’s News

  • If they look like decrepit relics from the 19th Century, that’s because they are! New York City’s rustic-looking rooftop water towers are unregulated vats of filth.
  • In a historic vote, Volkswagen workers in Tennessee will decide next week whether to join the United Auto Workers.
  • 1 million Texans have fallen into the Medicare coverage gap because their state refused to expand the program under Obamacare.
  • The Koch Brothers left a confidential document at their last donor confab, now Mother Jones has it.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

"The Iron Closet": Gay In Russia on the Eve of Sochi

What is it like to be gay in Russia today? Jeff Sharlet reports on LGB life in Russia on the eve of the Sochi Olympics for GQ


[Image credit: ME!O, Creative Commons.]

Juveniles Serving Life Without Parole

Social justice journalist Beth Schwartzapfel has an important piece on juveniles sentence to life without parole (LWOP) and the legal fight to eliminate LWOP for young offenders:

A common perception is that these kids are “the worst of the worst,” and indeed, many juveniles sentenced to life have done terrible things. But HRW estimates that a quarter of them were, like Jennifer, convicted of “aiding and abetting” or of felony murders. Almost 60 percent had no prior criminal convictions. More than 70 juveniles were just 13 or 14 years old at the time of their crime — some so small when they arrived in prison that all the uniforms were too big for them. Anecdotally, many, like Jennifer, had been subjected to abuse and neglect, their childhoods marred by instability, poverty and violent or criminal behavior by the adults in their life. [AJAM]

The Supreme Court has already declared mandatory LWOP for juveniles to be unconstitutional and a handful of states have eliminated it as a punishment for young offenders. 

[Photo credit: shingst, Creative Commons.]