May 2014 | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

May 2014

#Sidney's Picks: Immigration Detention Supplies Cheap Labor to For More Immigration Detention

The Best of the Week’s News

  • A historian of abortion recalls Dr. George Tiller on the fifth anniversary of his assassination.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Cambodia's Brothel-to-Sweatshop Pipeline

Investigative reporter Anne Elizabeth Moore explains that NGOs that puport to “rescue” women from prostitution in Cambodia actually channel them into garment industry sweatshops, under the smiling approval factory owners and international observers: 

Listen: I spent seven years researching and doing work in Cambodia, made concerted efforts to learn the language, developed a strong stomach and reliable sources, and honed my skills in investigative reporting before I could even understand what, really, anti-human trafficking NGOs do. What they do is normalize existent labor opportunities for women, however low the pay, dangerous the conditions, or abusive an environment they may be. And they shame women who reject such jobs. [Salon]

It’s debateable whether these new jobs constitute rescue at all, and the tactics that some NGOs use to move workers from one sector to another can be coercive. 


[Photo credit: Garment workers in Cambodia on their way to work. World Bank, Creative Commons.]

Sultan's Repressive Social Policies at Home Spark Hotel Boycott Abroad

The Sultan of Brunei is phasing in Shariah Law in his Southeast Asian kingdom, prompting boycotts of his U.S. hotels by American consumers hoping to change his mind. 

Young Woman Unfairly Blamed for Crash Caused by GM Ignition Defect

For nearly a decade, Candice Anderson assumed she was to blame for the 2004 crash that killed her boyfriend. She was driving when the accident occurred and, because she had a trace of Xanax in her bloodstream, she even faced a manslaughter charge in connection with the accident.

Last week, Ms. Anderson learned that the crash had nothing to do with her driving. She lost control of her car because the vehicle had a defective ignition, a defect that the manufacturer, General Motors, did not disclose. Ms. Anderson’s boyfriend was one of 13 people who were killed because of this defect, the New York Times reports.


[Image Credit: Vintage GM ad, Alden Jewell, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Inequality, Religion, and Beer

The Best of the Week’s News:

  • A powerful essay by David Cay Johnston on the need to make the minimum wage a living wage.
  • A year for a beer? That’s what can happen if you’re too poor to pay your court fees.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case for Reparations

Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for reparations in a cover story at the Atlantic. The piece begins: “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

It’s an important conversation and one that’s long overdue. We at Hillman are biased, but we can’t think of a better person to put forward the moral and historical case for reparations than Mr. Coates. 

The $10 Trillion "Ask": Chris Hayes Wins May Sidney Award for "The New Abolitionism"

We at the Hillman Foundation are very proud to announce that Chris Hayes has won the May Sidney Award for “The New Abolitionism,” a provocative feature in The Nation in which he argues that fossil fuel companies must forfeit $10 trillion in unburned oil and gas reserves in order to avert civilization-destroying climate change, a demand he says is no less urgent, and no less radical than the abolitionist ultimatum that slaveholders give up the vast wealth they held in human bondage.

Read Lindsay Beyerstein’s Backstory interview with Hayes to learn more about the stakes of this debate and the innovative tactics that could bring the likes of Exxon Mobil to heel. 

Striking Workers Mistreated at NYU's Abu Dhabi Site

When NYU announced a plan to build a campus in Abu Dhabi, a city in the UAE with notoriously lax labor laws, the university pledged to respect the rights of workers. But former workers on the site said their jobs broke virtually every promise NYU made about wages, hours, working conditions, and living standards.

Amongst other complaints, former workers on the site of NYU’s future Abu Dhabi campus say they were beaten by police and deported for striking and that they were forced to live in squalor, work involuntary overtime, and pay huge recruiting fees to get their jobs. 


[Photo credit: Yuwen Memon, Creative Commons.]


#Sidney's Picks: Ukrainian Steelworkers Oust Separatists from their City

The Best of the Week’s News:

  • A kickstarter campaign is underway to fund “Can’t Take It No More!,” a documentary about workers resisting WalMart.
  • Super-size it: The battle for fast food fairness goes global, sparking demonstrations as far away as Brazil and Japan.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Fast Food Protests Go Global

  • The fight for a $15/hr living wage for the fast food industry has gone global. On Thursday, fast food activists are holding protests in 80 cities across 30 countries, plus 150 strikes in the United States. 


[Photo credit: Light Brigading, Creative Commons.]