May 2015 | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

May 2015

Sidney’s Picks: How Nebraska Abolished its Death Penalty

Photo credit: 

The Nebraska Legislative Chamber, by Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Creative Commons.

The best of the week’s news

Deportation Relief Stalled as Court Declines to Lift Injunction

Photo credit: 

takomabibelot, Creative Commons.

Millions of people will now have to wait longer for deportation relief. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court refused to lift an injunction blocking the Obama administration’s immigration reforms.

Twenty-six states are suing to stop the president from putting his proposed reforms into action. They say he is overstepping the powers of his office by changing immigration policy without the approval of Congress. The administration says that the president doesn’t need a vote from Congress because he’s simply exercising his discretion over how to enforce existing immigration laws. 

The injunction was originally granted by Judge Andrew Hanen, a Brownsville jurist who makes a cameo appearance in Sarah Stillman’s Sidney Award-winning story, “Kidnapped at the Border.” In 2013, Hanen notoriously urged the Department of Homeland Security to deport undocumented parents living in the United States for trying smuggle their children into the country.


#Sidney's Picks: LA's Fight For Fifteen Poised to Win Big

Photo credit: 

Mayor of Los Angeles, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

  • The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 for preliminary measure that would raise the city minimum wage to $15/hr by 2020.
  • The New York Times Editorial Board supports Los Angeles’s proposed $15/hr minimum wage.
  • This op/ed by Tahmima Anam addresses sexism, religion, language, and nationalism in 750 words about public urination. It’s masterful. 

Los Angeles Poised to Raise Minimum Wage to $15/hr by 2020

Photo credit: 

Monkeytime, Creative Commons.

Great news out of Los Angeles in the Fight for Fifteen:

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to increase the minimum wage in the nation’s second-largest city to $15 an hour by 2020 from the current $9, in a victory for labor and community groups that have pushed for similar pay hikes in several U.S. municipalities.

The council’s 14-1 vote on the measure, which must come back before the panel for final approval, would require businesses with more than 25 employees to meet the $15 pay level by 2020, while smaller businesses would have an extra year to comply. [LAT]

If the measure becomes law, larger firms would have to start paying $10.25/hr by 2016, and the minimum wage would rise in increments from there.

Massive International Diploma Scam Exposed

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Ser g/o, Creative Commons.

As this year’s graduates are celebrating their hard-earned degrees, the New York Times has exposed a massive faux diploma scam shipping pseudo-sheepskins to slackers worldwide. 

“Newford University” presents itself to the internet as an institution of higher learning, but closer examination reveals it to be an educational Potemkin Village, a front for academic fraud:

Yet on closer examination, this picture shimmers like a mirage. The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation. [NYT]

A Pakistani software firm called Axact is raking in tens of millions of dollars for bogus degrees. For a price, the customer can even get a degree “authenticated” by a fake U.S. official, even an ersatz Secretary of State. 

Sidney’s Picks: Triumphant Farmworkers, Freeloading Billionaires, and False Memories

Photo credit: 

Wonderlane, Creative Commons

The Best of the Week’s News

  • When pioneering feminist psychologist Sandy Bem developed Alzheimer’s Disease, she decided to end her life on her own terms.
  • When Matthew Teague’s wife was dying of cancer, his best friend moved in to help out, and became part of the family.

Sidney’s Picks: Watch the 2015 Hillman Prize Speeches

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Watch Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative deliver his unforgettable acceptance speech for the inaugural George “Citizen” Barrett Award for Public Interest Law.
  • Watch Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker accept his Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism.
  • All the speeches from Tuesday’s Hillman Prize ceremony will be available soon on this site. You can also subscribe to Hillman’s YouTube Channel to keep up with all our video programming. 

Scenes from the 2015 Hillman Prizes

Photo credit: 

Photo by Clark Jones. 

The 65th-Annual Hillman Prizes were a night to remember. In this image Bryan Stevenson, Founder of the Equal Justice Institute, gives an unforgettable acceptance speech for the inaugural George Barrett Award for Public Interest Law.  

Check out the beautiful photographs of our winners, judges, officials, and guests, celebrating excellence in socially conscious journalism at the Times Center on Tuesday night. We are still adding images to the archive. Check back later to see even more. 

Many thanks to our photographers, Clark Jones and Dave Sanders.

Help us make our album as complete as possible, please tag yourself and your friends in these images. 

Remembering Citizen Barrett

Photo credit: 

Vanderbilt Magazine.

On Tuesday night, the Sidney Hillman Foundation will present the first annual George “Citizen” Barrett Award for Public Service Law to Bryan Stevenson for his tireless efforts to secure justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. 

The award is named after George Barrett, a crusading Nashville civil rights attorney, who died last year at the age of 86. As we prepare to honor his legacy, let’s look back an an obituary written by Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. She describes Barrett’s contributions to civil rights law, his dogged committment to the First Amendment, and his infectious joy in public service. 


Sidney's Picks: Six Baltimore Cops Charged in Freddie Gray's Death

Photo credit: 

Good Morning Baltimore,” by Colin Gallagher, 2012. 

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Six Baltimore cops charged in death of Freddie Gray.
  • Hillman Judge Ta-Nehisi Coates: The violence in Baltimore didn’t start with the riots.