by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Clear It With Sidney
The Coleman family of Maryville, MO has endured a horrific backlash since they sought justice for their daughter, who was allegedly raped by a star high school football player and left semi-conscious outdoors in sub-freezing weather last year. Since the Coleman's story has made national headlines, now is a good time to revisit Dave Zirin's classic post about how coaches can challenge rape culture in sports by demanding that young players respect women.
[Photo credit: National Archives, no copyright.]
When 14-year-old Daisy Coleman was found sprawled semi-conscious on her porch in sub-zero weather early one Sunday morning, showing signs of sexual assault, her family fought for justice against the high school football player who allegedly raped their daughter. The charges against alleged rapist and football star Matthew Barnett were dropped and the community backlash against the Colemans cost them everything.
[Photo credit: jamestruepeny, Creative Commons.]
The Best of the Week's News
- Two New York rabbis stand accused of kidnapping and torturing recalcitrant husbands to force them to grant their wives religious divorces.
- Pharmaceutical companies paid tens of thousands of dollars to attend meetings to shape FDA policy on painkillers.
- New York City parents who have lost custody of their children for alleged neglect are supporting each other in their bids to earn their kids back.
- Iowa regulators are moving ahead on a plan to ban abortion-by-telemedicine, despite a pending court case.
A blaze swept through the Aswad Composite Mills factory in Bangladesh, Tuesday, killing 9 workers and injuring at least 50 others. The factory made merchandise for the Hudson's Bay Company and WalMart. This is the latest in a series of deadly industrial accidents in the garment sector in Bangladesh. Most garment workers die in fires. These deaths could easily be prevented by improving the wiring and fire evacuation systems in clothing factories.
The 2013 Hillman Award for Broadcast Journalism went to Brian Ross and his investigative team at ABC News for reporting on garment industry deaths in Bangladesh. That same year, a special Hillman Officers' Award was presented posthumously to Aminul Islam, a Bangladeshi labor leader who was probably murdered for his activism on behalf of garment workers.
[Photo credit: Iconic Hudson's Bay Blanket, by Whimsie Dots, Creative Commons.]
Rhode Island is a national trendsetter when it comes to schemes for stealing public sector pensions and funnelling the spoils to Wall Street, Matt Taibbi reports.
Thanks to Carol in DC for the tip.
- In honor of the landmark 2011 Dukes ruling against WalMart, ProPublica aggregates classic reads on gender and sex discrimination.
- The Supreme Court is set to hear two big labor law cases this term, and everybody's nervous.
- But relax, Obamacare is not going to take your house.
- Turns out, when everything is for sale, everything is for sale. The founder of the online marketplace/libertarian paradise known as the Silk Road is alleged not only to have trafficked tens of millions of dollars worth of drugs, but also to have solicited murder for hire.
[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]
...and Now Find Yourself Sitting at Home on Furlough With Plenty of Time to Ask About.
[Photo credit: Pandabrand, Creative Commons.
Hillman Prize-winner Alison Young exposes another dodgy dietary supplement for USA Today:
GUADALAJARA, Mexico — A Mexican dietary supplement called Reumofan has gained a loyal following in the United States as a "100% natural" treatment for arthritis and joint pain. It's supposedly made by a company called Riger Natural from ingredients such as shark cartilage, white willow and glucosamine, or so the labels say.
But consumers who buy Reumofan products are risking dangerous side effects and trusting their lives to a company that uses fake addresses, lies about the ingredients in its products and may not even exist, a USA TODAY investigation has found.
The newspaper set out to find Riger Natural and the people responsible for producing and selling the supplement, searching corporation records and visiting addresses in Mexico where it had been listed on the Web as having a lab. Those addresses are fake and there's no evidence the company ever had facilities in the locations. Some Mexican retailers who once distributed the product say their contacts have simply disappeared. Even Mexican health authorities have been unable to track down the company.
Riger Natural? As in Riger Mortis? Reumofan is marketed as a dietary supplement but some of these pills contain potentially toxic prescription drugs and the FDA has received reports linking the pills to bleeding, strokes, and death.
[Photo credit: U.S. FDA.]
The Best of the Week's News
- The ACLU is challenging local laws that can have a battered woman locked up or evicted if she calls 9-1-1 too many times.
- How the Vatican got snookered on stem cells.
- The sheriff of Mingo County was assassinated in April, and his death sparked an epic public corruption investigation that reached all the way to the local court house.
- "LoveInt": NSA employees have used their eavesdropping powers to spy on their intimate partners on at least 12 occasions since 2003.
- Michael Grabell's wife gave birth to the couple's second child in July (the same week he won a Sidney Award). The little boy's life was saved by a simple blood oxygenation test that revealed a correctable congenital heart defect. Grabell wants the test made available to all newborns.
Of the thirty-three Colorado prisoners who committed murder on parole, half had spent time in solitary confinement, the Denver Post reports:
The Colorado prison system is struggling to manage prisoners like Bassett — a fact laid bare when police say a parolee released directly from his solitary cell to the streets rang the doorbell at former Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements' home in March and assassinated him.
Clements, ironically, had been pushing Colorado to reduce the number of prisoners in solitary as well as the number released straight to parole. The percentage of the prison population in solitary has dropped from 7 percent to 4 percent since 2011 — though that's still double the national average — and the share of those in segregation who went straight to parole decreased from 48 percent to 23 percent. But it remains a problem many in the public are unaware of, and one with dangerous consequences.
Is solitary making prisoners more violent, or are the most violent prisoners most likely to find themselves in administrative segregation? Probably both. Worryingly, the Post found that there are no safeguards in place to make sure that prisoners who are released directly from solitary into the community receive extra supervision.
[Photo credit: Bohemian Dolls, Creative Commons.]