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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

 
Notes on journalism for the common good
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.

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Clear It With Sidney

Mon, Jan 6, 2014

Temporary work used to mean exactly that, but today's economy, "temps" have become a disposable second-class of permanent workers who can do the same work as employees for years at a time, but with lower wages, and no job security. Sarah Jaffe reports on the tempification of the American workforce for In These Times. Bosses have used temporary labor as a tool to divide their workers and forestall unionization, but Jaffe reports on encouraging signs of temp/perm solidarity at a Nissan plant in the deep south. 

 

[Photo credit: Haughygrandeur, Creative Commons.]

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Fri, Jan 3, 2014

  • North Korea's weird but Kim Jong Un probably didn't feed his uncle to 120 ravening hounds. 

 

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

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Tue, Dec 31, 2013

The Obama administration has called on clothing buyers to use their purchasing power to improve working conditions in the global apparel industry, but the contractors who supply uniforms for the federal workforce are still sourcing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of clothing from sweatshops, Ian Urbina reports:

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The Obama administration has called on clothing buyers to use their purchasing power to improve working conditions in the global apparel industry, but the contractors who supply uniforms for the federal workforce are still sourcing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of clothing from sweatshops, Ian Urbina reports:

Labor Department officials say that federal agencies have “zero tolerance” for using overseas plants that break local laws, but American government suppliers in countries including Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan and Vietnam show a pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions, according to audits and interviews at factories. Among them: padlocked fire exits, buildings at risk of collapse, falsified wage records and repeated hand punctures from sewing needles when workers were pushed to hurry up.

The U.S. Marine Corps buys shirts from a Bangladeshi factory where children make up a third of the workforce. 

 

[Photo credit: for illustration, NYC Marines.]

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Thu, Dec 26, 2013

Nine out of ten of Dissent's most popular stories of 2013 were written by women. Lots of great writing and reporting here. Congratulations to all who made the list. 

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Nine out of ten of Dissent's most popular stories of 2013 were written by women. Lots of great writing and reporting here. Congratulations to all who made the list. 

[Photo credit: Hades2K, Creative Commons.]

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Fri, Dec 20, 2013

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

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Tue, Dec 17, 2013

Why does a white guy in a suit have to do to get arrested around here? Former prosecutor Bobby Constantino was determined to find out. When multiple police officers declined to arrest him for openly carrying graffiti tools--a misdemeanor that young men of color get stopped for routinely--Constantino tagged City Hall in full view of the police and they still wouldn't arrest him. He had to turn himself in. 

[Photo credit: larrylorca, Creative Commons.]

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Mon, Dec 16, 2013

I'm not even sure what to say about this revelation from Michael Isikoff of NBC: A senior federal bureaucrat pretended to be working under cover for the CIA in order to avoid work.

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I'm not even sure what to say about this revelation from Michael Isikoff of NBC: A senior federal bureaucrat pretended to be working under cover for the CIA in order to avoid work.

The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

John C. Beale, who pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade, will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his “historic” lies are “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

Beale's ruse was finally discovered after he very publicly "retired," but continued to collect his salary. 

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Fri, Dec 13, 2013

The Best of the Week's News

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The Best of the Week's News

  • A judge gave a drunk-driving teen a reduced sentence for killing four people because he supposedly suffered from "affluenza," meaning that he was too privileged to know right from wrong.

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

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Thu, Dec 12, 2013

A chilling report by USA Today finds that there's a mass killing in the U.S. about once every two weeks:

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A chilling report by USA Today finds that there's a mass killing in the U.S. about once every two weeks:

Since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the United States. Well-known images from Newtown, Aurora and Virginia Tech capture the nation’s attention, but similar bloody scenes happen with alarming frequency and much less scrutiny. USA TODAY examined FBI data -- which defines a mass killing as four or more victims -- as well as local police records and media reports to understand mass killings in America. They happen far more often than the government reports, and the circumstances of those killings -- the people who commit them, the weapons they use and the forces that motivate them -- are far more predictable than many might think.

[Photo credit: brian.ch, Creative Commons.]

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Wed, Dec 11, 2013

Nancy Updike and Nikole Hannah-Jones have won the December Sidney Award for House Rules a radio documentary by This American Life based on the Hannah-Jones' reporting on the Fair Housing Act for ProPublica. The program explains how, starting in the 1930s, the federal government created profound racial segregation in the Northeast with discriminatory housing policies that made residents of black and integrated neighborhoods ineligible for federally-subsidized mortgages. While the federal government was nuturing the white middle class with subsidized homeownership, non-white families were left out in the cold, a legacy that is still reflected in inequality today. Read my interview with the winners for The Backstory

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