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
A judge dismissed a "depraved heart" murder charge against a Mississippi woman who delivered a stillborn baby and positive for a metabolite of cocaine. Rennie Gibbs was 16 years old when she delivered her stillborn child in 2006. There was never any evidence that drugs caused the demise of the fetus, which was born with the cord wrapped around its neck.
The judge dismissed the case on a legal technicality:
[Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Jim] Kitchens dismissed the charge against Gibbs Wednesday. Citing Mississippi Supreme Court case Buckhalter v. State, he said the law was unclear on the appropriate charge for Gibbs.
"Gibbs was indicted prior to Buckhalter and the law was unclear in Mississippi as to the appropriate charge, if any, to be levied when a pregnant woman allegedly consumed illegal drugs and allegedly caused the death of her unborn child," Kitchens ruling stated.
He added, "Accordingly, pursuant to the Mississippi Supreme Court's ruling this case for depraved heart murder is dismissed without prejudice." [CD]
Nina Martin of ProPublica and the other reporters who kept this case in the spotlight probably had a lot to do with justice finally being served, at least for the time being.
The prosecutor has pledged to send the case back to a grand jury in August.
A great scoop from Molly Reden of Mother Jones:
When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, the company's owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm's owners cite in their lawsuit.
Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).
So much for Hobby Lobby's sincerely held religious belief that IUDs and emergency contraception are forms of abortion and therefore contrary to its religion.
[Image Credit: "Copper IUD, Mechanisms of Action," MIT Open Courseware, Creative Commons.]
- A Red Sox hero's son had a long history of violence against women, but he kept getting second chances until, finally, he killed one.
- A computer glitch left thousands of NC food stamp recipients hungry.
- Hobby Lobby claims it just wants to be left to discriminate against its women, but a new expose shows one of the chain's owners is spending big to spread his religious agenda nationwide.
[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]
A ruling by the director of the NLRB's Chicago office puts the football team at Northwestern one step closer to unionization, Dave Jamieson reports. The regional director of the Chicago office ruled that the players are employees and are therefore eligible to vote on whether to have a union.
[Photo Credit: Pennstatenews, Creative Commons.]
As part of the 103rd Commemoration of the Triangle Factory Fire in Manhattan, yesterday, a fire truck demonstrated how a ladder couldn't reach the upper floors of the burning factory, forcing workers to jump to their deaths. One hundred and forty-six workers died that day. The outrage over the Triangle Fire helped usher in a new era of workers' rights and occupational health and safety.
Video by Alexandra Lescaze.
Today: Tuesday, March 25, Noon-1pm.
Washington Place & Greene St. in Manhattan (the site of the Triangle Fire)
This evening: 5:30pm
Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
47-49 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10065
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. if you’d like to attend!
Tune in tonight at 10pm Eastern to see Hillman Executive Director Alexandra Lescaze's new documentary, "All of Me," a revealing look at how weight-loss surgery is changing the lives of women in a fat acceptance group in Austin, Texas. "The Girls," as they call themselves, have been supporting each other as fat women for decades. One by one, longtime members are peeling off to have surgery, with very mixed results.
The spate of surgeries forces The Girls to reassess their friendships, their priorities, and even their marriages. "All of Me" uses these women's stories of weight-loss surgery to examine universal themes like friendship, sexuality, and the nature of self-acceptance.
Whether you think weight-loss-surgery is mutilation or liberation, "All of Me" will make you reconsider your position.
"All of Me" premieres Monday, March 24 at 10pm Eastern on PBS's Independent Lens, TV's leading showcase of independent documentary film.
The Best of the Week's News
- A teenager is facing life in prison because she tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine after her baby was born dead from an obstetrical complication.
- Chris Christie's cronies are managing state pension funds and taking big risks.
- Bowles-Simpson icon grudgingly admits he was wrong.
- Texas college student fatally shot by police was hit in the back, autopsy reveals.
- Wall Street Journal raves for All of Me a weight-loss surgery documentary that premieres on Monday at 10pm Eastern on PBS's Independent Lens.
[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]
Fun fact: Utah has no campaign contribution limits. None. That's one reason it was so easy for a payday loan tycoon to capture the Attorney General and turn Utah's top law enforcement officer into a rubber stamp for the usury industry.
[Photo credit: robad0b, Creative Commons.]
On March 19, The Sidney Hillman Foundation recognized outstanding contributions to Canadian journalism at a ceremony in Toronto, Ontario. Karen Kleiss and Darcy Henton shared the fourth annual Canadian Hillman Prize for their expose of child deaths in foster care in Alberta. Gabrielle Duchaine and Caroline Touzin and their team of data journalists garnered an honorable mention for their series exposing deadly defects in the roads of Quebec. A team of journalists from The Province recieved an honorable mention for their multimedia series on racism in British Columbia.
See the Sidney Hillman facebook page for more photos of last night's event.
[Photo: Winner Karen Kleiss with Hillman Foundation president Bruce Raynor.]