Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

People's Climate March Draws Hundreds of Thousands

Up to 400,000 people took to the streets of New York City on Sunday for the People’s Climate March, making it the largest environmental protest in history. The march brought together indigenous peoples, organized labor, and many other constituencies, in addition to more traditional environmental activists. 

On Sep 23, world leaders will gather at the United Nations for an emergency summit on climate change. The People’s March is a plea for action on soaring temperatures, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and the deadly human cost of global warming. If carbon emissions aren’t controlled we can expect climate change to fuel droughts, floods, and other natural disasters that will kill or displace untold numbers of people in the years to come. 

Democracy Now! has extensive coverage of the event.

[Photo: southbendvoice, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Trains, Death, & The Scots

The best of the week’s news

  • Who voted “Yes”?: Crunching the numbers on the Scottish referendum on independence.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Toronto Star Uncovers Defective Drug Trials

An investigation by the Toronto Star uncovered numerous serious ethical and/or scientific problems with medical trials conducted by Canadian researchers, according to a report published Tuesday:

In 2012, a top Toronto cancer researcher failed to report a respiratory tract infection, severe vomiting and other adverse events.

A clinical trial run by an Alberta doctor reported that patients responded more favourably to the treatment than they actually did.

A Toronto hospital’s chief of medical staff ran a clinical trial of autistic children on a powerful antipsychotic, and he did not report side-effects suffered by four of the children.

And numerous doctors across the country failed to tell participants that one of the goals of the clinical trial was to test the safety of the drug they were taking. [The Star]

The investigation found that eight Canadian doctors had been flagged repeatedly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for deficient research, including one Alberta cancer researcher who had been cited three times. 


[Photo credit: chesbayprogram, Creative Commons.]

Your Shirt Off Their Backs: Video and Photos

Video from “Your Shirt Off Their Backs,” last Thursday’s panel on sweatshops, labor, and the global economy, is now available! Watch highlights from the event, shot and produced by Marc Bussanich of LaborPress. (Click the frame-shaped button on the bottom right corner of the video to watch in full-screen mode.)

Marc’s write-up of the event is available here.

View a slideshow of the event, featuring panelists New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Kalpona Akter of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, Judy Gearhart of the International Labor Rights Forum, Jeff Hermanson of Workers United/SEIU; and moderator Anna Burger. Photos by Marc Bussanich and Andrew Hill of the NYS Comptroller’s Office.  

#Sidney's Picks: The Fight for 15; Louisiana's Disappearing Boot; Felonious Fashions

The Best of the Week’s News

  • An in-depth portrait of fast food’s Fight For 15 campaign in the New Yorker.
  • Drop that snakeskin stiletto! Clothing made from endangered species is seized en route to Fashion Week. (sound plays automatically)
  • Severely injured children are less likely to survive their injuries if they are taken to trauma centers that specialize in adult care, rather than pediatric trauma.
  • Check out the photos from last night’s Your Shirt Off Their Backs panel discussion on sweatshops, labor, and the global economy. Thanks to our distinguished panelists and moderator, our hosts at 32BJ Headquarters, and everyone who came out to the event. We’ll be adding more photos next week, so be sure to check back to see them all. 

Tonight: Your Shirt Off Their Backs, Public Forum on Sweatshops and the Labor Movement

Join us tonight, Thursday the 11th, in Manhattan for “Your Shirt Off Their Backs,” a public forum on sweatshops, the labor movement, and the struggles of workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia. 

Post and Courier Wins Sidney Award for Expose of Domestic Violence in South Carolina

The Post and Courier wins the September Sidney Award for “Till Death Do Us Part,” an investigative multimedia series examining South Carolina’s domestic homicide crisis. This week also marks the twentieth anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law on Sep 13, 1994. The issue of domestic violence has been making national headlines this week, since Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely from the NFL after video surfaced showing him knocking out his future wife in a hotel elevator. 

Getting back to the Post and Courier, more than 300 women have been killed by men in South Carolina in the past decade. At the time the series was published, the state had the highest rate of male-on-female murder in the country. An 8-month investigation by Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff found sexism and guns were to blame for a death rate more than twice the national average.

Read my Backstory interview with Doug Pardue and Glenn Smith and learn about the making of this remarkable and highly influential piece of journalism. After “Till Death Do Us Part” ran, the speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives announced a special panel to help craft new domestic violence legislation for the next session. 







Sidney's Picks: Fast Food Arrests & Construction Tax Rackets

 The Best of the Week’s News

  • Living wage advocates turn up the heat on the fast food industry with civil disobedience in cities across the country.
  • The Justice Department will pursue a broad civil rights inquiry into the Ferguson Police Department, not just a limited probe of the Brown shooting.
  • Missouri swore it wouldn’t use a controversial drug linked to botched executions, but it did.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

NY Fast Food Workers Shut Down 42nd St. In Bid for Living Wage

Hillman Prize-winning journalist Steven Greenhouse reports on today’s fast food worker demonstrations in New York City, and across the country: 

Twenty-one workers demanding a $15-an-hour wage were arrested while conducting a sit-in outside a McDonald’s in Times Square on Thursday morning as the fast-food movement for the first time embraced widespread civil disobedience to escalate its fight.

Organizers said several hundred fast-food workers planned to sit in at restaurants in dozens of cities on Thursday. Organizers said the police arrested more than 50 workers in Detroit for such action on Thursday morning. The civil disobedience is intended to draw more attention to the “Fight for Fifteen” movement and to step up pressure on the nation’s fast-food chains. [NYT]

The living wage advocacy website Low Pay Is Not Okay has a large gallery of images from today’s protest in Times square, which it says resulted in the temporary shutdown of 42nd St.


[Photo credit: Low Pay Is Not Okay.]

The Fight Against Slavery in Mauritiana Continues

Alexis Okeowo tells the story of Biram Dah Abeid and his crusade to abolish slavery in his home country of Mauritiana. Abeid is the founder of the country’s largest anti-slavery organization, and he will stop at nothing to get slave owners arrested:

Finally, the police took the slaves to the station, and Abeid and the others followed. For a moment, the activists—schoolteachers, civil servants, the unemployed—remained in a standoff with the police there, a force of some sixty officers. Abeid walked toward a policeman. When the policeman grabbed Abeid’s shirt, Abeid butted him twice with his head. “I wanted to go to jail,” he said. “When people ask why I am in jail, they will have to know there were two slave girls, and the government refused to put the slave owner in jail.” As the activists and the police clashed, Abeid lunged at the police again, and he was arrested. He was jailed for three months; the slave owner was released after nine days. But it was a seminal victory for IRA: the first time that police had imprisoned a slave owner. The organization has since helped to put about twenty others in jail, though often for brief terms. As owners heard about the arrests, they started releasing their slaves, in a ripple of fear. Working through a network of nine thousand activists, IRA has freed thousands of slaves around the country. Haratin often refer to the former slaves as Biram Frees. [New Yorker]

In 1981, Mauritiana became the last country on earth to outlaw slavery, but the country still has the highest incidence of slavery in the world. The practice is sustained by tradition, economic necessity, and idiosyncratic local interpretation of Islam that Abeid is risking his life to discredit. 

[Photo credit: Nouakchott, the largest city in Mauritiana, by Manuel M. Almeida, Creative Commons.]