Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Chemical Warehouse Blasts Kill 50, Injure 500 in China

Photo credit: 

Photo of chemical storage facility, 2012, for illustration only. XericX, Creative Commons. 

Two huge explosions rocked the Chinese city of Tianjin on Wednesday night. At least 50 people are dead and more that 500 are injured in what appears to have been a devastating industrial accident:

The blasts, at a company licensed to store a witches’ brew of hazardous chemicals, left more than 500 people injured, 52 of them critically, and produced shock waves felt for miles. [NYT]

At least twelve of the dead are firefighters who responded to an earlier call from Ruihai International Logistics, a company that manages hazardous cargo.

BuzzFeed News Wins August Sidney for Exposing Rampant Abuse of Guest Workers

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Jessica Garrison, BuzzFeed News.

 

BuzzFeed News wins the August Sidney Award for their sweeping investigation into abuses of guest workers under the H2 visa program. H2 visas exist to supply short-term labor for jobs that Americans supposedly won’t do. H2 jobs run the gamut from crayfish shelling in Louisiana to running carnival rides in Vermont. The program attracts workers from Indian, Mexico, Guatemala, and elsewhere. Unfortunately, as BuzzFeed News discovered, the structure of the program invites abuse. Workers are tied to a single employer. If they are unsatisfied with their pay or working conditions, they have no recourse. BuzzFeed found that thousands of H2 workers complained of abuses ranging from wage theft and false imprisonment to sexual abuse. 

The winning story is the work of investigative reporter Jason Bensinger, senior investigative editor Jessica Garrison, and data editor Jeremy Singer-Vine. 

Find out how BuzzFeed News got the winning story in The Backstory

Sidney’s Picks: Between the World and Me

The Best of the Week’s News

An Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Courtesy of Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Hillman judge Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses his acclaimed new book, “Between the World and Me,” with Lindsay Beyerstein on the Center for Inquiry’s radio show and podcast, Point of Inquiry.

Sidney’s Picks: The Death of a Young Black Journalist

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Hades2K, Creative Commons

The Best of the Week’s News

Sidney’s Picks: New York Fast Food Workers Win Fight for Fifteen!

Photo credit: 

Diacritical, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

Larry Lessig on Fixing Campaign Finance

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Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons.

Harvard law professor Larry Lessig explains why we shouldn’t pin our hopes for campaign finance reform on a constitutional amendment, as desirable as useful as such an amendment might be.

Instead, Lessig argues, we should focus on increasing the percentage of campaign donations funded by small-dollar contributors. Attracting small donations could shift the balance of power away from large monied interests, towards ordinary citizens. He points out that it’s much easier to incentivize small contributions than it is to change the constitution to limit large ones. 

Sidney’s Picks: CA Judge Shutters Uber

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London taxi drivers protesting Uber, David Holt London, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

Sidney’s Picks: SC’s Confederate Flag is History!

Photo credit: 

MariusPriv, Creative Commons. Illustration shows Bree Newsome, a South Carolina woman who beat the state legislature to the punch and took the flag down herself. Today, it went down legally and permanently.  

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Hillman judge Ta-Nehisi Coates garners another rave review for his new book, “Between the World and Me.”
  • Hillman Prize-winner John Richardson checks in with climate scientists to find out how they feel about their front row seats for Armageddon.
  • A beautiful essay about a body farm in Texas and some remarkable people who gave their bodies to science. 

#Sidney’s Picks: OSHA, Salon, and Radioactive Toothpaste

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Editorial staffers at Salon.com announce their intent to unionize.
  • The Radium Girls, workplace safety, and America’s love affair with radioactive toothpaste.

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