Clear It with Sidney | Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Clear It with Sidney

Confused about Ukraine? Raise Your UQ With These Stories

Some essential background reading on the crisis in Ukraine:

  • Tim Synder on the haze of propaganda and the ongoing debate over whether the Ukraine protests constituted a coup d’etat
  • Julia Ioffe on why Putin is occupying Crimea and what the West can do about it (hint: nothing) 


[Photo credit: e r j k p r u n c z y k, Creative Commons.]

On the Front Lines of the Abortion Wars: Dispatches from a Clinic Escort

Caitlin Keefe Moran writes about her experiences as an abortion clinic escort for The Toast: 

We see the same protesters week after week. They drive in from a church almost twenty miles away, but always beat us there, until we begin to speculate that they just sleep outside the clinic the night before. The group is led by Pastor Creep (not pictured), a sixty-ish man with wire-rimmed glasses and, in the winter, a graying beard. He loves to riff on the Holocaust: “Just like the Nazis!” he bellows at Ruby, a fellow escort, and I as we walk a woman and her incredulous friend to the door. “Leading the Jews to the gas chamber. ‘Oh, you’re just going to take a shower!’ But they never came out!”

Miriam, another volunteer and the descendent of Holocaust survivors, checks her watch. “Seven thirty-five,” she says, “and we’re already on the Nazis.” [The Toast]

The protesters resort to every conceivable tool of psychological warfare from accusing women of being baby-killers, to belittling the manhood of their male partners, to telling escorts of color that they are race-traitors complicit in black genocide. On Moran’s first day, protesters taunted her for paying attention to a man who apparently committed suicide by leaping from the building across the street. 

#Sidney's Picks: Driving While Black; Border Patrol Shootings; Breathing Radioactive Waste

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Driving while black: Young black men are more than twice as likely to be stopped on suspicion than their white counterparts, regardless of how they drive. Is it time to bring back The Green Book

A Boston Murder Mystery

Susan Zalkind’s boyfriend Erik was brutally murdered in 2011 and his killing was never solved. Erik was a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an obscure amateur boxer who would become infamous two years later as one of the Boston Marathon bombers. In her deeply-reported long form story in Boston Magazine, Zalkind argues that the marathon bombing might have been prevented if only the police had taken more interest in Tamerlan as a suspect in 2011. 

Rich Yeselson on Unions After Chattanooga

After the United Auto Workers lost the election to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, TN, despite the support of management, former union strategist and author Rich Yeselson wrote an influential essay for Jacobin, explaining why the UAW lost. Yeselson continues the discussion with Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg. 

#Sidney's Picks: Solitary Confinement, Scott Walker's Email Scandal, and More

The Best of the Week’s News

  • A Colorado prison official voluntarily spends the night in solitary confinement, feels like he’s losing his mind.
  • Man framed for murder gets $6.4 million settlement from NYC after 23 years behind bars.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Sexual Assault at God's Harvard

Patrick Henry College, a tiny evangelical university that prides itself of producing the next generation of intellectual elites for the Religious Right, has a rape problem, Kiera Feldman reports for the The New Republic. 

Sidney Winner Amanda Hess Featured in Media Bistro

This month’s Sidney Award-Winner, Amanda Hess, is featured in Media Bistro’s 10,000 Words column.

Media Bistro is a major trade publication. It’s great to see Hess’s expose of the sexist harrassment of female journalists having an impact within the industry. Kudos to Media Bistro for highlighting the issue and Hess’s important work on the topic.

The author of the profile, Alan Krawitz, is collecting his readers’ experiences with online harrassment. If you have a story of harassment or bullying online, tweet it to @10000words and keep this important conversation going. Add the hashtag #Sidney, so we can follow along. 


Kleen Getaway: Fines Quietly Lowered for Lethal Gas Explosion

Fines levied against Kleen Energy, the company responsible for the fiery deaths of six workers in a pipe-cleaning accident in 2010, were quietly lowered by 88%:

After six workers were killed in a massive gas explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown four years ago, federal investigators tallied hundreds of violations at the site and issued $16.6 million in penalties against more than a dozen companies — the third-largest workplace-safety fine in the nation’s history.

“The millions of dollars in fines levied pale in comparison to the value of the six lives lost and numerous other lives disrupted,” U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said at the time. “However, the fines and penalties reflect the gravity and severity of the deadly conditions created by the companies managing the work at the site.” [Courant]

The fines were lowered because Kleen convinced OSHA that many of its “willful” violations should be downgraded to a less-expensive category of infraction because Kleen was relying subcontractors to tell them how clean their pipes. 

[Photo credit: danmachold, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Science of Sex Toys; Al From's Boast; and the UAW Vote

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Will Volkswagen workers in Tennessee say “yes” to the United Auto Workers?
  • It wasn’t just the bridge: Chris Christie’s political career is a study in slime.
  • So, now we know who to blame: Al From claims he personally stopped the Democratic Party’s “headlong dash into social democracy.”
  • A famous anti-choice doctor in West Virginia appears to have fabricated lurid tales of women with “botched abortions” flocking to his emergency room.


[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]