| Hillman Foundation

Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

90% of Critical Chemical Safety Data is Wrong

Disturbing revelations the state of the nation’s chemical plants from the Dallas Morning News, which combed through three quarters of a million federal records in the wake of the disastrous explosion at the West chemical plant:

Even the best national data on chemical accidents is wrong nine times out of 10.

A Dallas Morning News analysis of more than 750,000 federal records found pervasive inaccuracies and holes in data on chemical accidents, such as the one in West that killed 15 people and injured more than 300.

In fact, no one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States. And there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information. [DMN]

In other words, nobody has any idea how many serious chemical accidents happen every year. 

[Photo credit: bulliver, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Payday Lender Love Fest; Cell Tower Deaths; College Loan Sleaze

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Death tolls remain high in the wireless industry: 10 cell tower workers have fallen to their deaths this year.
  • What the media won’t say about Chris Lane’s murder. (Hint: guns.)

 

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

Lizards Save California from Lyme Disease

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control concludes that Lyme Disease is vastly more common than previously supposed. Yet, in California, Lyme Disease levels remain very low, despite large deer populations. California’s detox secret is the humble Western Fence Lizard, which picks up the bacteria from tics and kills the germ before it can spread:

The CDC report might lead health authorities to accelerate the research and approval of a Lyme vaccine. Promising results were found earlier this year on one vaccine under development. That would be a popular item in prime Lyme disease territory, largely the Northeast and northern Midwest states where up to 30% of deer ticks carry the infection. Almost all cases of the disease — 96% – occur in 13 states.

California isn’t among them, and one reason for that is that we have, in a sense, our own little natural vaccine program going. In this state, nymphal ticks’ favorite host is the common western fence lizard, which has a protein in it blood that kills the bacterium responsible for Lyme. As a result, few adult ticks are carriers. [LAT]

Three cheers for the Western Fence Lizard!

 

[Photo credit: Western Fence Lizard, K Schneider, Creative Commons.]

Fast Food Workers Call for Massive Strike on Aug. 29

In the dog days of summer, the nationwide fight for a living wage in the fast food sector is heating up:

Emboldened by an outpouring of support on social media, low-wage fast-food and retail workers from eight cities who have staged walkouts this year are calling for a national day of strikes Aug. 29.

The workers — who are backed by local community groups and national unions and have held one-day walkouts in cities such as New York, St. Louis and Detroit — say they have received pledges of support from workers in dozens of cities across the country. [WaPo]

Workers are demanding $15 an hour and the right to unionize. 

 

[Photo credit: avlxyz, Creative Commons.]

The Terrible Truth About Twitter

When it comes to attracting twitter followers, it’s better to be confident than right, according to a recent analysis of 1 billion sports punditry tweets.

Follow the preternaturally self-assured Sidney Hillman Foundation today! @sidneyhillman 

 

[Image credit: Slava Murava Kiss, Creative Commons.]

#Sidney's Picks: Serial Killer Stalked the Jobless; Another Sweetheart Deal for Wal-Mart; Big Win for MoJo

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Murder by Craigslist: How a serial killer targeted working class men desperate for jobs.

 

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

U.S. Vets Being Deported for Minor Crimes

Combat service in the U.S. military is one way to earn a coveted Green Card, which confers permanent residence in the United States after the soldier’s tour of duty ends. However, as Kevin Sullivan reports in the Washington Post, Green Cards earnd in combat can be revoked even for minor crimes:

As a deported veteran, Tepeyac is one of a little-known cadre of warriors who served in the U.S. military as green-card holders — permanent legal residents but not U.S. citizens — then committed a crime after returning to civilian life, were convicted and punished, then were permanently expelled from the United States.

No one knows how many there are. U.S. officials said they do not keep track, but immigration lawyers and Banished Veterans, a group formed to help the deportees, said that at least hundreds, and perhaps thousands, have been deported in recent years.

Advocates for deported veterans say that they should be treated like American citizens, rather than banished. 

Kocieniewski wins the August Sidney for Exposing the Goldman Sachs' Great Aluminum Shuffle

Why does a chain of Detroit-area warehouses shuffle millions of tons of aluminum in an endless circle while customers wait impatiently? This month’s Sidney Award-winner David Kocieniewski penetrated the veil of secrecy around these Goldman Sachs-owned facilities to reveal that the company is dragging its feet on delivery to collect more rent to store the mental, and driving up aluminum prices in the process. Goldman’s greed has added an estimated $5 billion to the price of aluminum since 2010, which works out to an extra two cents for every pop or beer can sold in the United States. Learn more in The Backstory.

Bloomberg's "Stop & Frisk" is Unconstitutional

A judge has struck down New York’s notorious “Stop and Frisk” regime. Scott Lemieux explains the reasoning behind the decision in The American Prospect:

In a major victory for civil rights and civil liberties, a United States District Court Judge has held that the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk policies are unconstitutional. Judge Shira Scheindlin’s opinion justifying the ruling is a tour de force. Carefully assessing both systematic evidence and the cases of individual litigants, Judge Scheindlin leaves no serious doubt that the NYPD’s policies are inconsistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The judge’s drew heavily on research in making up her mind. Stop-and-frisks are justified based on an officier’s reasonable suspicion that the target is up to no good, but statistics show that nearly 90% of stop-and-frisks come up empty. If cops guess wrong nearly 90% of the time, how well-founded could their suspicions possibly be? Not strong enough to justify impinging on the rights of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, the judge decided. 

Sidney's Picks: Mitch McConnell & the Minimum Wage; Questionable Behavior in California; Debtor's Prisons

The best of the week’s news:

 

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

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