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Clear it with SidneyHow our blog got its name >

 
Notes on journalism for the common good
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.

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Clear It With Sidney

Mon, Mar 3, 2014

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

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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. 

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Fri, Feb 28, 2014

The Best of the Week's News

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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
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Wed, Feb 26, 2014

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. 

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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. 

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Mon, Feb 24, 2014

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. 

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Fri, Feb 21, 2014

The Best of the Week's News

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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.]

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Wed, Feb 19, 2014

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. 

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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. 

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Tue, Feb 18, 2014

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

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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. 

 

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Mon, Feb 17, 2014

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%:

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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.]

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Fri, Feb 14, 2014

The Best of the Week's News

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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.]

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Thu, Feb 13, 2014

Hillman judge Harold Meyerson explains what's at stake in this week's historic unionization vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

 

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Hillman judge Harold Meyerson explains what's at stake in this week's historic unionization vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

 

[Photo credit: A VW plant in Germany, by roger4336, Creative Commons.]

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