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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, Oct 21, 2013

Thanks to an ecclectic public awareness campaign, shark's fin soup consumption in China has gone from a status symbol to a faux pas, and endangered shark species are getting a new lease on life: 

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Thanks to an ecclectic public awareness campaign, shark's fin soup consumption in China has gone from a status symbol to a faux pas, and endangered shark species are getting a new lease on life: 

Thanks to a former NBA star, a coalition of Chinese business leaders, celebrities and students, and some unlikely investigative journalism, eating shark fin soup is no longer fashionable here. But what really tipped the balance was a government campaign against extravagance that has seen the soup banned from official banquets.

“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics. [WaPo]

Before the public awareness campaign, the average shark fin consumer didn't even know that the unctuous broth known as "fish wing soup" was made from shark, let alone that shark fishermen routinely butchered their prey alive and tossed the mutilated animals back into the sea to die. When he learned the truth, Jim Zhang, became an anti-shark's fin activist, and eventually changed careers to become a full-time environmentalist.

Once the word got out, the anti-shark's fin backlash was swift and severe. Shark's fin's image was further tarnished by its association with official corruption. Lavish banquets featuring shark's fin soup because a symbol of rampant expense account abuse by bureaucrats. The price of shark's fin is dropping and some restaurants that specialize in the dish have closed du to lack of demand. 

 

[Photo Credit: SimonQ, Creative Commons.]

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Fri, Oct 18, 2013

The Best of the Week's News

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The Best of the Week's News

  • Daisy Coleman, the teenager at the center of the Maryville rape scandal, recounts how she was mercilessly bullied after speaking out against the boys who assaulted her and her friend.
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Wed, Oct 16, 2013

Sidney-winner Susan Greene reports on Robert Knott a Native America inmate who was posthumously reunited with his tribe after committing suicide in supermax prison. Knott had been struggling for years with untreated mental illness, a condition that was surely exacerbated by years of solitary confinment. 

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Sidney-winner Susan Greene reports on Robert Knott a Native America inmate who was posthumously reunited with his tribe after committing suicide in supermax prison. Knott had been struggling for years with untreated mental illness, a condition that was surely exacerbated by years of solitary confinment. 

[Photo credit: Detail of a pow wow dancer from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Robert Knott's tribe of origin.]

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Tue, Oct 15, 2013

The Coleman family of Maryville, MO has endured a horrific backlash since they sought justice for their daughter, who was allegedly raped by a star high school football player and left semi-conscious outdoors in sub-freezing weather last year. Since the Coleman's story has made national headlines, now is a good time to revisit Dave Zirin's classic post about how coaches can challenge rape culture in sports by demanding that young players respect women. 

 

[Photo credit: National Archives, no copyright.]

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Mon, Oct 14, 2013

When 14-year-old Daisy Coleman was found sprawled semi-conscious on her porch in sub-zero weather early one Sunday morning, showing signs of sexual assault, her family fought for justice against the high school football player who allegedly raped their daughter. The charges against alleged rapist and football star Matthew Barnett were dropped and the community backlash against the Colemans cost them everything. 

 

[Photo credit: jamestruepeny, Creative Commons.]

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Fri, Oct 11, 2013

The Best of the Week's News

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The Best of the Week's News

  • New York City parents who have lost custody of their children for alleged neglect are supporting each other in their bids to earn their kids back.
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Wed, Oct 9, 2013

A blaze swept through the Aswad Composite Mills factory in Bangladesh, Tuesday, killing 9 workers and injuring at least 50 others. The factory made merchandise for the Hudson's Bay Company and WalMart. This is the latest in a series of deadly industrial accidents in the garment sector in Bangladesh. Most garment workers die in fires. These deaths could easily be prevented by improving the wiring and fire evacuation systems in clothing factories. 

The 2013 Hillman Award for Broadcast Journalism went to Brian Ross and his investigative team at ABC News for reporting on garment industry deaths in Bangladesh. That same year, a special Hillman Officers' Award was presented posthumously to Aminul Islam, a Bangladeshi labor leader who was probably murdered for his activism on behalf of garment workers. 

 

[Photo credit: Iconic Hudson's Bay Blanket, by Whimsie Dots, Creative Commons.]

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Tue, Oct 8, 2013

Rhode Island is a national trendsetter when it comes to schemes for stealing public sector pensions and funnelling the spoils to Wall Street, Matt Taibbi reports. 

Thanks to Carol in DC for the tip. 

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Rhode Island is a national trendsetter when it comes to schemes for stealing public sector pensions and funnelling the spoils to Wall Street, Matt Taibbi reports. 

Thanks to Carol in DC for the tip. 

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Fri, Oct 4, 2013

  • But relax, Obamacare is not going to take your house.
  • Turns out, when everything is for sale, everything is for sale. The founder of the online marketplace/libertarian paradise known as the Silk Road is alleged not only to have trafficked tens of millions of dollars worth of drugs, but also to have solicited murder for hire.

 

[Photo credit: Wander Mule, Creative Commons.]

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Thu, Oct 3, 2013

...and Now Find Yourself Sitting at Home on Furlough With Plenty of Time to Ask About.

 

 

[Photo credit: Pandabrand, Creative Commons.

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...and Now Find Yourself Sitting at Home on Furlough With Plenty of Time to Ask About.

 

 

[Photo credit: Pandabrand, Creative Commons.

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