"ALEC: Exposed" Wins September Sidney Award

The Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine have won this month's Sidney Award for excellence in socially conscious journalism, the Sidney Hillman Foundation announced Tuesday.


The winning project, "ALEC:Exposed" is a groundbreaking print and multimedia expose of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The project consisted of a website and a special section of The Nation.

The winners obtained over 800 leaked documents from ALEC and used them to analyze the secretive organization's agenda and impact. The leaked materials were posted online for public inspection and discussion.

ALEC is a "bill mill," a membership organization where state lawmakers huddle with corporations to write cookie cutter legislation that is introduced in state houses all over the country. These model bills, which often become real laws, touch on virtually every area of state government from weakening environmental protections to eliminating collective bargaining for public sector workers. I've blogged about ALEC here at Focal Point.

I interviewed winners Mary Bottari and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy on the story behind the story of ALEC:Exposed.

John Nichols, Joel Rogers, Laura Dresser, Wendell Potter, Lisa Graves, Julie Underwood, Mike Elk, and Bob Sloan also contributed to "ALEC: Exposed." Liliana Segura, The Nation's Associate Editor, edited this special section.

Jeff Bezos defends spending billions on rockets over, say, poverty

At what point does spending billions on rocket technology seem irresponsible to those suffering on Earth?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 15: Jeff Bezos speaks onstage at WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25 )
Technology & Innovation
  • The private space enterprise he founded will be testing even more in the near future, with $1 billion investment by Bezos each year
  • He wants to be seen as "risk taking" and a "needle mover"
  • Watch Blue Horizon's escape module test
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Stephen Hawking: "There is no God. No one directs the universe."

Hawking, who died in March, answers questions like "Is there a God?" and "Is time travel possible?" in his final book, which is available today.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • Hawking's final book is geared toward a popular audience.
  • Each of the book's 10 chapters is posed as a question, such as "How did it all begin?"
  • Hawking claims there is no God, time travel could be possible and intelligent aliens exist.
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The tragedy of this American moment: Populism, elites, and the 2020 election

This is about so much more than Donald Trump. Anand Giridharadas explains why America must reclaim its heritage of revolution before the next presidential election in 2020.

Videos
  • "We'll be better off" is the lie that sank America, says Giridharadas.
  • When it comes to globalization, trade and automation, for decades American elites have been "rich-splaining" to ordinary people, saying: 'Don't worry, it will all be fine in the aggregate'. "As though anybody lives in the aggregate," quips Giridharadas.
  • Populism was inevitable with the current economic order. The tragedy of it is that Trump has focused the blame on minorities rather than on the institutions that caused the quality of life in America to plummet.
  • Before 2020, the Democratic party needs to harness the American spirit of revolution. More importantly, it will have to figure out how to talk to disgruntled Americans and channel populism for the common good.

Carl Sagan on why he liked smoking marijuana

Carl Sagan liked to smoke weed. His essay on why is facsinating.

Photo: Photo by Robert Nelson on Unsplash / Big Think
Mind & Brain
  • Carl Sagan was a life long marijuana user and closeted advocate of legalization.
  • He once wrote an anonymous essay on the effects it had on his life and why he felt it should be legalized.
  • His insights will be vital as many societies begin to legalize marijuana.
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Sponsored
  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a set of 17 directives to be completed by a 2030 deadline, with the aim of significantly improving quality of life for all people on Earth.
  • Pfizer's commitment to the UN's SDG #3, Good Health and Well-being, is exemplified by its mission to improve global health through a combination of local and global programs catalyzed by innovative health leaders.
  • In 1998, Pfizer embarked on a 22-year mission to eradicate trachoma by 2020.Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that can cause irreversible blindness or vision impairment. So far, it has been eradicated in six countries.
  • Pfizer is a committed partner in improving global health, helping to provide a number of critical cancer medications to six African countries where an estimated 44 percent of all cancer cases in sub-Saharan Africa occur each year
Bodily feeling maps. Pixel intensities show regions where each feeling was associated with statistically significant bodily sensations. Image credit: Nummenmaa et. al, 2018.
Mind & Brain

"How do you feel?" is a simple and commonly asked question that belies the complex nature of our conscious experiences. The feelings and emotions we experience daily consist of bodily sensations, often accompanied by some kind of thought process, yet we still know very little about exactly how these different aspects relate to one another, or about how such experiences are organised in the brain.

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How to ace a job application and interview

A cheat sheet containing what really works.

(Raywoo/Shutterstock)
Personal Growth
  • 800 hiring managers reveal their preferences in a survey by NetQuote.
  • Infographics help unearth the worst words to use in an interview, most important questions, and ideal resume length.
  • Figuring out how to present yourself just got easier.
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Surprising behavior of bees during total solar eclipses discovered

A buzzworthy study looks at the strange actions of bees.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists recorded the activities of bees during the 2017 total solar eclipse.
  • They found that bees completely stopped flying and buzzing.
  • A team of professional and citizen scientists was involved.
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