The death of 29 coal miners in a West Virginia mine explosion has left many outside of the coal mining community struggling to understand its dangers and culture. One of the most moving pieces I have heard on the topic came from Youth Radio‘s Willa Johnson. She shared her struggle to fight the coal mining industry while simultaneously trying to maintain relationships with friends and family members who work in the mines.
Here’s a short sample:
“My grandfather has black lung and my dad has slipped a disk in his back. I have an older brother who I can’t talk to anymore; he still drives a coal truck and believes I have made him the enemy. Truthfully I can’t decide if he is the unsung victim or the unsung hero here in the mountains.”
Another worthwhile piece is “Why We Still Mine Coal,” which aired on NPR last week. According to the report, the United States produced about 1 billion tons of coal last year and half of the country’s electricity is produced using coal.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released their latest findings today. The report compares internet, social media and mobile phone use for three groups: teens ages 12-17, young adults ages 18-29, and adults 30 and over.
Here are the highlights:
Teens seem to be replacing blogging (only 14 percent of online teens maintain a blog) with updating their status on social networking sites. 73 percent of teens use social networking sites, an increase from 55 percent in 2004. And what about MySpace— does anyone still use it? Well, sort of. 66 percent of young adults surveyed had a MySpace profile, while only 36 percent of adults over 30 did. Unfortunately, the survey didn’t specify how many online teens have MySpace profiles. One thing is clear though–teens don’t tweet. Only 8% of online teens had a Twitter account.
Click here to read the full report online at Pew Internet.org.
Last week, President Obama delivered his first State of the Union address. The original speech lasted more than an hour. Lucky for you, we put the highlights in a handy dandy two-minute video.
If that got your political juices flowing and you want to know more about the speech, here are some resources worth checking out:
The New York Times.com put together an interactive timeline of the address
Factcheck.org offers non-partisan analysis
KQED’s Forum talked to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) about the speech
By David Cruz and Amanda Stupi
It’s been almost two weeks since a massive earthquake shook Haiti. Since then, the world has been shocked and saddened by the reports of mass destruction and death coming out of Port-Au-Prince.
NPR reported yesterday that Haitian officials say they have already burried 150,000 victims.
Many countries and individuals have donated to aid the country’s recovery.
Friday’s celebrity telethon: Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, reports that it has raised $57 million. The New York Times reported that the recording of the telethon, titled “Hope for Haiti Now,” became the number one album on iTunes in 18 countries on Saturday.
Friday’s California Report highlighted a group of Haitian musicians living in California who are raising money through concerts and other musical efforts.
To learn more about Haiti and international aid efforts visit:
NPR’s Haiti coverage
The Christian Science Monitor’s Haiti Earthquake Diary
A History of Haiti timeline at msnbc.com
The New York Times on Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief
By Emmanuel Hapsis and Amanda Stupi
In Other Words is back with another Word of the Week–the series that explains the news behind the buzz.
This week we decided to give you the basics of the Proposition 8 trial.
To follow KQED’s ongoing coverage of the trial, visit:
The California Report’s special coverage of Same-Sex Marriage in California
Scott Shafer’s Proposition 8 Trial blog
The gay marriage debate in California is back in the spotlight. After the passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008, which revoked the right granted by the California Supreme Court in June 2008 for same-sex couples to legally marry, civil rights activists vowed to bring the issue back to the courts and they’ve made good on their promise. Today marks the beginning of Perry v. Schwarzenegger and the first time a federal court has ever debated same-sex marriage. Here’s what you need to know:
Many expect Perry v. Schwarzenegger to be a landmark case that will ultimately end up at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. Some gay rights activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), tried to prevent the lawsuit because they believe that taking the issue to federal courts, specifically what many view as a right-leaning Supreme Court, is too risky.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson and trial lawyer David Boies, a Republican and Democrat respectively, are set to represent the same-sex couples who have been denied the right to marry. What’s interesting about their collaboration is that, in 2000, they were on opposing sides of Bush v. Gore, the highly-controversial court case that resolved the 2000 presidential election in George Bush’s favor. The two high-profile lawyers plan to make the case that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution by denying the equal protection promised in the Fourteenth Amendment.
The defendants include a number of religious and conservative groups led by Charles Cooper, a lawyer who worked for the Justice Department under former President Ronald Reagan. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown are also listed as defendants, although both refuse to defend Prop 8 in court. Schwarzenegger has refused to officially pick a side on the issue, while Brown shares the Olson-Boies team’s belief that gays have the constitutional right to marriage.
By Molly Samuel
In a nutshell, here’s how California’s budget gets passed: Every year, the governor presents his budget to both houses of the state legislature by January 10. The State Assembly and the State Senate each pass a version of the budget by a two-thirds majority, then a committee works out the differences between the two versions. A final version goes back to the Assembly and Senate, which passes it by two-thirds again and sends it back to the governor, who signs it and voila, a new budget is born.
What I left out of that summary is political grandstanding, difficult if not downright impossible goals, disagreements that will never be resolved, and the current financial crisis. When you factor all of that in, you end up with budgets that pass weeks later than they were supposed to (the 2008-2009 budget, for instance), budgets that are impossible to balance (see 2009-2010), budgets with some really tough options (see this year’s budget), and political humor (State Senate President Darrell Steinberg’s response to this morning’s proposed budget: “You’ve got to be kidding.” And Assembly Speaker Karen Bass : it’s “a big pile of denial.” Republicans were less sarcastic.)
All hilarity aside, Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2010-2011 budget is likely to draw controversy and may lead to lawsuits. Nothing here is final; this is the initial version of the budget that heads to the legislature. But there are a few proposals that are worth watching:
Eliminate the state sales tax on gas: The idea here is to eliminate the sales tax and replace it with an excise tax. This would lower prices at the pump, which sounds pretty good. But right now the money from that sales tax goes to public transportation, and is also linked to K-12 and community college funding. Without that sales tax, public rail and bus systems could lose a billion dollars, and Democrats are projecting that schools could lose up to two billion dollars.
Fund state parks with revenue from offshore drilling: Last year the Governor proposed allowing oil drilling in a state-owned area called Tranquillion Ridge off the coast of Santa Barbara. That idea was defeated in the legislature. Last year Schwarzenegger also suggested not funding state parks. That idea also didn’t make it very far. This year he’s linked them. Cynical or genius? Could be both.
End state worker furloughs: Last year, to save money, Schwarzenegger began requiring that state employees take three unpaid days a month off of work. Starting in July, the furloughs will end, but everyone will get a pay cut. So, basically, they’ll work more, but not get increased wages. Lawsuits from the unions will probably follow.
Right now the state is short about 20 billion dollars, which is why there are so many cuts in this year’s budget. The Governor is asking the Federal government to give California more than $6 billion that he says is owed to the state. If that doesn’t happen, there could be even more cuts down the line.
Stay tuned for more hilarity.
To learn more:
Christmas is looming, New Years’ plans are starting to take shape, and the best song, movie, and book of the decade lists are too numerous to count. Not to mention the fact that the Senate seems to be on its way to passing its version of the health care bill. It all makes the climate talks in Copenhagen seem like they happened so long ago. But the talks went on into weekend. World leaders stayed up all night Friday night trying to reach an agreement, and everyone else is still trying to sort out what it all means.
The hope was that the climate conference in Copenhagen would result in a legally binding agreement on the global response to climate change. That didn’t happen. There’s no legally binding agreement. President Obama worked with other world leaders to create a document, now being called the Copenhagen Accord, and other countries, officially, will “take note” of it. There are some good things in the document: developed nations will give $100 billion dollars to poor nations to help them weather the effects of climate change. Countries will work together to try to keep the world from warming more than two degrees Celsius. Money will go to countries that have historically profited from deforestation to help them preserve their forests. Countries will monitor their emissions.
KQED’s staff and interns return this week to break down another buzz word. This week’s choice was a natural: Copenhagen. Watch the video below to find out what the fuss is all about.
And we aren’t the only ones trying to explain what the heck is happening over there. It looks like Copenhagen, or more specifically COP 15, have been the topics of many explainers the past few weeks. Explainers are what we call features that break down a complex topic in an easy-to-understand and hopefully, entertaining, way. Here are a few we thought worthy of sharing: first, check out the New York Time’s Copenhagen 101 video and Time Magazine’s nice little animated number below:
And a final nod to NPR’s Planet Money for the most appropriate use of Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.”
Tell us, where do you get information on topics you want to learn more about? Do you prefer text, video, or podcasts? And should we keep trying to be funny or just stick to what we do best?