A History of Violence: Why Is Iraq Still at War? [An Illustrated Explainer]

Includes cartoon infographic

Less than three years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Iraq is again in a state of crisis. In June, an extremist Islamic group swept through the north, taking control of Mosul, the second-largest city. And as tensions between Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups reach a boiling point, the very survival of the fractured country is at stake.

How did things get so bad? Cartoon journalist Andy Warner illustrates that the near-constant turmoil in Iraq isn’t as shocking as it might seem; the current struggle has deep roots in the nation’s embattled colonial past. Continue reading

What You Need to Know about Immigration Reform [An Animated Explainer]

Remember when U.S. immigration reform seemed like it was finally in the cards?

That was so 2013.

The brief burst of fanfare following passage of the Senate’s comprehensive bill faded quickly when the debate hit the bitterly divided House, where prospects for getting anything done have been all but extinguished. Continue reading

Four Multimedia Resources that Shed Some Light on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Credit: PBS Frontline World

Credit: PBS Frontline World

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict erupted again in early July after the bodies of three Israeli youth turned up in Palestinian territory. It’s the most deadly face-off  between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since the last series of rocket attacks in 2009.

The saga seems infinite: tenuous periods of calm punctuated by spates of extreme violence and desperation. At the most basic level, the struggle is over a slice of territory not much bigger than New Jersey, to which both sides claim ownership. But the roots of the conflict are deep and tangled, mired in complex issues of identity and displacement dating back to World War I. In examining the current situation in context, these four unbiased resources offer clues to why peace in this region remains so stubbornly elusive. Continue reading

If California Split into Six States, This Is What It Would Look Like

Includes interactive map

Click on different points on the map below to see which counties would be part of each one of California’s six new states, as outlined in a proposed ballot initiative. Per capita income and population figures are listed for each “state,” based on an analysis by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. The new jurisdictions underscore California’s extreme wealth disparities.

[article continues below map]


legend

Think California’s just too darn big for its own good? Well now there’s a strong likelihood you’ll get to vote on it.

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist today submitted what he claims are enough petition signatures to get his initiative, to split California into six states, on the 2016 statewide ballot.

And no, this is not a joke. Continue reading

What is Inflation and Why Does it Happen? [An Animated Explainer]

Includes videos

Inflation. We hear about it an awful lot. But what’s it actually mean? What causes it? And why is grandpa always complaining about stuff getting more expensive? Stop motion guru Josh Kurz explains it all in this two-part video (you can also watch the whole thing as a single video here).

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The Rise and Fall of America’s Labor Unions

Includes interactive charts
SEIU Janitors Protest Firing by JPMorgan Chase

SEIU union janitors protest in Los Angeles (Flickr/Slobodan Dimitrov)

The Supreme Court this week dealt a blow to the nation’s struggling labor unions. In a 5-4 decision along  ideological lines, the court ruled that some government workers who decline membership in the unions that represent them can’t be forced to pay collective bargaining fees.

Just over 11 percent of the U.S. workforce belongs to a union today, the lowest rate in more than 70 years.  Continue reading

Carbon Control: What America’s New Climate Change Offensive Looks Like

UPDATE: On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters like power plants and factories.

The Obama administration dropped the proverbial climate change bomb earlier this month when it announced a groundbreaking plan — without congressional approval — to significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions over the next 15 years. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains what these new rules set out to do.

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World Cup Basics Explained Really Fast (Including the Slack Rules of Stoppage Time)

Includes video and interactive map

Correction: Several readers astutely pointed out that the map below of qualifying teams in the 2014 World Cup had inaccurately labeled Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the English national team. Big faux pas! While part of Great Britain, these three are undoubtedly distinct from England — which has already been ousted from the tournament. Each have their own national teams (none qualified for the Cup this year), and for reasons of historic and cultural rivalry, often support England’s opponents. The map’s boundaries have been updated accordingly. And to all you Scots, Welsh and residents of Northern Ireland (and their die-hard fans): mea culpa.

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Map: How America’s Immigrant Population Changed Over the Last Century

Includes interactive maps

America’s immigrant population today looks a lot different than it did 100 years ago, during the nation’s last wave of immigration. And while this may come as little surprise (a century is a long time, after all), the degree of demographic contrast is striking.

The interactive maps below are based on tabulations by Jens Manuel Kroogstad at Pew Research, using data from the 2009-2011 American Community Surveys and the 1910 Census. Birthplace is self-reported by respondents, and countries of origin and U.S. states are defined by their modern-day boundaries. Click the tabs above the map to select year.

1910

2010

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