Author Archives: Matthew Green

Matthew Green runs KQED’s News Education Project, a new online resource for educators and the general public to help explain the news. The project lives at kqed.org/lowdown.

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.

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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

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

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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How Chinese Memes Circumvented Censorship on Tiananmen Square Anniversary

Includes photo and video

UPDATE: The rubber duck meme was NOT censored this year (only in 2013). Even the most subversive memes, it turns out, have limited shelf life.

Yellow-rubber-duck-008

Tanks are replaced by giant ducks in this photoshopped version of the iconic Tienanmen Square image that was posted on a popular Chinese microblog last year before being removed by censors.

It’s safe to say it was the first time the term “Big Yellow Duck” had ever been censored.

But had you searched for it (in Chinese) on June 4 last year on Sina Weibo, China’s biggest microblog site, a message would tell you it couldn’t be shown “according to relevant laws, statutes and policies.”

So what gives?

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Demystifying California’s Top-Two Primary System

acgov.org

How it works

The top-two system made its debut in 2012  after voters approved Proposition 14 two years earlier. But this is the first primary where the new rules take effect in statewide races.

The basic gist: you can vote for any candidate in a particular race regardless of political party affiliation. That’s because every candidate from every party is lumped together in one big political crock pot (yes, that’s crock, not crack). And for most state races, any voter can choose a candidate from any party. Continue reading

Old Enough to Drive, Too Young to Vote: Rethinking America’s Voting Age Limits

Includes videos

Flickr/Liz the Librarian

They all pay sales tax. They have to abide by the same laws as everyone else. And many are old enough to work and get behind the wheel. But for teenagers under 18, the right to vote remains elusive.

And that’s not fair say many student rights groups across the country who for years have pushed to lower America’s voting age to 16. In a nation with notoriously low levels of voter turnout, advocates argue, allowing more young people to vote would boost civic participation and give students a much needed voice.

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“Schoolhouse Rock” Revised: What it Really Takes to Pass A Bill in Congress

Includes videos and interactive chart

Remember that catchy “I’m Just a Bill” cartoon from the 1970s? For many of us, it was our first civics lesson (and introduction to bell-bottoms). But given the intense gridlock in today’s Congress — which will go down as one of the least productive in history — it’s fair to say that the lovable cartoon may have missed a few steps in explaining how laws are made. To fill in the gaps, the news explainer site Vox created a revised version for this era of congressional dysfunction. It’s modeled on the steps leading to the passage of the DATA Act, a recent bill that actually survived the gauntlet of Capital Hill.

[Article continues below videos]

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Map: Real-Time California Wildfire Tracker

Fire season’s come early to California this year. In San Diego County, nine wildfires are raging, which, as of Friday afternoon, have already scorched more than 20,000 acres. The blazes are an ominous precursor to what promises to be a long, dry, combustible summer ahead.

This interactive map, created by Google Crisis Response, is updated in real-time. It shows wildfire locations, perimeters and weather conditions. Click the bottom menu for a legend and additional map layers.