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.

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. 

Why All the Hype about Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”?

Includes videos

It’s nearly 700 pages. It covers dense economic theory. And it’s written by a French guy you’ve probably never heard of.

So why is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Thomas Piketty’s far-reaching economic analysis of global inequality, flying off the shelves faster than a new Beyoncé album?

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What Does Climate Change in California Look Like? [Infographic]

Includes infographic
California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

Be it torrential rains or severe droughts, huge wildfires or rising sea-levels, every corner of the United States has been — and will continue to be — impacted by the effects of human-induced climate change.

That’s the scenario presented last week by a team of scientists who described a series of sweeping environmental changes of near biblical proportions.

The government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, notes that many of these changes have resulted from an average temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. It warns that U.S. temperatures could increase by more than 10 degrees by the end of this century if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Continue reading

Why Thousands of California Felons May Soon Get Their Voting Rights Restored

State prison inmates in Chino by Kevork Djansezian/Getty

California inmates in a Chino prison (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

You can’t vote in California if you’re serving time in state prison or released on parole.

But you can vote if you’re doing time in county jail for a misdemeanor or released on probation.

[RELATED: Interactive map of felon voting laws by state]

Simple enough, right?

Not really. Continue reading

The Death Penalty Divide: Which States Have It, Which States Don’t? [Map]

Includes interactive map
Oklahoma execution room (OK Dept. of Corrections)

An execution room in Oklahoma (Okla. Dept. of Corrections)

The botched execution of a condemned man in Oklahoma last week reignited America’s perennial debate over the death penalty and the ethics of capital punishment.

Among western democracies, the United States stands alone in its continued use of capital punishment. Since 1976, when the Supreme Court ended a brief moratorium, 1379 inmates have been executed at the hands of the state, and more than 3,000 remain on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The death penalty is currently legal in 32 states — including California, where a 2012 voter initiative to ban it was narrowly defeated –  as well as within the federal justice system.  Continue reading

A Brief History of May Day and the Battle for the 8-Hour Work Day

Includes videos

The Haymarket affair, as depicted in a Harper’s Magazine engraving (Wikimedia Commons)


For some, May Day is a time to prance like a wood nymph around a flower-wreathed pole. But that’s probably not what thousands of workers around the world have in mind when they take to the streets today. Continue reading

In NBA, A Stark Racial Divide Between Players and Management

Includes interactive charts
Clipper website

The homepage of the Clippers ‘ website on Tuesday, in response to racist remarks attributed to the team’s owner.

For a guy who seems concerned about associating with African-Americans, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling may have chosen the wrong industry to work in.

Sterling, who has a record of allegedly discriminatory behavior, was caught on tape asking his girlfriend (a woman of color) not to post photos of herself with black people — in this case Magic Johnson — and not to be seen at games with them. Continue reading