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Who Made Your T-Shirt? The Hidden Cost of Cheap Fashion

Includes video/audio clips and infographics

(Photo by Art Cummings/Flickr)

 

Everyone likes a good deal.

And for that reason, most of us have flocked to clothing stores like H&M and Old Navy for the unbelievably cheap and expansive selection they offer.

T-shirts for five bucks; jeans and dresses for under $20. It’s almost like you can’t afford to not buy it.

Clothing is cheaper now than it’s ever been: today average Americans spend less than four percent of their total income on their wardrobes, about half what was spent 50 years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s almost cheaper today to buy a whole new wardrobe than to pay to wash your old one (a bit of an exaggeration, yes, but really not all that far off).

But you know the saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Same thing goes with your $5 t-shirt – it comes with some steep hidden costs. There’s no possible way retailers like H&M could be making billions in profits selling clothing at such low prices without there being some catch.

So what are we, the consumers, not seeing?

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Thinking Twice About California’s Three Strikes Law

Includes original video and additional multimedia resources

On November 6, California voters will decide whether the state should revise it’s tough-on-crime three strikes law. If passed, Proposition 36 would reduce sentences for second and third strike offenders. Opponents of the measure warn that doing so will lead to an increase in violent crime. San Francisco State University film students Owen Wesson, Aaron Firestone, Marine Gautier, and Daniel Casillas took to the road this fall to collect a range of perspectives on a thorny, emotionally-charged issue that questions how best to handle crime prevention and fairly administer justice in California.

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How Does California’s Tax System Work?

Includes our first original animation on California's tax system!

Taxes. Not too many folks like paying ‘em, and even fewer understand what they’re actually paying for. In November, California voters will decide on two major competing tax measures – Proposition 30 and 38. The initiatives are both intended to shield public schools from devastating budget cuts, although they each propose to do so in pretty different ways. Deciding which path makes the most sense requires first understanding the basics of California’s tax system. Pretty enticing, huh? Well, before we lose your attention to the latest gripping cat flick on YouTube, at least take a quick look at this animation produced by freelancer Josh Kurz. It’s a surprisingly digestible primer on a topic that’s admittedly pretty freakin’ dry … but one that’s also got some pretty huge real life consequences for almost all of us.
(Scroll down to see another KQED video and detailed summaries on both propositions)

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What Do Young Voters Care About?

Includes audio files

Roughly 46 million eligible voters this election are between 18 and 29 years old. That’s a pretty serious voting block.

So, what issues do young people care about? What are their ideas about government and the role it should play in our lives?

Well, rather than blindly hypothesizing, KQED decided to (gasp) actually ask them. Directly.

In partnership with three other public media organizations on the West Coast, we launched a series called “Voices of Young Voters”. This fall, we spent a bunch of time on college campuses around the Bay Area, asking young voters to weigh in on the issues they care most about in this election. Listen to to some of the responses below, and find many more here.

To Kill or not to Kill? California’s Death Penalty Debacle

Original video on California's death penalty

For the first time in nearly 35 years, California voters will decide on the fate of the state’s death penalty law. Proposition 34, on this November’s ballot, proposes a full repeal of the law, prohibiting the use of capital punishment. If passed, the measure would convert the sentences of all current death row inmates to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Not surprisingly, Prop 34 is among the most emotionally-charged issues on this year’s ballot, marking yet another chapter in California’s ongoing, soul-searching debate on justice and punishment. Filmmaker Jazmin Jones examines the emotional complexity and widely conflicting political views of an issue that has long divided Californians.

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Genetically Modified What? What’s the deal with GMOs (and should we know when were eating them)?

Embedded video and radio clips

This November, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, which proposes adding labels to food products containing ingredients hat have been genetically modified.

Genetically modified what?

Yeah – this is about as confusing as it gets, and there’s weird science behind the whole thing, which makes it even harder to understand for us normal folk. Continue reading

Obama’s New Immigration Rule: What’s it Do and Who’s it For?

Includes: Q&A; NPR clip; Colbert Report clip

John Moore/Getty Images

The message was short but – for a lot of young people – pretty sweet:

“Effective immediately, up to 800,000 young people living in the U.S. illegally will no longer be subject to automatic deportation.”

And with that executive order, announced June 15, President Obama shook up in America’s immigration policy.

At least a little bit. Continue reading

Prop 29: Should Smoking in California Be More Expensive?

Includes: article, interactive map, radio and video clips

Dr. Jaus/Flickr

That’s the underlying question that Proposition 29 poses to California voters, who go to the polls in June to decide if smokers should pay an extra buck in taxes for a pack of cigarettes.

What would Prop 29 do?

If passed, the measure – called the California Cancer Research Act – would add an additional dollar to a pack of cigs and other tobacco products sold in California (amounting to five more cents/cigarette). It would more than double the current tobacco tax rate – the most dramatic increase in the state’s history.

The estimated $735 million (annually) in new revenue (adjusted for tax revenue lost from the projected decrease in sales) would go toward a special fund administered by an appointed committee to support research on cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, as well as prevention and enforcement initiatives. None of it would be used for medical treatment. Continue reading