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Pulled Over: Your Rights with the Police [An Illustrated Guide]

Riots erupted in Ferguson, Mo. in August after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old. The incident drew national attention to the issue of police force, particularly in low-income communities of color, where relations between law enforcement and residents are often tense. It also underscored the importance of people knowing what their rights are when stopped by the police, and how to act appropriately during these interactions to best avoid potentially dangerous confrontations. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains the rules of engagement (source links below). Continue reading

Burned Out: Why Western Wildfires Have Gotten Bigger, Hotter and More Out of Control [Comic]

The 2014 fire season was predicted to be a doozy, and so far it hasn’t failed to disappoint. Prolonged drought conditions throughout the West, felt particularly hard across the Golden State, have resulted in a string of large, destructive and extremely costly blazes, charring huge swaths of forest in Northern California and the Northwest and leaving local and federal fire prevention agencies dangerously strapped for staffing, funding and resources. As of September 4, over 38,000 fires had been reported since the beginning of 2014, burning more than 2.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Why has fire season gotten so much longer, more dangerous and increasingly expensive? Comic journalist Andy Warner explains the heated history. Continue reading

Four Factors Fueling the Rage in Ferguson

Includes interactive charts
Day six of protests in Ferguson (Loavesofbread/Wikimedia)

Day six of protests in Ferguson (Loavesofbread/Wikimedia)

Relative calm seems to have been restored in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo, where the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black male shot by a white police officer, sparked nearly two weeks of fierce protest and rioting. But the underlying racial and economic tensions in the community that helped create such a powder keg have not gone away. And with increasing poverty in a growing number of suburban communities across the country — including several in the Bay Area — Ferguson’s issues certainly aren’t unique.

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The ISIS Threat and Why Peace in Iraq Is So Hard to Find [An Illustrated Explainer]

Includes cartoon infographic

UPDATE: Since we first published this piece two weeks ago, embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki agreed (on August 15) — after days of tense standoff that brought the possibility of a military coup — to relinquish power and accept the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as the country’s new leader. Abadi, also a Shiite, belongs to the same party as his predecessor. Additionally, on August 18, President Obama announced that Iraqi special forces and Kurdish fighters, backed by American war planes, had retaken a strategic dam near the northern city of Mosul, which had previously been captured by Islamic extremists. Continue reading

College Is Expensive! But Is It Worth It?

Includes comic infographic
CostOfCollege_slice13 NOTE: This was originally published on Jan. 15, 2014

More Americans are attending college today than ever before. And that’s generally considered a good thing. But college tuition at both public and private universities has skyrocketed, leaving a growing number of graduates mired in debt and struggling to find decent employment in a sluggish economy. All of which begs the question: is the studying and sacrifice really worth it? With pencil in hand, comic journalist Andy Warner explores the issue. 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 last year faded quickly when the debate hit the bitterly divided House, where prospects for getting anything done have now been all but extinguished. 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

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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“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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