Government

Law, power and political participation

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Cartoon: How the Supreme Court Stripped the Voting Rights Act of its Muscle

Includes cartoon infographic

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act significantly weakens the federal government’s authority toi prevent voter discrimination in state and local elections. In the second of his three-part illustrated series on voting rights in America, Andy Warner explains the court’s decision and the immediate implications of the ruling (see part 1 here). View the full graphic below the slideshow.

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Cartoon: New Age of Voter Suppression Tactics in Wake of Supreme Court Ruling

Includes cartoon infographic

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision last June to strike down a key oversight provision in the Voting Rights Act, a handful of states enacted controversial new voting rules that had previously been barred. In the third part of his illustrated series (see part 1 and part 2), Andy Warner explains some of these changes. View the full graphic below the slideshow.

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These Disunited States: Two Geographic Visions of America’s Deep Divides

Includes maps
15_communities

Courtesy of Dante Chinni_ACP

Courtesy of Tufts Magazine

Courtesy of Tufts Magazine

America as 11 separate “nations”

“There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.” That’s according to author and Portland Press Herald reporter Colin Woodward. In a recent Tufts Magazine article – and in greater detail in his book American Nations — Woodard argues that much of North America can be neatly divided into 11 separate nation-states — from Yankeedom and the Far West, to the Left Coast and the Deep South — each shaped heavily by its unique geography and dominant ethnicities, Shaped since the early days of settlement, the distinct cultures of these regions, he notes, are determinate factors in a wide range of social and political positions, from voting patterns to attitudes on government and violence.  Continue reading

Poverty Line Problems: The History of an Outdated Measurement (Infographic)

Includes Cartoon Infographic

Poverty_Line_Problems_Slice6Following up on his last cartoon infographic exploring “the poverty threshold” in the United States, graphic journalist Andy Warner digs into the concept behind “the poverty line,” the origins of that measurement and why it’s considered so outdated today. View it below in full, or in segments as a slideshow. Continue reading

The Debt Ceiling: What Is it, Why Do We Have It and What Do We Owe?

Includes images, video and charts
usd-us-debt_ceiling-2012-16394_billion_USD-v1

This is what U.S. federal debt looks like in physical dollars (and bear in mind that today’s debt has grown to more than $17 tirllion). Image by demonocracy.info

And here I was just starting to get my government shutdown groove on.

I mean, without the thrill of waking up every morning to the debt default doomsday machine ticking down to the brink of economic catastrophe, life honestly seems a bit mundane. At least Congress didn’t go too nuts and actually resolve the issue;  they just went ahead and did what any rational group of people do when confronted with a difficult situation: they put it off for another day — you know, kicked the can down the road. Anyone smell a sequel? (And yes, I’ve already reserved front row tickets for Round 2 in January. I hear it’s gonna be awesome. My sources tell me that before the final death match, John Boehner reveals himself as President Obama’s real father).

But seriously … With the stroke of a pen, the government sputtered back to life last Thursday morning after Obama and Congress ended a 16-day political standoff that had left large swaths of the federal government shuttered and put the U.S. at risk of losing it’s ability to borrow money. The compromise allows federal agencies to resume operations, reopen public facilities and abruptly end the unpaid staycations of hundreds of thousands of furloughed employees. Continue reading

Chart: How BART Pay Compares to Pay at Other Big Transit Agencies in California

Includes interactive charts
Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Ah, BART. Never a dull moment.

If only its unions and management could learn the virtues of unity and cooperation that our elected officials in Washington have so magnanimously exhibited (hmmm …).

Well, it’s happened again. At the stroke of midnight, following a breakdown in negotiations, unionized BART workers went on strike, grinding the entire rail network to a disgruntled halt just in time for the Friday morning commute. Continue reading

A Brief History of BART (And How We’ve Come To So Depend On It)

Includes video
Some original BART employees, circa early 1970s (courtesy of bart.gov)

No, not the original Star Trek cast: BART employees, circa early 1970s (courtesy of BART.gov)


Bay Area traffic might suck, but Bay Area traffic without BART sucks a whole lot more.

It’s a fact that was made painfully clear in early July to the hundreds of thousands of Bay Area workers who were subjected to cruel and unusual commute conditions created by a strike and system-wide shutdown of the 104-mile regional transit system.

And now, as another BART strike looms, Bay Area commuters are again faced with the prospect of horrendous traffic conditions on the horizon.

Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny the essential role BART plays in moving the Bay Area.  Continue reading

Infographic: What Does it Mean to Be Poor in America?

Includes cartoon infographic

By Andy Warner

Poverty_Trend_SliceintroEarlier this month — back in the good ole’ days when our government was actually functioning (sort of) — the U.S. Census Bureau released a series of 2012 income data for American households (and no, I can’t provide the link, because the Census site is still closed for business). The figures shows that despite the nation’s supposed economic recovery, average American household incomes didn’t really budge from where they were the year before. Meanwhile, the poverty rate remained at roughly the same level as it was in 2011 as well. The data underscore a growing gap in wealth inequality in America, with the incomes of lower and middle class households stagnating, while those among the wealthiest continue to rise at a rapid clip. In this comic infographic, graphic journalist Andy Warner breaks down these figures and what they mean for the millions of average American families still just scraping by. To view it as a slideshow in individual segments, click the thumbnail below.
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Closed for Business: 7 Great Resources Explaining the Government Shutdown

Includes links to multimedia resources
Wikipedia

Wikipedia

Remember when you were a kid fighting with your siblings at the dinner table and your mom warned that if you couldn’t get along then no one got dessert?

That, in a nutshell, is essentially what’s going on with the federal government shutdown — the first in 17 years — that began October 1. Only instead of a bunch of whiny little kids kicking each other under the table, insert a gaggle of squabbling elected officials arguing about Obamacare, and replace chocolate cake with — oh I don’t know — little treats like national parks and NASA, and you’ve pretty much nailed down the current meltdown in Washington. Continue reading

Explaining Insurance Exchanges and Other Sexy Healthcare Lingo

Includes video animations

I’m going to go out on a limb here in suggesting that the nitty gritty of the Affordable Care Act may not be the most exciting topic of conversation. But now, even as the government settles into shutdown mode, state insurance exchanges across the country are opening their virtual doors for business, offering a healthcare marketplace to the million of uninsured Americans. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation produced this series of short animated explainers on some of the central components of the law and the programs it establishes. These are concepts that get thrown around a lot in the news but are pretty hard to grasp. So take a look (and just maybe, you’ll be the hit of the cocktail party). Also, check out KQED’s comprehensive interactive Obamacare guide to explore the topic in greater depth.

Health Insurance Exchanges

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