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The Supreme Court Ended Mixed-Race Marriage Bans Less than 50 Years Ago

Includes video and map

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The last time the Supreme Court took up a case on marriage equality was 46 years ago when about one-third of all states in the country still had laws that banned people of different races from marrying each other. This week all eyes are on the High Court as it prepares to hear oral arguments on two cases related to same-sex marriage. At issue is whether gay marriage bans violate the rights those couples have to equal treatment under the law, as guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Court’s rulings on both cases – expected by June – will likely be considered landmark decisions, ones that could potentially result in a dramatic widening of marriage rights for same-sex couples throughout the country … or a preservation of the status quo. The issue, though, harkens back to another, often forgotten, landmark civil rights decision from 1967 that similarly addressed marriage equality and the concept of equal protection of the law,  long before the notion of legalized same-sex marriage was considered even a remote possibility. Continue reading

A New Pope For A New Catholic World

Includes interactive map, infographics, and video
Photo by: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Photo by: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

In our hyper-connected world, where success is often measured by the number of “followers” and “friends” we have, becoming pope is pretty much the holy grail.

I mean, think about it: you become pope, and just like that, you’ve got 1.2 billion followers. Take that Twitter!

That’s about how many Roman Catholics there are in the world today, according to Vatican figures. That’s more than 1 in 7 people on the planet who subscribe to the belief that the pope is one of the closest mortals to God. And it makes the papacy an incredibly powerful global force.

Among those ranks, a steadily growing majority live in the global south, more than 40 percent of whom hail from Latin America. Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the world, and three other Latin American countries are in the top 10, according to the the World Christian Database (as reported by the BBC). Roughly three-quarters of Latin America’s entire population — about 483 million — is now Catholic.

Click through the map below – produced by The Globe and Mail, using 2010 data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life – to find the size of each country’s Catholic population as a percentage of its overall population.

Continue reading

Are States With Tough Gun Laws Actually Safer?

Includes interactives and video

Source: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Gun control advocates say yes. Gun rights folks beg to differ.

Big surprise on that one.

Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, an advocacy group pushing for tougher regulations, assigned every state a grade based on 29 different policy approaches to regulating firearms and ammunition. California topped the list with an A-. New York, which now requires background checks for ammunition sales, has since surpassed it in the toughness of its gun laws. It’s the first state to enact such legislation following the Newtown shooting. And  efforts in a handful of other states — including California and Colorado —  to strengthen gun laws are already underway. Continue reading

The State of the Union Explained in Four Visualizations

Includes multimedia visualizations
President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, gives the State of the Union address. (Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, gives his 2013 State of the Union address. (Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty Images)

So, what did the big guy actually say? These four multimedia resources help sort through the nitty gritty of the president’s speech. Continue reading

I Do … I Think? Making Sense of Gay Marriage in the Golden State

INCLUDES: ARTICLE; INTERACTIVE MAP; KQED RADIO AND PBS VIDEO CLIPS

cityhall

For the better part of the past decade, California has been engaged in an epic battle over, well, getting engaged. The multiple court cases, votes, legal victories, reversals, protests, celebration and more protests have kept same-sex couples in an ongoing state of marital limbo and made it downright confusing to keep track of where things stand. Continue reading

What Are Political Party Platforms?

Includew printable PDF

Flickr

By Donelle Blubaugh
Contributor

What are political party platforms and how much impact do they have in actual political decision-making?

During the Republican and Democratic national conventions this summer, you probably heard a lot about the party platforms”  These are actual documents that communicate the key principles of a political party and its core ideologies. Namely, what’s our government for and how should it serve the people?  Recreational reading, they are not. But understanding them can help voters steer through some of the election-season spin. The platforms actually provide some real, concrete insight into how party officials and candidates stand on critical issues – things like the economy, education and foreign affairs and social policies. Continue reading

Who Votes? 20 Years of State-by-State Voter Participation Rates, Visualized

Includes interactive maps and charts

This interactive graphic, produced by the Pew Center on the States sheds light on how voters in each state, and the nation overall, have participated in elections, from 1990 through 2010. Check out voting trends over time across three separate measures of the election process: the number of registered voters, the number of ballots cast, and the number of votes counted. Visit Pew’s site for the full-size version.

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.

Continue reading

9/11 Turns Eleven: Three Major Lasting Impacts

Includes: embedded videos

Eleven years ago today, America wasn’t engaged in any foreign wars. We deported half as many immigrants as we do today. And getting through airport security was a total breeze.

A lot can change in a just over a decade. America’s involvement in the War on Terror – in reaction to  9/11 – resulted in new attitudes and concerns about defense and vigilance. The change ushered in a series of government policies like the USA Patriot Act that prioritized national security, often at the expense of civil liberties.

Here are three of the many dramatic transformations brought on by the events of 9/11: Continue reading