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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

If California Split into Six States, This Is What It Would Look Like

Includes interactive map

Click on different points on the map below to see which counties would be part of each one of California’s six new states, as outlined in a proposed ballot initiative. Per capita income and population figures are listed for each “state,” based on an analysis by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. The new jurisdictions underscore California’s extreme wealth disparities.

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legend

Think California’s just too darn big for its own good? Well now there’s a strong likelihood you’ll get to vote on it.

A Silicon Valley venture capitalist today submitted what he claims are enough petition signatures to get his initiative, to split California into six states, on the 2016 statewide ballot.

And no, this is not a joke. Continue reading

What is Inflation and Why Does it Happen? [An Animated Explainer]

Includes videos

Inflation. We hear about it an awful lot. But what’s it actually mean? What causes it? And why is grandpa always complaining about stuff getting more expensive? Stop motion guru Josh Kurz explains it all in this two-part video (you can also watch the whole thing as a single video here).

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Carbon Control: What America’s New Climate Change Offensive Looks Like

UPDATE: On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters like power plants and factories.

The Obama administration dropped the proverbial climate change bomb earlier this month when it announced a groundbreaking plan — without congressional approval — to significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions over the next 15 years. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains what these new rules set out to do.

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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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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

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