Map: Real-Time California Wildfire Tracker

Fire season’s come early to California this year. In San Diego County, nine wildfires are raging, which, as of Friday afternoon, have already scorched more than 20,000 acres. The blazes are an ominous precursor to what promises to be a long, dry, combustible summer ahead.

This interactive map, created by Google Crisis Response, is updated in real-time. It shows wildfire locations, perimeters and weather conditions. Click the bottom menu for a legend and additional map layers. 

Why All the Hype about Thomas Piketty’s “Capital”?

Includes videos

It’s nearly 700 pages. It covers dense economic theory. And it’s written by a French guy you’ve probably never heard of.

So why is “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” Thomas Piketty’s far-reaching economic analysis of global inequality, flying off the shelves faster than a new Beyoncé album?

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What Does Climate Change in California Look Like? [Infographic]

Includes infographic
California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

Be it torrential rains or severe droughts, huge wildfires or rising sea-levels, every corner of the United States has been — and will continue to be — impacted by the effects of human-induced climate change.

That’s the scenario presented last week by a team of scientists who described a series of sweeping environmental changes of near biblical proportions.

The government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, notes that many of these changes have resulted from an average temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. It warns that U.S. temperatures could increase by more than 10 degrees by the end of this century if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Continue reading

Why Thousands of California Felons May Soon Get Their Voting Rights Restored

State prison inmates in Chino by Kevork Djansezian/Getty

California inmates in a Chino prison (Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

You can’t vote in California if you’re serving time in state prison or released on parole.

But you can vote if you’re doing time in county jail for a misdemeanor or released on probation.

[RELATED: Interactive map of felon voting laws by state]

Simple enough, right?

Not really. Continue reading

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

A Brief History of May Day and the Battle for the 8-Hour Work Day

Includes videos

The Haymarket affair, as depicted in a Harper’s Magazine engraving (Wikimedia Commons)


For some, May Day is a time to prance like a wood nymph around a flower-wreathed pole. But that’s probably not what thousands of workers around the world have in mind when they take to the streets today. 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

Income Inequality in America, An Illustrated Guide

Includes illustrated infographic

IncomeInequality_slice2A few years ago, Occupy Wall Street protests spread like wildfire in cities across the country, forcing a focus on America’s gaping income gaps. The issue took center stage for a time, making headlines, grabbing the attention of elected leaders and sparking some hope that real change was within reach. But when the protest camps were dismantled and the media crews packed up their equipment, the nation’s attention quickly shifted elsewhere. In the end not much had changed. Today the income divide remains as steep as it was the day the protests began. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains just how deep America’s economic divide really is. (Sources listed below graphic)

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A Brief History of Earth Day

Includes videos
earth_day

Donning a gas mask, a demonstrator participates in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. (AP)


Quick quiz:

1. Which labor organization helped fund and organize the first Earth Day celebration?

2. Who said this:

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions … It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will wreak the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”

Keep reading for answers. Continue reading