Bob and Jane Smith have two vehicles: One is a 15 MPG (miles per gallon)pickup truck that Bob uses for his construction job. The other is a 28 MPG sedan that his wife Jane uses for her work commute. The couple wants to upgrade to something more fuel efficient, but only has the cash to replace one of their vehicles. Assuming each drives the average American distance of about 13,500 miles per year, which of the following options would save the most gas?
a. Replacing the 28 MPG sedan with a 38 MPG compact
How much trash do you think you produce in a day? How about a year?
It adds up a lot faster than you might think — especially in the United States, which collectively generates more garbage — or municipal waste — than any other nation on earth. With only five percent of the world’s population, America creates roughly 25 percent of the planet’s waste. On average, each American produces more than seven pounds of trash a day (or 2,555 pounds a year) according to a recent Columbia University survey. That’s a big pile of garbage, and it’s the cause of some unsettling consequences. But it’s also great fodder for a catchy animated music video, composed by the folks at Explainer Music for The Lowdown. Continue reading →
Nelson Mandela, who rose from the shackles of apartheid to lead the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as the nation’s first black president, died Thursday at the age of 95. His life and legacy make for an amazing, inspiring narrative deserving close study and celebration. These six multimedia resources provide a good introduction to one of the seminal figures of the 20th Century.
Workers and advocates demonstrate outside of a McDonald’s in Oakland last summer. (Flickr/Steve Rhodes)
Fast-food workers at restaurants in more than 100 cities across the country, including Oakland and other East Bay cities, are walking off the the job today in a push for a major wage hike.
Backed by organized labor, the one-day actions are part of a year-old campaign to highlight the difficulties low-wage workers face in paying for basic living costs.
Following on the heels of similar protests last summer, demonstrators are demanding a wage of $15 an hour, a significant — though unlikely — raise from the current average fast-food industry wage of less than $9 an hour. Continue reading →
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.
For the record 47 million people who rely on food stamps — about 1 in 7 Americans — paying the cost of a full Thanksgiving meal tomorrow may be a bit tougher than it was last year.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
On Nov. 1, monthly benefits for most families on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were reduced by about 5 percent. That amounts to roughly $36 in cuts per month for a family of four — from $668 to $632 — based on maximum benefit levels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency overseeing the program. The reductions stem from Congress’ refusal to renew about $5 billion in additional benefits that were provided as part of the 2009 stimulus bill.
So how does that translate in Thanksgiving dollars?
In its annual survey, the Farm Bureau Federation — a conservative group — calculated the average cost (nationwide) of all the standard fixings in a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people at about $49 – or $4.90 per person. Even assuming the cheapest ingredients and small portion sizes, it’s a very conservative and somewhat dubious estimate and obviously varies significantly by region. But for the sake of argument, let’s use it. (See the last Lowdown post for the breakdown of costs.)
Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders from five other world powers reached a temporary agreement early Sunday with Iran on its controversial nuclear program. The deal, good for six months while a more conclusive arrangement is negotiated, is intended to curb the development of Iran’s nuclear program. In exchange, there will be an easing of international sanctions against Iran, that have long crippled its economy. Although criticized by Israel and a host other nations that remain highly skeptical of Iran’s intentions, the deal has been hailed as a historic diplomatic breakthrough, a step forward after roughly a decade of failed negotiations. Continue reading →
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.