Wisconsin’s Walker works to the right

March 12, 2015

What does a new Wisconsin law have to do with the 2016 election? As this Reuters graphic shows, this week it became the 25th state to enact a ‘right to work’ law. Signing the law, which absolves workers from paying union dues, even when they when they benefit from union contracts, bolsters presidential hopeful Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union bona fides.

Nasdaq looks different 15 years after its peak: then and now

March 11, 2015

Happy anniversary, Nasdaq. It has been 15 years since the dot.com bubble peaked on March 10, 2000, and the Nasdaq composite index hit its lifetime intraday high of 5,132. Back then many of us were watching reality TV shows like “Survivor” and bidding up stocks of companies that had no earnings.

Around the world on zero fuel

March 10, 2015

‘Around the world in 80 days’ is so 19th Century. Solar-powered, five-month tours of the planet are the new artisanal escape.

Mapping China’s pollution problem

March 9, 2015

Finally some promising environmental news out of China.

Traditionally defiant on climate change issues, China in January enacted a new law aimed at curbing pollution. The measure, which accords more powers to punish lawbreaking officials, appears to have been behind the recent closure of steel mills in Hebei and Shandong provinces. As this Reuters graphic shows, the breadth and depth of China’s pollution problem is dire. Measured in concentrations of particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller, 2010-2012 levels in some parts of China were more than seven times unhealthy levels, with Heibi and Shandong among the least healthy provinces.

The 9 rules of Wile E. Coyote, Girl Scout cookie switcharoo, Mad Men movies and more

March 6, 2015

Once again, Data Dive scoured the Web for the week’s most interesting light links. Here’s what we found.

The Islamic State’s scorched earth play

March 6, 2015

Islamic State militants turned to scorched earth on Thursday, lighting fire to oil wells north of Tikrit in an effort to elude advancing Iraqi and Kurdish forces. This Reuters map of contested Iraqi and Syrian land looks like paint splatters of Iraqi Security Forces, Islamic State and Kurdish-controlled territory. Not coincidentally, large pockets of this land also contain much of Iraq’s (and Syria’s) oil infrastructure, with oil fields and pipelines under the the control of each of the battling groups. 

Banking on the future of mobile money

March 5, 2015

The future of banking is in your pocket.

According to the World Bank, more then 2.5 billion people don’t have access to banking services. In many parts of Africa and Central Asia, fewer than 15 percent of adults have an account with a formal financial institution. But there’s good news: The world’s richest couple think we can do better. In the 2015 Gates Annual Letter, Bill and Melinda Gates describe how technology–specifically, mobile phones–will be key to a future of financial freedom for billions. “Already, in the developing countries with the right regulatory framework, people are storing money digitally on their phones and using their phones to make purchases, as if they were debit cards,” they write.

Legislating was easier on Schoolhouse Rock

March 4, 2015

Remember the 1975 Schoolhouse Rock classic “I’m Just a Bill“? It describes the process of how a bill becomes a law with a succinct, sing-songy ease. On paper—and in song—the process is easy but fraught. Our sad little scrap of paper sings:

Fantasy trading: If Apple were listed in the Dow

March 3, 2015

What if Apple joined the 30-member Dow Jones Industrial Average?

Sustained dominance has turned Apple into a cultural force. Imagining what the tech behemoth could do, buy or influence with its vast hordes of cash has become something of a parlor game. After a record-setting first quarter yielded $74.6 billion in revenue and a quarterly net profit of $18 billion, Kristen Scholer blogged for the Wall Street journal:

A relationship beyond Obama and Netanyahu

March 2, 2015

It is safe to say that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival in the U.S. has met with a mixed reaction.