A year of protest, as seen through street art

2019 will go down as a year of worldwide unrest. In the last few months, protests have raged from Haiti and Venezuela to Iraq and Lebanon, from Russia to Canada.

Around the world, citizens are frustrated about inaction on climate change or angry about government corruption. Some protests have made international news; others have come and gone with less attention. But one thing many of them have in common is the presence of protest art.

The quality and wit of signs, murals, and costumes are striking, prompting viewers around the world to think about …

Thousands of Google’s cafeteria workers have unionized

Around 2,300 cafeteria workers who work at dozens of Google campuses in the Bay Area, including the search giant’s main headquarters in Mountain View, have unionized.

The workers — who include dishwashers and food preparers who serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Google employees — voted last month to form a union after a campaign that’s been two years in the making, according to a source involved in the campaign.

Their organizing has gone largely under the radar even amid other high-profile worker activism at Google in the past year, which has included employee protests about sexual harassment, the …

California will require solar panels on all new homes. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Update, December 31: On January 1, 2020, California’s residential solar mandate will go into effect. Here’s our explainer, first published on May 15, 2018.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently voted 5-0 to add some new provisions to the state’s building code. Among them is the requirement that as of 2020, all new house and multi-family residences of three stories or fewer, along with all major renovations, must be built with solar panels.

Where solar is not suitable, homeowners must have access to a community solar project or receive efficiency upgrades that compensate. (There are some exceptions for buildings …

The hidden calories in your booze, explained

Three pints of India pale ale can deliver you half a day’s worth of calories. And a typical glass of California cabernet sauvignon today may have more alcohol and more calories than it would have a decade ago.

Who knew?

Unlike companies that make food, brewers, distillers, and winemakers aren’t required to disclose calories and ingredients on their cans and bottles. (They’ve lobbied against this kind of regulation for years.) And survey data has shown that very few people have any idea what’s in their boozy beverages of choice.

The public health community has pushed hard to change that. The …

Culture in the 2010s was obsessed with finding community — and building walls

Warning: Spoilers for the film Midsommar, the video game Night in the Woods, the book Pleasantville, the third season of Twin Peaks, and the musical Hadestown follow.

It’s when Dani discovers she can speak the language that she realizes she’s home.

Dani is the protagonist of the 2019 folk horror film Midsommar. She’s left the tatters of her life in America to join her boyfriend Christian and his buddies in far northern Sweden, as they research European midsummer rituals. Back home, Dani’s family has died in a horrific murder-suicide carried out by her sister. But …

Vox Sentences: an anti-Semitic attack at Hanukkah

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Suspect pleads not guilty in Hanukkah party attack

  • A man arrested for stabbing five Jewish people at a Hanukkah celebration now faces federal hate crimes charges. [New York Times / Michael Gold and Benjamin Weiser]
  • Grafton Thomas allegedly entered Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home Saturday night and attacked with a knife before fleeing the Hanukkah celebration. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem

California’s new privacy law, explained

Open Sourced logo

Your data, whether it’s your name, your location, or your shopping habits, has been a commodity for decades now. Collected, bought, sold, shared, transferred — however businesses get it, a lot of them have access to a lot of information about you. They use it in ways you never agreed to (and often that you’re not even aware of), and they make a lot of money off of it. And there wasn’t much you could do to stop them.

That’s about to change … to a point.

When the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA (which you can read in

Australia’s hellish heat wave and wildfires, explained

Australia is closing out 2019 amid yet another spike in heat, with temperatures topping 105 degrees Fahrenheit in Sydney and triple-digit temperatures throughout much of the country.

Such heat has become all too familiar for Australians: Australia ended last year with temperatures peaking close to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. But the current heat wave still stands out as it joins record-breaking hellish weather this month that has fueled massive bushfires in four states and sent choking smoke into major cities, with no end in sight.

A map of maximum temperatures across Australia on December 29, 2019.A map of maximum temperatures across Australia on December 29, 2019.
Severe heat has baked Australia in recent days.
Bureau of Meteorology/Australian Government

The fires have …

Trump’s use of homelessness as a political cudgel exposes his cynical disregard for blue states

Since Christmas, President Donald Trump has been cynically using homelessness as a political cudgel to attack blue-state Democrats who are making his life difficult.

Trump posted a string of tweets attacking Democratic politicians in California and New York for not doing more to help the homeless populations in their states — his implication being that they’re too distracted by impeachment or other legislative and legal oversight.

On December 26, Trump posted four tweets blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for not doing more to address homelessness.

“Crazy Nancy should clean up her filthy dirty District & help the homeless there. …

Ivanka Trump’s interview on Face the Nation could have aired on Fox News

Ivanka Trump did a rare non-Fox News interview with CBS for Sunday’s edition of Face the Nation. But given the way it obscured key facts, host Margaret Brennan’s approach to interviewing the president’s elder daughter and senior adviser would’ve fit right in on Fox & Friends.

The interview was mostly about a 12-week paid parental leave provision for federal workers that made it into the $738 billion 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) President Trump recently signed into law. That provision was included following a push from congressional Democrats who wanted something in return for the creation of