Today, Explained

News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Today, Explained is your all killer, no filler, Monday to Friday news explainer co-hosted by Sean Rameswaram and Noel King. Every episode features the finest reporters from the Vox Media Podcast Network and beyond.

News
Daily News
Politics
101
Throwing money at the migrant crisis
Vice President Kamala Harris just attended Honduras’s presidential inauguration. Her trip was really about the US-Mexico border.
18 min
102
Spotify’s Joe Rogan problem
The podcast host built a massive audience by speaking to fringe figures in culture, business, and science. During the pandemic, that got him in trouble with Neil Young, among others.
29 min
103
Honey, I shrunk the kids’ tax credit
The US government let the expanded child tax credit expire ... just as researchers produced a study showing giving parents money might help improve brain development in kids.
25 min
104
Ukraine’s pipeline problem
The US is negotiating to stop Russia from invading Ukraine, but a Germany-backed natural gas project complicates things.
19 min
105
Breyer to Reteyer
Vox’s Ian Millhiser says American politics shifted during Justice Stephen Breyer’s career, until he no longer had a place in them.
20 min
106
Joe Biden, r u ok?
Build Back Blunders, and other presidential misadventures.
24 min
107
A Syrian war criminal is actually going to prison
Crimes against humanity are rarely prosecuted successfully, but a Syrian colonel got a life sentence for just that. Documentarian Adithya Sambamurthy explains how Germany is spearheading the effort.
22 min
108
China’s Winter Olympics (feat. Covid-19)
The Games don’t begin until February 4, but the drama around the pandemic, free speech, and diplomatic boycotts has been building for months. NPR’s Emily Feng explains from Beijing.
25 min
109
10 Downer Street
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing political ruin because his aides partied while the UK locked down.
25 min
110
The man with a pig heart
That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
24 min
111
The James Webb Time Machine
To look into deep space is to look back in time. Ahead of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, Unexplainable talked to scientists who hope to see “cosmic dawn,” a period long ago when the first starlight transformed the universe.
24 min
112
The James Webb Space Telescope
This Sunday, the greatest telescope in the history of humanity is scheduled to reach its destination nearly a million miles away from Earth. Vox’s Unexplainable explored what it will do when it gets there.
26 min
113
Chile’s millennial president
The 35-year-old president-elect in Chile loves tattoos, Taylor Swift, and progressive policies. Gabriel Boric will now try to overhaul the government as Chile rewrites its constitution.
24 min
114
Why Russia sent its janky version of NATO to Ka...
The speedy arrival of CSTO troops in Kazakhstan is unprecedented in the 30-year history of the Russia-backed regional security alliance.
16 min
115
"Break the Senate"
President Joe Biden wants to change how the Senate works to pass voting reforms. Sen. Mitch McConnell is threatening hell if it happens.
25 min
116
Novax Djokovic
How the best-ranked men’s tennis player in the world went to Australia to become the greatest of all time and ended up being detained.
27 min
117
No substitutes for the substitutes
What happens when all the teachers get sick?
21 min
118
The high cost of cheap clothes
Fast fashion took over the apparel industry, but consumers are tiring of its poor labor and environmental standards. Vox’s Terry Nguyen explains.
22 min
119
Life on the Russia-Ukraine border
Russia has kept its military at Ukraine’s doorstep for almost a decade. But a recent escalation on the border is creating fears of a full-blown invasion.
24 min
120
Theranope
A tech startup said it could start a medical revolution with a little machine and a drop of blood. It was a fraud, but research into smarter, less invasive blood testing is a reality.
22 min
121
Will omicron speed up the pandemic’s end?
The omicron variant is very transmissible, but it might make Covid-19 less miserable.
20 min
122
America still can’t agree on its insurrection
One year later, the United States is still trying to wrap its head around what happened on January 6, 2021. (It was an insurrection.) This year, our democracy once again will be tested.
31 min
123
2021
4 min
124
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s American dream
Giannis Antetokounmpo went from hawking watches and DVDs on the streets of Greece to winning an NBA championship for the Milwaukee Bucks. In this repodcast, the Ringer’s Mirin Fader tells the story of his improbable rise.
33 min
125
Taylor’s version
One of the biggest pop stars in the world is rerecording her first six albums at the artistic peak of her career. In this repodcast, the Atlantic’s Shirley Li explains Taylor Swift’s strategy.
26 min
126
The spike in gun violence
America's homicide rate rose by almost 30 percent in 2020. It was the biggest spike in 60 years, and the murder rate was even higher in 2021. In this repodcast, ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis explains what might be causing “The Great Regression."
47 min
127
Four days of work?
The pandemic changed how we think about work. In this repodcast, Vox’s Anna North says it might be time to change how much we work, too.
24 min
128
Good news
2021 was better than 2020. Here's proof.
16 min
129
Vanessa Nakate’s climate optimism
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate has been ridiculed, erased, and let down by the world's most powerful people. She explains how she remains hopeful for her movement and our planet.
24 min
130
We scored Biden’s first year
The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos evaluates President Biden’s first year in office and whether Biden managed to lower the temperature after the January 6 insurrection.
26 min
131
Who killed Malcolm X?
Nearly 60 years after the assassination of Malcolm X, some of the men wrongly put in prison for killing him are finally being redeemed. Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, from the documentary series "Who Killed Malcolm X?", explains whether the true killers will ever be brought to justice.
30 min
132
The blood diamond of batteries
Cobalt is powering the electric vehicle revolution, but much of the world’s supply is mined under deadly conditions in Congo. Journalist Nicolas Niarchos explains Congo's resource curse.
27 min
133
(Some) omicron answers
Thanks to South Africa, the world now has some data on omicron’s severity, transmissibility, and whether or not the vaccines will protect us from it.
21 min
134
Operation Flex
A bodybuilder posing as a Muslim convert was welcomed into a California mosque. When he showed signs of extremism, members reported him to the FBI, only to learn that he was their informant. Now, their story is before the Supreme Court.
31 min
135
Why we still can't predict tornadoes
Most people get about eight minutes' advance warning of a tornado. This episode of Vox’s Unexplainable podcast explores how scientists need to confront more of these storms, head on.
20 min
136
The new meth
While the nation’s attention has been focused on the opioid crisis, a new, more dangerous form of methamphetamine has swept across the country.
19 min
137
The fastest economic collapse ever
That’s what the United Nations says is taking place in Afghanistan right now.
22 min
138
Are you vaxxed, fellow kids?
Today, Explained returns to Cramer Hill Elementary School to explore the challenges of vaccinating children against Covid-19.
27 min
139
The shooter's parents
The mass killing at Oxford High School in Michigan may seem comparable to those that preceded it, but the aftermath has taken several new turns.
21 min
140
Africa wants its stuff back
The world’s most illustrious museums are finally having to reckon with the stolen art in their collections.
20 min
141
C is for Culture War
Big Bird got vaccinated, an Asian-American Muppet moved in, and conservatives got really mad at Sesame Street.
25 min
142
What happened to Peng Shuai
A tennis star accused a former top Chinese official of sexual assault. Then she vanished. Now her case is changing sports in China.
27 min
143
Unraveling Roe
The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains how the Court could undo Roe v. Wade without overruling it.
18 min
144
Space trash
Russia blew up a satellite and almost put the International Space Station in a precarious position. Recode’s Rebecca Heilweil explains how humans are trashing space. A space environmentalist (!) explains what cleanup might look like.
21 min
145
Omicron
AA-muh-kraan or OH-muh-kraan
20 min
146
Salmonella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh
A deadly salmonella strain is spreading through American poultry, and there’s not much the government can do to stop it. ProPublica’s Bernice Yeung explains.
21 min
147
Kyle Rittenhouse and the “self-defense” defense
After the Chicago Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair runs through the Rittenhouse trial and verdict, legal scholar Eric Ruben explains how “self-defense” can apply to shooting unarmed people in public.
27 min
148
The Future of Work: Retirement should be fun
But somehow it got very scary.
29 min
149
Why it's hard to find rapid tests in the US
And why they're easy to find in Europe (though they don't seem to be helping much at the moment).
24 min
150
Is Zillow really buying all the houses?
No. Vox's Jerusalem Demsas disproves a popular internet conspiracy theory.
23 min
151
Belarus manufactures a migrant crisis
Belarus is promising migrants passage to Europe knowing the EU will turn them away.
22 min
152
Inflation nation
Consumer prices are rising at their fastest rate in 30 years. Vox’s Emily Stewart explains why this is bad news for for drivers, shoppers, and President Biden.
20 min
153
The Future of Work: The gig is up
A third of American workers do gig work. In the third part of our series, The Future of Work, learn how the pandemic helped them discover their power.
27 min
154
China’s pursuit of ‘Zero Covid’
China’s 1.4 billion people are averaging fewer than 100 cases of Covid-19 a day. All it takes is the willingness to shut down anything at any time.
24 min
155
So I elected an Oath Keeper
Extremists in the right-wing militant organization known as the Oath Keepers are present in law enforcement and in the military. Now, thanks to reporting from ProPublica’s Isaac Arnsdorf, we know they’re in the government, too.
25 min
156
Astroworld
How a music festival became a death trap, and what it would take for it never to happen again.
24 min
157
Trillion-dollar Biden
You win some and you lose some. Just ask President Biden, who started last week with electoral setbacks and ended it with a big f***ing deal.
20 min
158
The Future of Work: OOO
They said the office would never be the same. In part two of our series, The Future of Work, what happens to your workplace when they're right.
26 min
159
The case for climate reparations
While world leaders have descended on Glasgow to try to figure out how to slow emissions in the future, New York magazine’s David Wallace-Wells argues rich countries like the United States should also atone for their polluting past.
26 min
160
Sudan’s coup
After a bloody fight for democracy, Sudan is sliding back into the hands of the military. CNN’s Nima Elbagir says a successful military coup could have dire consequences for democracies around the world.
21 min
161
School board brawl
It's Election Day in the USA. This time around, the nasty political fights and insurrections are going local. NPR's Anya Kamenetz explains.
22 min
162
For whom the door bells
While the doorbell recovers from Halloween, Nice Try explains how it’s an essential part of the American dream.
44 min
163
The Future of Work: “I quit!”
There are millions of job openings in America, and millions of Americans are still not able to find work that suits. In the first part of our series, The Future of Work, Recode’s Rani Molla explains “the great reassessment.”
26 min
164
Facebook’s Meta-morphosis
From the company that brought you alternate facts comes an alternate reality!
23 min
165
Chappelle's Show(down with the trans community)
Vox's Aja Romano explains how Dave Chappelle's latest standup special led to a reckoning at Netflix. Vulture's Craig Jenkins assesses whether there's anything funny in it.
28 min
166
The Alec Baldwin shooting
Variety’s Brent Lang explains how cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on the Rust film set—and how the tragic shooting might catalyze positive change in the entertainment industry.
24 min
167
Ruthless County, Tennessee
For 11 years, a Tennessee judge sent kids to jail for a crime that doesn’t exist. Nashville Public Radio’s Meribah Knight explains why that judge is still in charge of “juvenile justice.”
23 min
168
The Supreme Court’s legitimacy crisis
Since the Supreme Court’s "shadow docket" decision to allow the Texas abortion ban to go into effect, a growing chorus of politicians and legal experts have questioned the court’s legitimacy. Vox's Ian Millhiser says the justices aren’t taking the criticism well.
27 min
169
Steve Bannon in contempt
The House is holding Steve Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena as part of its January 6 investigation.
23 min
170
Out of stock
All I want for Christmas is a functional supply chain.
18 min
171
What does Kyrsten Sinema want?
Tim Murphy from Mother Jones explains how Sen. Kyrsten Sinema went from a left-wing activist to a Biden obstructionist.
28 min
172
Iran’s hostage industrial complex
Iran is entering its fifth decade of taking hostages. One who made it out tells his story.
25 min
173
How the iPhone changed everything
In 2007, Steve Jobs introduced a product that would change our lives forever. The new season of Land of the Giants explores “The Apple Revolution.”
33 min
174
How Squid Game won Netflix
And whether the show’s message is being lost in the shuffle.
20 min
175
Covid little pill
Vox’s Umair Irfan explains how a new pill that might soon be authorized by the FDA could fill major gaps in treating Covid-19.
19 min
176
Why body cameras don’t work
Body cameras were supposed to bring greater transparency to law enforcement. The case of Ronald Greene suggests police departments are still learning how to use, and even abuse, a new tool.
26 min
177
The Fyre Festival of vaccine rollouts
The city of Philadelphia put an opportunistic 22-year-old in charge of its vaccine rollout. Nina Feldman of WHYY’s Half Vaxxed podcast explains how it went just as badly as you’d expect.
24 min
178
A vaccine for malaria
But also, should we kill all the mosquitoes?
16 min
179
Drill, baby, drill
An energy expert explains why offshore oil spills keep happening and whether they’ll ever stop.
24 min
180
The Facebook whistleblower
Facebook kicked off the week with an outage and followed that up today with a whistleblower testifying before Congress. The Wall Street Journal’s Jeff Horwitz explains how the company may have misled the public about the dangers of its social networks.
26 min
181
How do you do, fellow kids?
School’s been back for a month. Today, Explained spent a month checking in with Cramer Hill Elementary to find out how it’s going.
24 min
182
The $5,000 butt
The Brazilian butt lift isn’t just a cosmetic surgery; it’s a lifestyle. Vox’s Rebecca Jennings explains how influencers gave a decades-old procedure new life.
30 min
183
The humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island
Twelve people at Rikers Island have died in custody so far this year. The pandemic is only part of the problem, explains Nick Pinto, who is covering the string of deaths for the Intercept.
29 min
184
Are boosters good science — or just good politics?
Former CDC Director Nancy Messonnier and former White House Covid-19 adviser Andy Slavitt join Sean at Code Conference in Los Angeles to explain the back and forth on vaccine booster shots.
33 min
185
Democrats play chicken
Moderates and progressives are threatening to vote down different parts of their own party’s agenda, all while a government shutdown looms. Vox’s Li Zhou explains why.
18 min
186
Why is Guantanamo still open?
A former Defense Department adviser says President Biden might succeed where President Obama failed, and the man formerly known as “Detainee 441” speaks.
30 min
187
Free college for everyone!
President Biden wants to give Americans four more years of free school: two years of pre-K and two of community college. In a two-part series, Today, Explained’s Haleema Shah explores the challenges of expanding public education.
27 min
188
The cost of free preschool
President Biden wants to give Americans four more years of free school: two years of pre-K and two of community college. In a two-part series, Today, Explained’s Haleema Shah explores the challenges of expanding public education.
25 min
189
The disappearance of Gabby Petito
Vox’s Aja Romano explains why the internet stopped what it was doing to find one particular missing person.
20 min
190
Haitians at the southern border
Vox’s Nicole Narea explains the latest border crisis, and Ayibopost’s Widlore Mérancourt documents deported Haitians’ return to Port-au-Prince.
24 min
191
Xi Jinping cracks down on everything
Chinese President Xi Jinping has kicked off a "rectification" campaign that’s affecting every sector of Chinese society and business. Lily Kuo, the Washington Post's China bureau chief, explains.
20 min
192
Zemari Ahmadi
A US drone strike in Afghanistan was meant to take out an ISIS-K target. Reporting on the ground shows an aid worker and several children were killed. Matthieu Aikins, reporter at the New York Times, explains from Kabul.
27 min
193
Havana syndrome
The US military is redoubling its efforts to figure out what’s behind reports of mysterious sonic attacks. So is Vox’s Unexplainable podcast.
27 min
194
Another bite at the Apple
A California judge weighed in on whether Apple has a monopoly. NPR’s Bobby Allyn unpacks the ruling. Sen. Amy Klobuchar explains why she wants the government to get serious about regulating Big Tech.
20 min
195
Biden’s second shot
President Joe Biden is taking a new approach to fight the pandemic. Former acting CDC director Richard Besser explains the vaccine mandates and the booster shot debate.
22 min
196
The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein has been dead for over two years, but his crimes and mysterious death still haunt his victims and friends. The Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown explains.
22 min
197
The Jessica simulation
A love story between a person who's alive and a person who is dead, told by the San Francisco Chronicle's Jason Fagone.
29 min
198
School’s back. Covid never left.
NPR’s Anya Kamenetz explains how America is sending its kids back to school while delta surges. Politico’s Lauren Gardner has the latest on vaccines for kids.
23 min
199
Horse paste?
Neigh!
22 min
200
The cost of 9/11
The Department of Defense tracks how much US wars cost, but last week President Biden cited instead accounting from the Costs of War Project at Brown University. Its co-director, Stephanie Savell, explains why.
27 min