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 hosted by Sean Rameswaram and featuring the finest reporters from the Vox Media Podcast Network and beyond.

News
Daily News
Politics
1
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
2
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
3
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
4
Omicron
AA-muh-kraan or OH-muh-kraan
20 min
5
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
6
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
7
The Future of Work: Retirement should be fun
But somehow it got very scary.
29 min
8
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
9
Is Zillow really buying all the houses?
No. Vox's Jerusalem Demsas disproves a popular internet conspiracy theory.
23 min
10
Belarus manufactures a migrant crisis
Belarus is promising migrants passage to Europe knowing the EU will turn them away.
22 min
11
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
12
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
13
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
14
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
15
Astroworld
How a music festival became a death trap, and what it would take for it never to happen again.
24 min
16
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
17
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
18
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
19
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
20
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
21
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
22
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
23
Facebook’s Meta-morphosis
From the company that brought you alternate facts comes an alternate reality!
23 min
24
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
25
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
26
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
27
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
28
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
29
Out of stock
All I want for Christmas is a functional supply chain.
18 min
30
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
31
Iran’s hostage industrial complex
Iran is entering its fifth decade of taking hostages. One who made it out tells his story.
25 min
32
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
33
How Squid Game won Netflix
And whether the show’s message is being lost in the shuffle.
20 min
34
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
35
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
36
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
37
A vaccine for malaria
But also, should we kill all the mosquitoes?
16 min
38
Drill, baby, drill
An energy expert explains why offshore oil spills keep happening and whether they’ll ever stop.
24 min
39
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
40
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
41
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
42
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
43
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
44
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
45
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
46
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
47
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
48
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
49
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
50
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
51
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
52
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
53
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
54
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
55
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
56
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
57
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
58
Horse paste?
Neigh!
22 min
59
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
60
The four-day workweek
The pandemic has changed how we think about work. Vox’s Anna North says it might be time to change how much we work, too.
24 min
61
The Texas abortion law
Texas didn't just make it almost impossible to get an abortion, the state made it easy to sue somebody who gets one after about six weeks of pregnancy — and anyone who helps. KUT reporter Ashley Lopez explains.
18 min
62
After the Afghan evacuation
The United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan is officially over. Vox’s Nicole Narea explains what’s next for the more than 100,000 refugees evacuated from Kabul.
18 min
63
Recallifornia
California could elect a Republican governor in a few weeks. KPCC reporter Libby Denkmann explains how. And the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law argues the state's recall election process is unconstitutional.
25 min
64
ISIS-K
The attack outside the Kabul airport on Thursday was perpetrated by an extremist group that doesn't think the Taliban is extreme enough.
24 min
65
Jeopardy!
I’ll take public scandal for $1000.
25 min
66
Fleeing Afghanistan
The Afghan refugee crisis started long before the US withdrawal. Al Jazeera English correspondent Ali Latifi explains from Kabul.
18 min
67
Booster shots
Vox’s Umair Irfan explains why you might need one. The Atlantic’s Sarah Zhang says the coronavirus is here forever, but ultimately, it might not be so bad.
23 min
68
Addicted and alone
The pandemic wiped out the slow but steady progress America had been making against another deadly disease: opioid addiction. The Washington Post’s Peter Jamison explains.
18 min
69
How to forgive
In this episode of Vox Conversations, the Atlantic’s Elizabeth Bruenig shares forgiveness strategies built for unforgiving times.
54 min
70
Taliban 2.0
The Taliban last controlled Afghanistan 20 years ago. They may be more pragmatic now, but their ideology hasn’t changed.
25 min
71
Who counts as white on the census?
Some recent analysis of America’s changing demographics is inaccurate and dangerous. NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang makes sense of the 2020 census.
21 min
72
Back-to-back crises in Haiti
An assassination followed by an earthquake followed by a tropical storm strike a country where aid organizations often have more influence than Haitians.
20 min
73
How the Taliban took back Afghanistan
And did it faster than the US ever imagined.
21 min
74
Delta in the Delta
Covid-19 is surging so high in several states, you’d think we didn’t have a vaccine. A Mississippi nurse who was initially skeptical explains her path to getting the shot.
18 min
75
The allies left behind
While the US withdraws from Afghanistan, the Taliban is surging, which is a likely death sentence for the thousands of Afghans who helped the US military. An interpreter who escaped explains.
22 min
76
“Code red for humanity”
A new UN report says humans are “unequivocally” causing climate change. Rich countries are to blame, but poorer ones, like Madagascar, are paying the price with an unprecedented climate-induced famine.
19 min
77
Oye Cuomo va
People said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo would never resign. Then he did. New York magazine contributing writer David Freedlander explains.
18 min
78
Were the Olympics worth it?
The pandemic Olympics have come to an end. NPR’s Tom Goldman provides a highlight reel and an evaluation from Tokyo.
22 min
79
An MVP for the world
Giannis Antetokounmpo went from hawking watches and DVDs on the streets of Greece to winning an NBA championship for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Ringer’s Mirin Fader tells the story of his improbable rise.
32 min
80
The fight to ban evictions
Democrats this week scrambled to extend a federal evictions moratorium amid the government's failure to deliver tens of billions of dollars to renters in need. Vox’s Ian Millhiser and Jerusalem Demsas explain.
20 min
81
Who owns Amanda Knox?
The new Matt Damon movie, Stillwater, is based on Amanda Knox’s story. She wishes someone had asked her to tell it.
29 min
82
Collect $5 billion. Do not pay taxes.
The Roth IRA was invented by Congress to incentivize middle-class retirement savings. ProPublica’s Justin Elliott explains how venture capitalist Peter Thiel ended up with $5 billion in his.
25 min
83
The Provincetown cluster
Vox’s Dylan Scott explains what an outbreak in a mostly vaccinated beach town taught the CDC about the delta variant.
18 min
84
The spike in gun violence (Part II)
A Philadelphia election tested progressive ideas on how to reduce shootings in America. ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis explains.
24 min
85
The spike in gun violence (Part I)
The nation’s murder rate rose by almost 25 percent last year — the largest increase in at least 60 years. This year might be even worse. ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis reports on “The Great Regression.”
25 min
86
The Capitol police speak
Capitol police officers testified on Tuesday in the building they defended on January 6. Seamus Hughes, a former congressional investigator, explains whether their testimony will make a difference.
22 min
87
The Covid Olympics
The 2020 Games were mired in scandal before they even started. Vox’s Jen Kirby explains how things are going now that the Olympics have finally begun.
18 min
88
Panic! At The Delta
Vox’s Umair Irfan explains why the United States is seeing another Covid-19 surge. Dr. Rhea Boyd says the country is getting unvaccinated people all wrong.
22 min
89
Infrastructure Pete
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explains what he and his boss are calling a once-in-a-generation spending plan.
18 min
90
Human infrastructure
President Biden wants infrastructure spending to include child care, elder care, food assistance, even community college. Vox’s Anna North explains how he might convince Republicans in Congress.
21 min
91
Our No. 2 problem
America’s sewage system is total crap, but there’s a new plumber in town.
23 min
92
Why we can’t have nice trains
And how it got so dam expensive to build things in America.
25 min
93
Hot infrastructure summer
It’s a big week for President Biden’s infrastructure plans. Vox’s Li Zhou explains the obstacles in his way, and a historian says one of them is our collective memory.
22 min
94
#FreeBritney was right
Britney Spears returned to conservatorship court this week. Vox’s Constance Grady explains how Spears has rapidly become the face of a legal reform movement.
24 min
95
Cuba's had enough
Cubans hit the streets for unprecedented protests against their communist government. CNN's Patrick Oppmann is on the ground in Havana with spotty wifi.
23 min
96
The Lone Star strategy
Republicans in Texas are legislating so far to the right the state’s Democrats up and fled to Washington, DC. Vox’s Nicole Narea explains.
17 min
97
What’s happening in Haiti
The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse is the latest in a long line of setbacks for Haiti’s stability. AyiboPost’s Widlore Mérancourt explains from Port-au-Prince.
24 min
98
Postcards from pandemic purgatory
Travel around the globe to hear how disparately people are experiencing the pandemic in July 2021.
22 min
99
Where to go when the world burns
An estimated 143 million people will relocate to escape climate change in the next three decades. Quartz’s Amanda Shendruk explains how cities can transform themselves into climate havens.
19 min
100
CAHOOTS
Thirty years ago, Eugene, Oregon, figured out an alternative to the police. They called it CAHOOTS. Seriously.
28 min