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
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
2
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
3
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
4
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
5
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
6
Out of stock
All I want for Christmas is a functional supply chain.
18 min
7
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
8
Iran’s hostage industrial complex
Iran is entering its fifth decade of taking hostages. One who made it out tells his story.
25 min
9
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
10
How Squid Game won Netflix
And whether the show’s message is being lost in the shuffle.
20 min
11
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
12
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
13
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
14
A vaccine for malaria
But also, should we kill all the mosquitoes?
16 min
15
Drill, baby, drill
An energy expert explains why offshore oil spills keep happening and whether they’ll ever stop.
24 min
16
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
17
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
18
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
19
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
20
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
21
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
22
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
23
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
24
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
25
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
26
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
27
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
28
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
29
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
30
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
31
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
32
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
33
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
34
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
35
Horse paste?
Neigh!
22 min
36
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
37
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
38
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
39
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
40
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
41
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
42
Jeopardy!
I’ll take public scandal for $1000.
25 min
43
Fleeing Afghanistan
The Afghan refugee crisis started long before the US withdrawal. Al Jazeera English correspondent Ali Latifi explains from Kabul.
18 min
44
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
45
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
46
How to forgive
In this episode of Vox Conversations, the Atlantic’s Elizabeth Bruenig shares forgiveness strategies built for unforgiving times.
54 min
47
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
48
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
49
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
50
How the Taliban took back Afghanistan
And did it faster than the US ever imagined.
21 min
51
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
52
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
53
“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
54
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
55
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
56
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
57
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
58
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
59
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
60
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
61
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
62
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
63
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
64
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
65
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
66
Infrastructure Pete
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explains what he and his boss are calling a once-in-a-generation spending plan.
18 min
67
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
68
Our No. 2 problem
America’s sewage system is total crap, but there’s a new plumber in town.
23 min
69
Why we can’t have nice trains
And how it got so dam expensive to build things in America.
25 min
70
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
71
#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
72
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
73
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
74
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
75
Postcards from pandemic purgatory
Travel around the globe to hear how disparately people are experiencing the pandemic in July 2021.
22 min
76
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
77
CAHOOTS
Thirty years ago, Eugene, Oregon, figured out an alternative to the police. They called it CAHOOTS. Seriously.
28 min
78
Let’s talk about terror (Part II)
When people see Deeyah Khan's documentary about white supremacists, they tell her, "The real problem is jihad. You should spend time with jihadists." She says, "I did."
20 min
79
Let’s talk about terror (Part I)
Documentary filmmaker Deeyah Khan grew tired of receiving death threats from white supremacists so she traveled to a Detroit motel to meet up with one.
23 min
80
The case for drinking
Getting buzzed helped build civilization.. The Atlantic's Kate Julian explains.
26 min
81
Law & Order: Special POTUS Unit
The Trump Organization and its top lieutenant have been indicted for tax fraud. Andrew Prokop says the case could have uge implications for American politics.
19 min
82
Unfair housing
A housing watchdog says real estate companies often discriminate against low-income tenants who use federal rental assistance. Now it’s suing.
20 min
83
Canada’s residential schools
The discovery of mass graves of Indigenous children in Canada has led to reckonings on both sides of the border.
24 min
84
The doctors are not all right
Doctors have suffered psychologically throughout the pandemic, but as Vox’s Julia Belluz reports, those who seek mental health treatment in the US put their careers at risk.
32 min
85
Food fight
Restaurant delivery apps have made it possible to order pretty much anything we want to eat with the click of a button. The latest season of the Land of the Giants podcast explores the cost of that convenience.
32 min
86
Bish, don't kill my vibe
Catholic bishops want to deny President Biden communion, even though Pope Francis thinks that's a terrible idea. The Atlantic's Emma Green explains.
24 min
87
Why stuff is getting more expensive
Vox’s Emily Stewart explains how scared you should be of inflation.
20 min
88
The delta variant
The fast-spreading coronavirus variant first detected in India is coming for the rest of the world.
17 min
89
A $55,000 drug that doesn’t cure Alzheimer’s
After 20 years of waiting, there’s a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s. For some patients, it’s a glimmer of hope. For some scientists, it’s one of the FDA’s worst drug approval decisions ever.
27 min
90
Tales from the crypto
Cryptocurrency is everywhere! And now some people are saying it could be good for the environment?! New York Magazine's Jen Wieczner is here to explain.
23 min
91
Once more unto the Brexit
The Atlantic’s Tom McTague provides a halftime report on Brexit. It appears it’s going very well for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
23 min
92
Israel is under new management
Benjamin Netanyahu is out. Israel has a new leader and a new coalition government. The question now is whether they bring anyone closer to peace.
17 min
93
QAmom
What to do when your mom is with Q.
25 min
94
The Kardashi-end
Over 14 years and 20 seasons of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the show rewrote the rules of reality TV, social media, marketing, and popular culture. Next up? Politics.
25 min
95
You know who kinda crushed Covid?
Senegal. Vox’s Jen Kirby flew there to find out how.
23 min
96
Mare of New York
New York City is picking a new mayor with a new election system. What could go wrong?
23 min
97
Mexico’s deadly election
Gangs and drug cartels killed dozens of candidates in Mexico’s midterm elections. Voters weren’t intimidated.
18 min
98
Critical race theory
Across the country, Republican lawmakers are pushing laws banning “critical race theory” in schools. It’s already had a chilling effect on teachers.
23 min
99
It’s getting harder to vote in America
Texas isn’t the only state advancing legislation that would disenfranchise voters in Democratic strongholds. Vox’s Ian Millhiser explains why some voter suppression efforts are worse than others.
25 min
100
The lab leak theory
The idea that Covid-19 emerged from a Chinese lab once sounded too fringe to take seriously. That’s starting to change.
23 min