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
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
2
Out of stock
All I want for Christmas is a functional supply chain.
18 min
3
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
4
Iran’s hostage industrial complex
Iran is entering its fifth decade of taking hostages. One who made it out tells his story.
25 min
5
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
6
How Squid Game won Netflix
And whether the show’s message is being lost in the shuffle.
20 min
7
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
8
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
9
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
10
A vaccine for malaria
But also, should we kill all the mosquitoes?
16 min
11
Drill, baby, drill
An energy expert explains why offshore oil spills keep happening and whether they’ll ever stop.
24 min
12
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
13
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
14
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
15
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
16
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
17
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
18
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
19
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
20
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
21
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
22
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
23
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
24
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
25
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
26
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
27
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
28
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
29
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
30
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
31
Horse paste?
Neigh!
22 min
32
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
33
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
34
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
35
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
36
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
37
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
38
Jeopardy!
I’ll take public scandal for $1000.
25 min
39
Fleeing Afghanistan
The Afghan refugee crisis started long before the US withdrawal. Al Jazeera English correspondent Ali Latifi explains from Kabul.
18 min
40
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
41
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
42
How to forgive
In this episode of Vox Conversations, the Atlantic’s Elizabeth Bruenig shares forgiveness strategies built for unforgiving times.
54 min
43
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
44
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
45
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
46
How the Taliban took back Afghanistan
And did it faster than the US ever imagined.
21 min
47
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
48
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
49
“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
50
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
51
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
52
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
53
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
54
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
55
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
56
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
57
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
58
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
59
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
60
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
61
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
62
Infrastructure Pete
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explains what he and his boss are calling a once-in-a-generation spending plan.
18 min
63
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
64
Our No. 2 problem
America’s sewage system is total crap, but there’s a new plumber in town.
23 min
65
Why we can’t have nice trains
And how it got so dam expensive to build things in America.
25 min
66
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
67
#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
68
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
69
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
70
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
71
Postcards from pandemic purgatory
Travel around the globe to hear how disparately people are experiencing the pandemic in July 2021.
22 min
72
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
73
CAHOOTS
Thirty years ago, Eugene, Oregon, figured out an alternative to the police. They called it CAHOOTS. Seriously.
28 min
74
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
75
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
76
The case for drinking
Getting buzzed helped build civilization.. The Atlantic's Kate Julian explains.
26 min
77
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
78
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
79
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
80
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
81
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
82
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
83
Why stuff is getting more expensive
Vox’s Emily Stewart explains how scared you should be of inflation.
20 min
84
The delta variant
The fast-spreading coronavirus variant first detected in India is coming for the rest of the world.
17 min
85
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
86
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
87
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
88
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
89
QAmom
What to do when your mom is with Q.
25 min
90
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
91
You know who kinda crushed Covid?
Senegal. Vox’s Jen Kirby flew there to find out how.
23 min
92
Mare of New York
New York City is picking a new mayor with a new election system. What could go wrong?
23 min
93
Mexico’s deadly election
Gangs and drug cartels killed dozens of candidates in Mexico’s midterm elections. Voters weren’t intimidated.
18 min
94
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
95
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
96
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
97
Myanmar wants a revolution
Despite a violent terror campaign by the military junta, protesters are still fighting for a new government. The latest conflict is uniting ethnic and religious groups that have long been at odds with one another.
21 min
98
The Tulsa massacre, 100 years later
It was one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history, but for a long time very few Americans learned what happened to the Black residents of the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Guest host Jamil Smith explores why — and how — that’s changing.
23 min
99
The truth is out there
UFOs are having a renaissance. The New Yorker’s Gideon Lewis-Kraus explains what we stand to learn from an expected government disclosure, and why we want to believe.
30 min
100
MO Medicaid MO Problems
Missourians voted for more Medicaid. Missouri lawmakers said no. St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum explains what happens when you bypass the will of the people.
24 min