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
1
Authoritarianism, baby!
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán traveled to Texas for CPAC this week. Back home, he’s trying to fight population decline by paying some citizens to have more kids. But a real solution involves one weird trick Hungary — and US conservatives — hates.
23 min
2
Monkeypox is a queer emergency
Gay men, queer people, and their partners represent an overwhelming majority of monkeypox cases. But even though the WHO just declared the disease a global health emergency, resources like vaccines, testing, and treatment remain largely out of reach. Health reporter Keren Landman and virologist Joseph Osmundson explain.
23 min
3
Did Joe Manchin just save the planet?
Probably not, but he did finally compromise on the Inflation Reduction Act (née Build Back Better), which could be the most significant climate spending bill in US history. Vox’s Li Zhou and Rebecca Leber explain.
23 min
4
Pelosi in Taiwan
China didn’t want Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit Taiwan. Neither did the White House. Politico’s Alex Ward explains why she went anyway.
23 min
5
America has Afghanistan’s money
The US froze billions in Afghanistan’s central bank reserves when the Taliban took control. Now it’s wrestling with how to trust the Taliban with the Afghan people’s money.
23 min
6
The Island of Explained: Plant-based party
An invitation to a vegan party sends producers Kiarra and Izii to the Island of Explained, where a giant who once ate people explains why he switched to a plant-based diet — and why that diet might be beneficial for humans, too.
16 min
7
Fighting climate despair
Climate change has driven some environmental activists to extremes. We talk about overcoming despair with Terry Kaelber, whose husband David Buckel took his life to protest inaction, and Tim DeChristopher, who was imprisoned for his activism.
23 min
8
Are we in a recession?
The US economy has shrunk for two consecutive quarters. That’s technically a recession. But economists aren’t so sure we’re actually in one. Madeleine Ngo and Jacob Goldstein explain.
23 min
9
Riding in Cars with Robots
The data is in on autonomous cars: They are crashing, but they're still doing a lot better than regular cars driven by humans. The Verge’s Andrew Hawkins and Vox’s Marin Cogan take the wheel.
23 min
10
Replacing Boris Johnson
Britain’s Conservative party is spending the summer choosing its next prime minister. The Atlantic’s Tom McTague introduces the candidates vying to replace him.
23 min
11
McMoscow
The 1990 opening of a McDonald's in Russia heralded not just burgers and fries but, get this, a new era of peace and prosperity. The Economist’s Patrick Foulis explains how the promises of globalization never entirely materialized.
23 min
12
Wrestling with Vince McMahon
The CEO who turned World Wrestling Entertainment into a global brand has retired after nearly 40 years, amid allegations of sexual assault and infidelity. Journalist Abe Riesman explains the rise and fall of Vince McMahon.
23 min
13
Dry Hot American Summer
As the world heats up, the American West is dryer than at any period in the past 1,200 years. But don’t expect people to stop watering their lawns.
23 min
14
FYI those telescope photos are kinda fake
But the images from the Webb Space Telescope still provide our best look yet at the formation of the universe. NASA astrophysicist Amber Straughn and science journalist Josh Sokol unpack humanity’s newest glimpse at the cosmos.
23 min
15
BA.5 and DIY Covid
Surging cases, Paxlovid rebounds, and apathy everywhere. Vox’s Dr. Keren Landman explains how to navigate the do-it-yourself era of the pandemic.
23 min
16
What the January 6 committee has found (so far)
A congressional committee set out to offer the definitive story of the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Things got dramatic.
23 min
17
The Island of Explained: The missing firefly
Luz the firefly is missing, and producers Izii and Sara want to know why. They take a trip to the Island of Explained, where they learn why whole species are losing their habitats and what humans can do about it.
20 min
18
“To [REDACTED] a Mockingbird”
Some conservative parents are trying to get books about race and sexuality banned from libraries and schools. Author Clint Smith says it’s dangerous to ban books to eliminate discomfort.
23 min
19
Shinzo Abe’s call to arms
The assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe may have given his agenda to militarize Japan new life. Abe biographer Tobias Harris explains.
23 min
20
The case of the fake Basquiats
Art crime is booming and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings (or at least some very realistic forgeries) are the loot du jour. Reporter Brett Sokol and a guy who used to forge Basquiats explain.
23 min
21
Joe Biden’s Saudi vacation
Candidate Biden said he would make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on the world stage. Now President Biden is traveling there, asking for the kingdom’s help on gas prices.
23 min
22
Joe Biden’s tampon shortage
No, President Biden didn’t cause the tampon shortage — or any of the recent shortages. But that won’t stop him from taking the blame.
23 min
23
UFOMG
Congress just had its first hearings on UFOs in over 50 years. We revisit a 2021 episode where the New Yorker’s Gideon Lewis-Kraus explained why the US government started taking sightings seriously.
23 min
24
What if you could talk without speaking?
A groundbreaking new study claims to have found a way for a fully paralyzed person to communicate entirely via thought. But as we learned in an episode earlier this year, the scientists behind it have a checkered past.
23 min
25
How the US learned to love sanctions
The US hoped sanctions would end Russia’s war in Ukraine quickly. We revisit our conversation with historian Nicholas Mulder who explains the surprising history of economic penalties as a weapon of war.
23 min
26
Ask for Jane
Before Roe v. Wade, Eleanor Oliver was a Jane: a member of a group in Chicago that helped women get safe but illegal abortions. Sean Rameswaram sat down with her on the day Roe was overturned.
23 min
27
This country is a lot right now
The past week/month/year/pandemic has taken a toll on a lot of people’s mental health. And the US has proven woefully incapable of dealing with mental health for years.
23 min
28
Roe v. Wade v. God
A rabbi, a priest, and an imam walk into the abortion debate. The priest wins.
23 min
29
Abortion pills
It’s safe and easy to end a pregnancy during the first trimester using a pair of FDA-approved pills. Accessing them is the latest abortion battleground. Vox's Rachel Cohen explains.
23 min
30
Trigger bans
The Supreme Court’s decision was most immediately felt in states that pegged abortion bans to the fall of Roe v. Wade.
23 min
31
The end of Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court overturned a 49-year-old precedent that secured the right to an abortion. Irin Carmon from New York magazine breaks down the case and Vox’s Ian Millhiser argues the Supreme Court is undermining democracy.
23 min
32
Is Ukraine losing now?
The US is spending billions to arm Ukraine against Russian invaders. But without the proper training or supplies, Javelin missiles can only do so much.
23 min
33
The rise and fall of the “millennial lifestyle ...
Venture capitalists spent years subsidizing the price of things like Uber rides and food delivery. The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson explains why they’ve stopped.
23 min
34
From Russia with cash
Oligarchs from Russia and beyond stash their cash in British banks, which play a central role in the global offshore economy.
23 min
35
What if we saw the gunshot wounds?
John Temple was the editor of Rocky Mountain News in April 1999, when two students committed mass murder at Columbine High School. The photos he published that day would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize and enrage Daniel Rohrbough’s mom.
23 min
36
A gun policy game-changer
America’s gun violence epidemic is a public health crisis. After 24 years of blocked funding, Congress is finally starting to treat it like one.
23 min
37
Gun laws that work
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says tougher gun laws wouldn’t have stopped the Uvalde shooter. He’s wrong.
23 min
38
Let’s untangle the Second Amendment
It wasn’t until 2008 that the US Supreme Court established what a confusing sentence in the Constitution really meant for gun ownership. Sean Rameswaram reported on District of Columbia v. Heller for Radiolab’s More Perfect.
23 min
39
Has the gun control movement failed?
You might look at school shootings and think “Yes, obviously.” But two people who have been studying and participating in the movement for decades explain how its success isn’t obvious.
23 min
40
ConGRADulations, fellow kids
Ten months ago the faculty of Cramer Hill Elementary set out to get their kids back on track after a year of mostly remote learning. Today, Explained’s Miles Bryan attended eighth-grade graduation to see how they did.
23 min
41
Adderall via Instagram
The mental health startup Cerebral benefited from pandemic-era changes to federal telehealth laws. But its easy-to-get prescriptions for tightly regulated stimulants — heavily promoted on social media — have sparked a Department of Justice investigation.
23 min
42
Ugraine
Russia is weaponizing food by blockading Ukraine’s grain exports and withholding its own until other countries come to Putin to ask for it.
23 min
43
Boris Johnson presents: Motel Rwanda
The British government will deport UK-bound migrants to Rwanda. It’s part of a larger trend of rich countries offloading asylum seekers to poorer countries.
23 min
44
Innocence is not enough
The Supreme Court is going to let Arizona kill Barry Jones, a man whose rape and murder convictions were vacated in 2018.
23 min
45
Let’s vent about guns
We opened up our hotline. You called and asked questions. We found answers.
23 min
46
Why the economy feels bad right now
The stock market tumble and crypto crash are symptoms of a broader shift in the US economy. Jacob Goldstein explains the end of the “Goldilocks Era.”
23 min
47
How often can you get Covid?
Does your immunity still last for months? We asked a researcher who has been studying omicron reinfections.
23 min
48
Can women fix the police?
Police departments across the US are signing a pledge to increase the share of women in their ranks, hoping the move will help reduce excessive force by officers. Researchers say it’s not that simple.
23 min
49
The shooters were 18
Writer and parent Joanna Schroeder wrote a guide for parents about what to look out for and how to intervene.
23 min
50
Monkeypox!?!?
Good news: Epidemiologists don’t think monkeypox will be as bad as Covid-19. Bad news: We stopped vaccinating people against this type of disease decades ago. Vox reporter (and resident epidemiologist) Keren Landman explains.
23 min
51
How to not give up on gun control
Vox’s Marin Cogan, who lived through a school shooting herself, explains why she hasn’t given up on a solution to our gun problem yet.
23 min
52
Why the internet hates Amber Heard
It’s not just Johnny Depp’s fans — it’s Amber Heard’s anti-fans, too. The Atlantic's Kaitlyn Tiffany explains the Depp-ressing social media hate campaign.
23 min
53
Finland and Sweden have entered the chat
Their admission to NATO would further isolate Russia, leaving it the only Arctic country outside the alliance.
23 min
54
Why the right is thirsty for Hungary
The Conservative Political Action Conference, which is like Republican Coachella, is usually held stateside, but this week it's throwing a party in Budapest, Hungary. Noel King got kicked out.
23 min
55
So I elected an autocrat
Noel King traveled to Hungary to talk to people who voted for Viktor Orbán, people being persecuted by his government, and an American just along for the ride.
23 min
56
How to lose a democracy in 10,000 days
The same man who helped usher in democracy in Hungary is the one who’s chipping away at it now. American conservatives want to know how Prime Minister Viktor Orban did it.
23 min
57
Formula None
Millions of US parents are struggling to feed their infants due to a nationwide shortage of baby formula.
23 min
58
Dr. Oz and the celebrity politician
This week Pennsylvania voters decide whether to give Dr. Oz a shot at the US Senate. To mark the occasion, Sean Rameswaram tries to understand what makes a celebrity candidate viable, from “the Gipper” to “the Governator” to “the Donald.”
23 min
59
Is abortion in the Constitution?
Not explicitly, no. But neither is the right to travel from New York to New Jersey. NYU law professor Kenji Yoshino explains our unenumerated rights.
23 min
60
Sri Lankans have had enough
Sri Lanka’s “Go home, Gota!” protesters want to throw President Gotabaya Rajapaksa out of office. Reveal’s Ike Sriskandarajah explains what could happen if Gota "goes home" to the serene suburbs of Southern California.
23 min
61
Dictator Jr.
The son of repressive dictator Ferdinand Marcos was just elected president of the Philippines. All he had to do was rewrite his country’s history.
23 min
62
Free Brittney (Griner)
A week before Russia invaded Ukraine, it detained WNBA superstar Brittney Griner. Now the United States is turning up the pressure to get her released. ESPN’s T.J. Quinn explains.
23 min
63
A priest explains Putin’s “holy” war
Patriarch Kirill is the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. A former colleague describes him as a one-time anti-Kremlin nonconformist. Now, he’s blessing Russia’s war in Ukraine.
23 min
64
A cure for sickle cell?
Scientists have developed a long-sought treatment — perhaps even a cure — for sickle cell anemia. But getting it to patients might be an even bigger challenge.
23 min
65
Why little kids don’t have vaccines
And how the seemingly endless wait in the US is affecting their development.
23 min
66
One man’s crusade against Roe v. Wade
Indiana lawyer Jim Bopp has spent most of his life chipping away at Roe v. Wade. His incremental approach to overturning the Court’s decades-old precedent appears to have paid off.
23 min
67
Justice Alito’s opinion
A largely unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court decision reveals the Court’s conservative majority intends to overturn Roe v. Wade. New York magazine’s Irin Carmon explains what that means for reproductive rights.
23 min
68
Our (machine) gun problem
For less than $20 plus shipping everyday people can turn their handguns into machine guns. The Trace’s Alain Stephens explains the rise of the “auto-sear.”
23 min
69
Trumpbilly Elegy
Liberals turned to J.D. Vance’s book to better understand Donald Trump’s victory. Now the “Hillbilly Elegy” author is turning to Trump to try and win the Republican primary in Ohio’s Senate race.
23 min
70
Twitter’s new Musk
Elon Musk and Twitter have reached a deal. Recode’s Peter Kafka and Shirin Ghaffary explain what it means for the business of Twitter, and for free speech on the platform.
23 min
71
The Senate’s age-old old age problem
Dianne Feinstein’s colleagues are concerned the 88-year-old senator is struggling with memory loss, reports Tal Kopan of the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s raising concerns about Feinstein’s ability to do her job and the aging of America's politicians.
23 min
72
ok groomer
Accounts like “Libs of TikTok” are fueling right-wing media to label people who speak openly about sexuality and gender as “groomers.” Vox’s Aja Romano and the Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz explain this age-old practice.
23 min
73
El Salvador’s bet on bitcoin
By making bitcoin a national currency, El Salvador tried to transform its economy. Rest of World’s Leo Schwartz explains why the bet hasn’t yet paid off.
23 min
74
A rough week for mask mandates
A Florida judge ended the federal government’s mass transit mask mandate this week. Vox’s Dylan Scott explains if mask mandates are over forever and Dr. Kavita Patel explores how much of a difference that would make.
23 min
75
Russia’s mercenary army
The Wagner Group, a superviolent (and supersecretive) team of Kremlin-aligned mercenaries, is doing Vladimir Putin’s dirty work in Ukraine and around the world.
23 min
76
@elonmusk
Elon Musk says he wants to buy Twitter, but is also making 420 jokes. Kara Swisher (who knows him) and Liz Lopatto (who doesn’t) explain whether the world should take him seriously (or care).
23 min
77
How Dylan got inflation wrong
Last year, Vox correspondent Dylan Matthews didn’t think inflation would be a big deal. He wasn’t the only one to miss the mark.
23 min
78
The threat of Russian cyberwar
Russia is ramping up attacks on Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. The US could be next.
23 min
79
China’s grip on Hollywood
Warner Bros. is censoring the newest Fantastic Beasts movie for Chinese audiences. It’s the latest reminder that Hollywood’s reliance on China comes at a cost.
23 min
80
The end of January 6
The congressional committee investigating the Capitol insurrection has gathered an enormous amount of information. Now it must decide what to do with it. Politico’s Kyle Cheney explains five crucial decisions that remain.This episode was produced by Miles Bryan, edited by Matt Collette, engineered by Paul Mounsey, fact-checked by Laura Bullard, and hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
23 min
81
Let’s talk about Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden may not be the archcriminal that conservatives describe, but his actions present problems for his father (the president of the United States). Vox's Andrew Prokop explains.
23 min
82
Pakistan’s vote of no Khanfidence
Pakistan’s prime minister was ousted. He blames the US.
23 min
83
A grande victory for Starbucks workers
Starting a union can be a tall order, but many baristas have found it’s an effective way to venti their frustration with management.
23 min
84
Canceling Russian culture
Vladimir Putin says the West is trying to erase 1,000 years of culture. Arts organizations say they have an obligation to respond to the war in Ukraine.
23 min
85
Buffalo Billions
The Buffalo Bills are set to receive $850 million in public funds to build a new stadium — even though they’re owned by a fracking billionaire and weren’t threatening to leave. An economist explains whether publicly funded stadiums ever work out in the public’s favor.
23 min
86
Should Congress be able to trade stocks?
A 2012 law tried to limit lawmakers' ability to make money on Wall Street. It hasn’t worked.
23 min
87
The isolation of Vladimir Putin
The Russian president has come to rely on a skewed version of history and an increasingly small circle of advisers. Journalist Marvin Kalb explains what that means for the war in Ukraine.
23 min
88
Did we just invent telepathy?
A groundbreaking new study claims to have found a way for a fully paralyzed person to communicate entirely via thought. But the scientists behind it have a checkered past.
23 min
89
Umami Mama
For thousands of years, there have been four basic tastes recognized across cultures. But thanks to Kumiko Ninomiya (aka the Umami Mama), scientists finally accepted a fifth. As part of its Making Sense series, Vox’s Unexplainable podcast explores whether there could be even more.
34 min
90
Microdosing goes mainstream
There is growing support for psychedelics as performance enhancers, mood boosters, and a shortcut to therapy. The science is mixed.
19 min
91
Ukrainians (and Russians) meet US Border Patrol
The US southern border remains closed to asylum seekers on account of Covid-19, unless you happen to be Ukrainian.
22 min
92
The National Guard is tired
And in Texas, they’re trying to unionize.
21 min
93
“The greatest night in the history of television”
The Oscars were bordering on irrelevancy until Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage.
22 min
94
Is the war in Ukraine unwinnable?
One month in, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t going according to plan. Historian and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich explains how it might end.
22 min
95
(Ukrainian) refugees welcome!
As Poland welcomes almost 2 million Ukrainians in, it’s spending $4 million on a wall to keep Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans out. Vox’s Sigal Samuel explains the myth of the “deserving” refugee.
22 min
96
Mariupol under siege
The Russian military may have committed war crimes in its brutal attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. International law expert Philippe Sands explains how Vladimir Putin could be held accountable.
22 min
97
Permanent daylight saving time?
A bill to make daylight saving time permanent slipped through the Senate. Now, the real fight for time begins.
22 min
98
The Americans fighting for Ukraine
President Biden insists he won’t send American troops to join Ukraine’s war with Russia. Veterans like Alexander Szokoly joined the fight anyway.
23 min
99
South Korea’s incoming “anti-feminist” president
With its neighbor distracted by domestic culture wars, North Korea is making new moves.
22 min
100
“Don’t Say Gay”
The furor over Florida’s latest culture-war legislation has Disney, among the state’s largest employers, turning red.
22 min