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Worldly

Author: Vox

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We live in a confusing time, bombarded every day with news from around the world that can be hard to follow, or fully understand. Let Worldly be your guide. Every Thursday, senior writer Zack Beauchamp, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams, and staff defense writer Alex Ward give you the history and context you need to make sense of the moment and navigate the world around you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.
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The end of Hong Kong

The end of Hong Kong

2020-07-0939:411

Zack and Jenn talk about China's new national security law in Hong Kong, a ploy by Beijing to seize more control of the semi-autonomous city. They explain how the law vacates Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms and how Hongkongers have been responding. Then they zoom out to talk about what the world can do to address the increasingly horrific human rights abuses of Xi Jinping’s government — and why the integration of China into the global economy, while tremendously beneficial in many ways, makes this all so much harder. References: Here’s Jenn’s piece with Conor Murray on the Hong Kong national security law and the immediate aftermath, which includes the photo Jenn mentioned of a pro-democracy lawmaker being arrested by riot police. And Vox’s Jen Kirby’s bigger explainer on the law and what it means for Hong Kong’s future. You can read the official English translation of the law itself here.  This is the tweet from the Hong Kong Police Force announcing the first arrest under the new law. A good piece from the Atlantic detailing how the law was crafted in secrecy without the input of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam or Hong Kong’s legislature. The NPR report Jenn referenced that talks about the new “National Security Committee” established under the law that allows Beijing to oversee prosecutions of the law in Hong Kong.   Here’s a chapter from a book from the Peterson Institute for International Economics that looks at the question of whether and under what conditions economic sanctions work to compel countries to change their policies. This is a great video explainer on China’s secret internment camps for Uighur Muslims; Jen Kirby has a thorough written explainer on the subject here; and Vox’s Sigal Samuel, who spent months reporting on the Uighur situation, did a Reddit AMA on the subject, the highlights of which you can read here. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack and Jenn break down the growing scandal surrounding intelligence reports that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to attack US troops in Afghanistan. They walk through the evidence so far that Russia did this and what Vladimir Putin’s motivations might have been. Then they talk about the evidence that Trump knew about it and did nothing — and how this points to a much bigger problem for American foreign policy in the Trump era. References: Zack has a really great explainer on the entire scandal  Here’s a collection of some of the key New York Times reports on the story: the first story they broke; the story about the data on financial transfers from a bank account linked to Russia’s GRU to a Taliban-linked account; and the story about the Afghan businessman alleged to have been the intermediary in the Russian scheme. Here’s Trump’s tweet calling this all a “Fake News Media Hoax” nearly a week after the news first broke This is the AP piece reporting that Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton personally briefed Trump on the intelligence in March 2019 And this is the New York Times report in which an intelligence official says the information was specifically included in Trump’s February 27 President’s Daily Brief Here’s more about one of the attacks on US forces in Afghanistan, outside Bagram Air Base, that is reportedly being investigated in connection with the Russian bounty scheme  This is a New York Times piece from May 2020 about how hard it is to get Trump to pay attention to and absorb the information he’s being given in his intelligence briefings, based on interviews with 10 current and former intelligence officials And here’s a Politico report that talks about how White House officials particularly don’t enjoy having to brief Trump on Russia-related issues because of his negative reactions when they do:  Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack and Alex cope with Jenn’s absence by talking about one of their favorite topics: North Korea. In recent weeks, North Korea ramped up military tensions with South Korea and literally blew up the latter’s de facto embassy in the country. It seems that the US-led negotiating process with North Korea, ongoing since 2018, has conclusively failed. The team explains what happened, the deep strategic and political reasons behind the talks’ collapse, and then predict what might happen with North Korea if Biden wins the 2020 US election. References: The New York Times has a great write-up for North Korea’s hot and cold strategy. Zack wrote for Vox that the US should contain North Korea’s nuclear program, not seek to end it. Alex did an interview with Kim Jong Un biographer Anna Fifield about what makes him tick. If you want to learn more about North Korea, here are your main nine questions, answered. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex go through the published excerpts from and quotes of John Bolton’s new book — a tell-all about his time as Trump’s national security adviser. They talk about the most shocking moment in the text, Trump’s alleged support for China putting Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, and run through some of the other revealing moments in the book and what they tell us about the way US foreign policy works today. Then they zoom out to this context: How much should we trust John Bolton’s version of events, and how angry should we be about his book coming out now rather than during Trump’s impeachment? References: Here are the three main write-ups of Bolton’s book in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Washington Post. This is Bolton’s other book Alex mentioned. Vox’s Jen Kirby has a helpful explainer on the Uighur issue. Kirby also has a great piece on the seven most disturbing allegations in Bolton’s new book. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex continue last week’s conversation about the ongoing global reckoning surrounding race, this time focusing on the movement to remove controversial statues. In several Western countries — including the United States, Belgium, and the United Kingdom — people are demanding that statues of historically notable slave traders and imperialists be taken down. The Worldly team discusses the significance of these fights, and look to two other examples of countries that have dealt with issues of historical memory and atrocity: Germany and Japan. References: This is a good brief explainer on the Edward Colston statue coming down in the UK and his role in Bristol’s history: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/07/europe/edward-colston-statue-bristol/index.html Here’s the Museums of Bristol website describing Colston as “revered philanthropist / reviled slave trader”: https://museums.bristol.gov.uk/narratives.php?irn=2374 This is a good New York Times piece about the Leopold II statue in Antwerp, Belgium, coming down: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/world/europe/king-leopold-statue-antwerp.html The book King Leopold’s Ghost goes deep into King Leopold II’s brutal exploitation of the Congo. Jenn mentioned Sarah Wildman’s piece for Vox about how Germany has dealt with its past, which discusses the stolpersteine cobblestones and the Topography of Terror memorial: https://www.vox.com/world/2017/8/16/16152088/nazi-swastikas-germany-charlottesville Here’s a good piece about Belgium’s colonial-era human zoo and the museum where it once stood: https://www.npr.org/2018/09/26/649600217/where-human-zoos-once-stood-a-belgian-museum-now-faces-its-colonial-past This is a good look at the comfort women statues in South Korea and Japan’s reaction to them: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/11/13/563838610/comfort-woman-memorial-statues-a-thorn-in-japans-side-now-sit-on-korean-buses And here’s Belgian soccer player Romelu Lukaku discussing his experience in his own words: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/romelu-lukaku-ive-got-some-things-to-say Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss the global impact of the anti-police violence protests in America. They talk about large solidarity protests across Europe, explaining why and how they’re such a big deal, and how police violence against foreign journalists is affecting relationships with key allies like Australia. They also talk about how hostile dictatorships, like China and Iran, are exploiting racial tensions to hurt America’s global image and deflect criticism from their own human rights abuses — a tactic with deep Cold War roots. CORRECTION: We misstated the Canadian city that saw a recent police crackdown against protesters. That occurred in Montreal. We regret the error. References: Here’s Vox’s story on the Lafayette Square attack by federal officials. Friend of the show Jen Kirby has a great piece on how the Floyd protests have gone global. The decolonization statistics Jenn cited come from the State Department. You can read more about the European cases Alex listed here. Alex wrote on the US-Australia rift over the attack on two Australian journalists. Here’s Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pausing for 21 seconds after fielding a question on events in the US. Time magazine had a good piece on US adversaries using the protests to criticize America. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A Very British Scandal

A Very British Scandal

2020-05-2836:061

Alex and Jenn are joined by returning guest Jen Kirby to discuss the political scandal roiling the UK, in which a top political adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, got caught taking a 260-mile road trip while the rest of the country was on lockdown due to the coronavirus. The Worldly crew discusses why a seemingly trivial violation has become a huge political firestorm, and what it says about the US that something like this wouldn’t even register as a blip on the radar screen of Trump administration scandals. References: The BBC has a great timeline of the Cummings scandal. There’s a smart, short explainer of the whole ordeal at Slate. You can watch the whole interview with the Scottish woman here. Vox’s Jen Kirby has an excellent profile of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Yes, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner really did skirt coronavirus guidelines to drive to New Jersey. Vox also has a thorough explainer on Trump accusing Joe Scarborough of murder. Hosts: Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the global spread of the idea that hydroxychloroquine can treat coronavirus. Americans know it as Trump’s favorite drug, but the idea actually started with a famous contrarian doctor in France — and its most fervent acolyte in politics is the Brazilian president, not the American one. They talk about how faith in the drug spread globally, despite a lack of evidence and considerable reason to worry about its side effects, and how it exemplifies a style of politics that academics have termed “medical populism.” References: The Guardian has a great story on the origins of how hydroxychloroquine became a global phenomenon. Here’s that study on “medical populism” we talked about so much. Populists around the world are turning to hydroxychloroquine, reports the Washington Post. The New York Times has a thorough profile of French doctor Didier Raoult. You can find the video of Brazilians singing about the drug to President Bolsonaro here. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
A new “cold war”?

A new “cold war”?

2020-05-1443:344

Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the idea of a US-China “cold war” — a notion that’s been around for a while, but has become super popular since the coronavirus has turned into a blame game between the world’s two leading powers. They discuss what it would mean for the countries to be in such a conflict, compare it to the actual Cold War, debate whether the term really applies to the US, and wrap up by talking about how or whether tensions between Washington and Beijing could successfully be dialed down. There are references to Blink-182, The Office, and thumb war. References: Alex wrote about how China is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to achieve its goals faster. Here’s Vice President Mike Pence’s China speech at the Hudson Institute. There really are a lot of stories — see here, here, and here — on the US-China “cold war.” Everything you wanted to know about the Thucydides trap. And here’s that Chinese rap video Jenn mentioned. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Worst. Invasion. Ever.

Worst. Invasion. Ever.

2020-05-0741:101

Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss the bonkers story of a botched invasion attempt of Venezuela, reportedly led by a group of US-based mercenaries. They explain the truly bizarre backstory of the head merc, former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau; discuss how a slapdash plan to topple President Nicolás Maduro reportedly came together in partial coordination with the Venezuelan opposition; and zoom out to look at what this fiasco says about Venezuelan politics and the role of private military contractors in world affairs. There is, of course, a lengthy discussion of Machiavelli. References: There are a lot of good reports on what happened, but this one by the Washington Post is comprehensive and easy to understand. Here’s the video of Jordan Goudreau announcing the raid. Now you can dig around Silvercorp USA’s Instagram page just like Jenn. This story from the Sun-Sentinel details Goudreau’s Puerto Rico trip to make money. Here’s a tweet featuring images of the IDs of the two captured Americans. The New York Post has a video of the moment the mercenaries were detained. New York magazine details some of the sillier moments. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Otherworldly

Otherworldly

2020-04-3034:581

The Worldly team takes a break from the coronavirus doom and gloom to talk about some other big news: the Pentagon’s confirmation this week that it has, in fact, filmed at least three instances of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). They break down the footage, debate what the videos might actually show, talk about the Cold War history of US government investigations into UFOs, and explore how UFOs play into international relations and deeper concepts about religion and humanity. There’s also a surprise guest appearance at the very end! Oh, and LOTS of X-Files jokes. References: It’s true: The Pentagon officially released three videos showing three aerial objects it could not explain. Alex has two stories on Area 51. Popular Mechanics has a smart longread on the Pentagon’s secret UFO program. Here’s a video debunking the claim that images in the Pentagon’s release show alien spacecraft. Jenn noted all the now-declassified history of the US government’s digging into UFOs. Here’s stuff from the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and the 1968 Condon Report.    Check out renowned international relations theorist Alexander Wendt’s UFO’s paper. Zack mentioned an article in the Conversation about why UFOs deserve scientific study. Byrd recommends this book about our “alien oceans.” Here’s Byrd’s conversation with the Vatican’s chief astronomer. Vox’s interview with a religion scholar on UFOs is worth your time. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the coronavirus situation in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, two regions that have so far been mostly spared the worst of the virus. They explain why experts say there could soon be major outbreaks on both continents, and discuss the structural reasons why the social distancing policies that have helped slow the spread of the disease in Asia, Europe, and the US may not be feasible in Africa and South America. References: Alex has stories on how the coronavirus will affect sub-Saharan Africa and South America. It’s worth understanding the crisis in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Richer countries are outbidding poorer ones on resources to combat the coronavirus, the New York Times reports. Politico notes that African countries want debt relief so they can focus on public health programs. The Guardian has an important story on the tough choices facing poor families in Latin America. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: Your financial contribution will make vital explanatory journalism possible at a time when clear, concise information is needed more than ever. Thank you for supporting Vox.   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
W.H.O. is to blame?

W.H.O. is to blame?

2020-04-1634:404

Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about Trump’s plan to freeze US funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), ostensibly in retaliation for its failures in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. The team discusses the very real problems with the organization’s response and why cutting global health funding during a pandemic is both dangerous and geopolitically shortsighted. References: Vox has a story explaining how Trump’s poor coronavirus response isn’t the WHO’s fault. Here’s that disastrous WHO tweet Zack cited. Vox also has a piece on how China obfuscated early information on the coronavirus outbreak. Time has a story on what critics are saying about Trump’s WHO decision. In February, the Council on Foreign Relations had a blog post on the WHO’s missteps. The New York Times explains why Trump’s WHO play is just a way to shift blame. Here’s the clip of the WHO official hanging up on a reporter after questions about Taiwan. Vox’s explainer on the coronavirus has a lot of important information about the pandemic. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: Your financial contribution will make vital explanatory journalism possible at a time when clear, concise information is needed more than ever. Thank you for supporting Vox.   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Worldly team looks at efforts at reopening in East Asia, including Wuhan, China, and argues that the early data suggests this might be premature — that Singapore and Hong Kong are experiencing a rough second wave of coronavirus infections, indicating that social distancing didn’t end the disease but merely put its spread on pause. They then take a look at two countries that were slow to impose restrictions in the first place — Sweden and Japan — where the situations are now looking grim. References: The New York Times has a great piece about the reopening of Wuhan. CNN explains how there might be a second wave of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. Alex has a piece for Vox on Sweden’s risky coronavirus strategy. The New York Times asks if it’s too late for Japan to declare a state of emergency. Here’s the Guardian article Zack mentioned. Vox’s explainer on the coronavirus has a lot of important information about the pandemic. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   Consider contributing to Vox: Your financial contribution will make vital explanatory journalism possible at a time when clear, concise information is needed more than ever. Thank you for supporting Vox.   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex explain how coronavirus is causing a global crisis for democracy — starting with Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán assumed dictatorial powers thanks to a legislature controlled by his party, effectively suspending democracy for an indefinite period of time. They explain the background necessary to understand what happened in Hungary and the implications for the country and Europe — and, then, in the second half, zoom out to talk about several other countries facing rising authoritarianism in a Covid-19 world, and why a pandemic is so dangerous for democracy in general. References: Zack has a phenomenal long read on how democracy died in Hungary  Zack also wrote about how authoritarian states aren’t better at dealing with coronavirus Here’s the New York Times piece we referenced in the second half Al-Monitor notes how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using coronavirus to subvert democracy in Israel Glenn Greenwald’s comments saying digital surveillance could be “warranted” because of the coronavirus threat are in this BuzzFeed News story Politico reported on the emergency powers the Department of Justice sought during the coronavirus crisis Wired has a great piece on post-9/11 surveillance in the US Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss a striking pattern in countries around the world — their leadership’s denial about the threat posed by coronavirus. They show how denial helped the disease spread out of China and contributed to serious outbreaks in places like Iran and the United States, and note that — despite everything that happened — denial is still happening in places like Mexico and Brazil. They conclude by trying to explain why, in such different countries with such different political systems, denial seems to remain a huge problem. References: Vox has stories on Brazil, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and India, and many more are coming — so stay tuned.    Here’s the Reuters article Jenn cited on the show about Japan. Iranian leaders prioritized politics over health. Saudi Arabia announced its second death from coronavirus so far. The Post piece comparing the United States and Brazil that Zack mentioned. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss Trump’s offensive insistence on calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” — why it’s both an attempt to deflect domestic political blame and part of a much broader geopolitical war with the Chinese government over who should be held responsible for the pandemic. They then run through the competition for global leadership between Washington and Beijing during the crisis — and explain why China, perhaps implausibly, may actually be winning. References: Make sure to follow Vox’s coronavirus reading guide. Our colleague Jen Kirby wrote a great story on how Italy is dealing with the coronavirus. Our other colleague Dylan Scott wrote on why the term we discuss is racist. Check out Vox’s video about why diseases keep popping up in China. Here’s the Washington Post article Zack mentioned about how “the system” isn’t working this time. And here’s Alex’s piece on the US-China trade war that Jenn mentioned. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Every country for itself

Every country for itself

2020-03-1235:332

Zack, Jenn, and Alex record an episode on coronavirus from their respective homes, under self-isolation. They talk about the politics of Trump’s ban on European travel to the US and explore why the European Union seems to be neglecting to help Italy in its time of need. They also explain how the virus has led to a massive drop in oil prices — and why, at this particular time, this could seriously destabilize political systems around the world. References: Vox’s Jen Kirby wrote a story on Trump’s Europe travel ban. Alex wrote about the Saudi-Russia oil price war. Italy criticized the EU for its slow response to help it deal with coronavirus. You can read about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech here. Some Americans are paying up to $20,000 for a return flight from Europe. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox   More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.   About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.   Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the historic US-Taliban peace agreement that was just signed as a first step toward ending the war in Afghanistan. They discuss the terms of the deal, the serious obstacles that remain to actually achieving peace in the country, and why, even if it is shaky and possibly already unraveling, the deal is still a really big achievement. Zack gets serious about the costs of war, Jenn geeks out on terrorism (again), and Alex talks about texting with the Taliban. References: You can read the text of the peace agreement here. Here’s an Afghan official saying the US is negotiating the terms of its “surrender.” This is a really great analysis of some of the major flaws in the peace agreement.  Here’s the video of Gen. Mark Milley explaining that the peace agreement calls for a reduction in violence, not zero violence.  We mentioned that the Taliban controls a village on the outskirts of Kabul. Here’s a great piece about that village and what it tells us about the US failure in Afghanistan. Here’s the photo of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shaking hands with the top Taliban negotiator at the deal’s signing ceremony.  President Donald Trump said he had a “good conversation” on the phone with the Taliban’s top political leader. Alex mentioned a piece from the Council on Foreign Relations about the peace deal. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about perhaps the single worst humanitarian crisis in Syria’s civil war — the ongoing situation in Idlib, where 3 million people are trapped in a province under assault by Bashar al-Assad and his allies. They explain how we got to this point, why the situation is so dangerous, and what could happen next. References: Our colleague Jen Kirby wrote a great explainer on the conflict in Idlib. Jen mentioned the book Assad, or We Burn the Country, which you can find here. Alex reported on Assad’s “siege, starve, and surrender” strategy as his forces overtook Eastern Ghouta. Turkey does want to send Syrian refugees to a “safe zone” in northern Syria. Turkey invaded northern Syria to fight US-allied Kurds near its border. Charity Navigator has a guide on the best places to donate support to people in Syria. Hosts: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox More to explore: Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram. About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (16)

Mark H.

Alex, watch documentary "Unacknowledged" on Netflix.

May 13th
Reply

Nicolas Brylle

the EU should do more. But the reason why they haven't until recently is because healthcare is a national concern. It is not regulated on a European level. Vox commentators should know this before telling disinformation.

Mar 20th
Reply

Jaylani Adam

Thank you guys for critiquing Tulsi Gabbard's foreign policy. I am a skeptic of hers. As a matter of fact, I don't trust her.

Feb 24th
Reply

shekhu verma

How stupid you have to be call this bill assault on muslim rights when it has nothing to do with Muslims of India. Read the bill and debate on facts but stop your propaganda. Totally biased podcast, i am unsubscribing your podcast and all other vox podcasts because you guys are liars whi dont do research and spread propaganda.

Jan 3rd
Reply

TruthSeeker

This is a biased podcast. Why don't you do a podcast on the treatment of minorities in Muslim majority countries? Too scared?

Dec 14th
Reply

Alexander Hetherington

sounds level is far too low for this episode and same for the ads recently they've been really quiet.

Nov 8th
Reply (3)

Forrest Elliott

These people sound, like, idiots, like, totally

Aug 24th
Reply

Fee Leakey

Wow, I usually love the duality of perspectives on your show but today... seemed so one sided and without the usual amount of research? You guys are awesome, but today was less than your greatest feat...

May 30th
Reply

Subedi Sudip

Hi Vox Wordly, can you please do a little explainer on Sri Lanka crisis on one of your future shows? Thanks in advance.

Dec 16th
Reply

Sherry Martin

Mr Mueller she wrote

Sep 20th
Reply

Daryl Sande

Jenn, Try doing a podcast without saying "Right?" or "like" once. thanks

Jun 12th
Reply (1)

Monu Rajan

your explanation of the India-Pak dispute is a very simplistic rendition of a very complex issue.

Jun 4th
Reply
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