217 episodes

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.

Worldly Vox

    • News
    • 4.3 • 1.7K Ratings

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.

    The end of the World(ly)

    The end of the World(ly)

    In the very! last! episode! of the Worldly podcast, Zack interviews renowned economic historian Adam Tooze about his forthcoming book, Shutdown — an early history of the year 2020, one that felt to many like the end of the world as they knew it. Zack and Adam discuss what the fateful year taught us about the global economic system, the rise of China, and the stability of the US-led world order. And don’t miss goodbye messages from Jenn and Zack (at the start and end of the show). We love you, listeners!

    References:
    Preorder our guest Adam Tooze’s new book, Shutdown, the subject of the conversation.
    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Jen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign and 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 50 min
    Authoritarians without borders

    Authoritarians without borders

    Zack, Jenn, and Jen Kirby look at how authoritarianism has become internationalized, through the lens of two recent news stories: 1) Fox News host Tucker Carlson choosing to broadcast his show from Hungary this week; and 2) a Belarusian Olympian in Tokyo seeking asylum out of fear of punishment by the Lukashenko regime after she criticized her coach on social media. They discuss what happened in both of those cases, as well as what the events tell us about the ways authoritarian governments are expanding their international reach, by developing ties with like-minded influential figures in other countries and by threatening — and, in some cases, kidnapping or even assassinating — dissidents abroad.

    References:

    Zack on why Tucker Carlson’s trip to Hungary matters.

    Why US conservatives admire Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

    How Hungary’s democracy died.

    The Belarusian Olympian who would not go home.

    Here’s the transcript of Belarusian officials pressuring Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.

    Freedom House’s report on the rise of “transnational repression.”
     
    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Jen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign and 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 42 min
    Trouble in Tunisia

    Trouble in Tunisia

    Zack, Jenn, and Jen Kirby discuss the political crisis gripping Tunisia following the president’s decision to fire the prime minister and suspend parliament. Tunisia was the big “success story” of the Arab Spring: the one country whose revolution produced a real, albeit rocky, transition to democracy — a democracy that is now in crisis. The gang explains what’s going on, what it all means for Tunisia’s future, and how — or whether — the international community should respond.

    References:

    Tunisia’s president fired its prime minister and suspended parliament

    Is what happened in Tunisia a coup?

    A helpful timeline outlining Tunisia’s democratic transition

    Tunisia’s imperfect democracy was still a model, wrote Sarah E. Yerkes in 2019 

    Foreign Policy on the problem with calling Tunisia the Arab Spring’s “lone success story”

    Bloomberg’s Hussein Ibish on why this crisis is testing Tunisia’s political divisions 

    The US secretary of state’s Tunisia tweets
     
    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Jen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign and 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 41 min
    iSpy

    iSpy

    Zack Beauchamp, Jenn Williams, and Jen Kirby discuss the explosive revelations that a number of governments around the world, from Saudi Arabia to Hungary to India, have been using military-grade spyware made by an Israeli firm to secretly hack into the phones of journalists, activists, and political opponents. They explore what we know about the NSO Group, the Israeli company who sold this software; what the technology does; how governments may have used it to spy on critics; and what all of this tells us about the rise of digital authoritarianism.

    References:

    The Pegasus Project uncovers the potential abuse of NSO Group spyware

    The major takeaways from the investigation, according to the Washington Post 

    And the revelations keep on coming

    Hungarian journalists had spyware on their phones

    And so did a top rival of India’s prime minister

    The Pegasus investigation puts Israel in an uncomfortable position

    US and EU officials suspect links between NSO Group and Israeli intelligence

    Israel’s defense ministry says “appropriate action” will be taken if NSO violated export permits

    Steven Feldstein’s book, The Rise of Digital Repression (and listen to Zack’s interview!)

    Israel considered using NSO Group to help track the coronavirus

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Jen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign and 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 45 min
    Cuba Libre

    Cuba Libre

    Worldly guest co-host Jen Kirby talks to Michael Bustamante, professor of Latin American history at Florida International University and the author of Cuban Memory Wars: Retrospective Politics in Revolution and Exile (2021), about Cuba’s recent protests, the largest in decades. They discuss the origins of the current crisis and what it means for thousands of Cubans to take to the streets to resist the country’s regime. They also talk about the US-Cuba relationship and how the US should — and shouldn’t — respond.

    References:

    Here’s why Cubans are protesting.

    This is a brief explainer on Cuba’s currency devaluation.

    Vox wrote about the Biden administration’s Cuba dilemma.

    You can find Bustamante’s latest book on Cubans’ memories of the revolution here.

    Learn about the artists behind the song “Patria y Vida.” (And listen to the song here!)

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Jen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign and 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 52 min
    Erdoğan’s enemy in the NBA

    Erdoğan’s enemy in the NBA

    Frequent Worldly guest cohost Jen Kirby talks Turkey with NBA player and activist Enes Kanter. Kanter was born in Switzerland to Turkish parents and raised in Turkey, but his criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ongoing human rights crackdown has made Kanter persona non grata in that country. They discuss how President Joe Biden has handled Turkey so far; the troubling kidnapping of a Turkish-Kyrgyz schoolteacher, part of Erdogan’s campaign of renditions against perceived political enemies; the personal consequences of Kanter's activism; and why he’s excited to become an American citizen soon.

    References:

    A recap of President Erdoğan’s political purge

    Enes Kanter’s op-ed in the Spectator World urged Joe Biden to get tough on Erdoğan

    A brief overview of the Biden-Erdoğan meeting

    Erdoğan claims the US and Turkey have opened a “new era” in relations

    Kanter condemns Turkey’s kidnapping campaign in the Washington Post

    Turkey kidnapped Orhan Inandi — and now Erdoğan is bragging about it

    The New York Times on Erdoğan’s troubling record of kidnappings

    Who is Fethullah Gülen?

    And for more on Kanter, read Vox’s 2019 profile

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Jen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign and 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
1.7K Ratings

1.7K Ratings

Msquared19 ,

Nice and thorough

Good show. Good analysis. Just an FYI, the quick Arabic lesson from the July 29 episode regarding how to pronounce the Islamist party Ennadha was incorrect. It is not an aspirated “h” sound (ح), but rather an aspirated “h” sound (ه). Just FYI.

Other than that…good show and good content.

pinkmuskrat ,

Amazing guide to foreign policy

So sad the show ended. Past episodes are still a treasure trove of timeless great explanations. Don’t assume you have special prerequisite knowledge but treat you as being smart. Hosts are good at staying objective and have a witty dynamic between them.

Maude The Third ,

Hard to Listen to the Selfish Mansplaining

The female contributors to the reporting and discussion are outstanding and make for compelling listening. So it’s still worth it in spite of the battering headwind that is Zack. If you’re activated by college-kid-level intellectual narcissism, maybe give it a pass and follow the journalism of the Jens. I feel like this problem is a long-standing pattern at Vox. Don’t rely on excellent female journalists to counterbalance annoying male ones. In the end, the whole is weaker.

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