Full episode - August 20, 2020
Things That Go Boom Season 3 logo with an illustration that includes a magnifying glass, a rocket, a coin, and the US Capitol building.
Why did the US Navy reinstate celestial navigation as part of its curriculum a few years ago? Well, you can’t hack a sextant. In the seventh episode of the third season of "Things That Go Boom," our partner podcast from PRX, host Laicie Heeley looks at some of the vulnerabilities that come with an overreliance on high-tech defense systems.
Full story - August 18, 2020
Four white men in suits sit on a panel with a green background
This week, Critical State digs into new research about legislative oversight when it comes to security issues. As historian Peter Roady writes in a new article in the Journal of Policy History, the National Security Agency has escaped congressional oversight with two words: "It's classified."
Full story - August 11, 2020
A man raises his fist and wears a black BLM shirt as he stands in the sunroof of a car with a huge American flag.
Critical State takes a deep dive into new research by political scientist LaGina Gause, who developed a formal model to explain why legislative bodies are more responsive to some protests than to others.
Full episode - July 30, 2020
Things That Go Boom Season 3 logo with an illustration that includes a magnifying glass, a rocket, a coin, and the US Capitol building.
Disinformation and misinformation have been blurring the line between fantasy and reality since the start of communication itself. But over the last decade, they’ve posed an increasing threat to democracy in the United States, with the 2016 presidential election becoming a major flashpoint in Americans’ understanding of the consequences of fake news. In episode six of the third season of "Things That Go Boom," our partner podcast from PRX, host Laicie Heeley looks into how false information flooding the internet and spreading like wildfire on social media poses risks not just to national and election security, but to our health and safety.
Full story - July 28, 2020
A black and white photo of a Japanese family (woman, man, child) sitting in a kitchen setting.
Critical State, our weekly global security newsletter, takes a deep dive into new research on how the scars conflict leaves on regular civilians express themselves in post-conflict politics. In a new working paper, political scientists look into the long-term effects of Japanese internment camps in the US.
Full story - July 21, 2020
A woman holds shopping bags and an umbrella next to bright red sign with white text about COVID-19
In this week's Critical State, Sam Ratner takes a deep dive into the latest thinking by leading qualitative security researchers on what conflict studies can teach us about understanding the effects of COVID-19.
Full episode - July 16, 2020
Things That Go Boom Season 3 logo with an illustration that includes a magnifying glass, a rocket, a coin, and the US Capitol building.
As the US reckons with systemic racism and a less-than-democratic past, China is doubling down on its authoritarian ways. Meanwhile, research on the health of democracy from across the globe indicates the patient is not well. In episode five of the third season of "Things That Go Boom," our partner podcast from PRX, host Laicie Heeley traces China’s rise from the 1990s, when American pop music held a place alongside patriotic education, to its more recent political assertiveness — not to mention its chokehold on civil rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. As China moves to assert itself on the world stage, is democracy losing?
Full story - July 14, 2020
A person washes a wall with painted big yellow hammer and sickle of the Chinese Communist Party.
The International Department is the diplomatic wing of the Communist Party of China. It has zeroed in on training foreign parties in its own image, using tools that allow the CPC to teach the blocking and tackling of its approach to governance to a wider audience than ever before. Critical State's Sam Ratner looks into new research on the ID-CPC's global reach.
Full story - July 07, 2020
A close-up photo of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wearing headphones
Why does there seem to be a global rise in illiberal laws that restrict nongovernmental organizations and civic life? Critical State's Sam Ratner looks at research on how policies that restrict civic life spread.
Full story - June 30, 2020
A woman stands in a lab wearing a face mask
Translating science into policy has been challenging in the COVID-19 era. It is now critical to "expand biology expertise in government from the silos it is currently in to much more prominent policymaking roles," says health security scholar Gigi Gronvall in conversation with Sam Ratner of the Critical State newsletter.

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