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.
Full story - June 23, 2020
A group of police officers in black uniforms detain a Black man wearing gray pants and white tank.
Does de-escalation training for police reduce violence? A survey of 64 evaluations of de-escalation training programs conducted over 40 years says … we have no idea. Critical State's Sam Ratner looks at why police reform can feel like a mirage.
Full story - June 15, 2020
A police car with red and blue lights flashing
The recent history of police reform in America is not encouraging. One area of policing that draws special attention from anti-violence advocates is the stationing of police in schools — especially in schools where the students are majority black.
Full story - June 09, 2020
Police stand near protesters with sign that says "defund the police"
Critical State looks at the power and impact of protests over time. As today’s protesters lay out their demands for public safety systems that severely curb police capabilities for violence, economists Jamein Cunningham and Rib Gillezeau offer insight into the stakes of their struggle.