Full story - June 16, 2017
Solar panels collect energy on a building in Dezhou, Shandong Province, China.
China's former leader Deng Xiaoping once said that it doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice. A new twist on the theme might be, it doesn't matter if China's leaders are committed environmentalists, or acting in pragmatic self-interest, if China's rapid ramping-up of renewable energy and easing away from coal yields a net benefit of reducing climate change-causing emissions, and helping to slow the rate of climate change. A look at what China is doing and why, as President Donald Trump declares an American retreat from global leadership on climate change
Full episode - June 15, 2017
Employees row a boat as they examine solar panel boards at a pond in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China, in this March 16, 2016 photo.
China's leaders may not exactly be evangelizing about the perils of climate change, but compared to Donald Trump, these days, they look downright statesmanlike on this front. And Chinese policies on renewable energy, while often driven by pragmatic self-interest more than selfless concern for the planet, may nonetheless help tip the balance in the right direction in this century.
Full story - May 29, 2017
Vision test, as part of VisionSpring's efforts to reach people in remote areas who need glasses.
If you wear glasses, you're in a majority in most developed countries. In developing countries, few have them, but many need them. By some estimates, two billion people in developing countries need eyeglasses, but don't have access to them. One of the groups working to bridge the gap is VisionSpring, a social enterprise that has already sold 3.7 million pairs of glasses, at affordable prices, to people in Africa and Asia making $4 or less per day, helping improve learning, work productivity, and quality of life.
Full episode - June 01, 2017
Woman with glasses
Blind seers aside, it's easier to see where you're going, on the road and in life, if you can actually see. More than half of Americans wear glasses; in poorer and more remote regions of the world, it's estimated that some two billion people need glasses but don't have access to them, cutting into their ability to learn, work and live a full life. A social entrepreneurial effort called VisionSpring has reached millions of such people in Asia and Africa, selling glasses at affordable prices to customers who earn less than $4 a day. Host Mary Kay Magistad talks with VisionSpring's founder Jordan Kassalow, and president Ella Gudwin.
Full story - May 19, 2017
A picture taken on April 3, 2014 in Maine-Soroa, eastern Niger, shows Nigerian people gathered at a camp for refugees who fled the fighting between the Nigerian army and Boko Haram.
Boko Haram hasn't given up, but it's on the ropes after a push by the Nigerian military last year, and vigilance by regional peacekeepers. Also countering their influence is a regional shortwave radio network, Dandal Kura Radio International, started just over a year ago, as the world's first network to broadcast in Kanuri — the language spoken by 10 million people in the region, and by most members of Boko Haram. Anyone with a cellphone can call in and share information and ideas. This plus news, current affairs, radio dramas and other programming has started to help counter Boko Haram's power to attract, and is helping a bruised and fractured region move toward a less fraught future.
Full episode - May 19, 2017
Dandal Kura Radio International Logo
An unsung weapon against terrorism that has proven successful in Africa is the power of the airwaves — shortwave radio reaching people with reliable information, and programming that helps educate them, connect them and imagine a different kind of future. The ubiquity of cellphones allows people in conflict regions to call in, challenge abuses of power and have a voice. That's worked in the Congo, with Radio Okapi. It's working now in areas where Boko Haram has been active in West Africa, and the new Dandal Kura radio network is now broadcasting. Host Mary Kay Magistad talks with her old editor and friend David Smith, who helped set up both.
Full story - May 04, 2017
Chinese offer incense at a Buddhist temple in Wutaishan, China
A search for meaning is underway in China, after generations grew up with the Communist Party destroying temples and churches, persecuting the religious, and telling the young that religion was the opiate of the masses, and counter-revolutionary to boot. Now, with many Chinese feeling that a moral and ethical center is missing from their increasingly materially comfortable lives, a growing number are seeking meaning in religion and spiritual practice. Host Mary Kay Magistad explores why, in conversation with fellow former China correspondents Ian Johnson, author of "The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao," and Jennifer Lin, author of "Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family."
Full episode - May 04, 2017
Mary Kay Magistad (left),host of the Whose Century Is It? podcast, with Ian Johnson, author of "The Souls of China," and Jennifer Lin, author of "Shanghai Faithful," at The Mechanics Institute in San Francisco.
A resurgence of interest in religion in China, after more than half a century of Communism and in the midst of China's rapid economic transformation and global rise, comes as new generations search for spiritual meaning and an ethical foundation. Host Mary Kay Magistad talks with former China correspondent colleagues Ian Johnson, author of "The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao," and Jennifer Lin, author of "Shanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Faith in a Chinese Christian Family," about how her own Chinese family, including Watchman Nee, the Billy Graham of China in the first half of the 20th century.
Full story - April 18, 2017
Drew Sullivan, founder and editor of the Organized Crime & Corruption Project
After decades when democracy was on the rise, the current trend seems to be of aspiring autocrats riding populist waves to power, and then misusing that power to amass wealth for themselves and their families. Forget what President Donald Trump says about journalists being the "Enemy of the People," says Drew Sullivan, head of the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project — investigative reporting has never been more important.
Full episode - April 20, 2017
With kleptocratic autocrats on the rise, good journalism that explains what's going on matters more than ever. Fresh from sharing a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for coverage of the Panama Papers, Drew Sullivan, founder and editor of the Organized Crime & Corruption Project, talks corruption, authoritarian creep and the future of journalism.

Pages