Latest Episodes

Virtual beer and Brexit chat with European friends

Whose Century Is It? July 01, 2016

When big things happen, there's nothing like sitting down with smart friends over a beer (or coffee, or whatever), and kicking around ideas about what it all means, and where it's all going. In this episode, host Mary Kay Magistad checks in with old friends in Dublin, London and Berlin, to see how Brexit looks from where they sit, and how it might affect their lives.

Behind the Panama Papers

Whose Century Is It? June 02, 2016

The largest document leak in recent history, the Panama Papers, was facilitated by 400 journalists at 107 news organizations in some 80 countries, working for a year, in secret, without word getting out. Smari McCarthy, who helped process the Panama Papers, as chief technology officer for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, calls it "a conspiracy to inform the public," and hopes making it harder to hide money will lead to more money being more equitably distributed. He talks about the project, about the Icelandic Pirate Party he cofounded, and his work to increase transparency and direct democracy around the world.

History, memory & Hiroshima: Why President Obama's visit matters

Whose Century Is It? May 20, 2016

President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima in Japan will be the first ever by a sitting US president, remembering the hundreds of thousands of lives lost and scarred when the United States became the first and (thus far) only power to use nuclear weapons, dropping two in August 1945 to force Japan's surrender, ending World War II. Critics complain that Obama's visit makes the US look weak. Supporters call the visit inspired, a sign of respect for a close ally, recognition of pain and loss, a realization that how and what societies remember, shapes their future. They say facing history is not only a sign of strength, but of moral leadership.

Prepare to be Bangalore-d: India's rising challenger to Silicon Valley

Whose Century Is It? May 06, 2016

Heads up, Silicon Valley, Bangalore's not just for outsourcing anymore. It's rising fast as a world-class hub of tech and biotech innovation, pulling successful Indian entrepreneurs back from Silicon Valley, and from around India. It's part of the story of how the other Asian giant, India, with half its population under age 25, is just getting going in seeing what it can do in this century.

Can Southeast Asia become an economic hub to rival (or at least balance) China?

Whose Century Is It? April 22, 2016

China's rise has thrown new challenges at Southeast Asia — how to find strength in numbers to counter China's economic clout, and political and military muscle. One solution? The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has started a new ASEAN Economic Community, with the goal of turning it into a 10-nation, 630-million person common market. The challenges? Where to start? That's especially true if you're Thailand, once a star in the region for economic growth and stability, now, slipping down the list, but not remotely giving up.

From segregation to social change, how the Rosie the Riveter era fit into a century's arc

Whose Century Is It? March 24, 2016

If the arc of history bends toward justice, the needs of the nation during World War II sped the process — not by design, but by necessity. With men off at war, US shipyards and factories started recruiting women and African Americans, who previously couldn't get such jobs. The story of how the reverberations from that era transformed America are told here by America's oldest park ranger, 94-year-old African-American Betty Soskin, who worked as a 20-year-old clerk in a segregated boiler makers union hall near the shipyards in Richmond, California, during the water. She now tells the story of segregation and social change in that era at Richmond's Rosie the Riveter Museum.

American authoritarians for Trump

Whose Century Is It? February 25, 2016

What polling data best indicates whether someone will support Donald Trump? It's whether they skew authoritarian on a set of questions pollsters ask about child-rearing. (Hint: If you'd rather have an obedient, well-mannered child than a curious, independent one — you're skewing authoritarian, as some 18 to 30 percent of Americans do.) Career political consultant Matt MacWilliams talks about his research, for a mid-career PhD, on the political impact of authoritarian impulses, especially in the face of threat, and what it might mean for America's future.


Latest Stories

Global Politics

Panama Papers, 'pirates,' and an argument for how (some) data leaks can make the world a better place

Where does privacy end and accountability to society begin? The Panama Papers are only the latest massive data dump to add fuel to the fire of that debate. Smari McCarthy, a long-time information activist and innovator, and cofounder of Iceland's Pirate Party, helped process the Panama Papers, as chief technology officer for the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project. He argues that in a world of increasingly concentrated power and wealth, more transparency and direct democracy are needed to right the balance.


Southeast Asia hopes a new common market will give it clout, but it may have a weak link in Thailand

Not so long ago, Thailand could boast about having one of the fastest growth rates in the world. But political turbulence, protests and a couple of coups have taken their toll. And there's anxiety about what will happen when the beloved king dies. How might the new Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community help Thailand get its act back together? What risks does Thailand's volatility have for a nascent regional grouping, with big aspirations to counterbalance China?


What China could learn from Japan's experience

A new Asian power rises, fueling awe and anxiety. Its economic rise seems inevitable, until it doesn't. We've seen this movie before, with Japan in the '80s. Now it's China's turn, and while history rarely repeats itself, it can rhyme, and it's rhyming now as China's economic growth slows and challenges, some similar to those Japan faced, mount. So what might China learn from Japan's experience? And how is Japan shaping a new role for itself, so it will continue to matter in this century?


How the Rosie the Riveter era changed America: an African-American woman's story

While America still has far to go in reducing racism, we've come a long way. Over almost a century of life, Betty Soskin has lived through segregation, the civil rights era and Black Lives Matter. As the nation's oldest park ranger, she reflects on how the needs of the nation during World War II helped speed social change — not just for women but also for African Americans.

Global Politics

Is global democracy in trouble? Or does it just feel like it?

Crackdowns, coups, the reversal of most of the Arab Spring, the rise of ISIS, a harder edge in authoritarian states and erosion of civil rights in democracies — is the world entering a new era where authoritarian tendencies win out? Not so fast. Here, with a little perspective, and an argument for the resilience of democracies (to a point) are Steven Levitsky, a professor of government at Harvard, and Bill Hurst, a Northwestern University associate professor of political science.

Global Politics

Got an authoritarian streak? Study says odds are, you're for Trump.

Authoritarians like strong leaders, feel threatened by outsiders and like plain language and rousing promises like "make America great again." No surprise, then, that Donald Trump is drawing them in. About 18 to 30 percent of Americans skew authoritarian on polling questions, and in recent years, ever more have concentrated in the Republican Party and, specifically, in Trump's camp. Career political consultant and mid-career PhD candidate Matt MacWilliams talks about the phenomenon he's found through his own polling, and other polls, about the appeal of a strongman in a democracy.


Born Chinese, raised American, an adoptee explores her identity

What does it mean to be American? What does it mean to be Chinese? And how, as an adopted Chinese daughter of an American Caucasian mother, do you find a balance that works for you? And how did China's one-child policy make that a question faced by tens of thousands of Chinese-born American girls and young women? In search of perspective, Maya Ludtke, 19, traveled back to the town where she was born, meeting girls growing up as she might have, if her parents had kept her.


Who's messing with your Internet rights? And who'd tell you if they did?

Fears of terrorism and other threats have led many democracies to increase surveillance of Internet users, and to pressure Internet companies to censor information and share user data. Authoritarian governments have been doing that all along. What rights do you have, and what rights do you want, in the midst of all this? How are different companies protecting your privacy and digital rights? Rebecca MacKinnon, a former China correspondent and current director of the Ranking Digital Rights Project at the New America Foundation, gives some answers, and shares her concerns.