Who.What.Why

Democracy Is No Protection from Authoritarianism

Basharat Peer is one of India’s most renowned non-fiction writers and journalists. He talks to WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman about two democratically elected leaders — India’s Narendra Modi, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who have used populism, majoritarian politics and extreme nationalism to push their nations away from democratic traditions. The illiberal drift of the two countries is looking frighteningly familiar to many Americans.

How North Carolina’s Republicans Are Fighting Democracy

A war is heating up in North Carolina about the right to vote, and the political future of the state. The Wake County Superior Court found recently that the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s “power grab” last December to strip the incoming Democratic governor of his authority was unconstitutional, violating the state’s strictly defined separation of powers.

The Abdication of Morality

“Illegal aliens” or “undocumented immigrants” — what to call the people currently living in the United States without valid documents? How about José and Maria, Wang and Xiang, “mommy” and “daddy?”

As families are being torn apart by immigration raids every day, the nation’s leaders should not lose sight of the reality that their decisions will affect millions of human beings — and the moral standing of their country.

Diving for Disaster: When the Coral is Gone

Our survival — and, for that matter, the continued existence of all life on earth — may be bound up with the well-being of coral reefs.

These sea creatures, with their astounding shapes and psychedelic colors, look like they’re from another planet. Contrary to popular belief, they are not plants, but marine animals.

And they are not doing well, as powerfully demonstrated in the new documentary Chasing Coral, which I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

WikiLeaks: Agenda Compromised or Stronger Than Ever?

Love him or hate him, Julian Assange has a way of keeping himself at the top of the newsreel these days.

The latest trove of documents revealed via Assange’s infamous WikiLeaks platform is the first of a multi-part series known as “Vault 7.” Mysteriously teased in February, Vault 7 reveals a variety of details on the depth and breadth of the Central Intelligence Agency’s hacking capabilities.

Carl Bernstein on the Deep State and Surveillance

Carl Bernstein knows a thing or two about a high-ranking government official turning on his president. He and fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward famously broke the Watergate burglary story, which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

During their investigation, the reporters were, according to an account provided years later by Woodward, given critical information by Mark Felt, the FBI’s deputy director, whom they referred to as “Deep Throat.”*

Geert Wilders Is Not a Dutch Treat

The past year has shown that western democracies are increasingly vulnerable to a growing tide of populism and nativism. Brexit, the British vote to leave the European Union, proved to be an early warning of a trend that also swept Donald Trump into office. Now Europe is hunkering down for the next wave.

Tomorrow’s Dutch elections are the first big test. Geert Wilders — a bombastic, blond-haired populist — seems to be a cross between the hard-right nativism of Trump and the liberal populism of Bernie Sanders. He may very well lead all other candidates when the votes are counted.