Throughline The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.
Throughline
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Throughline

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The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

Most Recent Episodes

The Constellation of Taurus the Bull and Orion by James Thornhill. Historical Picture Archive/Corbis via Getty Images hide caption

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Historical Picture Archive/Corbis via Getty Images

The Stars

Astrology has existed for thousands of years and has roots that span the globe. But is it a science or a religion or just a kind of personality test? And why is it more popular than ever? This week, the story of how finding our fates in the stars moved from the fringes to the mainstream and became a multi-billion dollar industry.

The Stars

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The United States and its territories that were annexed by 1900. Bettmann/Bettmann Archive hide caption

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Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Becoming America

When the United States of America was founded, it was only a union of a small number of states. By the beginning of the 20th century, the United States had become an empire; with states and territories and colonies that spanned the globe. As a result, the country began to not only reconsider its place in the world, but also its very name.

Becoming America

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U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith arrives at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco during her candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in July, 1964. Smith Library/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

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Smith Library/ASSOCIATED PRESS

She Got Next

There are more female candidates in this presidential campaign cycle than at any other time in American history. But women were running for the highest office before they could even vote. How three women ran and challenged the notion of who could and should be president of the United States.

She Got Next

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Edward Jenner inoculates a child against smallpox in 1796. The vaccine was effective in preventing the disease, but smallpox would not be completely eradicated worldwide until 1980. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Vaccination

It's a longstanding fight in the U.S., whether people can opt out of vaccination if that means jeopardizing the greater public's health. In this episode, we look back at a 1905 Supreme Court case that set a precedent for whether or not the state can enforce compulsory vaccinations.

Vaccination

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Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard commanders in Tehran, Iran. AP hide caption

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AP

Soleimani's Iran

When Qassem Soleimani was assassinated by the United States on January 3rd, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander suddenly became a household name. But in Iran, he's been a potent symbol for decades, shaping conflicts in the region and with the U.S. In this episode, the origins of the shadow commander and the complicated legacy of what he means to Iran.

Soleimani's Iran

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A young girl stands with supporters of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Task Force to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Against Women as they hold a rally for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) outside the US Capitol on June 26, 2012. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Everybody Knows Somebody

In the mid-1980's a woman who didn't consider herself a feminist was asked to solve perhaps the biggest problem women face. How she and a small group of people seized on that rare moment and fought back in the hopes that something could finally be done.

Everybody Knows Somebody

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A United Fruit Company official looks over some of the fruit bunches of bananas harvested since the strike to determine which are fit for market in Honduras on Sept. 3, 1954. Because of the strike, the trees have not been sprayed for over two months, and there are many bunches that are spotted with sigatoka (red rust) that discolors the skin but does not affect the fruit. AP hide caption

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AP

There Will Be Bananas

The banana is a staple of the American diet and has been for generations. But how did this exotic tropical fruit become so commonplace? How one Brooklyn-born entrepreneur ruthlessly created the modern banana industry and the infamous banana republics.

There Will Be Bananas

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Angela Hsieh

Fear of Technology

Artificial intelligence, gene modification, and self-driving cars are causing fear and uncertainty about how technology is changing our lives. But humans have struggled to accept innovations throughout history. In this episode, we explore three innovations that transformed the world and show how people have adapted — and ask whether we can do the same today.

Fear of Technology

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New Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the presidential oath on the Constitution of the Russian Federation in Moscow's Kremlin Palace on May 7, 2000. Former president Boris Yeltsin looks on during the inauguration ceremony after having resigned on December 31, 1999. AFP/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Russia's Vladamir Putin

Vladimir Putin has been running Russia since 2000 when he was first elected as President. How did a former KGB officer make his way up to the top seat — was it political prowess or was he just the recipient of a lot of good fortune? In this episode, we dive into the life of Vladimir Putin and try to understand how he became Russia's new "tsar."

Russia's Vladamir Putin

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Prior to 1924, the average lifespan of a light bulb was around 2,500 hours. But in December 1924, a global organization known as the Phoebus Cartel hatched a secret plan to increase sales by bringing the average bulb's lifespan down to just 1,000 hours. This began one of the first known examples of planned obsolescence. Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images hide caption

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Al Barry/Three Lions/Getty Images

Planned Obsolescence

Have you ever wondered why your smartphone or toaster oven doesn't seem to last very long, even though technology is becoming better and better? In a special collaboration with Planet Money, we bring you the history of planned obsolescence – the idea that products are designed to break.

Planned Obsolescence

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