DiscoverNews Items Podcast with John Ellis
News Items Podcast with John Ellis
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News Items Podcast with John Ellis

Author: iHeartRadio and The Recount

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Ninety percent of the news out there tells you nothing about where the world is going — ten percent of it tells you everything. Every afternoon on the News Items Podcast with John Ellis, John and Rebecca Darst focus on that ten percent — news that’s interesting, important or both. The podcast is based on John Ellis’ News Items, an email newsletter that goes out to organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations, Samsung Next, and the Wall Street Journal. Tune in every Monday through Thursday afternoon to hear decades of journalistic experience packed into 20 or so minutes of insight, plus guest interviews on finance, U.S. politics, foreign affairs, science and technology. 

62 Episodes
John interviews Gerald Seib, executive Washington editor of The Wall Street Journal, and the author of "We Should Have Seen It Coming: From Reagan to Trump—A Front-Row Seat to a Political Revolution." They talk about the evolution of populism within the GOP, how party leadership misread its base on immigration, and what’s next for Republicans in 2022 and beyond. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines:  Researchers have mapped in detail how a compound modeled on a natural microorganism produces hydrogen. One distant but possible application: clean energy. mRNA vaccines are one thing, but the next medical revolution could rely on proteins (like parts of the coronavirus spike) created entirely in labs rather than found in nature. News items: COVID-19 news: the Delta Plus variant could cause a third wave in India. The original Delta variant is 50% more transmissible than the current major strain in the U.S., and it’s expected to become the dominant strain here within a few weeks. Finally, low-vaccination areas around the country are seeing spikes in hospitalizations.  Engine No.1, the activist hedge fund that landed three board members at ExxonMobil last month, launched an ETF on Wednesday. It will try to influence the direction of the companies it invests in via shareholder elections. Rebecca is skeptical. Canada’s House of Commons passed a bill to make the digital media landscape in Canada — from TikTok to Netflix — more, well, Canadian. Now it just has to pass the Senate. John and Rebecca discuss the merits, and the chance that it’ll inspire copycat legislation across the pond. Pandemic-related protections for renters and homeowners in the U.S. are fading, and mobile home owners may stand to lose the most. John and Rebecca say the Biden administration needs to act fast. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews investigative journalist Phoebe Eaton about her book, “In the Thrall of the Mountain King: The Secret History of El Chapo, the World's Most Notorious Narco.” Phoebe tells John about meeting the drug kingpin’s mother in Culiacán – and how she got her to open up by asking about the secretive religious traditions practiced by the family. She also explains why pilots are venerated in Culiacán’s narco culture; how drug bosses use straw owners to shield their earnings from seizure; and how details in the recent guilty plea by Emma Coronel (El Chapo’s wife) suggest she’s cooperating with the American government. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines:  Google’s internet browser, Chrome, will block cookies starting in early 2022. John and Rebecca discuss the implications.  Cuba’s three-jab Soberana 2 vaccine has qualified for approval from the WHO, giving the world one more tool in the fight against COVID-19.   News items: BuzzFeed is negotiating the purchase of Complex Networks, and it has plans to merge with a SPAC and go public soon. But it might all be for naught – John explains why he thinks most digital media companies are doomed.  According to The New York Times media reporter Ben Smith, Tucker Carlson has been leaking stories about Trump and Fox News to the mainstream press for years. John tells why the news is underwhelming. Supply chain woes will probably lead to inflation faster than experts expected. Rebecca explains why she’s sticking with Fed chair Jay Powell.  Economic historian Adam Tooze is out with a timeline of the Biden administration’s evolution from dovish to hawkish vis-à-vis China. Rebecca and John discuss what role the strategic consulting firm WestExec might have played in that evolution, and how Trump can make hay of it in 2024. Learn more about your ad-choices at
In the second half of John’s interview with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), they talk about what it was like to live through the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; Biden’s goals in office; and the Senator’s recent talks with former President Donald Trump.   This is a follow up episode to part I of John’s interview with the Senator that aired on Tuesday, June 15th. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews David Barboza, former Shanghai bureau chief at the New York Times and co-founder of The Wire China. The two discuss China’s leverage on the global economy, the geopolitics of Taiwan, and what’s changed since Barboza first arrived in China in 2004. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines:  There are roughly a million animal and plant species at risk of extinction. A special section in The Economist argues biodiversity loss is a threat on par with climate change. A leading Arctic researcher warns that irreversible global warming may already be upon us. News Items:  Fox Corp. announced a $100 million bet on NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens. Rebecca and John explain why they like the move.  American regulators are anxious about the $100+ billion market capitalization for stablecoins. Rebecca and John say FedCoin is the answer. Soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo rejected Coca-Cola in favor of water... and the beverage giant’s stock slumped. Maybe they should have Dasani, their H2O brand, sponsor him? The UK’s new conservative news channel, GB News, drew eyeballs in its debut last weekend, but John thinks it will have a long road to profitability. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) on the Senator’s efforts to sound the alarm about COVID-19 early in 2020; why he thinks the lab-leak theory is the most plausible explanation for the novel coronavirus’s origins; and the CDC’s failure to meet the moment. Part two of the interview, which delves into Senator Cotton’s experiences during the January 6th Capitol riots, will be published this Friday, June 18th. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines:  Writing poetry, creating pictures, modeling proteins — the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence’s latest artificial intelligence model appears to be a massive step forward for China’s AI efforts. Could machine learning help us understand (and speak to) whales? News items: Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, is out. John explains why he thinks Bibi may be back, in the not-too-distant future.Election officials across the country are still getting death threats over imagined election fraud. John and Rebecca discuss why that probably won’t stop anytime soon.  Has Biden’s agenda hit a wall? John and Rebecca discuss why the split Senate makes passing an infrastructure bill – let alone anything more ambitious – so tricky.  Elizabeth Holmes swag is selling fast. Ahead of the Theranos founder’s trial in August, mugs, t-shirts, and even shower curtains are in high demand. Rebecca points out the undercurrent of misogyny behind the boom — and how P.C. culture may have led to Holmes’ ascent. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews journalist and news editor Stephen G. Smith. They talk about his early days in the news business, the industry's transition from print to digital, incidents of cancel culture at The New York Times, why the media came down with “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” and more. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Ohio v. Google

Ohio v. Google


Science and tech headlines: Cambridge Quantum and a segment of Honeywell are merging, and one of their goals is to build the world’s first quantum operating system. Scientists at the National University of Singapore have devised a new blood test that uses measurements of light to gauge the effectiveness of a given cancer treatment in 24 hours. News items: A bond selloff continues for two of China’s largest debt issuers, fueling fears of a contagion. Rebecca explains why she doesn’t think Beijing will allow them to default. George Packer paints a compelling portrait of four separate American “national narratives,” in The Atlantic, and John offers his take. Google, a public utility? Ohio’s attorney general is suing the tech giant in an effort to make it so. Rebecca and John hash out their disagreement over the suit’s merits. According to The Recode, Facebook’s newsletter subscription service, called Bulletin, will launch later this month. John and Rebecca discuss whether or not it’ll succeed. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews David Barse, founder of XOUT Capital (an index company) and DMB Holdings (a private family office). John talks to David about assessing the tech-driven disruption coming for just about every industry, the future of streaming, and XOUT’s unique approach to building a portfolio: weeding out losers instead of picking winners. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines: The FDA approves a controversial new medication for Alzheimer’s — on a fast track — for the first time in nearly 20 years.  NOAA registers another record high for carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. News items: FBI Director Christopher Wray tells The Wall Street Journal that the agency is investigating around 100 ransomware attacks. John and Rebecca discuss the political implications of continued hacks on the Biden administration. The Senate is nearly certain to pass a bipartisan bill that The New York Times calls “the most expansive industrial policy legislation in U.S. history.” Rebecca explains why she’s all for it. The Republican Party is at war with itself in Idaho, and its most extreme elements may win. John breaks down the dynamics at play in the potato state. Germany’s ruling center party, the Christian Democratic Union, beat the neo-Nazi-linked Alternative for Germany in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt. John and Rebecca discuss how the win affects both parties — and others in Germany ahead of the country’s federal election in September. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews Robin Wigglesworth, the global finance correspondent for the Financial Times, about life in Oslo, what a sardine mania in Monterrey, California can tell us about speculation, and the upshot of the fact that most people are pretty bad at investing. This is a longer, lightly edited version of an interview that ran on Thursday, June 3. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews Financial Times global finance correspondent Robin Wigglesworth about the markets’ near-meltdown in 2020, the difference between value and momentum stocks, and private equity’s image problem. Plus, Wigglesworth weighs in on the “stupendous stupidity” in today’s equity markets. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines: Amazon has a new plan for increased interconnectivity — and customers in the US only have a week to opt out. Researchers at Google and Harvard have released a detailed rendering of one cubic millimeter of the human brain's cortex, the outer layer that makes humans so complex. News Items: Former President Donald Trump kicks off a series of rallies this Saturday. John explains why looming indictments may have motivated him to go back on the road. President Xi Jinping wants China to be seen as “trustworthy, lovable, and respectable” — is he changing tack because he’s worried about his job? High bond prices, low yields, and historically high stock valuations have some institutional money managers looking for new investment strategies... potentially imported from Canada?  New York City and 21 of New York State’s counties are suing McKinsey & Company, alleging it fueled the opioid epidemic. John and Rebecca discuss the firm’s reputation, whether or not it’s been tarnished, and whether or not “optimization” needs to be re-evaluated. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews Shannon O’Neil from the Council on Foreign Relations about the state of America’s southern neighbor. They discuss Mexico’s fight against COVID-19, President López Obrador’s surprisingly austere fiscal policies, why cartels are changing their business model, and the difference between President Biden and former President Trump’s approach to immigration. Plus: how AMLO — as Mexico's president is known — is actually more conservative than President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. Learn more about your ad-choices at
John interviews Nicholas Eberstadt, who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, about two of his essays. First, “Our Miserable 21st Century,” from 2017, which used economic data to show how America has been declining since 2000 – and how that explains the election of Donald Trump. That essay became the most-read piece in the history of “Commentary Magazine.” And second, a recent article for “Foreign Affairs” where Eberstadt argues that, despite the recent doomsday predictions over America’s demographic decline, the U.S. is still well-positioned demographically – at least compared to its chief rivals, China and Russia. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines: India’s “black fungus” could be a preview of the global health risk posed by fungi adapting into effective pathogens. CNBC has auctioned off an NFT of the “Haines bottom,” the iconic moment when CNBC host Mark Haines correctly surmised — on March 10th, 2009 — that the worst of the Great Recession was over. News items: Analysts say we’re at the start of a “red-hot capex cycle,” and predict that global capital expenditures will have risen to 121% of pre-recession levels by the end of the year. Rebecca explains why this is good news. As Iran claims it's enriching uranium at 60% purity (well beyond the 3.67% cap it had agreed to in 2015), the International Atomic Energy Agency warns that its bomb-building knowledge cannot be unlearned. John breaks down Iran’s reasons for investing in uranium enrichment even though its economy is in shambles.  John and Rebecca discuss the latest news out of Arizona: the state's Republican-led House Appropriations Committee has stripped Katie Hobbs, the Democratic Secretary of State, of her ability to defend election lawsuits. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Science and tech headlines: Singapore's health authority has approved a rapid COVID-19 test that works like a breathalyzer. Apple CEO Tim Cook’s claim that the company hasn't looked up its App Store profits and losses seems laughable – and it may hurt Apple in court. News items: Now that the economy is recovering and investors are looking for high yields, more of them seem willing to take a risk on collateralized loan obligations. Shades of 2008? Rebecca breaks it down. “Havana Syndrome” was first reported by a few CIA and State Department employees in Cuba, and has since hit more than 130 U.S. government employees around the world. Amazon is reportedly close to buying the legendary film studio MGM for $9 billion, including debt. John and Rebecca discuss the latest news out of Wuhan – that three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology sought hospital care in November 2019 – and why the lab leak theory was characterized as a conspiracy theory for so long. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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