Stories We’re Watching
Taliban and US Agree to Draft Framework for Peace Agreement
US and Taliban officials have agreed to a draft framework deal for a peace agreement following last week’s negotiations in Qatar. The deal marks a rare break in the decades long war. The US envoy met yesterday with Afghan officials to brief them on the progress . Regional analysts caution that the Taliban are unlikely to agree to a cease-fire and to talking directly with the Afghan government, points that previous peace negotiations have stressed.
- VOA: Normalcy Returns to Former Taliban Stronghold
- BBC: Taliban talks: Will negotiations lead to peace in Afghanistan?
- Haaretz: US and Taliban Reportedly Draft Peace Deal Framework
- Reuters: U.S peace envoy visits Kabul to consult president on talks with Taliban
US Government Temporarily Reopens, Trump Threatens Another Shutdown
Over the weekend, President Trump signed a bill to temporarily reopen the federal government for three weeks. In a report released earlier today, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the shutdown, the longest in US history, cost the economy $11bn, $3bn of which is non-recoverable. Although President Trump has threatened another shutdown over the $5.7Bn in appropriations for a wall along the US-Mexico border, legislators from both parties are pushing bills aimed at preventing another shutdown.
- CNBC: The government shutdown cost the economy $11 billion
- CNN: Trump signs bill to reopen the government after record shutdown
- WSJ: Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Longest Government Shutdown
- The Hill: Schumer backs bill to make sure shutdown ‘never happens again’
Huawei US Tension Escalates over 5G Networks
The US government has reportedly pressured allies to ban Huawei from building new 5G networks amidst growing security concerns. In recent months, the US, Australia, Poland, Germany, and New Zealand have barred Huawei from supplying parts for future 5G networks. Security analysts warn that China could insert “back doors” into Huawei’s equipment that would allow China to spy on citizens and governments. Huawei is the world’s largest telecom equipment firm and China’s largest phone network equipment manufacturer.
- CNBC: Trump administration reportedly pushing allies to bar China’s Huawei
- Financial Times: Huawei will struggle to assuage western concerns
- NYT: In 5G Race With China, U.S. Pushes Allies to Fight Huawei
- South China Morning Post: China’s EU envoy hits out at ‘slander’
- Bloomberg: Huawei Is Blocked in US, But Its Chips Power Cameras Everywhere
US Lifts Sanctions on Firms Tied to Russian Oligarch Who Loaned Paul Manafort $10m
Yesterday, the US Treasury lifted sanctions on Rusal and two other firms linked to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a close associate of President Putin and is known for giving Paul Manafort a $10m ‘loan’. The removal of the sanctions followed a failed congressional vote which aimed keep the sanctions in place. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin assured lawmakers that the sanctions would force the firms to diminish Deripaska’s control. However, analysts say that the deal essentially offers millions in debt relief to the oligarch.
- The Independent: Trump lifts sanctions on Russia oligarch Oleg Deripaska in ‘huge gift to Putin’
- Bloomberg: Trump Lifts Rusal, En+ Sanctions as Glencore Shuffles Stake
- BBC: US lifts sanctions on Putin ally’s firms
- Rolling Stone: What’s Really Going on with Trump and the Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska?
Far-Right Protest During International Holocaust Remembrance Day
European officials are addressing far right protests that marred yesterday’s ceremonies for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Poland, far-right, ultra-nationalists demonstrated at Auschwitz and were led by Piotr Rybak, a man convicted for publicly burning an effigy representing a Jew. Last week in Germany, far-right AfD lawmakers walked out of a Holocaust commemoration ceremony. European officials lament that the protests underscore growing anti-semitism and nationalism.
- NPR: Survivors Mark Holocaust Remembrance Day On 74th Anniversary
- Deutsche Welle: Germany marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day
- BBC: Holocaust: Polish police probe Auschwitz far-right protest
- Vice: German minister says his country’s memory of Nazi crimes is “crumbling” — and the far-right is to blame
From Deep State Radio
FP INTERRUPTED: The World According to the Rich and Famous
January has become synonymous with Davos. And Davos has become synonymous with elite status and power. Given the number of world leaders, CEOs, billionaires, philanthropists, and celebrities that descend upon the otherwise sleepy Swiss village amid the Alps, that is not surprising (Fun fact: Davos’ population is 11,000; during the World Economic Forum’s summit, it goes up to 30,000). What do these “movers and shakers” do there? They would tell you that they’re trying — as the World Economic Forum, the organization that has hosted the event since 1971 — to “improve the world.” A whole lotta others would roll their eyes. The Davos set, they would say, is responsible for many of today’s challenges, particularly inequality and injustice. The theme for this year’s gathering is “Globalization 4.0.” Oh, and the event’s gender breakdown: 22 percent women, apparently a “high” for the event. 🙄 (Note to WEF: 22% isn’t gender equality.) CONTINUE
DEEPTECH: 5G Networks: Pie in the Sky or Skynet?
5G networks are the next generation of mobile wireless networks that are supposed to connect everything from vehicles to appliances at impressive speeds. Unlike 4G networks, 5G networks (the G is for generation) use higher frequency radio waves to achieve higher data rates and much faster speeds. But the problem is that the networks still need to be developed, and one of 5G’s leading developers, Huawei, is also a security threat. Germany and Australia have already banned Huawei from providing 5G equipment. And, Poland has just arrested Huawei employees for espionage. The risk is that equipment could have a back door built in to allow Beijing to collect, intercept, and store data. Another risk is that 5G networks are inherently vulnerable to cyberattacks in ways that previous networks were not, mostly because the Trump administration’s FCC eliminated the 5G cyber protection plan begun by the previous administration… CONTINUE