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We’re following a possible peace deal in Afghanistan, the reopening of the federal government and the latest news from Venezuela.
Start of a peace plan in Afghanistan
American and Taliban officials have agreed in principle on a framework for a peace deal, the chief U.S. negotiator confirmed today, the first tangible step toward ending a 17-year war that has cost tens of thousands of lives.
The details: The plan centers on a phased withdrawal of American troops in exchange for a Taliban cease-fire. The insurgent group would also pledge not to allow international terrorist groups to use Afghanistan as a hub.
What’s next: The Taliban are debating the requirement that the group enter talks with the Afghan government and agree to a lasting cease-fire, two points they have long resisted.
Another angle: The idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal worries Afghan women, who fear that their rights will be taken away.
Shutdown is over, but the clock is ticking
Negotiators from the House and Senate have less than three weeks to hash out a plan to secure the southwestern border, after President Trump signed a stopgap funding bill last week to end the partial government shutdown. Mr. Trump said he would shut down the government again or invoke emergency powers to build a wall if Congress doesn’t offer a solution he likes by Feb. 15.
What’s next: Lawmakers will now demonstrate whether a divided government can produce results beyond a budget. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump are also likely to discuss rescheduling the State of the Union address.
Perspective: “Tearing down, or refusing to fund, border walls won’t get anyone very far in the broader pursuit of global justice,” an author and editor at The Nation argues in an Op-Ed.
America’s 5G arms race with China
Over the past year, the Trump administration has been pressuring allies to prevent Huawei and other Chinese companies from helping to build the next generation of cellular networks.
The U.S. has suggested to Poland that future deployments of American troops could hinge on whether the country works with Huawei. In Germany, American officials warned that using Chinese telecoms equipment would pose a security risk to NATO.
Why it matters: “In an age when the most powerful weapons, short of nuclear arms, are cyber-controlled, whichever country dominates 5G will gain an economic, intelligence and military edge for much of this century,” our national security correspondents write.
What’s next? The U.S. campaign may complicate trade talks with China this week, particularly as Beijing demands the release of a Huawei executive who was arrested in Canada at America’s request.
Explainer: Here’s what you need to know about the once-in-a-decade upgrade to wireless systems.
U.S. diplomats are to remain in Venezuela
President Nicolás Maduro backed down from demanding that all American diplomats leave the country this past weekend, even as the U.S. and other countries continued to press for new elections.
Mr. Maduro remains in a standoff with Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader who proclaimed himself the country’s interim leader last week. European nations including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain said they would recognize Mr. Guaidó as interim president if Mr. Maduro didn’t agree within eight days to schedule new elections.
Go deeper: Cuba is a longtime ally of Venezuela, but Havana’s role in the current leadership crisis is unclear.
If you have 9 minutes, this is worth it
Could gene therapy vanquish sickle cell?
In sickle-cell disease, blood cells stuffed with hemoglobin, pictured above, are distorted. The misshapen cells get stuck in blood vessels, causing strokes, organ damage and agonizing pain. It’s an inherited condition that mainly afflicts people of African descent.
In a half-dozen clinical trials planned or underway, researchers are testing strategies for correcting the problem at the genetic level. Already, a handful of enrolled patients no longer show signs of the disease.
Here’s what else is happening
Second dam threat in Brazil: Fears of a dam collapse at an iron mine prompted evacuations in the town of Brumadinho on Sunday, two days after a separate dam break left at least 58 dead and hundreds missing. Residents blamed a lack of accountability in the country’s powerful mining industry.
Roger Stone’s defense: The longtime Trump adviser, who was charged last week in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, said on Sunday that the text message exchanges that were cited in his indictment were being misrepresented.
The 2020 election: Howard Schultz, the former chief executive of Starbucks and a self-described “lifelong Democrat,” said he was preparing to run for president as an independent.
Diversity debate: A top law firm’s class of new partners — 11 men, one woman, all white — underscored how far large firms have to go to elevate women and minorities. (Paul, Weiss, is, in fact, more diverse at the partner level than most of its peers.)
Snapshot: Above, the former Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, during International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday. The phrase on the gate, “Arbeit macht frei” (Work sets you free), appeared at the entrance of several Nazi camps, including Auschwitz, which was liberated on Jan. 27, 1945.
A not-so-live “Rent”: A highly publicized TV version of the musical, which was supposed to be performed live on Sunday, broadcast material shot the previous night after one of its lead actors broke his foot.
What we’re scrolling through: This Instagram feed. Debbie Millman, the host of the “Design Matters” podcast, is just back from the trip of a lifetime. Her posts, according to Anna Holland, an editor in London, “aren’t envy-inducing photographs as much as reflective journal entries about facing your fears and learning what you’re capable of.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: For a quick dinner, make a soba noodle salad with edamame, carrots and spinach.
Listen: If you watched the Netflix and Hulu documentaries on the Fyre Festival and want to know more (we get it), here’s our Popcast.
Watch: The latest movie trailers, including “Beach Bum” (featuring a lot of Matthew McConaughey) and Idris Elba’s directorial debut.
See: “Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit” is a virtual reality presentation created by Google and the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, in which the viewer is the ghost of Hamlet’s murdered father.
Smarter Living: You can use your phone’s settings to silence notifications, but still let really important things through. On an iPhone, go to Settings and to Do Not Disturb, where you can schedule quiet hours but allow exceptions for parents, spouses, etc., or for repeat calls. Android phones vary, but you should find similar options by going to the Settings app, to Sound and to Do Not Disturb.
We also have ideas on using built-in storage to make room for the dog, or even your in-laws.
And now for the Back Story on …
Protecting your data
Happy Data Privacy Day!
Or maybe not so happy. In the years since the celebration was born in Europe and adopted in the U.S. and Canada, digital privacy has become a mainstream concern.
Digital privacy is no joke. If you do one thing to protect your data today — or this week, or this year — set aside a few hours to make stronger passwords.
Make sure every password you use for logging in to a site or an app is unique and complex. Password management apps like 1Password or LastPass make it easy, letting you use one master password to reach a vault of all of your passwords.
Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news, and Brian X. Chen, the lead consumer technology writer at The Times, for today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about Roger Stone and his connection to WikiLeaks.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Salt Lake City’s state (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Runa Sandvik, the senior director of information security at The Times, sends out stealthy phishing emails to the staff to see who falls for them. (Those who do get extra training in spotting fakes.)