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The British Parliament attempts to shape the future of Brexit, the Trump administration prepares for trade talks with China, and Singapore addresses a sensitive data leak. Here’s the latest:
Britain prepares for more crucial Brexit votes
The British Parliament is expected to vote today on a number of amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan that could end up shaping how the country departs from the E.U.
How it works: Various lawmakers, including those in opposition parties, have proposed more than a dozen changes to the wording of Mrs. May’s exit plan. Only the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, can decide which will be voted on. The voting is for the most part not binding, but Mrs. May will be under political pressure to adopt popular measures.
What are the amendments? There is a broad range. The most hyped is intended to make it more difficult for Britain to leave the E.U. without a deal. It suggests that if a plan hasn’t been approved by the end of February, Parliament should get a chance to vote on delaying Brexit.
What does it all mean? At the very least, the competing proposals should give Parliament a better idea of the kind of Brexit that would get broad support and perhaps even carve out a path forward.
Trump under pressure for a ‘win’ with China
President Trump, bruised from his fight with congressional Democrats over border security, has an even more formidable negotiating task ahead of him: trade talks with Beijing.
Starting on Wednesday, a Chinese delegation led by Liu He, the vice premier, will meet with an American delegation led by Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s top trade negotiator, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary. They’re kicking off a monthlong sprint of negotiations.
What’s at stake? If the two sides cannot reach a trade agreement by March 2, the United States plans to escalate the trade war with tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. China has indicated it will similarly retaliate.
Analysis: Trump administration officials claim they have the upper hand as China’s economy begins to buckle under U.S. tariffs. But Mr. Trump may have lost some of that leverage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the five-week partial government shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, nearly a quarter of which is permanently lost.
Go deeper: Apple, like many other companies that rely heavily on China to assemble its products, would face significant financial pressure if the trade war escalated and would find it increasingly difficult to move its manufacturing elsewhere. A tiny screw demonstrates why.
Singapore reports vast breach of H.I.V. patients’ data
The medical records and personal information for 14,200 H.I.V.-positive people were stolen by an American and illegally disclosed online, officials said, in the second major data breach of the country’s public health system in two years.
Details: The American, Mikhy Farrera Brochez, lived on an employment pass in Singapore from January 2008 to June 2016, when he was jailed. In 2017, he was convicted of “numerous fraud and drug-related offenses” — including lying to labor officials about his H.I.V. status, providing false information to the police and using forged degree certificates in job applications. He has been deported and his whereabouts was not disclosed.
Why it matters: Half of H.I.V. cases reported in Singapore every year are transmitted through same-sex intercourse, which is illegal there, so the breach is especially sensitive. The country also doesn’t grant employment passes to H.I.V.-positive foreigners.
The U.S. and Taliban agree to a potential peace framework
Officials from both parties agreed in principle to the outlines of a preliminary peace deal, the chief U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, told our reporter in Kabul. The agreement is the biggest tangible step toward ending the 17-year conflict.
Mr. Khalilzad returned to Afghanistan to brief the government after six days of talks with the Taliban delegation in Doha, Qatar.
Details: U.S. negotiators said the deal would include a guarantee from the Taliban to prevent Afghan territory from turning into a terrorist hub. The withdrawal of American troops was contingent on larger concessions from the Taliban, including a cease-fire and to talk directly with the Afghan government — measures the insurgent group has doggedly opposed in the past.
Another angle: The possibility of a peace deal has inspired waves of enthusiasm and hope among many Afghans. But for women, it could mean a new horror story.
Here’s what else is happening
Carlos Ghosn: American stock regulators are now also scrutinizing the former Nissan chairman. He has been denied bail and remains consigned to a small jail cell in Tokyo, where the justice system gives prosecutors immense power.
China: A human rights lawyer, Wang Quanzhang, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for “subversion of state power,” a charge usually applied to critics of the Communist Party. Mr. Wang was the last to be prosecuted among hundreds of legal activists rounded up in the government’s broad crackdown in 2015.
Sickle-cell disease: A cure for the inherited condition, which mainly afflicts people of African descent, seems possible after some experimental gene therapy trials eradicated symptoms.
Duke University: A dean apologized to international students after a professor advised against speaking Chinese on campus in an email that drew widespread criticism. The professor was also asked to step down from her role as a director of graduate studies in the medical school.
Nepal: The captain of a Bangladeshi airplane that crashed in Kathmandu last year, killing 51 people, appeared to have experienced an “emotional breakdown” during the flight, an investigating committee reported.
A swastika in Thailand: A 19-year-old Thai singer wore a T-shirt with the Nazi iconography to a performance, prompting a social media outcry and reviving concerns over the lack of awareness of the Holocaust in Asia.
Singapore: Landmarks of Brutalist architecture, which some see as an integral part of the city-state’s identity, are on the verge of being demolished, prompting a debate on what kinds of buildings should be preserved.
Jennifer Aniston: Tabloid magazines have churned out many false reports that the actor is back with her former husband Brad Pitt and having his baby (by one count, she has had some two dozen children since 2013). Our media columnist looks at how readers are drawn to stories they simply want to be true.
What if? A Filipino-American photographer spent 11 years documenting his parents’ hometown, Manila, and contemplating what his own life might have been like had they stayed.
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As the British Parliament prepares to vote on proposed amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Plan B for Brexit, Britain’s retailers are warning that a no-deal withdrawal from the European Union could lead to higher prices and empty shelves.
And some entrepreneurs are offering Brexit survival-themed products, like the Brexit Box. Costing nearly 300 pounds, it includes a water filter, fire-starting gel and 30 days of freeze-dried food.
The fears recall Y2K, the so-called Millennium Bug, which threatened to wreak havoc when computer systems encountered Jan. 1, 2000, a date many had not been programmed to understand.
The world didn’t end, of course. But a Times editorial from Dec. 30, 1999, drew a resonant lesson:
“Even those of us who have not filled the bathtub with emergency water, withdrawn extra cash from the bank and stocked up on food will be entering the new millennium sobered by the awareness that unknown problems of our own making are an enduring part of existence.”
Inyoung Kang, an editor based in London, wrote today’s Back Story.
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