Syria, Golden Globe Awards, CES: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning,

We start today with a reversal in U.S. plans to withdraw from Syria, the continuing talks to end the partial government shutdown, and last night’s Golden Globe Awards.

President Trump’s national security adviser outlined on Sunday conditions for a withdrawal that could leave American troops in Syria for months or even years.

Mr. Bolton’s remarks appeared to roll back the president’s plan to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops within 30 days, a decision that surprised allies and drew objections from the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned within hours of Mr. Trump’s announcement last month.

The details: Mr. Bolton said the U.S. would remain in Syria until the Islamic State was completely defeated and Turkey had guaranteed that it wouldn’t strike Kurdish forces allied with the U.S.

The Daily: On today’s episode, one of our White House reporters discusses the decision to leave Syria and what it means for the role of the U.S. military.

President Trump said on Sunday that negotiations to end the partial government shutdown had been “productive,” but that if Congress didn’t allocate more than $5 billion for a border wall, he might use “emergency” authority to build the barrier with other government funds.

Democrats said there was no progress in ending the shutdown, and appeared unmoved by Mr. Trump’s shift to calling for a steel barrier, rather than one made of concrete.

What’s next: Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would begin considering bills this week to reopen departments that handle crucial functions like tax refunds and food stamps.

From Opinion: Declaring a “national emergency” in order to divert funds to pay for a wall would be illegal, a Yale law professor writes.

Notable: Only a handful of asylum seekers at the border are allowed into the U.S. each day. As their despair grows, so do the profits of human smugglers. Our correspondent reports from the border town of Reynosa, Mexico.

Trade talks between the U.S. and China begin today in Beijing, and there’s pressure from both sides to achieve a truce.

Complaints from American industry are growing, as the trade war disrupts factories that depend on imported parts. “It’s killing us,” said the chairman of a company in Michigan that’s considering moving production to Mexico.

Closer look: President Trump says the U.S. has an advantage in trade negotiations, as the Chinese economy has, by several measures, been hobbled by tariffs.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Freddie Mercury biopic, was named best drama on Sunday, beating out the favored “A Star Is Born,” which ended the night with just one award, for best song.

In another surprise, Lady Gaga, whose role in “A Star Is Born” was expected to earn her a best actress award, lost to Glenn Close, who won for “The Wife.”

“Green Book,” a movie about race relations, was the night’s big winner, taking home three trophies.

The details: Here’s a complete list of winners, and photographs from the red carpet.

Review: With a focus on diversity and little political commentary, a ceremony known for boozy troublemaking tried to stay out of trouble this year, our chief TV critic writes.

Attempted coup in Gabon: The military took over state radio today to contest the ability of President Ali Bongo Ondimba to carry out his responsibilities. He is in Morocco, recovering from a stroke.

Snapshot: Above, Three Kings Day in El Salvador was among the Epiphany celebrations around the world on Sunday. Jan. 6 is the official end of the Christmas holiday, commemorating the three wise men’s visit to the baby Jesus.

N.F.L. playoffs: The Chicago Bears missed a late field goal, sending the Philadelphia Eagles to the next round. Here are complete results from the weekend’s wild-card games.

College football championship: Alabama and Clemson, both unbeaten, face off tonight for the national title. We’ll have live coverage at 8 p.m. Eastern.

What we’re reading: This piece from Mental Floss. “I was delighted to learn about ‘The Chaos,’ a 1920s poem that captures the English language in its irregular, infuriating and inspiring beauty,” writes Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor. “Read the poem out loud, if you dare.”

Look: In the book “Odd Apples,” the photographer William Mullan chronicles — and idealizes — rare varieties of the fruit.

Smarter Living: Aiming to spend more time with friends and loved ones? Our Wirecutter team distilled the best gear for unfussy but elegant dinner parties. The essentials: sturdy, easy-to-clean glassware and flatware, and white napkins. (You can toss them in a bucket of lightly bleached water during cleanup and save the laundry for tomorrow.)

We also have advice for pet owners who are considering insuring their animals.

International CES, the annual showcase for the world’s biggest consumer electronics companies, begins this week in Las Vegas. We asked Brian X. Chen, our lead consumer technology writer, how he manages to report on the trade show.

The first CES I covered was for Wired in 2009, so this will be my 10th consecutive year. Here’s how I stay sane while reporting on one of the most sprawling and, frankly, stressful trade shows in the world.

To help me focus on the most newsworthy topics, I do prebriefings, where companies tell me what they are going to introduce — so long as I pledge not to reveal anything early.

For weeks, my inbox has exploded with requests for meetings, often with obscure start-ups. (In the eight hours before I wrote this, I received 85.) Sometimes I agree, but usually these pitches aren’t the right fit.

The show covers about 2.7 million square feet, so I wear comfortable, sturdy boots. I carry my laptop, a bulky battery pack for my phone, trail mix, business cards and, most important, hand sanitizer. (Despite this precaution, I’ve returned with what we veterans call the CES plague about six times.)

That reminds me: I should buy more hand sanitizer.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
To Eleanor Stanford (welcome back) for the cultural guidance and Alan Henry for such Smart Living. A special thanks to Brian X. Chen for today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and the ensuing debate over the role of the U.S. military.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Flexible blackjack cards (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The editor of our technology coverage is Pui-Wing Tam, who was named a deputy business editor last month.

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