The Skimm -> The US and the Taliban have agreed on a framework for a deal + US announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.

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The Skimm -> The US and the Taliban have agreed on a framework for a deal + US announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.

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  QUOTE OF THE DAY  
“Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick” – The CDC, protecting you from yourself.
  
THINGS ON THE US’S FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA

Afghanistan

The Story

The US and the Taliban have agreed on a framework for a deal to end the 17-year war. Reminder: the US invaded Afghanistan after 9/11 to end the Taliban’s rule and take down al-Qaeda. Under the deal, the Taliban would agree to not let terror groups use Afghanistan as an HQ. In exchange, the US would start to withdraw its 14,000 troops from the country. But a lot of details need to be worked out, like what role the Taliban will have in Afghan politics. And what this will mean for the rights of women there – many who suffered under the Taliban’s rule in the ’90s. The two are huddling back up again next month to hash more of this out.

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The war in Afghanistan is the longest US war ever. It’s cost the US almost $1 trillion and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. Now, this is the closest the two sides have come to a peace deal…but there’s still a long way to go to make this official. The Afghan president warned to take things slow and get this right. He’s worried about a repeat of what happened when the Soviet Union left the country in the ’80s – leaving behind more chaos for the people in Afghanistan.

Skimm More: Need a refresher on the difference between the Taliban and al-Qaeda? Here’s your Skimm on international terror groups.

  

China

The Story

Yesterday, the Justice Department announced indictments against Chinese co Huawei – the world’s second-largest smartphone maker. The US has encouraged Americans not to buy Huawei products, warning that China could use them to spy on Americans. Then last month, Canada arrested the co’s CFO at the US’s request and the US-Huawei beef took a turn for the beefier. It’s led to a diplomatic crisis and what some think are retaliatory arrests made by China. Now, the DOJ’s announced charges against the CFO, and is calling on Canada to extradite her to the US. In all, it’s issued more than 20 criminal charges against the co, the CFO, and some affiliates, including accusing Huawei of helping Iran avoid sanctions, and stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile. China said the US should stop the “unreasonable crackdown on Chinese companies,” and Huawei denied committing “any of the asserted violations.”

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The US – and the Trump admin in particular – has long accused China of playing dirty in business. It sees Huawei as a case study in all this – allegedly stealing US intellectual property, violating US laws and sanctions, and threatening US national security. Now, it’s making a big move to enforce US laws and keep a major Chinese co in check, days before the two countries are set to go back to talks over that trade war they’re in. It’s unclear if or how this announcement will affect that, but expect those talks to be extra tense.

  

Venezuela

The Story

Yesterday, the US announced sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA. US companies will still be able to import oil. But the payment has to go to a special account. The reason: the US wants to make sure profits don’t end up in the hands of Nicolás Maduro, whose presidency the US and several other countries see as illegitimate because of things like alleged vote rigging in last year’s election. They’re instead supporting Juan Guaidó – the head of the country’s parliament who invoked the constitution last week to act as interim prez. Now, the US is putting its money where its mouth is as a new tactic to get Maduro out of power.

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Venezuela’s economy is based around oil exports, and it relies heavily on its exports to the US. And although the US has become increasingly energy independent in recent years, Venezuela is still one of the US’s top oil suppliers. There’s a lot of money in this relationship – and this announcement shows the level of commitment the US is throwing behind its support for Guaidó.

  
REPEAT AFTER ME…

What to say when you can’t decide where to go to lunch…

Let’s take a vote. Today, UK parliament will vote on amendments to PM Theresa May’s Brexit plan. Since 2016’s referendum, Brexit has been a pain in the arse. Parliament rejected May’s breakup deal with the EU. She came back with Plan B, which looked a lot like Plan A. Now, lawmakers are giving some feedback in the form of more than a dozen amendments. The speaker of the House of Commons will announce today which amendments he’ll bring to a vote. Two that are making headlines are: one that would make it harder for the UK to leave without a deal, which could also allow them to delay Brexit. And another one that would scrap May’s “backstop” plan that keeps the UK tied to EU trade rules for the time being as a way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU). May has been trying and failing to come up with a solution everyone can agree on. Now, parliament is having its turn at what a Brexit plan should look like. But even if lawmakers agree on something, there’s still a lot of work to be done to get the country ready before the March 29 deadline.

  

What to say to your friend obsessed with “The West Wing”…

TV, meet reality. Yesterday, Democrats had a lot to say about former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hinting he’d run for president as an independent. Many think having an independent on the ticket could split the vote, and ultimately help President Trump get re-elected. Schultz reportedly says he hears the haters, but is “unfazed.” That’s not the only thing lawmakers are thinking about. Yesterday, a Republican and a Dem intro’d a bill that would require special counsel Robert Mueller to submit a report to Congress and the public once his investigation is over. Because, transparency. Meanwhile, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says the investigation is “close to being completed.” In other news out of DC, there’s a new official date for the State of the Union. Mark your cals for February 5.

  

What people are talking about…

HBO’s “Leaving Neverland.” The two-part documentary – which premiered last week at Sundance – covers claims by James Safechuck and Wade Robson that Michael Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were kids. Both Safechuck and Robson had defended Jackson against other allegations of child abuse – and said the singer hadn’t molested them during Jackson’s 2005 trial. But they later filed suits alleging their own abuse. Yesterday, Jackson’s family put out a statement condemning the film, calling it a “public lynching.” The doc is expected to air later this year.

  

What to say to your co-worker that hates winter…

Bundle up. Today, life-threatening wind chills (think: as low as minus 60) will hit the Midwest and Great Lakes. It’s expected to last several days with the potential of breaking temperature records.

  

What to say to the journalist in your life…

Stand by your peers.

  
NEW YEAR SMARTER YOU
To kick off the new year, we’ve shared some tips to get your health on track, your finances in order, and your do-gooder you on.

Now it’s time to tackle your career.

Meet, New Year, Professional You. It’s a lot like the old you, but with more career goals checked off. Think: how to nail a negotiation, achieve desk zen, and freshen up your resume.

Get into it.

SKIMM PICKS
For when you’ve been hesitating on the job hunt…

Career moves don’t make themselves. Up your skills with this online learning platform. They have courses on project management, marketing, coding, productivity, and more. Plus, Skimm’rs get something off the price tag. Hiii, fancy new resume.*

For when you want to take your hygge life to the next level…

Meet this loungewear. It’s made of extra soft material and breathable fabric so you stay warm (but not too warm) under that faux fur throw. PS: Skimm’rs get $20 off the price tag. Here you go.*

For when it’s Friday night…

And you just…didn’t get paid enough. We Skimm’d how to negotiate your salary here. Because those who ask shall receive (if it’s done right).

*PS This is an affiliate post, which means if you purchase or sign up, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.
SKIMM’RS
Skimm’r of the Week…Tess Rabin (DC). She’s the executive director of First Ask. The org aims to close the gender gap in national politics by empowering women to run in key states. Learn more here.

Pop the champagne for…Juliette S (CA), who started a small business for handmade cards and Gwendolyn G (RI), who turned her organic baby clothing side hustle into a full-time hustle. And Shauna B (UT), who runs an adult literacy program that received an award from the Library of Congress.

(Some) Birthdays…Roz ‘Mimi’ Weitzen (NY), Jessica Berger (NY), Oprah Winfrey (CA), Ashley Beresid (IL), Megan Dobro (MA), Nicole Flacks (ESP), Audrey Nguyen (TX), Brittany Tims (GA), Blake Bowland (NE), Libby Egan (WA), Wendy Gordon (ME), Lisa Guetzko (IA), Saretta Kessler (AZ), Thomas lyons (NV), Barbara Reichert (DE), Hannah Sellers (MS), Fabiola Villarreal (MEX), Cassandra Zito (NJ).

*Welcome to a new section we’re testing with members of theSkimm. Want to take it to the next level? Reach out here for a chance to be featured.

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