5 things to know for January 29: Mueller probe, US & China, deep freeze, 'deepfakes'

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The US Justice Department filed criminal charges against the Chinese tech giant Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhou

Posted: Jan 29, 2019 2:10 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2019 2:10 PM

Now that the government shutdown is over, we can get to the pomp and circumstance of the State of the Union address. It'll be held NEXT Tuesday. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Mueller investigation


Is Robert Mueller's Russia probe really close to being over? Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker says it is. He said he's been "fully briefed" on the investigation and looks forward to getting the final report from the special counsel soon. But some Democrats in Congress aren't so sure. They think Whitaker, who previously had been publicly hostile to the probe he's now in charge of, is just spouting off Trump administration talking points. Whitaker made his comments right after bipartisan legislation was filed that would require Mueller to summarize his findings in a report to Congress and the public.

2. US and China

China accused the US of trying to "kill" Chinese businesses after US prosecutors indicted telecom giant Huawei. The charges against Huawei include conspiring to steal trade secrets and dodge American sanctions on Iran. Charges were also filed against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer. She was arrested in December in Canada, and the US is looking to extradite her. China lashed out, saying the US is using "its state power to smear and crack down on targeted Chinese companies." The indictments will no doubt work wonders on trade talks between the two countries. They're trying to cut a deal before March 1, when US tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods will rise from 10% to 25%.

3. Cold weather

About 250 million people -- 77% of the continental US population -- face below-freezing temperatures this week. But this isn't just a typical January cold snap. These are some of the coldest temperatures we've seen in a generation, caused by the polar vortex paying us a visit. If you're 25 or younger, "you've never felt this cold before," CNN meteorologist Tom Sater said. In the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, temps will plunge to 20-40 degrees below zero. Wind chills will be even worse: 35-60 below (here's how to protect yourself). There will be blizzard conditions in some places, too. Snow is even forecast for Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. More than 3,400 flights have been cancelled. The weather has already killed two people, in Minnesota and Illinois.

4. Teacher strikes and protests

California. Colorado. Virginia. Those three states are caught up in a wave of teacher strikes and protests. Educators are walking picket lines or demonstrating to demand more pay and better funding for schools. Thousands of teachers in Virginia converged yesterday on the state capitol for a #RedforEd rally. Teachers in Denver have decided to strike, but it's unclear when a work stoppage would start. Educators in Oakland, California, will vote this week on whether to strike. And in Los Angeles, teachers returned to the classroom last week after a six-day strike that yielded raises, reduction in class sizes and the hiring of more nurses, librarians and counselors.

5. Fake videos

Is the world about to reach a point where seeing is no longer believing? That's what some fear. Advances in artificial intelligence could soon make creating fake audio and video -- often called "deepfakes" -- relatively easy. Videos in which a person appears to say or do something that they didn't actually say or do could take the war against disinformation to a new level. CNN Business takes you inside the Pentagon's race against the deepfakes.


$11 billion

That's how much the Congressional Budget Office says the economy lost during the partial government shutdown.


Hang up

You may want to stay off FaceTime for a bit. A newly discovered bug could let other people eavesdrop on you. Apple promises a fix this week.

Not forgotten

A funeral home in Texas worried that no one would attend an Air Force vet's funeral. Then, more than 5,000 people showed up.

True to life

The actor who plays Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán on Netflix's "Narcos: Mexico" dropped by Guzman's trial to see the man for himself.

Back in 'Black'

Mega-hit "Black Panther" is back in theaters, just in time for Black History Month (and awards season). And you can see it for free.

The robots are coming

Travelers flying out of London's Gatwick Airport may soon have a robot parking their car. Do you still have to tip them?


"We have a draft of the framework."

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, announcing that the US and the Taliban have agreed in principle to a framework that could eventually bring Afghanistan's long-running war to an end


Pressure point

California's Pacific Gas and Electric has filed for bankruptcy protection. The utility is coming under pressure from billions of dollars in claims tied to deadly wildfires.


Amen, brother

Bounce to the four-bar drum solo, recorded five decades ago, that's become the most-sampled loop in music history. (Click to view.)

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