The Atlantic Daily: Criminal Charges Before Trade Talks

But is a comprehensive U.S.-China trade pact impossible? Plus another hellish week for attempted Brexit-ing, an ex-Starbucks CEO contemplates a 2020 run as an independent, the best films at Sundance, and more

Elijah Nouvelage / Reuters

What We’re Following

U.S.-China tensions are boiling, as trade talks resume. The Justice Department stoked the flames with China by levying charges of bank fraud and obstruction of justice against an executive at the Chinese telecom firm Huawei. The crisis could pose a major impasse for Beijing’s goal of transforming the country into a technology powerhouse.

In the U.K., Prime Minster Theresa May’s Brexit headaches are never-ending, as she looks to the Brussels again for concessions on her country’s formal plan to leave the EU. This week looks to be yet one more crucial test of her leadership, which has weathered a string of high-profile cabinet resignations and no-confidence votes.

One thing is clear about 2020: Everyone’s already testing the waters. Kamala Harris sent an early signal to her Democratic primary opponents that she’ll be tough to outmaneuver, drawing a crowd of 22,000 for her inaugural campaign rally. Another, very different type of candidate is also floating his name for the presidency—Howard Schultz, the man who built Starbucks into a global behemoth, who is mulling a run as an independent. That has raised the hackles of Democrats who think he would instead help Trump win reelection, but David Frum argues that Schultz’s exploration may just be “the help America needs.”

The best films after week one at Sundance: The festival has long been a launching pad for flicks to find mainstream success—and Oscar accolades. Of the 17 movies our critic David Sims viewed during the festival’s first week, The Farewell stuck with him the most. It’s a humor-filled drama that tells the story of the director Lulu Wang’s family, who try to prevent a grandmother from finding out about her terminal illness during a family reunion. Late Night has ginned up the most buzz, in part because it stars and is written by Mindy Kaling, but also because Amazon forked up an eye-popping $13 million for the rights to the film.

Evening Reads

Venezuela's last glacier

(Jun Cen)

Thousands of years ago, 50,000 acres of glacial ice crusted Venezuela’s peaks. By 1910, maps showed that these glaciers had shrunk to 2,500 acres. By 2008, fewer than 80 acres remained.

Now, amid political and economic chaos in Venezuela, scientists are racing to study the one small remaining glacier.

This past fall, the only trained microbiologist left in the laboratory was Johnma Rondón, the second-youngest researcher on the entire Vida Glacial project team. Rondón, who helped identify the microbial strains from the glaciers as part of his doctoral dissertation, was responsible for maintaining the strains stored in the freezers in Yarzábal’s lab—no easy task in a country where power failures are frequent.”
→ Read the rest.

Scene from The Favourite

(Natural History Museum Rotterdam)

A Dutch man’s drug- and alcohol-induced decision in 2016 to swallow a live catfish led to a frantic visit to the emergency room, but the grisly practice of gulping down a fish has a surprisingly long backstory as a party game. The tradition stretches back to 1939, and it took off from there:

“A Harvard sophomore won local notoriety—and job offers from multiple circuses—that same year after swallowing 23 goldfish in just 10 minutes. Soon students at other schools were vying to break the record, and the Intercollegiate Goldfish Gulping Association (IGGA) was established to determine and enforce competition standards. There were only two rules: first, that each fish measured three inches long, and second, that the fish be kept down for at least 12 hours after consumption.”
→ Read the rest.

Guess the Image

Protesters demonstrate on January 20, 2019 in this city, over a consequential naming dispute with a neighboring country

(Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP / Getty)

The above photograph depicts demonstrators in this city on January 20, 2019, protesting an agreement to rename which neighboring country?

(For answers, scroll down to No. 9 in this gallery of striking images from around the world.)

Dear Therapist

Dear Therapist column

(Bianca Bagnarelli)

Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. This week, Ginger from Rochester, New York, writes:

“I’ve been dating Adam for two and a half years. I’m 33 and childless, and he’s 48, divorced, and the father of three kids. We seem to keep having the same fights about his needy ex-wife and the negative impact she has on our relationship.”

→ Read the rest, and Lori’s response. Have a question? Email Lori anytime at at

Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here—the puzzle gets more difficult throughout the week.

Concerns, comments, questions, typos? Email Shan Wang at

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