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President Trump is preparing to hit China with $60 billion worth of tariffs in retaliation for its theft of US intellectual property, despite concerns that the move may provoke a global trade war, the Washington Post reports. Leading figures within the GOP and the White House are opposed to Trump’s protectionist instincts, which recently led to the imposition of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, but he is particularly keen to fulfill campaign pledges to impose tariffs on goods from China. Most observers agree that China’s IP theft is an issue, but not all agree that imposing tariffs is the right way to address it. Besides, identifying China’s contribution to products made by multinational companies is not easy, and some swing states that supported Trump in 2016, such as Pennsylvania, which has seen exports to China grow dramatically, may suffer from retaliatory tariffs. The US exported $130.4 billion in goods to China in 2017, but imported nearly four times as much, leaving a trade deficit of $375.2 billion. Meanwhile, China’s decision to appoint a Harvard-educated official as one of its four vice-premiers suggests that it will meet the protectionist US stance with a pro-globalization one, the South China Morning Post reports.
The chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, the British company that harvested the data profiles of 50 million Facebook customers without their knowledge to use in Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, has been filmed saying that it has used honey traps, fake news campaigns and secretive operations around the world to influence elections, the Guardian reports. Alexander Nix told an undercover reporter posing as a member of a wealthy Sri Lankan family that Cambridge Analytica, which claims to win votes by pinpointing target groups and designing messages that will appeal to their interests, could create a sex scandal and use ex-spies to look for dirt. He also said it was adept at operating “in the shadows.” The company later denied using such practices and accused the journalist of entrapment. The UK’s Electoral Commission is currently investigating the firm’s role in the EU referendum and its Information Commissioner’s Office is analyzing its use of data analytics for political purposes, while in the US, it is part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The scandal is creating problems for Facebook, which has struggled to deal with questions about its role in spreading fake news, or its inability to protect its users’ data, as the impending departure of its chief information security officer makes plain, the New York Times reports.
A package bomb that authorities believe is linked to the recent string of Austin bombings exploded early Tuesday inside of a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio, possibly leaving one person with minor injuries, the Associated Press reports. The explosion happened at around 1 am at a FedEx facility in Schertz, which is just northeast of San Antonio. Meanwhile, the device that injured two men in an earlier bombing in Austin, Texas, appears to have been detonated by tripwire, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Two men were injured on Sunday night when a bomb went off in the Travis County neighborhood in southwest Austin. Investigators believe the bomb, which scattered debris over a large area, was similar to the ones that went off in Austin earlier this month, killing two people and seriously injuring one other, except it was triggered by tripwire, which suggests that the bomber or bombers possess a greater degree of sophistication than previously suspected.