Here’s what you need to know:
• After a morning of tension and chaos at the White House, President Trump announced plans, but not details, for stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum. The Dow dropped hundreds of points.
He had summoned more than a dozen executives from the steel and aluminum industry, raising expectations of a fully formed trade policy. However, the legal review was not yet complete, and advisers were still discussing various scenarios for tariff levels.
The announcement came on the same day that senior officials are to meet with China’s top economic adviser, Liu He, who has been tasked with trying to pre-empt a trade war.
• Some of the news distracting President Trump:
Our reporters found that a private equity group and a bank had meetings with Jared Kushner in the White House before making large loans to his family’s real estate business.
Mr. Trump is losing one of his most trusted aides, his 29-year-old communications director, Hope Hicks. (Here’s who has left his administration so far.)
And Republican lawmakers were stunned by his embrace of elements of gun control: expanded background checks, keeping guns from the mentally ill and restricting sales to some young adults.
• China’s Party Congress convenes this weekend.
Communist Party censors are scouring the internet to suppress criticism of a proposal, expected to pass, allowing President Xi Jinping to remain in power indefinitely. Among the unlikely targets: the letter N and images of Winnie the Pooh (a frequently used Xi avatar).
A few years ago at this time, the Shanghai-based Hurun Report said that the net worth of the richest delegates to the National People’s Congress and its advisory body amounted to $463.8 billion. We’ll find out how much that number has grown in this year’s report, due out today.
• Climate update: “The Beast from the East” is lashing Britain with such heavy snow and high winds that the national weather service warned of “risk to life.” There’s a national gas shortage.
In the U.S., state leaders have been signaling to the world that they intend to act on climate change with or without the Trump administration. Washington State, in particular, is drawing attention as a major global economy that is willing to buck conventional wisdom by considering a carbon tax.
The State Senate is expected to vote on the tax today.
• There’s no homework, classrooms, uniforms or traditional grades. Instead, there are “creator spaces” and “pitch desks.”
That’s Luminaria in Williamstown, Australia, a school opened by Susan Wu, an American entrepreneur who’s been called “one of the most influential women in technology.”
But can Silicon Valley’s approach — which certainly works to churn out apps — turn out successful children?
• Two of our journalists are looking at big, big subjects.
In this video, our Interpreter columnist explains how the idea of national identity was invented.
And our Australia bureau chief, Damien Cave, is examining the retreat of democracy around the world. He’ll be in Adelaide this weekend to discuss what’s happening at two events for Writers’ Week. He’d love to hear your questions for the luminaries he’ll be talking with.
And another member of our Global initiative, Francesca Donner, will be at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday. The details on their appearances are here.
• Daimler, the German carmaker, will buy a partner’s 25 percent stake in Car2Go, paving the way for Mercedes and BMW to develop driverless taxis. That could, eventually, allow them to expand into a business segment currently dominated by Uber in the U.S. and Didi Chuxing in China.
• Cellphones on the moon? Vodafone and Nokia plan to build a high-speed cellular network in space to support what would be the first privately funded moon landing, planned for next year. (Don’t expect everything to go according to plan.)
• Spotify’s prospectus values the music streaming service as high as $23 billion.
• The energy, time and money spent to make digital products like Bitcoin could be diverting resources from pathways to real economic growth. Our economics reporter examines whether that’s the case in the U.S.
• U.S. stocks were down. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
• President Vladimir Putin of Russia used his annual state of the nation speech to threaten Western nations with a new generation of nuclear weapons, including an “invincible” intercontinental cruise missile. It remains unclear whether that actually exists. [The New York Times]
• The U.S. is banking on diplomacy with North Korea — but moving ahead with war planning. [The New York Times]
• Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia meets his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, today in Sydney. The fate of New Zealand’s convicted criminals deported from Australia is reportedly on the agenda. [SBS]
• The police in Norway are investigating two forged Nobel Peace Prize nominations for President Trump. [The New York Times]
• Mick Fanning, the Australian surfing champion who famously fought off a shark in competition, announced plans to retire. [The Age]
• Researchers in Indonesia have discovered rare saltwater lakes filled with jellyfish. (The embedded videos are fascinating.) [National Geographic]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Learn how to make flawless rice, every time.
• Is that bump a spider bite? Probably not — most spiders only bite defensively.
• Natural cleaning can go beyond baking soda and vinegar. Ketchup, vodka and other household items can help with stains and spills.
• “David Bowie Is,” a record-setting exhibition of the rock icon’s complete artistry, opens today at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Let us give you a virtual tour.
• Astronomers using a small telescope in Australia said they had glimpsed farther back in time than the Hubble Telescope had managed. Here’s what they learned about when the first stars were forming.
• A sleepy Malaysian village that once grew into a hotbed of cabarets and night life is staging a comeback as the country’s hippest destination.
He’s 13.5 inches tall and weighs a (relatively) hefty 8.5 pounds. More than 3,000 of him have been handed out since 1929. And he’s one of the world’s most famous statuettes. You’ll probably know him as Oscar.
The winners of Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards will proudly take home the bronze, 24-karat gold-plated figure of a knight holding a crusader’s sword, which is officially called the Academy Award of Merit. (Bone up on the Best Picture nominees here. Australians can watch the show live at 12:30 p.m. on Monday by streaming online 9 Now.)
So where did the name Oscar come from?
One explanation is that Margaret Herrick, the librarian for the Academy who would later become its executive director, saw the statue in 1931 and said it reminded her of her uncle Oscar.
Others say the nickname came from the actress Bette Davis, who said the statue reminded her of her first husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson Jr.
A third version has it that the Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky coined the term when he referred to an old vaudeville joke “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” in a 1934 column.
No matter who was responsible, it clearly stuck. In 1939, the Academy officially adopted the name.
Claire Moses contributed reporting.
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