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New Chinese restrictions on tech exports could complicate TikTok sale

New export controls on technologies Beijing deems sensitive are threatening to derail efforts by American companies to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations from its Chinese parent company ByteDance, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Driving the news: The regulations were unveiled on Friday and prevent "technology based on data analysis for personalized information recommendation services" — which would likely apply to TikTok's AI content-recommendation engine — from being exported without a license, according to the New York Times.


  • On Saturday, the Chinese state-owned Xinhua News Agency published commentary from a trade professor and government adviser suggesting that ByteDance "seriously and cautiously" consider whether to suspend TikTok negotiations after reviewing the new rules.
  • The state-owned English-language newspaper Global Times published a similar story quoting Chinese experts as saying the restrictions could help ByteDance "prevent its core algorithms used in video-sharing app TikTok from falling into U.S. companies' hands."

The state of play: Microsoft and Walmart have teamed up on a bid to buy TikTok ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline that the Trump administration has imposed before the Chinese-owned app is banned on national-security grounds. Oracle is also reported to be in negotiations with ByteDance.

Between the lines: "If Beijing blocks the sale of TikTok, it would effectively be calling the Trump administration’s bluff, forcing the U.S. government to actually go through with restricting the app and potentially incurring the wrath of its legions of influencers and fans," the Times notes.

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

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Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

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Kushner to visit Saudi Arabia and Qatar seeking deal to end crisis

Jared Kushner will travel in the coming days to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a last-ditch effort to resolve the dispute between the Gulf countries.

Why it matters: Fixing the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf and notch a last-minute achievement for Kushner and the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

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Wisconsin recount reaffirms Biden's victory in the state

The two recounts in Wisconsin requested by the Trump campaign were completed Sunday and confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the state, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. Recounts in the state's most populous and liberal areas — Dane and Milwaukee counties — netted him an additional 87 votes.

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Michelle Lujan Grisham is Congressional Hispanics choice to lead Health and Human Services

Hispanic lawmakers are openly lobbying to have New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham be named Health and Human Services secretary, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: These members are now following the example some Black lawmakers have used for weeks: trying to convince Joe Biden his political interests will be served by rewarding certain demographic groups with Cabinet picks.

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Vanderbilt kicker becomes first woman to play in Power 5 football

Vanderbilt senior Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game yesterday "when she delivered the opening kickoff of the second half for Vanderbilt against Missouri," ESPN reports.

Details: "Fuller, a senior goalkeeper on Vanderbilt's SEC championship soccer team, sent the low kick to the 35-yard line where it was downed by Missouri," as the play was designed. Vandy lost, 41-0.

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Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shownon the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

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Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day One immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

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