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

02:02 - Source: CNN
Acting AG: Mueller probe 'close to being completed'
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    A university that published its annual list of “banished” words and phrases has named the ones it’d like to see less of in 2021. Among them: “unprecedented” and “uncertain times.” Sounds about right.

    1. White House transition 

    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.

    01:26 - Source: CNN
    Schiff may try to force Mueller report release

    2. Coronavirus 

    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%.

    01:00 - Source: CNN
    US files criminal charges agaist China's Huawei

    3. Congress

    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.

    Juan Guaido faced arrest if he returned to Venezuela. He came home anyway. Guaido, Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, was greeted by raucous crowds, both at the airport in Caracas and at a later rally. Guaido, who’s fighting President Nicolas Maduro for control of the country, had been on a tour of sorts, meeting with the presidents of several South American countries as well as US Vice President Mike Pence. Guaido’s hoping to keep up the pressure on Maduro, who faces intense criticism over Venezuela’s mounting humanitarian crisis. Most Western countries and regional neighbors now recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s leader, but Maduro is hanging on to power because the military remains loyal to him.

    02:16 - Source: CNN
    Record-breaking cold impacting parts of US

    4. California shooting

    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. China

    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.

    04:20 - Source: CNN
    When seeing is no longer believing: Inside the Pentagon's race against deepfake videos

    TODAY’S NUMBER

    $11 billion

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

    BREAKFAST BROWSE

    The $768.4 million man

    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.

    00:59 - Source: CNN
    How to disable Apple's FaceTime due to ongoing bug

    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.

    03:02 - Source: CNN
    See all the dramatic evidence in 'El Chapo's' trial

    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?

    TODAY’S QUOTE

    “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

    01:21 - Source: CNN
    The Taliban: How it began, and what it wants

    TODAY’S NUMBER

    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.

    $877,784,124

    00:46 - Source: CNN
    PG&E will file for bankruptcy, replace CEO

    AND FINALLY

    Too much of a good thing
    Riding along in your snowmobile is all fun and games until it’s not. (Click to view.)

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