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    Official signing of Phase One China trade deal to take place January 15

    It could be the first step toward bringing a truce to the trade war

    It looks like the Phase One trade deal between the U.S. and China -- a small, first step in ending the trade war -- will soon be signed in Washington.

    The Chinese government reported Monday morning that the country’s vice premier had been invited to Washington to sign the agreement. President Trump confirmed the report in a tweet, saying the agreement will be signed on January 15.

    On Monday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox News that he believed the signing would take place “in the near future.” But Navarro couched his comments by telling his interviewer to “never believe anonymous sources” and to get the information from President Trump. That information came shortly afterwards.

    “I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15,” Trump wrote. “The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present. At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!”

    No one really knows what’s in the agreement. Specifics have been hard to come by, and neither the U.S. nor China has released a text. While the agreement has been presented as a first step toward resolving larger issues, it reportedly does contain language dealing with U.S. intellectual property rights.

    Navarro called that a “good start” on forced technology transfers, which have been a sore point among U.S. technology companies doing business in China. The initial agreement was worked out in mid-December, but both sides were vague on its details. 

    Big increase in U.S. exports

    It was reported that China would nearly double its imports from the U.S., and President Trump canceled the latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods, which were scheduled to take effect within days.

    Under the agreement, China would still pay tariffs, just not as much. The U.S. will continue to levy a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion in Chinese imports, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the 15 percent tariff on $120 billion in Chinese products would be cut in half.

    On CBS’ Face The Nation, Lighthizer said China has agreed to significantly ramp up its U.S. imports, which should please manufacturers and farmers. 

    “Keep in mind, by the second year, we will just about double exports of goods to China, if this agreement is in place,” Lighthizer said. 

    U.S. officials in recent days have said nothing to suggest the deal won’t be signed on schedule. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the deal is in place, but both countries are giving it a technical review.

    It looks like the Phase One trade deal between the U.S. and China -- a small, first step in ending the trade war -- will soon be signed in Washington.T...
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      Creating strong passwords helps protect consumers against hackers

      Researchers urge consumers to get as creative as possible when setting up new passwords

      Experts have compiled the worst passwords of the year for both 2017 and 2018 in an effort to help consumers avoid potential hacks. Now, researchers from the University of Plymouth want to warn consumers about their passwords as we get ready to head into 2020. 

      As cybersecurity threats continue to loom, it’s important for consumers to be diligent and creative when setting up new passwords. But despite many sites creating meters that gauge the strength of new passwords, these tools aren’t always the most accurate. In fact, the researchers say they can actually make consumers more vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

      “Password meters themselves are not a bad idea, but you clearly need to be using or providing the right one,” said researcher Steve Furnell. “It is also worth remembering that, regardless of how the meters handled them, many systems and sites would still accept the weak passwords in practice and without having offered users any advice or feedback on how to make better choices.” 

      Inaccurate password meters

      The researchers tested 16 of the most commonly used passwords in an effort to determine how effective password meters are for protecting users’ privacy and information. 

      Many sites will require users to create passwords with a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. However, the researchers from this study found that despite those parameters, many of these gauges, which are designed to ensure that passwords are strong enough not to be guessed by hackers, aren’t operating as planned. 

      Over 60 percent of the passwords tested were intentionally weak, as the researchers wanted to see what the meters were capable of detecting. Ultimately, just half of those passwords were rejected by the password meters; the other half were accepted as viable choices. 

      “What this study shows is that some of the available meters will flag an attempted password as being a potential risk whereas others will deem it acceptable,” said Furnell. “Security awareness and education is hard enough, without wasting the opportunity by offering misleading information that leaves users misguided and with a false sense of security.” 

      Better security

      While these findings urge against using common password options like “Password1!” or “abc123,” consumers should feel confident using a pre-generated password offered by a website. The researchers found that these types of passwords yielded positive results in all of their trials. 

      “Over the festive period, hundreds of millions of people will receive technology presents or use their devices to purchase them,” Furnell said. “The very least they should expect is that their data will be secure and, in the absence of a replacement for passwords, providing them with consistent and informed guidance is key in the quest for better security.” 

      Experts have compiled the worst passwords of the year for both 2017 and 2018 in an effort to help consumers avoid potential hacks. Now, researchers from th...
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      Retailers crank up their after-Christmas sales

      In some cases, the bargains rival Black Friday

      Now that the holidays are behind us, retailers haven’t stopped offering bargains. In fact, there’s evidence they’re offering even better deals in some cases.

      That’s good news if you got some gift cards in your stocking or plan to return some gifts for a refund. Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, says the time between Christmas and New Years Day is a great time to find after-holiday sales.

      “Plus, it is a great time for shoppers to make any returns or exchanges for those unwanted gifts and use up those gift cards they have received throughout the season," Skirboll said.

      Just about every retailer has something on sale this week, with many of the sales extending through most of January. Bath & Body Works has slashed prices up to 75 percent on a number of products. The sale ends on January 20.

      Coach has marked down select items up to 50 percent for a sale running until January 7. It’s also offering free shipping.

      Express has slashed prices up to 70 percent on a large number of products, with some clearance items marked down 40 percent. The sale runs through January 9.

      TVs and video games

      Best Buy’s after-Christmas sale features smart and UHD TVs in a variety of sizes, with savings of up to $70. The sale also includes $150 off the X-Box One X 1TB Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order deluxe edition console bundle and up to $200 off select laptops.

      The Gap is selling everything for 40 percent off in a sale that ends January 7. JCPenney is holding its big winter wrap-up sale, with discounts of up to 70 percent. The sale ends on January 27.

      Yankee Candle has launched its semi-annual sale with online discounts of up to 75 percent. The sale ends on January 21. Michael Kors’ semi-annual sale is also underway, with savings of up to 70 percent. The promotion ends on January 28.

      H&M has a 60 percent off winter sale underway through January 3. TOMS is knocking 25 percent off all markdowns in a sale that runs until January 8.

      Kohl’s, Lands’ End, Madewell, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, and Amazon started marking down select items right after Christmas, but those deals expire soon.

      Now that the holidays are behind us, retailers haven’t stopped offering bargains. In fact, there’s evidence they’re offering even better deals in some case...
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