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New North Korea sanctions won’t end nuclear threat-commentary

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President Donald Trump on Friday announced, “the largest North Korea-related sanctions tranche” ever, which was “aimed at disrupting North Korean shipping and trading companies.” If Washington’s ultimate objective is deterring aggression and preventing war, this new set of sanctions will not help that outcome.

There are realistically only two ways to accomplish the denuclearization of the peninsula. One is through hard-nosed, challenging diplomacy and the other through the launching of a brutal and bloody preventive war. It is a virtual certainty that launching a preventive military strike will incite a major retaliatory attack by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

The all-out war that would likely result could see millions die and might prompt Kim to attack U.S. interests directly. Should the United States decide to press for a full World War II-style unconditional surrender by Kim, we could eventually win by virtue of our overwhelming advantage in industrial and technological capacity. But the cost to our country would be radically out of proportion to what would be gained.

But make no mistake — there will be no war unless Washington starts one. We have an overwhelming conventional and nuclear deterrent to check any aggression by the far weaker North Korea. That provides ample time to achieve our immediate security objectives — making sure Kim never uses his weapons — while providing all the time we need to pursue diplomacy.

Although senior officials often claim the U.S. seeks a diplomatic solution, actions indicate otherwise. We are not presently conducting genuine diplomacy. We are merely taking “actions” devoid of a coherent strategy designed to attain a rational objective. “Maximum pressure” will likely result in only a hardening of North Korea’s resolve to maintain what they see as their lifeline to survival: their nuclear deterrent.

The Trump administration made commendable progress last September when it got the entire United Nations Security Council to back meaningful and severe sanctions. They were further strengthened in November.

One could argue they helped lay the groundwork that prompted Kim to seek dialogue with South Korean President Moon. It can be assumed that North Korea is attempting to use the goodwill of the Olympic games to its advantage, but the U.S. and our allies don’t have to play by North Korean rules. We must use our leverage to and our position of strength to negotiate with weak, yet brutal, North Korea to end the standoff on the peninsula.

However, if there is no discussion, if there are no established means of communication, diplomacy is, by definition, impossible; in its absence, war becomes the only outcome. Fortunately, there is a viable, rational alternative.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has said many times that we are “running out of time” to find a solution. To the contrary, the United States holds all the most powerful cards. Unblinking deterrence and relentless diplomacy can achieve U.S. objectives at a justifiable cost. Powerful deterrence buys us time for diplomatic success.

Another fallacy often put forward: if we don’t hurry, Kim will threaten America with nuclear blackmail and reunite the peninsula under his command. That fear is misplaced, and in fact illogical. First, the South Korean military is far, far superior to the North Korean armed forces, and by themselves could likely repel such an attack.

What the United States should therefore do is engage in a rational, logical, and powerful two-part strategy: communicate determined deterrence through our superior fire power to ensure the safety of the United States and our allies, and engage in relentless diplomacy. It would take many years of consistent application, but this strategy would keep America safe and prevent the deaths of thousands, if not millions.

The bottom line is there will be no war on the Korean peninsula unless we light the fuse. Let us instead exploit our economic, diplomatic, and military strengths to pursue a realistic strategy that keeps America safe.

Commentary by Daniel L. Davis, a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Army lieutenant colonel who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him on Twitter @DanielLDavis1.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow

@CNBCopinion

on Twitter.



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SoftBank Vision Fund losing Jeff Housenbold, who led DoorDash deal

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Jeff Housenbold, managing partner at SoftBank’s Vision Fund

SoftBank

SoftBank’s Jeff Housenbold, who led the Vision Fund’s investments in companies including DoorDash, OpenDoor and Wag, is leaving the firm later this year.

SoftBank shook up the Silicon Valley investment world with the first Vision Fund in 2017, ultimately raising $100 billion, funded in large part by the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Japanese company had been targeting an even bigger amount for Vision Fund 2 but scaled it way back last year after many of its high-priced investments hit snags.

In a memo sent internally on Friday and viewed by CNBC, Vision Fund head Rajeev Misra said that Housenbold is departing to “run his own business.” Housenbold has been with the Vision Fund during its ups and downs, leading some of the most high-profile deals with mixed results.

“As many of you know, Jeff was my first hire and over the last three and a half years he successfully led our investments in 17 companies across Fund 1 and Fund 2, including DoorDash (DASH), Opendoor (OPEN), Compass, Rappi, Alto, and Memphis Meats,” Misra wrote in the memo.

Axios previously reported on his departure. Housenbold confirmed the move on Twitter.

Housenbold, who was previously CEO of Shutterfly, had a strong end to 2020, with DoorDash’s IPO and Opendoor’s public market debut through a special purpose acquisition company. SoftBank’s stake in food delivery app DoorDash has jumped to $12 billion, with the stock rallying since its IPO, and its stake in real estate company OpenDoor is about $2 billion, according to FactSet.

He also had some losers. In 2018, he led a $300 million investment in dog-walking app Wag before selling the Vision Fund’s stake back to the company less than two years later as the business struggled. Also in 2018, the Vision Fund put $240 million into e-commerce start-up Brandless, with Housenbold taking a board seat. Early last year, the company shut down and was later recapitalized.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signing a memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Tom DiChristopher | CNBC

Housenbold spoke to CNBC in March of 2020 as the SoftBank was dealing with the fallout of the WeWork catastrophe and Uber’s struggles while also preparing for a slowdown caused by the pandemic. He was among the executives at the firm considering its “Plan Bs.”  

“If the markets go into a prolonged slump of 12 to 24 months and there’s not access to public markets, we’ll have to look at raising additional capital at the company level,” Housenbold said at the time. “There’s debt, there’s equity players, there’s mergers and acquisitions.”

Misra said in the memo that Housenbold will stay with the Vision Fund for six months, and then serve as a senior adviser to Misra and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. 

— CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this report

WATCH: Softbank Vision Fund managing partner on Opendoor SPAC

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release of fourth quarter, full-year 2020 GDP

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Employees working on a dry-type transformer production line at an electrical production factory in Haian, in eastern China’s Jiangsu province on Jan. 4, 2021.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China reported GDP rose 2.3% last year as the world struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Chinese consumers remained reluctant to spend, as retail sales contracted 3.9% for the year. Retail sales for the fourth quarter rose 4.6% from a year ago.

Gross domestic product grew by 6.5% in the fourth quarter from a year ago.

Economists expected China to have been the only major economy to grow last year, and predicted GDP expanded by just over 2%.

Covid-19 first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. In an effort to control the virus, Chinese authorities shut down more than half the country, and the economy contracted by 6.8% in the first three months of 2020.

However, China returned to growth by the second quarter. Economists polled by Reuters predicted GDP would increase 6.1% in the fourth quarter, faster than the 4.9% pace of the prior quarter.

China’s GDP growth figure this year will come off a lowered base.

In late December, the National Bureau of Statistics lowered China’s official growth rate for 2019 to 6.0%, versus the previously reported 6.1%. The cut primarily occurred in manufacturing, as factories dealt with new U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.

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How to use your iPhone’s health-tracking features

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Apple announces new app for health studies.

Suorce: Apple

Apple‘s main selling point for the Apple Watch is tracking your health, including activity, sleep and certain medical conditions.

But it’s not the only Apple product that can help you get in shape and stay healthy. The humble iPhone has plenty of health-tracking features as well.

You might already know that you can track your steps, for example. But the Health app built-into your iPhone can do a lot more, like tracking how long you practice mindfulness through third-party apps, determining how long you spent in bed, your walking speed and more.

Here are some examples of how the iPhone can help you get healthy:

Track your steps on iPhone

Apple

The Health app can automatically track the number of steps you take in a day. It can also track the number of stairs climbed and total distance you’ve traveled.

To do that:

  • Open Settings on your iPhone.
  • Tap Privacy.
  • Tap Motion & Fitness.
  • Turn on “Fitness Tracking.”

View your steps and other metrics:

  • Open Health.
  • Tap “Browse” on the bottom-right.
    Choose “Activity.”

Apple Health on iPhone

Apple

Apple doesn’t have its own meditation app, unless you count some of the exercises in its Fitness+ subscription service, which has mindful cooldown and yoga workouts. But, it can keep track of the time you spend meditating in third-party apps like Calm or Headspace. If you install those apps you’ll get a prompt to save information to Apple Health and, once you do, you can keep track of how long you meditate each day over time inside the app.

You need an Apple Watch to track your sleep, but the iPhone can keep track of how long you’re in bed, and save that information.

It’s not a great analysis of your sleep but you can get an idea of your sleep patterns and if you pick up your iPhone at night. You can turn this on by selecting “options” under the “Full Schedule & Options” menu.

The iPhone also has a “wind down” feature which automatically puts your iPhone in Do Not Disturb Mode and dims the screen. Once in that mode, you can set shortcuts on your lock screen to access meditation apps, a reading app like Kindle or Apple Books and more. I use it every night so my iPhone doesn’t disturb me when I sleep.

Here’s how to turn it on:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the bottom-right.
  • Choose Sleep.
  • Enter in the time you typically go to bed and wake up.
  • Select “Full Schedule & Options” under “Your Schedule.”
  • Under “Wind Down” select how long prior to bed you want Wind Down to begin.
  • Select Shortcuts you want your iPhone to display on the lock screen, like Headspace or Kindle.

Cycle tracking on iPhone

Apple

For women, the iPhone can track menstrual cycles and predict your next period and fertile windows. You can also keep a log of your period flow level, any symptoms you might have that you want to share with your doctor and more. It also can factor in things that might affect your fertility window, like pregnancy or contraception.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the bottom-right.
  • Choose Cycle Tracking.
  • Tap “Get Started.”

Headphone Audio Levels

Apple

A feature called “Headphone Audio Levels” can keep track of how loud your headphone audio is and will let you know if you’ve listened to music too loud over the recommended limit. Listening to music at over 90 dB over four hours per week, for example, would trigger that alert.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap Browse on the bottom-right.
  • Tap Hearing.
  • Choose Headphone audio levels.

Apple Health Recordss

Apple

You can keep track of the health records from your doctor visits if your physician’s office supports integration with Apple Health. This lets you see all sorts of information, including immunizations, blood test results, past medical procedures and more.

See if your doctor’s office integrates with Apple Health

  • Tap your profile picture.
  • Tap Health Records under Features.
  • Tap “Add Account”
  • Search for your hospital, network or doctor’s location.
  • Select your provider.
  • Tap “Connect to Account.”
  • Log-in to your doctor’s portal and allow it to access Apple Health.

Apple also has a “health checklist” built into iOS 14, which came out in September 2020.

Health Checklist will help create a medical ID on your phone that you or someone else can show to first responders. It’s got vital information such as whether or not you’re an organ donor, the type of blood you have, allergies and reactions, medicine you’re taking, your height and weight and more. You enter in this data yourself, so you don’t have to include any of it if you don’t want to.

The health checklist can also help you set up the Emergency SOS, a feature on your iPhone that will automatically call emergency services if you tap the side button of the phone 5 times in rapid succession. If you press and hold the button, it will also send a message to any contacts you add in Emergency SOS. I have my immediate family members set up in mine, for example.

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