Welcome back to Future. Thanks for subscribing.
Consider inviting your friends and colleagues to sign up. And if you have any tips or thoughts on what we can do better, just hit reply to this email or message me at email@example.com. Email my colleagues Kaveh Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org and Erica Pandey at email@example.com.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Poland's arrest of a Huawei executive on charges of spying for China escalates an already-fraught dimension of the turbulent new era of geopolitics.
Driving the news: Poland announced today that it had arrested a man it identified only as "Weijing W.," a former diplomat in China's consulate in Gdansk. Authorities there said they also detained a former Polish security official, and charged both with spying for China, per AP.
"It’s the first time to my knowledge that tariffs and a trade war have led to arrests/de facto hostage taking."— Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group
Thought bubble from Bill Bishop, writer of Axios China: "There is not a big Polish population in China, and I don’t want to say anything irresponsible. But if I were a Pole in China, I would be nervous."
The practice is broader:
Wrapped up in spying and general longstanding rivalry, the Iran and Russia cases differ from the U.S.-China-Canada cases.
Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said President Trump had erred by publicizing when hostages have been released. "Such public attention elevates the importance of hostages and gives nefarious actors an incentive to capture Americans in order to draw attention to their demands and causes," he said.
In Denver. Photo: John Leyba/The Denver Post/Getty
Amazon is considering snapping up stores belonging to fallen retail giants like Sears to house its Whole Foods subsidiary.
Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes: Amazon, long the king of online retail, has been overflowing into brick-and-mortar at a frenzied pace. Now, it could expand its grocery footprint into several new states, reports Yahoo Finance's Krystal Hu.
My colleague Erica Pandey has this thought bubble: "It's an unmistakable sign of the times. The retail king of the 20th century dies out and gives away its kingdom, piece by piece, to the behemoth of the 21st century."
The big picture: More than 300 Sears and Kmart stores have closed in the last three years.
Cannibalizing shuttered retailers could help Whole Foods move away from its traditional consumer base: relatively high-spending shoppers in urban areas.
The other side: On Twitter, retail reporter Mitch Nolen cautions that Amazon often makes abortive overtures to down-on-their-luck chains:
Amazon is often said to be interested in the assets of bankrupt retailers, including Toys 'R Us, American Apparel, RadioShack, and now Sears. But it never bids. Whether sincere or not, Amazon is gaining access to a lot of internal data in the process.
Your first week back after the holiday was too much. Never mind, here are the top Future stories from this week:
1. 2018, a year when the worst did not happen: Appraising our forecasting skills
2. The thing that unites most youth: School shootings have politicized them
3. A new paradox for Mr. Disruption: Clay Christensen's takes on poverty
4. AI's accountability gap: No one to blame when things go wrong
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Building a mind (Henry Marsh - FT)
Just 5% of the land on Earth is still untouched (Andrew Freedman - Axios)
Russia found the back door of the U.S. grid (Rebecca Smith, Rob Barry - WSJ)
A new look at democracy, authoritarianism and science (The Economist)
The light of 600 trillion suns (Deborah Byrd - Space)
At the Ontario Food Terminal. Photo: Johnston/Toronto Star/Getty Images
This story is from The Download at MIT Technology Review:
Looking for perfect heat and lots of it? Gene engineers in Brazil think they might be able to create eye-watering tomatoes.
The background: Even though chili peppers and tomato plants diverged from a common ancestor millions of years ago, tomatoes still possess the genetic pathway needed to make capsaicinoids, the molecules that make chilis hot.
Tomatoes are much easier to grow than peppers, so making them hot could turn them into spice factories.
To get more stories like this, sign up for The Download, a daily newsletter on emerging technology from MIT Technology Review.