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What We're Watching

Italy Gets Belted – Later this month, Italy is likely to become the first G7 country to formally endorse China's Belt and Road global investment plan. Italian officials hope to draw Chinese investment into Italy's aging infrastructure and open Chinese markets to more Italian-made products. EU and American officials fear that Chinese investment will leave Italy dangerously deep in debt. (Italy is already the second most indebted country in Europe, after Greece.) They also worry that Italy's endorsement for Belt and Road will undermine their ability to present a united front when bargaining with China over trade and investment practices.

The Queen's Instagram Account – This week, England's Queen Elizabeth II posted on Instagram for the very first time. We'll be watching closely to be sure this lady doesn't become a nuisance.

What We're Ignoring

138: Russian state media has published 138 contradictory accounts of last year's nerve agent attack on former double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK. Ironically, Russian lawmakers moved this week to criminalize "fake news." #ForYourDisinformation

3D printed steaks – A Spanish scientist has created a 3D-printed vegan steak made of rice protein, pea protein, and algae fiber. It takes 10 minutes to print and two minutes to cook. Is this an environmentally friendly way to make a steak? Maybe. Will your Friday author give this a try? HELL NO.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 Russians braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take (part 1):

Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday. And have your Quick Take to start off the week.

Maybe start off with Biden because now President Biden has had a week, almost a week, right? How was it? How's he doing? Well, for the first week, I would say pretty good. Not exceptional, but not bad, not bad. Normal. I know everyone's excited that there's normalcy. We will not be excited there's normalcy when crises start hitting and when life gets harder and we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic and he has to respond to it. But for the first week, it was okay.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

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Even as vaccines roll out around the world, COVID-19 is continuing to spread like wildfire in many places, dashing hopes of a return to normal life any time soon. Some countries, like Israel and the UK for instance, have been praised for their inoculation drives, while still recording a high number of new cases. It's clear that while inoculations are cause for hope, the pace of rollouts cannot keep up with the fast-moving virus. Here's a look at the countries that have vaccinated the largest percentages of their populations so far – and a snapshot of their daily COVID caseloads (7-day rolling average) in recent weeks.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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