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What We're Watching

Thai generals trading horses – The pro-junta Palang Prachat party came in second place in elections over the weekend, winning 97 of the 250 lower house seats up for grabs, according to preliminary results. Although the opposition Pheu Thai party won more seats overall, the junta still is in a commanding position to nominate a prime minister in coordination with a junta-appointed upper house. Still, the generals may have to reach across the aisle to strike uncomfortable alliances with new partners. We're watching to see whether the top brass can successfully manage the horse trading to keep their preferred candidate, current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in office, or if they'll be forced by pro-democracy parties to make a change.

WHAT WE ARE IGNORING

Nicolás Maduro's plans to convert to Islam – The foreign minister of Turkey – one of the few countries that supports Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro – says the South American strongman was so moved by a Turkish historical soap opera about the Ottoman empire that he has considered converting to Islam. We don't doubt the appeal of joining the world's fastest growing religion, nor do we discount the addictive impact of Turkish soap operas in Latin America, but we just can't see Maduro going through with this… right?

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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