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What We're Watching

Chinese planes over Taiwan – On Sunday, two Chinese warplanes flying above the Taiwan Strait crossed into what Taiwan considers to be its airspace. In response, Taiwan scrambled warplanes to push the Chinese out. On Monday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen warned that further Chinese provocations would be met with force. On Tuesday, US National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted a condemnation of China's action and a pledge of US "commitment" to Taiwan's security. Nobody wants a war, but accidents happen and can create dangerous confrontations from which all sides are reluctant to back down.

Theresa May's Brexit U-Turn – Sick of Brexit yet? Well, we've got news for you: embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday she planned to scrap her current Brexit proposal and work with the opposition Labor Party to forge a compromise. To broach such a grand bargain, though, she says the UK will need more time beyond the current April 12 deadline. So it looks like we could now be in for a few extra weeks of Brexit pain. This announcement is a big U-turn for Ms. May, who previously ruled out working with the opposition, and it means that a plan which can gain the support of a majority of parliamentarians may eventually emerge – if the EU agrees to an extension.

What We're Ignoring

Another Central Asian name-change? – Emilbek Kaptagayev, a Kyrgyz official, says Kyrgyzstan should change the name of its capital from Bishkek to Manas, the main character in a centuries-old epic poem. The purpose, according to Kaptagayev, is to prevent a future egocentric political strongman from naming it after himself. This is clearly a dig at Kazakhstan, where the capital city will soon change its name from Astana to Nursultan, in honor of retiring President Nursultan Nazarbayev. We're ignoring this story because Kyrgyz critics of the idea have rightly noted that their country has bigger problems to solve—and because common sense says changing the name once won't keep someone from changing it again.

The dark side of cryptocurrencies – Everyone knows Bitcoin and its ilk have been going through a rough patch – government crackdowns, a deflating investment bubble, and concerns about fraud have all contributed to a price crash and declining investor interest since late 2017. Now it turns out that even terrorists may have reason to be skeptical of the electronic money, which boosters claim will overthrow central banks and free people to transact with each other without government interference. A new report from the RAND think tank found terror groups were likely to prefer cash when buying weapons, because cryptocurrencies are harder to use and less secure than good old fashioned Benjamins.

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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