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What We're Watching

Fear and Loathing in Sudan – President Omar al Bashir, Sudan's strongman since 1989, is in serious trouble. Protests have swelled in the capital city of Khartoum, and reports suggest some soldiers may be siding with demonstrators against the president's crackdown squads. The first trigger for public anger was a surge in price inflation. But Sudan is one of the poorest and most repressive countries on Earth, and calls for concessions have been replaced with calls for the president to resign. Bashir, who faces an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, has good reason to try to tough this out.

What the Brits have to say about online speech – In 2017, a 14-year-old teenager from north London took her own life after viewing disturbing images on social media – including memes about committing suicide. This week, a UK government report on "online harms" proposed new rules that would require companies, under pain of fines, to quickly remove posts that encourage suicide or bullying, or contain other violent or illegal content. Over the next 12 weeks, the British public will have the opportunity to weigh in on whether curtailing disturbing online speech is an acceptable price to pay to make the internet a safer place. After the government has a chance to respond and lay out its final proposals for legislation, a bill could make its way to Parliament.

What We're Ignoring

Crack theories from Brazil's new head teacher – President Jair Bolsonaro has replaced his scandal-plagued education minister with a fellow who believes that Brazilians are prone to cannibalism and that crack cocaine came to Brazil via a Communist conspiracy. Bolsonaro selected the new guy, an economist named Abraham Weintraub, in part because he shares the president's reverence for Brazil's former dictatorship and his revulsion at the political and cultural left. Purging "left-wing" ideology from the education system is a major aim of Bolsonaro's. So while we are ignoring Mr Weintraub's ludicrous theories, his impact on the education of millions of Brazilian children deserves close attention.

Kazakhstan's quick election – Kazakhstan will hold new elections on June 9, less than three months after the Central Asian country's longtime strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned as president. No one has stepped forward to run yet, but we feel safe ignoring this one. Whomever the government prefers will win, but that person is also unlikely to wield real power. Nazarbayev remains chief of the country's powerful security council and heads the main political party. In fact, the interim president sought his approval before calling the plebiscite. It's safe to say the old man will be pulling the strings for a while longer.

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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