A cow, a prostitute, a nose ring: The best vax incentives of 2021

A cow, a prostitute, a nose ring: The best vax incentives of 2021

If you were a little hesitant about getting the COVID vaccine, what would it take to change your mind? Cash? Free beer? Tickets to the big game? Doughnuts? A car? A lifetime fishing license? Or is all of that too tame to get you to roll up your sleeve?

Throughout 2021, governments and companies around the world tried all kinds of crazy incentives to get people jabbed. Here are five that we loved — one of which is made up. Can you spot the fake?

Bakas for Vaccines. In the Philippine town of San Luis, the vaccinated are entered in a monthly raffle to win a cow (a “Baka” in Tagalog), delivered to the winner’s door by the mayor himself. Each jab counts as an entry, so the double-vaxxed have twice as big a shot at winning. Still, despite this bovine bonus, the Philippines has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Southeast Asia, at just 44 percent.

Nose ring and a hand-blender anyone? Goldsmiths in the Indian city of Rajkot, in the state of Gujarat, banded together to open a vaccination site that offered free gold nose pins for women who get the jab. The prize for men was a free hand blender! Among the most populous Indian states, Gujarat has the second highest rate of full vaccination, at 86 percent.

Joints for jabs. Back in June, the US state of Washington offered free, pre-rolled marijuana joints to anyone 21 and older who could prove they’d received at least one jab. Washington was the first US state to legalize cannabis, back in 2012, and it ranks an impressive tenth overall in vaccination rates in the US, with 68 percent. But they could surely roll up some more spliffs to get that number even higher.

Rum punches COVID in the face. The Galleon rum distillery in Curaçao is giving out free shots of their stuff to anyone who gets the jab — but that’s just an aperitif. Everyone also enters a raffle where the grand prize is to snorkel for 15 minutes through a gigantic vat that’s filled with Galleon rum and outfitted with an LED-lit “shipwreck” — a replica of one of the famous, treasure-laden galleons that sunk off the nearby Venezuelan coast in the 17th century, giving the distillery its name. If you can survive that, then COVID doesn’t stand a chance — vaxxed or not.

Coitus against COVID. A Viennese brothel is using the world’s oldest profession to encourage uptake of the world’s newest vaccine. The women of Fun Palast (Fun Palace) offer a free 30-minute fling to anyone who gets vaccinated on site. Carnal encouragements notwithstanding, Austria still has one of Western Europe’s lowest vaccination rates.

Subscribers to our daily newsletter, Signal, learned the bogus one, as did our Instagram followers. Swipe through here to see if you correctly identified the fake!

People working at computers in a room labeled Malware Lab

Microsoft observed destructive malware in systems belonging to several Ukrainian government agencies and organizations that work closely with the Ukrainian government. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) published a technical blog post detailing Microsoft’s ongoing investigation and how the security community can detect and defend against this malware. Microsoft shared this information over the weekend to help others in the cybersecurity community look out for and defend against these attacks. To read more visit Microsoft On the Issues.

President Vladimir Putin

No one knows whether Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on invading Ukraine. But the president of the United States sure seems to think this is a real possibility, saying Wednesday that Putin will likely "move in" in the near term. Biden, prone to political gaffes, was then forced to awkwardly walk back comments that Russia would face milder consequences from the West in the event of a "minor incursion."

The timing of this blunder is... not great. It comes just as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to meet his Russian counterpart on Friday in hopes of lowering the temperature after recent diplomatic efforts in Geneva were deemed a failure by Moscow.

Indeed, with the Kremlin having amassed at least 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine on three sides, the growing threat is impossible to ignore. So what would a Russian military offensive into Ukraine actually look like, and how might the West respond?

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Omicron has arrived. It's more contagious, but less severe. Some parts of the world are even looking forward to the pandemic becoming endemic.

Not China. Xi Jinping's zero-COVID strategy has worked wonders until now, but it's unlikely to survive omicron, explains Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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Chilling at the beach, retired German Chancellor Angela Merkel is so over politics. Or is she?

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Happy Tuesday after the long weekend for those of us that had a long weekend. I thought I would kick us off with the first major foreign policy crisis of the Biden administration. And that is of course, Russia-Ukraine. Afghanistan, of course, was a debacle, but not exactly a global crisis. This of course has the potential to really change the way we think about European security and about US relations with the other major nuclear power in the world. So, I would say that the level of concern is even higher and there are a lot of things we can say.
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What We’re Watching: Xinjiang at the Beijing Olympics, Boris in deep(er) trouble, Indonesia’s new capital

Selling Xinjiang. Xi Jinping — a man well known for both his grand vision of China’s future, and for his willingness to get large numbers of people to do things they might not otherwise do — said in 2018 that he wanted 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports. The Chinese government announced this week that this goal has been met in honor of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, which open in China’s capital on February 4. Multinational companies are consistently impressed by the commercial opportunities created when 300 million people decide to try new things. But it’s an inconvenient truth that most of China’s most abundant snow and best ski slopes are found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, a place where Western governments and human rights organizations have accused Beijing of imprisoning more than one million minority Uyghurs in re-education camps. In these prisons, critics say inmates have experienced “torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment.” As China’s government opens new profit opportunities in Xinjiang, multinational corporations will face pressure from multiple directions not to invest there.

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Hard Numbers: Tongan emergency fundraising, EU docks Poland pay, new Colombian presidential hopeful, Turkey gets UAE lifeline

345,000: As of Wednesday afternoon ET, Tonga's Olympic flag-bearer has raised more than $345,000 online to help the victims of Saturday's volcanic eruption and tsunami. Pita Taufatofua, a taekwondo fighter and cross-country skier, has not yet heard from his father, governor of the main Tongan island of Haapai.

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week, discussing Boris Johnson's tenuous status as UK PM, US Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Ukraine, and the volcano eruption in Tonga:

Will Boris Johnson resign?

It certainly looks that way. He's hanging on by his fingernails. He's losing members of Parliament. He's giving shambolic media interviews. In fact, I think the only people that don't want him to resign at this point is the Labour Party leadership, because they think the longer he holds on, the better it is for the UK opposition. But no, he certainly looks like he's going. The only question is how quickly. Is it within a matter of weeks or is it after local elections in May? But feel pretty confident that the days of Boris Johnson are numbered.

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