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Hard Numbers

2.5 million: An internet watchdog has uncovered an unsecured online database that reveals how a Chinese surveillance company tracks the movements of large numbers of people living in Xinjiang province, home to most of China's Uighur Muslim population. Authorities have used CCTV cameras and handheld devices equipped with cameras or ID scanners at 6.7 million location points—including mosques, hotels, police stations and internet cafes—to meticulously map the movement of at least 2.5 million people.

60: Speaking of tracking devices, NATO researchers announced this week they had used open source data—mainly via social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—to identify 150 NATO soldiers in the field, locate multiple battalions, track troop movements, and even persuade some service members to leave their posts. The research team accomplished all this with $60 and an Internet connection.

68: British tourists traveling to continental Europe may have to pay £52 ($68) for a visa following Brexit. Why? Like everything else to do with Brexit, it's maddeningly complicated. The short version: A visa exemption for Britons is held up by a dispute within EU institutions over Spain's bid to classify Gibraltar as a "colony." Masochists may read the details here.

60: At a time of deadly protests against the government of President Jovenel Moise, 60 percent of Haiti's nearly 11 million people still live on less than $2 per day. In 2019.

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

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Iran rules out nuclear talks… for now: Iran has reportedly rejected an offer to join direct talks with the US and EU over its nuclear program, saying it won't start the conversation until sanctions on Iran's economy are eased. To be clear, this does NOT mean that prospects for reviving the Iran nuclear deal are dead. Europeans and the Biden administration want a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, and Iran certainly needs the economic boost that would come from a removal of sanctions. But Tehran is going to try to maximize its leverage before any talks begin, especially since this is a sensitive election year in in the country. Iran's leaders are going to play hard to get for a while longer before edging their way back to the bargaining table. Still, it's high stakes diplomacy here between parties that have almost no mutual trust — and one misstep could throw things off track quickly.

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18: A week after threatening protesters with a severe crackdown, Myanmar's ruling junta killed at least 18 people across the country in the bloodiest day of clashes since the generals staged a coup last month.
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The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he'll talk about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He'll also offer some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take