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Hard Numbers

25: China has announced that it will increase its defense budget by 7.5 percent to $179 billion in 2019. While that's smaller than last year's 8.5 percent boost, it marks the 25th consecutive year that Beijing has increased military spending.

3.5: A child born in Venezuela today can expect to live 3.5 years less than one born into the previous generation, according to the Universidad Central y la Simón Bolívar.

$226,500: Spain's far-right Vox party brought in $226,500 in online donations in just two days this week. The upstart party is relying on grassroots support ahead of parliamentary elections on April 28 because it's too small to qualify for the public subsidies given to the country's dominant political groups.

$8.7 billion: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth shrink by $8.7 billion in 2018, amid tightening margins and a political backlash against the tech giant. Not to worry, though – Zuck is still sitting on $62.3 billion, according to latest Forbes billionaires ranking.

95: French President Emmanuel Macron has delivered or begun the process of legislating 95 percent of the 60 reforms he's initiated since coming to office in 2017, according to the think tank iFRAP. The question now is whether he can achieve similar success at the European level, after outlining an extensive agenda to do so this week.

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