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Hard Numbers: Binge eating through COVID, Argentina's "millionaire tax," Kuwait's assembly of no women, US exit from Somalia

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27: A global study revealed something we all already knew: lockdowns intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus have had a negative effect on people's physical and mental health. More than 27 percent of respondents (out of a study of 8,000) said they had gained weight after going into "lockdown," according to a study published in the Journal of Obesity. Many also reported battling mental health ailments as a result of the economic and public health crises.


12,000: Amid a years-long recession and soaring poverty exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, Argentina's parliament passed a one-off wealth tax to be borne by 12,000 of its wealthiest residents. Argentina's leftist president Alberto Fernández says he hopes the levy will generate 300 billion pesos (US$3.75 billion), which will be used to procure medical supplies and provide loans to small businesses.

0: In Kuwait's General Assembly election last weekend, zero of the 29 female candidates won a seat, while the lone female MP, Safa al-Hashem, was booted out. Women won the right to vote in the Gulf kingdom just 15 years ago.

700: The Pentagon announced that all US servicemen and women in Somalia, around 700 troops, will be withdrawn by mid-January, and will likely be redeployed to other parts of East Africa. Somali officials, for their part, said the timing could not be worse: the militants of al-Shabab and Islamic State continue to wreak havoc in the country, while conflict flares in neighboring Ethiopia.

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.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.

Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.

Now that Joe Biden is officially US president, leaders from around the world would like a word with him — but where will he make his first international trip?

After a tumultuous four years, many countries are now clamoring for a face-to-face with President Biden. That includes allies who felt abandoned by Trump's "America First" presidency, as well as adversaries with thorny issues on the agenda. We check in on who's pitching him hardest on a near-term state visit.

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Brexit pettiness lingers: Here we were naively thinking the Brexit shenanigans were over after the EU and UK agreed to an eleventh-hour post-Brexit trade deal last month. We were wrong — the saga continues. Now, a new row has erupted after the Johnson government said it will not give the EU ambassador in London the same diplomatic status awarded to other representatives of nation states. Unsurprisingly, this announcement peeved Brussels, whose delegates enjoy full diplomatic status in at least 142 other countries. The UK says it will give the EU envoy the same privileges as those given to international organizations, which are subject to change and do not include immunity from detention and taxation given to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. EU members are furious, with officials accusing London of simply trying to flex its muscles and engaging in "petty" behavior. The two sides will discuss the matter further when European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet next week, their first face-to-face since the two sides settled the Brexit quagmire on December 31. Alas, the Brexit nightmare continues.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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