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Hard Numbers: Himalayan glacier burst, UAE shoots for Mars, South Africa's AstraZeneca woes, Somalia's political stalemate

Members of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) tend to people rescued after a Himalayan glacier broke and swept away a small hydroelectric dam, in Chormi village in Tapovan in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, February 7, 2021.

171: At least 171 people are still missing in Northern India after a Himalayan glacier burst, smashing through a hydroelectric power plant, and causing a massive avalanche that hit a slew of villages in the state of Uttarakhand. A 2019 study found that climate change is now causing Himalayan glaciers to melt twice as fast as they did between 1975 and 2000.

5: A United Arab Emirates probe called "Hope" (al-Amal in Arabic) is expected to reach Mars' orbit on Tuesday, making the UAE just the fifth country ever to reach the Red Planet. But the Emiratis won't be alone there, China and the US have also launched space missions to Mars which are expected to land later this month.

32: South Africa has halted distribution of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID vaccine because the jab appears ineffective in preventing mild or moderate cases of infection with the more contagious "South African variant" of COVID-19 known as B.1.351. It's an enormous setback for South Africa, which just received a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the news has global resonance too: the South African variant has already spread to at least 32 countries.

13: Amid deepening turmoil over how to pick a new president in Somalia, 13 government security personnel were killed in a roadside attack carried out by Al-Shabab militants. Negotiations about how to conduct an election collapsed just two days before the term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was set to expire on Monday, creating more instability in a country grappling with an Islamist militant insurgency and widespread food insecurity.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics in Washington, DC:

Another stimulus bill is about to pass the Senate. Why won't the minimum wage be going up?

Well, the problem with the minimum wage is it didn't have the 50 votes it needed to overcome the procedural hurdles that prevent the minimum wage when traveling with the stimulus bill. Clearly support for $15 an hour minimum wage in the House of Representatives, but there's probably somewhere between 41 and 45 votes for it in the Senate. There may be a compromise level that emerges later in the year as some Republicans have indicated, they'd be willing to support a lower-level minimum wage increase. But typically, those proposals come along with policies that Democrats find unacceptable, such as an employment verification program for any new hire in the country. Labor unions have been really, really fixated on getting a $15 an hour minimum wage. They may not be up for a compromise. So, we'll see what happens.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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