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Hard Numbers: Thais call out king, Americans mostly pro-jab, crypto’s power surge, US troops hit zero in Afghanistan

Hard Numbers: Thais call out king, Americans mostly pro-jab, crypto’s power surge, US troops hit zero in Afghanistan

112: About a thousand pro-democracy activists turned up in Bangkok on Thursday to resume their protests against the all-powerful monarchy. The protesters carried "112" signs, alluding to the number of the article in the Thai criminal code that prescribes up to 15 years in jail for anyone who offends the royal family.

17: According to a new AP poll, only 17 percent of Americans say they will definitely or likely not get a COVID jab. Experts are worried that vaccine skepticism — which is higher among young people, those without a college degree, Blacks, and Republicans — could hamper the country's vaccine rollout, which is now progressing at a more rapid pace after a shaky start.

121.36: Computers that "mine" cryptocurrencies across the globe now consume 121.36 terawatt-hours of energy a year, more than the entire country of Argentina, new research from Cambridge University shows. And with bitcoin prices hitting a record on Tuesday after gazillionaire Elon Musk said Tesla would accept payment in crypto, the mining bonanza is only going to expand.

0: The US military has reported zero combat deaths in Afghanistan over an entire year for the first time in almost two decades of presence there. The news comes as the Biden administration reviews the peace agreement that former US president Donald Trump brokered a year ago with the Taliban, and prepares for a May 1 deadline to start withdrawing US troops (if the Taliban keep their end of the deal).

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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