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Hard Numbers: The UN is Running Out of Money

12 billion: Brazil's government, which earlier this year rejected aid to put out raging fires in the Amazon, now says that if other countries really want to preserve the rainforest, they should put their money where their mouth is: by sending Brazil some $12 billion a year to pay farmers not to develop their lands. Critics note that this would have no real effect since most fires are set illegally.


2,759: Police in Nigeria allegedly demanded a bribe of 1 million Naira ($2,759) to release a local software developer after arresting him on suspicion of being an internet scammer, simply because he was carrying a laptop. Nigeria's scammers are legendary, but the thriving local tech community in Lagos says corrupt shakedowns of talented pros like this are common and that they worsen brain drain from Africa's largest economy. #StopRobbingUs

230 million: The United Nations is facing a funding shortfall of $230 million and could run out of money by the end of this month, according to the organization's Secretary General. A third of member states, including the US and much of Latin America and Africa, have not paid their dues in full. Here's a map of the delinquents.

40 million: Facebook's policy of deliberately inflating video viewership numbers led to a class action suit that will now result in a $40 million settlement for advertisers. Some journalists have pointed out that none of this money will go to the many print hacks who lost their jobs amid the frantic push to "monetize video." Amen.

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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Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

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In the fall of 2019, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world, Ian Bremmer asked Dr. Fauci what kept him up at night and he described a "a pandemic-like respiratory infection." Fast-forward to late February 2021 and Dr. Fauci tells Ian, "I think we are living through much of that worst nightmare." Dr. Fauci returns to GZERO World to take stock of the nightmare year and to paint a picture of what the end of the pandemic could look like—and when it could finally arrive.

Catch the full episode of GZERO World, where Dr. Fauci discusses the latest in vaccine roll out, schools re-openings, and plenty more, on US public television stations nationwide, beginning Friday, February 26. Check local listings.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take