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20 million: A massive fire destroyed much of the 20 million piece collection of Brazil’s most historic museum on Sunday, in a disaster that many believe could have been prevented by adequate fire protection within the building. During its multi-year recession, Brazil has cut back on public spending, including on public works and buildings.


17,000: More than 17,000 civilians have been killed in Yemen since the civil war began there in 2015. Over the weekend, the US-backed Saudi coalition accepted responsibility for an airstrike last month that killed 40 children. The war has fomented one of the worst humanitarian disasters on the planet, with no end in sight.

12,450: Italy’s hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has cracked down on accepting refugees arriving from Africa, but because the government’s hasn’t effectively repatriated many of those denied asylum or residency, there was a net annual increase of 12,450 migrants illegally in the country during the period from June to August, according to a new study cited by the daily La Repubblica. That only adds to the roughly half-million illegal immigrants he’s pledged to deport.

300: The US military has decided to formally cancel $300 million in suspended aid to Pakistan, citing Washington’s perception that the South Asian nation hasn’t done enough to combat extremism in the region. Pakistan, which has received more than $33 billion in US assistance since 2002, will be eager to discuss the matter with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he arrives in Islamabad tomorrow.

6: The economy of Nicaragua is expected to shrink by nearly 6 percent next year, after growing around 5 percent last year. That 11-point swing can be attributed to a deepening political crisis surrounding President Daniel Ortega, whose brutal clampdown on opposition protesters has disrupted tourism, caused people to take their money abroad, and sent migrants spilling into neighboring countries.

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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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

Should businesses be pessimistic or optimistic about 2021?

It's easy to be gloomy about the year ahead when faced with the realities of a cold, bleak winter in much of the world. Add to that lockdowns across Europe, surging case numbers and hospitalizations, and dreadful events in the Capitol in the US to name a few reasons for pessimism. But I think there is a case for optimism when it comes to this year. After all, it's true to say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and my conversations with business leaders suggest there are reasons to be positive by 2021.

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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.

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 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU representatives 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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