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HARD NUMBERS

50 million: More than 50 million urban homes are unoccupied in China. That’s a vacancy rate of 22 percent, the highest for any country in the world. This problem can be attributed in part to state over-spending to create jobs and boost economic activity and in part to wealthy people, barred by the government from moving their money abroad, parking their cash in costly home investments.


258,000: It apparently costs the Russian government $258,000 per year to keep Vladimir Lenin’s corpse on display in the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square. That’s about $707 dollars per day, nearly the same cost as the Singapore Shangri-La Hotel’s Castle suite, a fantasy playroom for kids.

70: Venezuela is rolling out a nationwide electronic ID card with the help of a Chinese telecommunications company, as a part of a broader $70 million effort to bolster national security.  The "carnet de la patria," or "fatherland card," will be tied to the critical government services Venezuelans rely on to make ends meet.

1: Following this week’s resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the exit of his faction from government, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition now holds a majority of one (61 of 120 seats) in Israel’s parliament. Other parties are now threatening to exit. If so, Netanyahu could face elections in coming weeks even as he contends with three separate corruption investigations of his own.

 

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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Iran rules out nuclear talks… for now: Iran has reportedly rejected an offer to join direct talks with the US and EU over its nuclear program, saying it won't start the conversation until sanctions on Iran's economy are eased. To be clear, this does NOT mean that prospects for reviving the Iran nuclear deal are dead. Europeans and the Biden administration want a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, and Iran certainly needs the economic boost that would come from a removal of sanctions. But Tehran is going to try to maximize its leverage before any talks begin, especially since this is a sensitive election year in in the country. Iran's leaders are going to play hard to get for a while longer before edging their way back to the bargaining table. Still, it's high stakes diplomacy here between parties that have almost no mutual trust — and one misstep could throw things off track quickly.

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18: A week after threatening protesters with a severe crackdown, Myanmar's ruling junta killed at least 18 people across the country in the bloodiest day of clashes since the generals staged a coup last month.
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The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he'll talk about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He'll also offer some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take