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Hard Numbers: Tuesday, April 17

10,000: Tomorrow, China will hold live-fire naval drills in the Taiwan Strait that include 10,000 people, 48 ships and submarines, and 76 fighter jets. The drills, China’s largest ever, are sure to further inflame already-rising tensions with Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing considers part of China.


5,000: Venezuela’s acute political and humanitarian crisis is now driving out some 5,000 refugees a day, according to the UN. At that rate, some 1.8 million people — or more than 5 per cent of Venezuela’s population — will depart this year. They are straining the ability of neighboring countries like Brazil and Colombia to cope, in ways that could become politically significant soon.

68: Back in the late 1980s, some 68 percent of Americans polled said they thought that the world’s leading economic power was… Japan. Only a quarter said the US was top dog, even though the US economy was almost twice as large as Japan’s at the time. Today, 44 percent of Americans give that title to China, while 42 percent say the US still rules the roost (Japan clocks in at a modest 4 percent.)

11: The share of Russians who view the US positively has fallen 11 points to just 26 percent since Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Despite early hopes that Trump would improve US-Russia ties, his administration and Congress have hit Moscow with several rafts of fresh sanctions. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Russians view China positively.

2: Only two subgroups of voters currently favor President Trump’s threatened tariffs on China: non college-educated whites and rural voters, according to a new poll. Trade policy is always about tradeoffs — and Trump’s tariff approach is designed to appeal directly to the base of voters that put him in office and who, he hopes, will keep him there in 2020.

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.

Listen: 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 talks about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He also offers some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

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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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

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