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Shen goes down to the courtyard of her residential complex at dawn to swipe cherries from the trees in the garden to make bread and jams.

Yang Shen

Birdsong and stolen cherries: Lockdown life in Shanghai

Yang Shen has lived in Shanghai for more than 10 years, but it wasn’t until recently that the 36-year-old writer noticed something very particular about the city: the birds.

While they sing freely outside Shen’s window, Shanghai’s 26 million human residents are still cooped up in their homes, part of the world’s largest COVID lockdown.

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Chinese medical workers in protective suits wave at residents during a farewell ceremony in Changchun.

China Daily via REUTERS

China is in a tough spot

This week, the head of the World Health Organization warned that China’s “zero-COVID” policy, which has left tens of millions of people locked inside their homes, is not “sustainable.” The Omicron variant is too transmissible to effectively isolate, and the cost of China’s lockdown strategy, for the country’s economy and the mental health of its people, is too high, warns the WHO.

But … also this week, a report from the peer-reviewed international scientific journal Nature Medicine warned that lifting the zero-COVID policy without taking a series of specific steps to mitigate the damage could create a COVID emergency on a scale the world hasn’t yet seen. More than 1.5 million would die within six months, according to the study, and demand for intensive care would be nearly 16 times greater than China’s hospitals can handle.

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An armored convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road during in Mariupol, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Chingis Kondarov

What We’re Watching: Russian military on the ropes, panic-buying in Beijing, Nicaragua out of OAS

Depleted Russian forces?

As Moscow struggles to rack up battlefield wins — narrowing its focus to the Donbas and to building a land bridge to its forces in Crimea — it’s reasonable to wonder just how potent Russia’s military really is. Most media information on the war comes from the Russian and Ukrainian governments, both of which need to sell the idea of Russian military might. The Kremlin needs to maintain troop and civilian morale, and Ukraine needs to woo Western support. But independent military analysts stress the Russians’ current limitations. “Russian [battalions] have taken high casualties in the battle of Mariupol, are degraded, and are unlikely to possess their full complement of personnel,” according to the Institute for the Study of War. As for elsewhere in Ukraine? “Reporting on numbers of [battalions] without additional context and analysis of the combat power of these units is not a useful evaluation of Russian forces,” it said.

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What's Putin Got Left? | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

What's Putin got left?

After a parade of Western companies leaves Russia, Putin has trouble even making a list of his enemies. But there's one person who can help -- at a cost.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

Subscribe to GZERO Media's YouTube channel to get notifications when new videos are published.

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A torn flag of Ukraine hung on a wire in front of a destroyed apartment building in Mariupol.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

What We’re Watching: All eyes on Mariupol, IMF to the rescue, Shanghai mulls easing lockdown

Mariupol's last men standing

As President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted, Ukraine’s remaining fighters in Mariupol ignored Moscow’s deadline to surrender on Sunday. Zelensky has warned that he'll call off peace talks if Russia carries out threats to kill these defenders. After a seven-week siege, Russia is close to capturing the strategic southeastern port city. This would help form a land bridge from mainland Russia to Crimea and boost Russia’s efforts to gain control of eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin recently decided to concentrate on the Donbas in the second phase of its invasion. But Russia continued to also strike the capital, Kyiv, over the weekend and hit Lviv in western Ukraine with missiles on Monday. Is this a response to Friday’s sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet? The EU, meanwhile, is preparing its next round of sanctions, and Zelensky’s economic adviser estimates that Ukraine will need at least $1 trillion for its economy to recover from the war with Russia. Where will it get the money? Keep reading ...

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We’re in a New Era of Naked Power Politics, Says Author Yascha Mounk | GZERO World

We're in a new era of naked power politics, says Yascha Mounk, author of The Great Experiment

Confidence in democracy is declining in the West at the same time authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have become more transparent about their demands and lack of respect for democracy, Johns Hopkins University professor Yascha Mounk tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Mounk, author of a new book, "The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure," explains why authoritarians are on the rise. The new era of naked power politics is illustrated by the way Putin is transforming Russia into a repressive regime, no longer caring what people think about his ambitions. Putin believes the West is decadent while he views himself as a strong leader with traditional values.

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Ian Explains: Limits of the China-Russia Friendship | GZERO World

The limits of the China-Russia friendship

CIA Director Bill Burns once called Vladimir Putin an “apostle of payback.” But what about Putin's fellow autocrat wingman, Xi Jinping?

Xi and China are now in an awkward spot, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World. The Chinese are trying to condemn the invasion of Ukraine without condemning Russia, the invader.

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Xi Jinping & Vladimir Putin: No Trust Among Autocrats | GZERO World

Xi Jinping & Vladimir Putin: No trust among autocrats

Melinda Liu describes the current relationship between authoritarian buddies Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin as a "marriage of convenience."

"They've known each other a long time, so it's not entirely awkward, but it's not entirely comfortable either. There's ... not a lot of trust," says Newsweek's Beijing bureau chief in an interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. "Each of them probably know[s] that down the road, a number of years from now, the tables will be turned and one of them will be aligned with America against the other ... It's always been like that, and it always will be like that."

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