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What We're Watching: A Win Against Malaria and Cuba's Ostrich Obsession

Progress on Malaria – This week saw a potentially important victory in the war against malaria, which kills one child somewhere in the world every two minutes. Children under five are most at risk, especially in Africa. The southern African nation of Malawi began a landmark large-scale pilot program to immunize young children against malaria with the first vaccine that gives partial protection against the disease. The vaccine will protect only one-third of children under two years old from severe malaria, but clinical trials suggest those immunized are likely to have less severe cases of the disease. Smaller trials found that the vaccine prevented four in 10 cases of malaria in babies aged between five and 17 months.

Cuba's Ostrich Obsession – General Guillermo García Frías, a 91-year-old revolutionary comrade of the late Fidel Castro, raised eyebrows recently when he said on Cuban state television that Cubans should eat more ostrich. But it was his suggestion that an ostrich can produce more meat than a cow that pulled viewers out of their seats and onto social media, where they created some hilarious memes at the general's expense. Black comedy aside, this episode should set off alarm bells in the Cuban government. More Cubans now have Internet access, including on mobile phones, and hardships have only sharpened their sense of humor.

What We're Ignoring: Indonesian Hiccups and Scottish Independence

A Hiccup in Prabowo's Strategy – Opposition presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto declared victory following Indonesia's April 17 election. Though official results won't be announced until next month, Prabowo appears to be one of the very few people on Earth who believe he'll be Indonesia's next president. His claim is so dubious, in fact, that his vice-presidential running mate, Sandiaga Uno, did not appear on stage with him during his "victory" speech. When asked to explain his absence, Sandiaga claimed he'd had a debilitating attack of "non-stop hiccups." Sandiaga has since appeared with Prabowo, but he doesn't look happy about it.

Another Scotland Independence Referendum – Scotland will hold another referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced this week. She intends the vote to be held before May 2021, when the current term ends for Scotland's parliament. A referendum on this question failed in 2014 by a margin of 55-45 percent, but Sturgeon hopes that frustration and fear provoked by Brexit will flip the score. We're ignoring this story (for now) because much will happen over the next two years.

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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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take