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What We're Watching: Bashir in the dock

What We're Watching: Bashir in the dock

Sudan's Show Trial: Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's ousted strongman, is now finally in the dock to face charges of butchery and corruption. For the moment, the country's new strongman Mohamed Hamdan "Hemeti" Dagolo and the military council he leads are sharing power with a civilian opposition alliance. An agreement signed last weekend promises elections and civilian rule. We're watching to see how a new regime, led by the gunmen who enabled the old regime's atrocities, will make the case against its former boss—and how the opposition will respond.

Foreign aid under the knife: The Trump administration is reportedly advancing a plan that would end billions of dollars in foreign aid funding, and it claims it has the authority to do this without approval from Congress. The White House says much of this money is wasted on governments that don't support US policies. Critics of the cuts charge that, beyond the humanitarian value of foreign aid, the money benefits the United States by helping to stabilize countries and regions plagued with violence and poverty, reducing the risk they'll produce war, terrorism, and refugees. We're watching to see how hard Republicans in Congress push back on this plan.

Smokey Bear Meets Hungry Goat: Portugal has faced a surge of forest fires in recent years, for two reasons: temperatures are rising as the earth warms, and flammable brush and forests are being left untended as more and more people leave the countryside for opportunities elsewhere. But authorities have hit upon a decidedly low-tech solution, the Times reports. It turns out that the country's Algarve goats love to graze on precisely the underbrush that serves as kindling for forest fires, so the government is working with local shepherds to have their flocks do just that. The catch? Urbanization means that there are precious few qualified shepherds left...#HerdHelpWanted

What We're Ignoring:

Our speakers (and yours): A presenter at a big hacking conference in Las Vegas last week warned that saboteurs could hijack internet-enabled home sound systems, headphones, or other connected speakers to make them emit ear-piercing – and possibly psychologically destructive – noise. This is on top of the already established fact that a well-placed cue in a TV ad (or an episode of South Park) can trigger your electronic in-home assistant to order cat foodor worse – on Amazon. We're ignoring our newfangled Wi-Fi speakers, because we're worried hackers are hiding inside them. We'll fire up the turntable instead. #HiFiNotWiFi

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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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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In the fall of 2019, weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic would change the world, Ian Bremmer asked Dr. Fauci what kept him up at night and he described a "a pandemic-like respiratory infection." Fast-forward to late February 2021 and Dr. Fauci tells Ian, "I think we are living through much of that worst nightmare." Dr. Fauci returns to GZERO World to take stock of the nightmare year and to paint a picture of what the end of the pandemic could look like—and when it could finally arrive.

Catch the full episode of GZERO World, where Dr. Fauci discusses the latest in vaccine roll out, schools re-openings, and plenty more, on US public television stations nationwide, beginning Friday, February 26. Check local listings.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take