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What We're Watching: British borders, Russian Muslims, and missing weapons

What We're Watching: British borders, Russian Muslims, and missing weapons

Britain's immigration shake up — The British government has announced a shake-up to its immigration rules that will cut visas for low-skilled workers and impose new immigration criteria, including fluency in English. The new rules, which will take effect next January, are meant to lower immigration overall, and they will hit particularly hard for the large number of eastern European immigrants who work in sectors like old age care, hospitality, and construction. This is a big reversal for Britain, which in 2004 was one of just three EU member states to open its labor markets to citizens of the former Communist countries that had recently joined the bloc. Boris Johnson's Conservative Party says the new rules will prioritize people with skills over a boundless supply of "cheap labor." But critics point out that the British economy is currently at full employment, and that migrants are needed to fill vacancies that Britons won't.


Russia vs Tatars — In 1992, from the ashes of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Tatarstan voted for independence from Russia. Tatars, almost all of whom are Muslim, are Russia's second largest ethnic group, and the capital of their republic is Kazan, a city of 1.2 million about 500 miles east of Moscow. Though Russia refused to let Tatarstan go, then-President Boris Yeltsin cut a deal in 1994 that gave Tatars exclusive rights to their own (abundant) natural resources, the ability to collect their own taxes, and protections for their language and culture. But beginning two years ago, protections for the Tatar language have been stripped away, presumably to save ethnic Russians the trouble of having to study it. What was once a required six hours of Tatar language per school week has been scaled back to two weeks of optional coursework. Activists protesting these changes have been harassed, fined and, in some cases, jailed.

The Pentagon's missing receipts — About $715 million worth of US military equipment earmarked for anti-ISIS groups in Syria between 2017 and 2018 is simply unaccounted for, according to a new Pentagon audit. The report says that US military personnel who were supposed to funnel the equipment to Syrian groups via Kuwait didn't keep proper records of what was disbursed or to whom. More alarmingly, it warns that officials "left thousands of…weapons and sensitive equipment items vulnerable to loss or theft." This isn't the first time this has happened: the US also doesn't know the fate of about 750,000 guns meant for Iraqi and Afghan enforcement, and in 2017 Amnesty International reported up to $1 billion in arms destined for Iraqi and Kuwaiti forces had gone missing.

What We're Ignoring

China's duck army – An army of 100,000 ducks is mustering in western China to combat a swarm of locusts approaching the country from the border with India and Pakistan, according to Chinese state media. The video is irresistible, but we're ignoring this story because it's not the first time China has had to call in its "air force" to deal with the locust threat. Twenty years ago, China drafted 700,000 ducks and chickens to fight a similar invasion.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 Russians braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take (part 1):

Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday. And have your Quick Take to start off the week.

Maybe start off with Biden because now President Biden has had a week, almost a week, right? How was it? How's he doing? Well, for the first week, I would say pretty good. Not exceptional, but not bad, not bad. Normal. I know everyone's excited that there's normalcy. We will not be excited there's normalcy when crises start hitting and when life gets harder and we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic and he has to respond to it. But for the first week, it was okay.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

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Even as vaccines roll out around the world, COVID-19 is continuing to spread like wildfire in many places, dashing hopes of a return to normal life any time soon. Some countries, like Israel and the UK for instance, have been praised for their inoculation drives, while still recording a high number of new cases. It's clear that while inoculations are cause for hope, the pace of rollouts cannot keep up with the fast-moving virus. Here's a look at the countries that have vaccinated the largest percentages of their populations so far – and a snapshot of their daily COVID caseloads (7-day rolling average) in recent weeks.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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