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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING & IGNORING

What We're Watching

Mercenary appeals – Sizable groups of Russian mercenaries claim Moscow is keeping them at arm's length, and they're not happy about it. Members of more than a dozen Russian "private military companies," supported by Russian military veterans, filed a petition last month with the International Criminal Court (ICC) demanding an investigation of their sponsors.


They claim hundreds of Russian fighters have died in eastern Ukraine, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa without any legal protections or official recognition from the Russian state. Kremlin critics claim the Russian government uses mercenaries to achieve foreign policy goals while deflecting charges of direct intervention. The Russian government has declined to comment on this case.

Kids with snowballs – In other legal news, nine-year-old Dane Best of Severance, Colorado won a landmark victory this week that lifts his town's ban on snowball fights. "The children of Severance want the opportunity to have a snowball fight like the rest of the world," he said during a passionate three-minute presentation to the Town Board. "Today's kids need a reason to play outside." We're watching Mr. Best, because we don't like being wet and cold, and this kid looks like he has good aim.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

"Operation Netanyahu Shield" The Israeli military launched a significant operation along the Lebanese border this week to destroy tunnels it says were dug by Hizbullah to allow the group to attack Israeli civilians. Critics of embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say this operation is intended mainly to bolster his popularity and have dubbed it "Operation Netanyahu Shield." Yes, this action might well give Netanyahu a political boost. But his current headaches are legal as well as political. Police recommended last weekend the prime minister be indicted for bribery, and the army can't help with that. We're watching the military operation, but ignoring the political warnings.

North Korean Footwear During careful recent inspection of a shoe store in North Korea, Kim Jong-un reportedly insisted that his country's shoemakers provide "diverse patterns and decent colors," to meet the "aesthetic tastes of our people." It's just really hard to get our hopes up on this one.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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They call it Einstein. It's the multibillion-dollar digital defense system the US has used to catch outside hackers and attackers since 2003. But it was no match for what's looking like one of the biggest cyber breaches in US history. Ian Bremmer breaks it down.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Cyber attack: an act of espionage or war?

Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until 2019, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate (recent runoff elections will make Georgia the seventh state), and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

More than 32 million COVID shots have now been administered globally, raising hopes that the light at the end of the tunnel is now in sight.

The US has vaccinated 3 percent of its total population, while the UK is nearing a solid 5 percent inoculation rate. In Israel, which has been hailed as a vaccine success story, almost 24 percent of people have already received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

But while many countries are able to glimpse the outlines of a post-COVID world, there is a huge population of people who are being left out entirely. Refugees, as well as displaced, undocumented, and stateless people around the world remain ineligible for inoculations and vulnerable to the coronavirus.

We take a look at three case studies where powerless populations are being left in the lurch.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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