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What We're Watching: Putin's next move, jabs for Palestinians, Wine goes to court in Uganda

VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JANUARY 31, 2021: Riot police officers cordon off a street during an unauthorized rally in support of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

What next for Navalny? Thousands of protesters supporting jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny braved an overwhelming police response on Sunday, turning out in more than 80 cities across the country to demand his release from prison. It was the second protest to occur in the two weeks since Navalny was jailed after his return from Germany, and more than 5,000 people were arrested nationwide. The intensity of the police response shows the Kremlin is taking no chances with the protesters, even though their numbers are still relatively small — nowhere near, say, the hundreds of thousands who poured into the streets of Belarus' capital last fall. And it's hard to imagine Vladimir Putin agreeing to release Navalny under pressure from the streets. In fact, it looks like his kangaroo courts are gearing up to lock up the nettlesome anti-corruption crusader and throw away the key. Europe and the US have threatened action if that happens, but sanctions against Russia have proved ineffective in the past. Lacking a political party in a system that is rigged for the party in power anyway, Navalny only has the streets: can they really shake things up enough from below that power starts to crack at the top?

Israel delivers some COVID vaccines to Palestinians: Israel has agreed to send 5,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Palestinian front-line workers in the occupied West Bank. After rolling out the world's most successful vaccination drive, having already inoculated more than 57 percent of its entire population, Israel came under fire in recent weeks for failing to include Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in its ambitious inoculation scheme, though Israeli Arabs and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were given the jab. Israel, for its part, says that under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the de-facto law of the land, the Palestinian Authority (PA) should oversee healthcare for its people. But critics say that the Fourth Geneva Convention states that an occupying power (Israel) has a clear responsibility to assist those living under its occupation (the Palestinians). While Israel's approval of the transfer is a positive development, the PA, which governs the West Bank, is still waiting on millions of doses to vaccinate its 2.5 million people. This deal also doesn't include the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which already has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world. Palestinians (in the West Bank and Gaza) have inked deals for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, the AstraZeneca drug, and are also waiting on batches through the international COVAX system which aren't expected to arrive until March.

Mr Wine goes to court: Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine has called on his country's Supreme Court to nullify the results of last month's election in which president Yoweri Museveni — a former rebel leader in power since the 1980s — was declared the winner. Wine and his supporters allege ballot-stuffing and other fraud, and argue that violence directed at Wine by Museveni's forces during the campaign made it impossible for the election to be free and fair. By taking his arguments to a court packed with Museveni appointees, Wine — a former pop star who is popular with younger, urban Ugandans — runs the risk of having his objections formally stricken down altogether. But he and his supporters are making the gamble that the opportunity to present their arguments is, by itself, worth the effort in order to expose the president.

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.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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Now that millions of high-priority Americans have been vaccinated, many people in low-risk groups are starting to ask the same question: when's my turn? Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, has an answer, but probably not the one they're hoping for: "It probably won't be until May or June before we can at least start to get the normal non-prioritized person vaccinated." On GZERO World, Dr. Fauci also addresses another burning question: why aren't schools reopening faster? And while Dr. Fauci acknowledges that reopening schools must be a top priority, he has no quick fixes there, either. In fact, that's kind of a theme of the interview.

Watch the GZERO World episode: Dr. Fauci's Pandemic Prognosis

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

I thought I would talk today, I haven't spoken much about former President Trump since he's no longer president and I intend to continue that practice. But given this weekend and the big speech at CPAC and the fact that in the straw poll, Trump won and won by a long margin. I mean, DeSantis came in number two, but he's the Governor of Florida, CPAC was in Orlando, so that's a home court bias. In reality, it's Trump's party. And I think given all of that, it's worth spending a little bit of time reflecting on what that means, how I think about these things.

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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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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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