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What We're Watching: Syria's Shame, South Africa's Land, and Kenya's Women on Wheels

What We're Watching: Syria's Shame, South Africa's Land, and Kenya's Women on Wheels

Syria's overlooked killings – In the past 10 days, Syria's military, backed by Russia, has killed more than 100 Syrian civilians, including 26 children, according to the UN. We've written before about Idlib province, which is supposed to be protected from attack by a 10-month old truce brokered by Russia and Turkey. That agreement spared the province's 2.7 million civilians an all-out government attack. But Bashar al-Assad's military has relied on strikes that kill smaller numbers over time to avoid international condemnation, and that strategy appears to be working. In three months, government attacks have forced 330,000 from their homes, and the story has gone largely unreported. For a look at what the Assad family shares in common with The Godfather's Corleones, check out the latest from Ian Bremmer here.

New promises, and fears, over South African land – Whites make up less than 10 percent of South Africa's population, but 25 years from the end of apartheid, they still own nearly three-quarters of the country's individually-owned farmland. President Cyril Ramaphosa faces pressure to address this disparity. He doesn't want to damage South Africa's economy by throwing property rights into question, but he faces intense criticism that he favors big business over small farmers. This week, a presidential panel proposed expropriation of land without compensation—but only for land that's rented out or held as investment property. For more on South Africa, click here.

Kenya's all-female biker gangs: Throttle Queens. Piki Dada. Inked Sisterhood. Heels of Steel. We're watching these all-female biker gangs cruising through Kenya, a socially conservative country, because the photos show that they're impossibly cool. They've taken their share of criticism but, says a member of Inked Sisterhood, if you're a woman who wants to join, "there is a community here waiting to learn with you, grow with you, ride with you."

What We're Ignoring:

A Greek smoking ban - Nine years, 10 months, and 27 days ago, Greek lawmakers voted to ban smoking in all public places. With the arrival of new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, it has been announced that the nearly decade-old ban will now be enforced inside the parliament building itself. Ashtrays have been removed from hallways. We can now ignore this story, because we're sure that lawmakers—to say nothing of patrons in bars, clubs, and restaurants—in the heaviest smoking country in the EU will now fully abide by the rules. Definitely.

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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