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What We're Watching: Tick Tock for TikTok, Netanyahu loses support, Guyana's new president

What We're Watching: Tick Tock for TikTok, Netanyahu loses support, Guyana's new president

TikTok, ya don't stop: The wildly popular video app TikTok has been in the crosshairs of American lawmakers for many months now. Why? Because the app is owned by a Chinese company, raising national security concerns that it could funnel personal data on its 100 million American users to the Chinese government. The plot thickened in recent days after President Trump abruptly threatened to ban the app altogether, risking a backlash among its users and imperiling US tech giant Microsoft's efforts to buy the company's operations in the US. Canada, Australia and New Zealand. After a weekend conversation between Microsoft and the White House, the sale negotiations are back on but US lawmakers say any deal must strictly prevent American users' data from winding up in Chinese Communist Party servers. And Trump says that unless a deal is reached by September 15th, he'll go ahead with the ban. The broader fate of TikTok — which has now been banned in India, formerly its largest market, and may be broken up under US pressure — nicely illustrates the new "tech Cold War" that is emerging between China and the United States.

Guyana finally swears in a new leader: After months of political wrangling, an election recount and a series of court challenges, the small South American nation of Guyana has sworn in opposition candidate Mohamed Irfaan Ali as president. Although Ali edged out the incumbent, David Granger, by just 15,000 votes, Granger's governing party says the vote was rigged and that it will continue to challenge the outcome. The new president will now be responsible for guiding this nation through what is set to be one of the of the world's most dramatic increases in national wealth, after large reserves of crude oil were discovered in the country in 2015. Ali will have to figure out how to spend the new oil revenue to combat the country's pandemic-induced economic downturn, as well as try to tamp down rising tensions between his own supporters who are mostly of South Asian origin, and the defeated incumbent's mostly Black voter base.

Anti-Netanyahu movement swells: Ever since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted in January on a host of corruption charges there have been frequent protests calling for his resignation. But Saturday saw the most massive demonstrations yet, as thousands gathered near the PM's Jerusalem residence. The protesters — hailing from across the political spectrum and including some former Bibi supporters — took aim at the government's poor handling of the twin public health and economic crises. Despite early success in containing the virus, the country's unwieldy unity government has botched its pandemic response in recent months. A hasty reopening has allowed the coronavirus to begin spreading again like wildfire, and a whopping 21 percent of the population is now unemployed. The government has failed to provide economic relief and Israel's GDP is expected to contract by at least 6 percent this year. Netanyahu, for his part, has lashed out at the "North Korean" style media for fueling the "distorted" protests, a sign, observers say, of his growing panic as the leaderless protest movement gains momentum. Particularly ominous for Netanyahu is that security hawks and right wing voters typically aligned with Netanyahu's Likud party are increasingly losing faith in him, and are now joining left-wing activists calling for the PM's resignation. Is "King Bibi's" throne finally creaking?

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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