What We Are Watching

Michael Cohen Goes to Washington – Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is testifying before three congressional committees this week, one of them publicly. He'll tell lawmakers the president of the United States has committed felonies. Cohen must report to prison on May 6 because he's been convicted of, among other things, lying to Congress. So, beyond the salacious details, we'll be watching to see what evidence he'll offer to support his claims—evidence Democrats might use to try to impeach the president and that state prosecutors might one day use to indict Trump when he's no longer in office.

Iranian Foreign Minister's (Attempted) Resignation – Iranian President Rouhani has rejected the resignation of his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. As a key architect and backer of the Iran nuclear deal, Mr. Zarif has come under pressure from hardliners in Iran who see little point in sticking with the agreement now that the US has left. As a result, the prospect of Zarif's departure immediately raised concerns that Tehran itself may ditch the deal. For now it seems like Zarif is staying put, but we are watching for signs of further political infighting in Tehran.

What We Are Ignoring

Russian nuclear threats – During an encore performance at its Defender of the Fatherland Day holiday concert last weekend, the St. Petersburg Concert Choir broke out into a satirical 1980s tune about Soviet submariners and bomber pilots preparing to launch a nuclear attack on the US. We're ignoring this musical tomfoolery, along with the recent, more serious step-up in official Russian nuclear rhetoric, including a state TV broadcast explaining how a new hypersonic missile developed by Moscow could hit the Pentagon and Camp David in under five minutes, because India and Pakistan have already given us enough to worry about.

The orders of the Brazilian education minister – Earlier this week, the Brazilian government asked schools to film students singing the national anthem and repeating the campaign slogan of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro: "Brazil above everything, God above everyone." Bolsonaro, elected in part as a reaction to years of corruption and mismanagement by the leftwing Workers Party, has said he wants to "purge" leftist ideas from the classroom. Critics point out that schools were ideologically policed under Brazil's 1964-1985 dictatorship, a period that Bolsonaro has spoken fondly of. We are ignoring this story – for now – because we are unruly students and also because the education minister rescinded the order amid criticism. But the left-right polarization in Brazil will continue to deepen.

Brazil's governors take on Bolsonaro: We've previously written about the tensions between local and national governments over coronavirus response, but few places have had it as bad as Brazil. As COVID-19 infections surged in Brazil, the country's governors quickly mobilized – often with scarce resources – to enforce citywide lockdowns. Brazil's gangs have even risen to the occasion, enforcing strict curfews to limit the virus' spread in Rio de Janeiro. But Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has mocked the seriousness of the disease and urged states to loosen quarantines in order to get the economy up and running again. "Put the people to work," he said this week, "Preserve the elderly; preserve those who have health problems. But nothing more than that." In response, governors around the country – including some of his allies – issued a joint letter to the president, begging him to listen to health experts and help states contain the virus. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic powerhouse, has even threatened to sue the federal government if Bolsonaro continues to undermine his efforts to combat the virus' spread.

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The major outbreaks of coronavirus in China, Europe, and the United States have garnered the most Western media attention in recent weeks. Yesterday, we went behind the headlines to see how Mexico and Russia are faring. Today, we'll look at three other potential hotspots where authorities and citizens are now contending with the worst global pandemic in a century.

Start with India. For weeks, coronavirus questions hovered above that other country with a billion-plus people, a famously chaotic democracy where the central government can't simply order a Chinese-scale public lockdown with confidence that it will be respected. It's a country where 90 percent of people work off the books— without a minimum wage, a pension, a strong national healthcare system, or a way to work from home.

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In the end, it took the coronavirus to break the year-long deadlock in Israeli politics. Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will still face corruption charges, but he has yet another new lease on political life, as he and political rival Benny Gantz cut a deal yesterday: Bibi will continue as prime minister, with Gantz serving as Speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. After 18 months, Gantz will take over as prime minister, but many doubt that will ever happen.

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With large parts of the American economy shuttered because of coronavirus-related lockdowns, the number of people filing jobless claims in the US last week exceeded 3.2 million, by far the highest number on record. Here's a look at the historical context. The surge in jobless claims, which may be an undercount, is sure to cause a spike in the unemployment rate (which tells you the percent of work-ready people who are looking for a job). At last reading in February, unemployment was at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. Economists warn that it could reach 5.5 percent in the near term. Even that would be far lower than the jobless rates recorded during previous economic crises such as the Great Depression or the Great Recession. Have a look.