What We Are Watching

Saudi Arabia putting women's rights activists on trial – Just in time for International Women's Day, Saudi Arabia has announced that a dozen women rights activists will now face trial for seeking to "undermine the security" of the Kingdom. Members of the group were arrested last spring amid a crackdown that coincided with the move to lift restrictions on women driving. The apparent contradiction here reflects Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's authoritarian approach to modernizing a deeply conservative country: he has taken steps to liberalize certain aspects of society while also unleashing a ruthless crackdown on civil society that includes the jailing of activists and the government's murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

People on Twitter using AI to snoop on Chinese officials – Fair warning: we're not sure if this person who claims to have used facial recognition technology to spot officials who would otherwise be lost in the crowd at the opening of China's National People's Congress picking their noses and stifling yawns is for real. But just the idea that someone is using AI to literally watch the government of a country that's controversially using the same technology to augment its security state and crack down on millions of members of its ethnic Uighur Muslim minority is too good to pass up. The Communist Party isn't pleased.

What We Are Ignoring

A wild Washington love triangle – A carousing pair of bald eagles has been causing a stir in the US capital. Longtime partners Liberty and Justice were Washington's most famous nesting pair before Justice flew the coop last month, possibly to sow his oats after a mid-life crisis. After a few days fighting off a pair of rival suitors, including a dashing interloper named Aaron Burrd, Liberty shacked up with one of them and fled the nest herself. Later, as the local press put it, Justice returned, but found that Liberty had moved on. We're ignoring this story despite the poignant political metaphor, because the feathery soul-mates were recently spotted together again, and they deserve some privacy while they try to work things out.

Indian mustache groupies – Apparently we weren't the only ones who noticed Indian fighter pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's striking mustache. The fighter jock, who was released by Pakistan on Friday after being shot down over Kashmir last week, became an overnight hero and viral sensation, with young men from across India flocking to barbershops for the "Wing Commander Abhinandan" look. We're ignoring these pretenders, because there is only one Wing Commander Abhinandan.

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.