What we're watching

Curiosity about Kamala – So many Democrats have announced plans to run against Donald Trump in 2020 that their party will hold debates in pairs on back-to-back nights to ensure everyone gets time to talk. There's no obvious frontrunner yet, but new data on recent Google searches reveals intense interest in California Senator Kamala Harris.

"Unsustainable Architecture" – The 6,000 workers who occupy the building that houses the Netherlands' foreign ministry and other government offices have been warned not to dance in the staff restaurant, install heavy cabinets in offices, or even stack too much photocopy paper in any one place for fear that suspect construction materials might lead the building's floors to collapse. Ironically, this building won an award for "sustainability" not long after it opened in 2017. We're watching with great interest to see how workers react, because your Signal team would never give up the notoriously raucous lunch-hour polka break that we enjoy here at GZERO Media headquarters.

What we're ignoring

Admonishing Erdogan – New Zealand's government is not happy that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who faces important local elections on March 31, has tried to win votes for his party by showing the Christchurch mosque terrorist's own live-streamed video of the attack. We'll ignore any possibility this story will doing anything other than make angry people angrier, because Erdogan's response so far has been to criticize the governments of Australia and New Zealand for sending troops to fight Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Russian California – A Russian official reportedly told a state-run news agency this week that he thinks his government should ask the United States to "return" California to Russia, presumably because groups of Russians settled near Sonoma County during the early 19th century. The move would certainly provide a nice boost for Russia's economy—California's GDP ($2.7 trillion) is nearly twice as large as Russia's ($1.5 trillion). We doubt, however, that this idea will catch on with Californians.

Signal Salute

Ichiro — Signal hails one of the world's great athletes and a beloved icon on both sides of the Pacific. After many successful years with the Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki completed his remarkable baseball career yesterday, fittingly, to the cheers of both Japanese and American fans in the Tokyo Dome. #FirstBallotHallOfFame


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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Governments of the developed world are finally responding with due sense of urgency, individually in 3 different ways.

1st, stand health care systems up so they won't get overwhelmed (late responses). The private & public sector together, building additional ICU beds, supply capacity and production of medical equipment and surge medical personnel in the US, Canada, across Europe & the UK. Unclear if we avoid a Northern Italy scenario. A couple days ago, Dr. Fauci from the NIH said he was hopeful. Epidemiologists and critical care doctors don't feel comfortable. Not in New York, Chicago, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans. In Europe, particularly London, Madrid, Catalonia, Barcelona, might be significantly short.

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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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