WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

More Brexit Bewilderment – Following yesterday's parliamentary votes, which failed to approve any alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan, she is now weighing whether to try and get it through one last time. Although Parliament has already soundly rejected it three times, it now looks to be the least tumultuous path forward, and a fourth vote could be held by the end of the week. Another round of indicative votes is also expected in Parliament tomorrow. If both votes fail, new elections or a second referendum might be the only way to break Britain's bewildering political paralysis. But the clock is ticking: the UK has only until April 12 to decide what it wants to do. If it doesn't, the EU has to either give London even more time to sort things out, or allow the UK to careen out of the Union without any deal on future economic ties.

Bouteflika's next/last move – Oil-rich Algeria's severely disabled 82-year-old president has said he will step down before his term ends later this month, responding to weeks of protests that began when he announced he would seek a fifth-straight term in office. Will the early resignation quell the protests? A lot will depend on whether Bouteflika's exit opens the way to a more accountable political system or whether, as many fear, it will merely pave the way for military brass and other cronies around Bouteflika to make cosmetic changes that do little to address the country's problems. We aren't optimistic, but we are watching....

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Rational explanations for Garfields on the beach – For thirty years, novelty telephones shaped like the grumpy cartoon cat Garfield (one of your author's Saturday morning favorites as a child) have been washing up on a beach in Northwestern France. No one knew why until volunteers cleaning the beach recently discovered that the feline phones were washing out of a shipping container that had fallen off a boat in the 1980s and become lodged in a nearby sea cave. Ok, we understand that shipping companies lose an average of 1,500 containers on the high seas every year and that this is a rational explanation, but we were really hoping there was some larger supernatural force that might send thousands of Nermal washing up in Plymouth, England to antagonize Garfield from across the channel

Irrational explanations for the Rise of Nazism – One of Brazilian President JairBolsonaro's favorite political gurus is a 71-year-old, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, autodidact philosopher from Brazil who lives in Virginia. Olavo de Carvalho's eccentric broadsides against "the left" and "globalists" are immensely popular with the Brazilian far right, and also with Steve Bannon (remember him?). But Mr. Carvalho's ideas sometimes go beyond the eccentric into the flat out, well, crazy: this weekend he tweeted that Stalin had in fact created Nazism as part of a broader plan to subjugate Eastern Europe. While we are ignoring the historical illiteracy of this suggestion, we are paying attention to what Carvalho says, because he exerts huge influence over Brazil's education policy, which Bolsonaro has made a point of reshaping since the moment he won Brazil's presidential election late last year.

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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