What We're Watching

Fear and Loathing in Sudan – President Omar al Bashir, Sudan's strongman since 1989, is in serious trouble. Protests have swelled in the capital city of Khartoum, and reports suggest some soldiers may be siding with demonstrators against the president's crackdown squads. The first trigger for public anger was a surge in price inflation. But Sudan is one of the poorest and most repressive countries on Earth, and calls for concessions have been replaced with calls for the president to resign. Bashir, who faces an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, has good reason to try to tough this out.

What the Brits have to say about online speech – In 2017, a 14-year-old teenager from north London took her own life after viewing disturbing images on social media – including memes about committing suicide. This week, a UK government report on "online harms" proposed new rules that would require companies, under pain of fines, to quickly remove posts that encourage suicide or bullying, or contain other violent or illegal content. Over the next 12 weeks, the British public will have the opportunity to weigh in on whether curtailing disturbing online speech is an acceptable price to pay to make the internet a safer place. After the government has a chance to respond and lay out its final proposals for legislation, a bill could make its way to Parliament.

What We're Ignoring

Crack theories from Brazil's new head teacher – President Jair Bolsonaro has replaced his scandal-plagued education minister with a fellow who believes that Brazilians are prone to cannibalism and that crack cocaine came to Brazil via a Communist conspiracy. Bolsonaro selected the new guy, an economist named Abraham Weintraub, in part because he shares the president's reverence for Brazil's former dictatorship and his revulsion at the political and cultural left. Purging "left-wing" ideology from the education system is a major aim of Bolsonaro's. So while we are ignoring Mr Weintraub's ludicrous theories, his impact on the education of millions of Brazilian children deserves close attention.

Kazakhstan's quick election – Kazakhstan will hold new elections on June 9, less than three months after the Central Asian country's longtime strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned as president. No one has stepped forward to run yet, but we feel safe ignoring this one. Whomever the government prefers will win, but that person is also unlikely to wield real power. Nazarbayev remains chief of the country's powerful security council and heads the main political party. In fact, the interim president sought his approval before calling the plebiscite. It's safe to say the old man will be pulling the strings for a while longer.

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.