FIVE MICS FOR MAYAKOVSKY: RUSSIAN RAPPERS VS THE STATE

Russian television viewers on Sunday evening were treated to the bizarre sight of Dmitry Kiselyov, a hugely influential television presenter seen as the Kremlin "propagandist in chief," rapping.


For background, earlier this month the wildly popular Russian rapper Husky was jailed for doing an impromptu 30-second performance atop a car, after his scheduled gig was cancelled. Following a public outcry and meeting of top officials at the Kremlin, he was released. An overzealous action by the police, was the official line. On Sunday, Kiselyov declared his support for Husky (a "patriot"), and dropped a few bars of Mayakovsky to prove that rap is actually Russian.

The cringe-worthy reversal reflects the government's struggle to deal with Russia's surging hip-hop scene, which is hugely popular among younger Russians but at odds with the Kremlin's nationalistic social conservatism. As a result venues have recently come under growing pressure to cancel rappers' shows.'

The popular blowback against Husky's arrest clearly caught the state by surprise, and the about-face by officials has defused the situation. But with millions of young Russians loyal to artists whose experience is distinctly at odds with the Kremlin's ideal of Russian life, this may over time be bigger than hip-hop.

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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