WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Spain’s “Voice”?  — Is Spain’s Vox party Europe’s latest anti-EU, anti-immigration party poised for a rapid rise? If so, it comes at an inconvenient moment for the EU as Spain’s government accepts migrants stranded at sea who have been refused entry by Italy.


Control of the Robert Mueller Investigation — Exit Jeff Sessions. His interim replacement as US Attorney General, Matthew Whittaker, will now oversee the Mueller investigation which is probing any Russia ties in Trump’s presidential campaign as well as potential obstruction of justice by the president. Whittaker once authored an op-ed under the title “I Would Indict Hillary Clinton,” and has publicly expressed a willingness to cripple the Mueller investigation by slashing its budget. Now he’ll have the power to do so.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Age discrimination? — Emile Ratelband, a 69-year old Dutch retiree wants to legally change his date of birth from March 11, 1949 to March 11, 1969, because he believes that stripping 20 years off his age will make it easier for him to meet single women. “You can change your name. You can change your gender. Why not your age?” he asked in a recent news interview. We’re ignoring you, Emile, and young women probably will too.

Donkey Soprano —In Ireland, there is a donkey called Harriet who, it is claimed, can sing opera. We are ignoring this story because, though her vibrato is remarkable, her pitch range is apparently limited to a single note. In fact, Harriet is living proof that the bar for becoming an Internet celebrity is especially low for donkeys.

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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