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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Iran's parliament convenes, Americas become epicenter, India lifts lockdown

Iran's parliament sits (at a distance): They arrived in masks. They had their temperature taken. And then 268 members of Iran's newly elected parliament were sworn in, convening for the first time, with the appropriate distance between members. The body, which has no influence over foreign policy but does shape economic policy and the annual budget, is this time dominated by religious conservatives who are suspicious of engagement with the West, after many moderates and reformers were disqualified ahead of the most recent election in February. The new parliament has its work cut out: Iran's economy is in freefall as a result of US sanctions, low oil prices, and a coronavirus outbreak that was one of the worst in the Middle East. According to official data, which are widely suspected of being spotty, there have been 141,000 confirmed cases and 7,500 deaths. Two of the dead were newly elected members of parliament.
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Latin America's two big coronavirus challenges

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many Latin American countries were struggling with low prices for their commodities exports, a Venezuelan refugee crisis, and a surge of street protests across the region.

Then came the worst global public health crisis in a hundred years.

So far, there are about half a million confirmed cases in Latin America and about 25,000 deaths, but spotty testing and reporting mean both figures are too low.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Navajo Nation's outbreak, Wuhan's testing, Latin America's dual epidemics

Navajo Nation's outbreak: The Navajo Nation, the most populous of the American Indian reservations within the US, is now reporting more COVID-19 cases per capita than any US state, with roughly 1,798 infections per 100,000 people. That surpasses New York, the country's worst-hit state. More than 100 people in the community, located in the American southwest, have died from the virus, including young people. Health professionals say that there are several reasons that the community has been so hard-hit. First, many in the Navajo Nation already suffer from diabetes, making them particularly vulnerable to serious illness if they do contract COVID-19. It's also common for Navajo to live with large families in intergenerational homes, which speeds the virus' spread. Crucially, around 1 in 3 residents lack access to running water, making it all but impossible to stop outbreaks through regular hand-washing. Doctors Without Borders, an NGO accustomed to sending medical and public health professionals to conflict zones, has now dispatched a team to the reservation to help the roughly 170,000 inhabitants deal with the surging outbreak. The Trump administration, for its part, said it will dole out $600 million in aid to help the community weather the storm.

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Is Bolsonaro going bust?

Less than two years ago, Brazilians elected a controversial and untested political outsider as president.

Some voted for former army captain Jair Bolsonaro because they saw him as their best shot to break up a corrupt political class. Others took a shine to his far-right culture warrior comments about homosexuals, women, and minorities. And many who disliked his social views still voted for him as the best candidate to push through much-needed economic reforms.

Since taking power, the combative Bolsonaro, lacking a strong political party of his own, has run up against the country's establishment political forces. He's tangled with progressives over his tough crime policies, and with environmentalists over relaxing protections for the Amazon. He's constantly clashed with dogged journalists, whom he and his supporters dismiss as "fake news," or worse.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Japan's emergency, domestic violence, LatAm seeks IMF help

Japan mulls state of emergency: Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe is poised to declare a "state of emergency" because of the coronavirus pandemic, giving some local governments the authority to request people stay in their homes, and shutter businesses and schools. Japan has so far managed the crisis without the kinds of sweeping lockdowns seen elsewhere, but a surge of new cases in recent days – particularly in Tokyo – has put pressure on the government to do more. Japan has one of the world's oldest populations – a third of its people are older than 65, the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19. The emergency decision comes at a tough time. Japan's economy has been hurting for several months now, as China's massive lockdowns in January and February cratered demand for Japanese exports. In order to deal with the fallout that comes with putting his economy on life-support, PM Abe said the government would push through a 108 trillion yen stimulus package.

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