What We're Watching: Super Tuesday, NK missile test, and a coronavirus pop track

Super Tuesday: The first "big bang" vote of the 2020 US presidential election is here. On Tuesday, voters in 14 states – along with American Samoa and a broader category called "Democrats Abroad" – will choose among the contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Their votes will then be translated into delegates sent to the Democratic Party national convention in July. We aren't so interested in the play-by-play of who wins which state and how it gets spun, because the big question is this: do the Super Tuesday results give Senator Bernie Sanders an insurmountable delegate lead or not? That's plausible, because Democrats allot their delegates based on proportions of vote counts rather than as winner-take-all by state. That system makes it harder to catch a frontrunner who opens a clear lead. If Bernie emerges with an overall lead of 300 delegates, he'll become an overwhelming favorite to take on President Trump. If Sanders' lead is just 100 or so, then former Vice President Joe Biden – whose moribund campaign was revived by a strong showing in South Carolina – still has a real chance.


North Korea fires more missiles into the sea: On Monday, North Korea launched two short-range missiles that landed in the Sea of Japan. The missile test, Pyongyang's first since November, comes days after the US and South Korea suspended an annual joint military drill (which always irks Kim Jong-un) because the South is dealing with an outbreak of the coronavirus. While this missile launch was less provocative than some of North Korea's previous tests, Kim Jong-un seems to be sending a message: "pay attention to me!" After all, it's now exactly one year since the Hanoi summit between him and President Trump, which ended without any breakthrough in nuclear talks. North Korea remains under crippling US and UN sanctions.

What we're listening to: An incredibly catchy pop/club tune (with animated video) called "Jealous Coronavirus," about how to stop the spread of the disease. No, it's not by hitmakers Max Martin or Dr Luke. It's by the Vietnamese Health Department. Watch it here.

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.