What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Next Tuesday's Brexit vote – The Brexit mess looks set to get messier. Next Tuesday, Theresa May will likely lose a scheduled vote in the House of Commons on her Brexit plan.


Jeremy Corbyn continues to resist calls by some within his Labour Party to push for a new Brexit referendum. Instead, he wants a general election "at the earliest opportunity" to "break the [Brexit] deadlock."

Irrefutable proof of time travel – In 1958, CBS aired an episode of a Western TV show called "Trackdown" in which a conman tries to sell a town a "wall" to protect citizens from the fake threat of a meteor shower. "I am the only one, just me," the fraudster assures the gullible crowd. The con man's name? Trump. Love the president or hate him, it's hard to take your eyes off this clip, which has so far stood up to fact-checking.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Robo-soldiers – Engineers are now building robots that can perform many of the physical tasks associated with military infantry. We're ignoring this story because, really, what could go wrong?

Narendra Modi waves – A few speakers at the annual Indian Science Congress made international headlines this week with comments that suggest politics and ideology might be clouding their scientific judgment. Among our favorite claims from the podium: stem cell research was discovered in India thousands of years ago, a demon king from a Hindu religious epic owned 24 types of aircraft, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were both wrong about gravitation, and gravitational waves should be renamed "Narendra Modi Waves." Less fanciful Indian scientists have denounced these comments as an embarrassment to their country.

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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