Welcome back to Axios World and Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim readers around the world.
Have you seen this man? Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images
Kim Jong-un’s status remains a mystery after a week of rumors about the North Korean dictator’s health and chatter in Washington about succession.
Why it matters: “This should be a huge reminder of how much regional stability rests on this one leader,” says Jung Pak, a former CIA officer and author of the forthcoming book “Becoming Kim Jong-un.”
The backstory: The rumors began after Kim missed North Korea’s most important annual ceremony marking the birthday of his grandfather and the regime’s founder, Kim Il-sung.
Between the lines: The fact remains that if Kim really were ill, we likely wouldn’t know unless the regime wanted us to.
The big picture: The cult of secrecy is not intended only for the outside world, she says.
What to watch: The regime’s resilience would be facing a severe test now, regardless of Kim’s health.
The bottom line: While it’s far too early to draw any conclusions about Kim’s condition, speculation is nonetheless swirling about who might succeed him.
Two-thirds of Americans now view China unfavorably, up from 47% two years ago, according to data from Pew.
The big picture: Americans have tended to view China negatively since 2013, but that sentiment has grown dramatically over the past two years. In that time, the proportion of Americans who view China very unfavorably has more than doubled (15% to 33%).
Worth noting: The polling was conducted from March 3-29, during which time U.S. and Chinese officials sparred about the origins of COVID-19.
Key takeaways from the latest edition of the annual World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders:
Other notables: Namibia (23) ranks first in Africa, Bulgaria (111) ranks last in the EU, and the U.S. (45) slots in between Taiwan and Papua New Guinea.
One of the questions I've received most from readers over the last two years is, "do you have an app?"
Now, it's here.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
President Trump's threat Wednesday to "destroy" Iranian boats that harass U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf was a reminder that geopolitical tensions won’t wait until the pandemic is over.
The big picture: Rob Malley, CEO of the International Crisis Group, tells Axios he has two main concerns about potential flashpoints during the COVID crisis.
Between the lines: Malley notes that both Trump and Iran's leaders have been under intense scrutiny during the pandemic.
Where things stand: The Pentagon has walked back Trump's tweet slightly, saying he was simply asserting the "right of self-defense."
Guess who's back? Photo: Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Ukraine's deputy prime minister, a former president of Georgia, and an international fugitive walk into a bar...
“Good to see you again, Mr. Saakashvili.”
Between the lines: The joke tells only part of the story of the man tapped this week by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to oversee Ukraine's reform efforts.
The backstory: Mikheil Saakashvili climbed through the ranks of post-Soviet Georgian politics to become justice minister, resigned to protest corruption, led the Rose Revolution of 2003, and served two terms as president of Georgia (2003-2014).
Saakashvili fled Georgia when the incoming government charged him with abuse of power. But he did not simply wait in the wings, rallying the opposition from afar (he does that too).
Now he's back, and set to become deputy prime minister.
Go deeper: The global experiment of exiting lockdown
Montevideo, as seen from a hospital room. Photo: Pablo Porciuncula/AFP via Getty Images
It appears that most of Latin America somehow "surfed" the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Martin Aguirre, editor-in-chief of Uruguay's El Pais newspaper, emails from Montevideo.
The big picture: "With the exceptions of Ecuador and Panama, most countries are not seeing the numbers of deaths that have become norm in the northern hemisphere," Martin writes.
"The problem right now seems to be more economic than medical. Most of the countries have huge portions of the population that work informally and don’t have any public social safety net."
What to watch: "We are waiting on the eventual second wave, with the complications that might come in the winter months, which already bring respiratory diseases and shortages of medical resources."
Superhero spotting in Bangkok. Photo: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images
“There’s no plan or interagency process underway involving the purchase of Greenland.”— A State Department official today on the news that the U.S. would provide $12 million in U.S. aid to the island.
Flashback: Trump canceled a meeting with Denmark's prime minister last year when she declined to discuss his proposal to buy Greenland. Somehow, that was only 8 months ago.