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President Joe Biden will unveil his first detailed budget proposal as president. More than a month after going into lockdown, New Delhi could begin rolling back coronavirus restrictions. Taiwan is set to enact even tougher water restrictions on its population to keep its multibillion-dollar semiconductor industry running. Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid is racing to put together a cabinet of unlikely allies, looking to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 11 years in office. And an interview with Sophie Perryer on another Mali coup.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
JIMMY LOVAAS, HOST:
Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.
Today is May 27th.
In this week’s forecast we’ll cover President Biden’s budget proposal, New Delhi easing coronavirus restrictions, Taiwan water limits, an Israeli government deadline, and a coup in Mali .
You can read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.
Biden to offer budget proposal
Information compiled by Alex Moore
JIMMY: On Friday, President Joe Biden will unveil his first detailed budget proposal as president.
The budget is expected to be in the range of $1.52 trillion in federal spending and should give us a look at the spending programs the Biden administration intends to cut or expand.
According to a budget request unveiled in April, the administration is seeking massive increases in education, healthcare and environment-related funding.
National security expenditures would remain flat.
In another significant break from his predecessor, Biden’s proposal will likely seek to increase funding across cabinet departments, with the fight against climate change driving funding requests.
The spending proposal will almost certainly be met with some resistance from lawmakers from both parties unhappy with pieces of the plan.
Defense spending in particular is one of the prominent points of discontent. Republicans are upset that spending would remain flat. Democrats, on the other hand, are seeking deeper cuts.
New Delhi to ease coronavirus restrictions
Information compiled by Jillian Stampher
JIMMY: As early as Monday, New Delhi could begin rolling back coronavirus-related restrictions after being on lockdown for more than a month.
An extreme oxygen and medicine shortage only exacerbated an already dire situation, leading local politicians and doctors to plead for help from the federal government.
Since then, official figures suggest the positivity rate has dropped from more than 36 percent to approximately 2.5 percent.
Though it is important to note that experts caution that coronavirus deaths are likely significantly undercounted in India.
Now, if the state numbers continue to drop, New Delhi’s chief minister said they will start the process of unlocking. New Delhi’s government, however, has yet to clarify what limits will be lifted come Monday.
All but essential businesses have been closed in the state for six weeks and public transit has shut down.
Meanwhile, the reopening also comes amid a severe vaccine shortage. That’s something the chief minister acknowledged would need to be rectified if they hope to keep case numbers down.
Still, even as the state looks toward reopening, the government has already begun preparing for a potential “third wave” of infections, with concerns that daily cases could top 30,000 if the state sees a new surge.
Taiwan implements new water limits
Information compiled by Jeff Landset
JIMMY: On Tuesday, Taiwan is set to enact even tougher water restrictions on its population. The move is an effort to keep its multibillion-dollar semiconductor industry running.
Of course, Taiwan is known as one of the rainiest places on the planet with typhoons and monsoons hitting the island regularly. But not last year.
A surge of coronavirus cases also worsened the situation.
Now, most of the world’s computer chips are made in Taiwan, and the drought is one of several factors that has led to the world’s ongoing shortage. If things continue to get worse, it could lead to more scarcity and delays for any consumer goods that use a semiconductor chip.
This has led to a tough choice for Taiwan: irrigate its crops or keep its semiconductor chip factories up and running.
The government chose the factories by stopping the irrigation of more than 180,000 acres of farmland. It has also ordered water restrictions for some of its citizens. Many of those restrictions will get worse on Tuesday.
Israel government formation deadline
Information compiled by Ahmed Namatalla
JIMMY: On Wednesday, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid will face an important deadline. He is racing to put together a cabinet of unlikely allies, looking to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 11 years in office and save the country from having to go through a fifth election in two years.
President Reuvin Livlin handed Lapid the mandate in early May after Netanyahu failed to secure a majority to form a government.
Since then, Israel’s crackdown on West Bank Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and subsequent deadly military operation in the Gaza Strip have led to accusations by Netanyahu’s opponents that the actions were politically motivated.
Now, if Lapid is successful in replacing Israel’s longest serving leader, it could bring a possible change to the nation’s handling of the conflict with the Palestinians in the midst of the worst outbreak of violence since 2014.
Lapid is said to be considering appointing at least one Palestinian-Israeli minister. That’s in addition to joining forces with both left-wing and right-wing parties who all have the same goal of ousting Netanyahu.
Still, the task remains difficult. The recent escalation of conflict with the Palestinians froze the budding partnership between Lapid and one of his most important allies, right-wing Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett.
New Mali coup
Information compiled by Sophie Perryer
JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is a look at the coup underway in the West African country of Mali. For more on that I recently spoke with Factal editor Sophie Perryer.
JIMMY: Hi, Sophie.
SOPHIE: Hi, Jimmy.
JIMMY: I’ve gotta tell you, I took a few days off and when I saw the headlines on my phone, it felt like I’d stepped back in time with word of a coup in Mali. Didn’t we just have a coup there last year?
SOPHIE: There was, and in fact I’m sure residents of Mali are feeling a certain sense of deja vu over this latest development. And in fact, it’s the leader of the August 2020 military coup who’s once again taken control of Mali. He detained the interim president and prime minister on May the 24th.
JIMMY: These were the interim leaders. So they’ve only been in place since, what did you say, August?
SOPHIE: That’s correct, yeah.
JIMMY: And who’s the coup leader? For that matter, what was the justification he had for detaining the president and the prime minister?
SOPHIE: The leader is Colonel Assimi Goïta, who is a senior army commander who orchestrated the ousting of President Boubacar Keita in August last year. He claimed in a televised address on Tuesday that he had been forced to seize power from the interim government after it violated the terms of the transition charter. Specifically, earlier in the week, the interim president conducted a cabinet reshuffle in which two members of the military who were involved in last August’s coup were removed from their positions. Now Goïta says their dismissal, which was done without consultation with him, was a violation of the charter, which sets out the role of the interim government and that forced him to seize power.
JIMMY: I see. What have the reactions been to this second coup?
SOPHIE: Really universal condemnation from the UN, from ECOWAS, which is a West African economic body, and from multiple Western and African nations as well. The UN and ECOWAS in a joint statement called for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained leaders. And French President Macron has threatened sanctions on those responsible for this latest coup.
JIMMY: What should we be watching for? What do you think comes next from all this?
SOPHIE: Well, Goïta has pledged to fulfill the obligations that were set out in the deposed government’s transition charter, which includes holding elections in 2022. However, it’s quite unlikely that this will be accepted by the international community, particularly the UN peacekeeping mission, which had been overseeing Mali’s political transition. The UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting today to discuss the situation and ECOWAS also sent a delegation to the Malian capital Bamako. So we are awaiting statements from both those organizations, but possibly punitive measures as well.
JIMMY: With the exception of the leaders being detained, this all sounds to have been somewhat non-violent. Do you think it’ll stay that way? I mean, if elections are in 2022, that may sound nice to a coup leader, but 2022 is still quite a long ways away.
SOPHIE: I think that’s the biggest concern of the international community at this point as well, because Mali is facing an insurgency by jihadist groups. Now this began in 2012, when Mali’s former President Amadou Tomani Touré was ousted in a military coup. Now, these groups could capitalize on the current political instability to augment their control in some northern parts of the country. And there is also a risk, of course, of protests from Malian citizens who are dissatisfied with this new regime change such a short period of time after the previous regime change.
JIMMY: Just sounds like such a distressing time for Malians.
SOPHIE: It absolutely is. I think many of them must feel as though they are facing further uncertainty after what has been a very politically uncertain year.
JIMMY: Well, Sophie, thank you for the update. Sounds like something we’ll definitely want to be keeping an eye on and we’ll watch as this unfolds.
SOPHIE: Absolutely. We’ll be keeping an eye.
Jimmy: Take care.
JIMMY: Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Alex Moore, Jillian Stampher, Jeff Landset, and Ahmed Namatalla. Our interview featured editor Sophie Perryer and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
Until next time, thanks for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. You can, of course, subscribe for free. And if you have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
Top image: New Delhi station entrance. Source: Bruno Corpet, Wikimedia