Top Photo: The memorial for George Floyd in Minneapolis was erected shortly after he was killed by now-former officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020. (Photo: Lorie Shaull / Flickr)
Welcome to Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. We publish our forward-looking note each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. If this email was forwarded to you, and you like what you see, you can subscribe for free.
A look ahead:
June 25/ Sentencing for Derek Chauvin: Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd in May last year, will be sentenced Friday after an initial delay.
- What’s happened so far: Chauvin was one of four officers who killed Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest outside a convenience store in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. A bystander video of the arrest captured Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. The incident sparked worldwide protests and the largest civil rights movement in the United States in decades. In April, a jury found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter. The three other former officers involved in Floyd’s death are set to go on trial next March.
- The impact: Judge Peter Cahill, who served on the bench in Hennepin County, Minn., for 14 years, will deliver the sentencing two months after he oversaw the trial that convicted Chauvin on charges of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. While Chauvin’s attorney requested probation for his client, prosecutors requested a sentence of more than 30 years in prison. Depending on the sentencing, fresh protests could spark in the aftermath.
June 25/ Afghanistan’s president visits White House: President Joe Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will meet face-to-face for the first time Friday, as the United States continues to withdraw 8,600 troops from Afghanistan following the decades-long conflict.
- What’s happened so far: President Biden announced in April that all U.S. forces would leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, and the military has made substantial progress toward this goal, announcing this month that the drawdown was already more than 50 percent complete. Analysts have raised concerns that the Afghan military does not have sufficient firepower to retain control of the country with the Taliban claiming to have taken control of more than 50 districts since Biden’s announcement. Despite this, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the United States remains committed to Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline.
- The impact: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, will accompany Ghani during Friday’s visit. He is expected to seek assurances from Biden over continued U.S. support of Afghan government forces after the drawdown is complete. Biden is likely to call for renewed commitment to the Qatar-led peace talks, which have stalled in recent months.
June 26/ Tour de France begins: Cycling’s most prestigious race begins Saturday in Brest, France, with teams competing for the Tour de France’s famous yellow jersey. The race comes as France continues to lift lockdown restrictions.
- What’s happened so far: The 2021 Tour was originally supposed to start in Copenhagen but was moved to France due to the coronavirus pandemic and since Copenhagen will be hosting Euro 2020 matches. The 2020 Summer Olympics, moved to this year, necessitated an earlier start to the race, which was scheduled to begin in early July. The first stage takes place in France’s cycling heartland, from Brest to Landerneau, and moves gradually southeast.
- The impact: The race consists of 21 day-long stages taking place over 23 days, culminating in a final journey through the streets of Paris and ending on the Champs-Élysées. Spectators are expected to line roadsides across France, as is tradition, though they will be expected to observe coronavirus guidelines.
June 26/ Trump rally in Ohio: Former President Donald Trump is set to speak to supporters on Saturday at the first of several planned rallies to boost Republican allies running for Congress against ones who stood against his claims of election fraud.
- What’s happened so far: Trump will hold the event in Wellington, a small town outside of Cleveland, amid continuing restrictions on his ability to reach supporters on social media. The ex-president is expected to promote a former White House aide’s candidacy for a U.S. House seat now being held by one of 10 Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment earlier this year following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. Trump’s rally will take place the same day Arizona state’s Republican Senate-commissioned audit of the 2020 election is due.
- The impact: Although diminished, Trump’s ability to spread misinformation about the 2020 election continues to attract significant numbers of Republican voters and minimize opposition within the party. And while the Arizona recount won’t change the state’s certified results, it can potentially inspire similar efforts in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia, raising prospects of unrest and possibly violence by far-right groups who want Trump back in office.
June 27/ Springsteen returns to Broadway: New York City will take another step toward normalcy following the pandemic with the return of rock star Bruce Springsteen’s one-man show on Sunday.
- What’s happened so far: Springsteen’s show, featuring personal stories and a selection of his songs, originally ran from October 2017 until December 2018 to sold-out crowds. Broadway shut down in March 2020, originally planning for the hiatus to last one month. More than a year later, the closure remains in place. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would lift restrictions for most sectors of New York in mid-May, but specifically said Broadway would not be included due to logistics. Many shows announced reopening dates starting in August and September. Springsteen’s show, however, will open earlier with proof of vaccination.
- The impact: Coronavirus devastated New York City at the beginning of the pandemic. Now with a rising vaccination rate and a falling death rate, the city is working to return to the way things were in 2019 with a heavy focus on proving vaccination status. So far, New York is the only state to issue a “vaccine passport.” If it catches on and provides a way for people to attend these indoor events, more states may follow.
June 28/ India diesel protest: Transportation organizations in India plan to stage nationwide protests Monday to demand the regulation of diesel prices that spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.
- What’s happened so far: India’s transportation organizations intend to submit a memorandum and list of demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the protests. In addition to increased fuel prices, their concerns include varying tax rates across the country and limited relief to the sector.The organizations are demanding lower diesel prices, a decrease of taxes, a monthly installment moratorium of six months and further government aid to relieve economic pressure on workers of the sector.
- The impact: The transport organizations plans include road blockades, and while they are currently limited to Monday, it is expected that the protests could extend beyond June 28 if the demands of the collective are not met before the end of the month. According to All India Motor Transport Congress’ President Kultaran Singh Atwal, the organization has outlined a plan to call for an indefinite national strike in the first week of August if the situation persists.
June 28/ Global coalition meeting on Islamic State: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio will co-host a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on Monday in Rome.
- What’s happened so far: During Monday’s meeting, ministers from the 83-member coalition are expected to discuss, “ways to sustain pressure on ISIS remnants in Iraq and Syria, and to counter ISIS networks elsewhere, including in Africa,” months after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in Mozambique that left dozens of people dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. Blinken is in the midst of a week-long diplomatic swing through Europe, with stops in Berlin and Paris prior to the Global Coalition meeting, before wrapping up his trip at the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in the Italian cities of Bari and Matera.
- The impact: In recent weeks, U.S. officials have warned that extremist organizations like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda could regroup within two years of the departure of American troops from Afghanistan, while the number of attacks in Africa claimed by the Islamic State rose by more than a third from 2019 to 2020.
What else matters:
UN coordinates efforts to clean up Sri Lanka ship fire: A team of United Nations oil spill and chemical experts will head to Sri Lanka (members’ link) to clean up hazardous substances in waters surrounding the island nation after a Singapore-flagged container ship burned for a month and sank on June 17 off the capital Colombo, raising concerns about an environmental disaster. The country’s UN representative said the vessel, X-Press Pearl, caused “significant damage to the planet.”
- Watch for: The UN will coordinate international efforts and help Sri Lanka in assessing the damage, recovery efforts and preventing similar disasters in the future. Sri Lanka’s naval forces say the blaze, which broke out May 20 while X-Press Pearl was anchored northwest of Colombo, was caused by the vessel’s chemical cargo, including 25 tons of nitric acid. While most of the chemicals were burned in the fire, debris such as fiberglass and plastic pellets have already polluted nearby beaches, threatening the lives and livelihoods of the coastal population. Hundreds of marine carcasses — including turtles, dolphins and a blue whale — have also washed ashore since the vessel fire started.
Iran nuclear talks: With Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi officially anointed as president-elect of Iran, much attention now returns to the ongoing talks in Vienna involving Iran and other world powers seeking a return to compliance in the historic 2015 nuclear agreement. The talks have been ongoing for months now with all parties making steady progress to return to the status quo that existed before the United States pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy. In return, Iran took a series of steps away from compliance.
- Watch for: The first such round of meetings after the election took place Sunday in Vienna, with diplomats touting additional progress in what was the sixth round of talks. While significant progress is being made concerning technical details of compliance, there remains necessary maneuvering on the political front, according to diplomats involved in the talks. Regardless, with a seventh round of talks on the immediate horizon, an optimistic timeline for an agreement appears to be by mid-July. Raisi’s forthcoming inauguration in six weeks is providing a push, with the United States reportedly seeking an agreement before then in case Raisi’s administration decides to pursue a harder line in talks despite his intention to continue talks.
What’s on our radar in the coming weeks
June 24: Gibraltar abortion referendum; Resorts World Las Vegas scheduled to open; Microsoft to announce release of Windows 11
June 25: Aruba general election; sentencing for Derek Chauvin; Afghanistan’s president visits White House; euthanasia becomes legal in Spain
June 26: Hong Kong’s Apple Daily shuts down; former President Trump to hold rally in Wellington, Ohio; Tour de France begins
June 27: Round 2 of French regional elections; Springsteen returns to Broadway
June 28: Wimbledon tennis tournament begins; All India Motor Transport Congress nationwide protest; meeting of Global Coalition to discuss fight against Islamic State
July 1: 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party
July 4: Tokyo prefectural election
July 5: Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO of Amazon
July 6: Delhi High Court hearing on same-sex marriage in India
July 9: Isaac Herzog to be inaugurated as president of Israel; plea hearing set in Sarah Everard murder trial
July 11: Elections in Moldova; Bulgarian parliamentary election
July 13: 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Denver
July 14: Bastille Day military parade in Paris
July 16: Bank of Japan meeting
July 20: Planned launch of first crewed flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard