Listen to the full podcast episode here:
- Six weeks after an unprecedented heat wave shattered records and left hundreds dead in British Columbia, Washington state and Oregon, people across the region are again facing high temperatures that started Wednesday and are expected to continue through the end of the week.
- The Venezuelan government and the opposition have agreed to engage in talks expected to begin Friday in Mexico to solve the country’s political crisis.
- The European Commission warned Poland must comply with two decisions made by the European Court of Justice by Monday or face financial sanctions.
- Restaurant patrons in New York CIty will need to show proof they’re vaccinated against coronavirus starting Monday, thanks to a new mandate from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
- Greece wildfires — an interview with Factal editor Amy Pessetto.
These stories and more are available in our weekly Forecast email and you can subscribe for free.
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 August 12th.
In this week’s forecast we’ve got the Pacific Northwest heatwave, political talks in Venezuela, Poland facing a European Union deadline, New York City’s vaccination mandate and the wildfires ravaging Greece.
You can read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.
Pacific Northwest heatwave
Information compiled by Joe Veyera
JIMMY: Just six weeks after an unprecedented heat wave shattered records and left hundreds dead in British Columbia, Washington state and Oregon, people across the Pacific Northwest are once again facing high temperatures.
Seattle is even expected to see multiple days in the mid-to-upper 90s.
What’s more, with the heat also comes an increased fire risk. That’s got Northern California officials concerned about what multiple days of triple-digit temperatures may mean for the Dixie Fire. That blaze is now the largest single fire in state history.
Now, with little overnight cooling expected before temperatures return to normal over the weekend, the latest heat wave remains a significant threat to vulnerable populations in an area of the United States known for its lack of home air conditioning.
In places like Portland, preparations are already underway to open cooling centers and deliver food and water to those in need.
Venezuela political talks expected
Information compiled by Irene Villora
JIMMY: On Friday, talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition are expected to begin in an effort to resolve the country’s political crisis.
Mexico will host the negotiations between Nicolás Maduro’s government and the opposition led by Juan Guaido — the man who 20 countries recognized as Venezuela’s interim president in 2019.
Now, this will be the third time a dialogue between the parties has taken place. Previous attempts in 2016 and 2019 failed despite international mediation.
And although at least four opposition parties and some high government officials are expected to participate, it remains unclear if Maduro or Guaido will personally sit at the negotiations table.
Nonetheless, some of the main issues on the table will likely be the release of political prisoners, the withdrawal of economic sanctions and the establishment of an electoral timeline.
And while the government is seeking to put an end to the sanctions imposed on top officials and state-owned industries, the opposition hopes to regain political participation.
Finally, Maduro recently said the communication between both parties before the talks is “going well.” Still, the hypothetical success of the negotiations is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on the lives of Venezuelans, as a way out of the economic crisis has not been included in the agenda.
Deadline for Poland to comply with EU ruling
Information compiled by Jess Fino
Tensions between Poland and the European Union have been rising ever since the country started remodeling its judicial system five years ago. Poland passed several laws giving politicians sweeping powers over the judiciary, prompting the EU to launch legal proceedings.
And that’s led to a bit of a legal back-and-forth between Poland and the EU.
Last month, Poland’s Supreme Court ruled that the measures the EU court imposed on the country’s judicial system were unconstitutional. The Polish court argued that domestic issues regarding the judiciary remain under the purview of Polish authorities.
But a few days later, the EU court said that the disciplinary regime for judges in Poland is not compatible with EU law.
Now, despite Poland’s recent announcement that it would scrap the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Chamber in a bid to avoid EU sanctions, a spokesperson for the EU Commission said the deadline remained unchanged as officials continue to examine Poland’s decision.
And while Polish officials have argued that “legal solutions in force in Poland” were similar to those in other member states, an EU report found public and corporate opinion of the Polish justice system is deteriorating.
Also last month, the European Commission launched legal cases against some regions in Poland over LGBTQ discrimination, further escalating the tensions between the European Union and Poland.
New York City launches vaccination mandate
Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas
JIMMY: Starting Monday, restaurant patrons in New York CIty will need to show proof they’re vaccinated against coronavirus. That’s thanks to a new mandate from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The order, which is the first of its kind in the United States, also requires proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine when accessing other indoor public settings such as gyms and entertainment centers.
Mayor de Blasio announced the new mandate August 3rd, calling it the “Key to NYC Pass.”
People can prove they’re vaccinated by showing a vaccination card or by using either the city or state’s vaccine pass smartphone app.
And while other U.S. cities have yet to follow suit, several countries in Europe have already implemented a “vaccine passport.”
In some places, such as France and Greece, these mandates were met with widespread protests.
Now, New York City’s mandate will be phased in with inspections and enforcement starting the week of September 13th. And it’s being billed as a “new approach” the city is taking to assist in the fight against the Delta variant.
De Blasio also says it’s time for people to see vaccination as “literally necessary to living a good and full and healthy life.”
Still, some have raised concerns over the mandate. From privacy and efficacy concerns over apps and vaccination records to expected legal challenges, it will no doubt be a hot topic in the coming weeks.
Information compiled by Amy Pessetto
JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is on the wildfires ravaging Greece. For more on that I recently spoke with Factal editor Amy Pessetto.
JIMMY: Hey Amy.
AMY: Hi Jimmy, how are you?
JIMMY: I’m good.
JIMMY: Hey, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about Greece today. Over the past week or so I’ve seen some pretty incredible images coming out of there. The scale of the wildfires looks horrendous. What can you tell us about them? Is it as bad as it looks?
AMY: Yeah, yeah, it’s pretty bad out there. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it was a “natural disaster of unprecedented proportions.” We’ve got more than 500 wildfires that are still burning across the country.
JIMMY: That’s awful. What’s the evacuation situation like? I saw a video of people fleeing by boat. I can’t imagine that’s a good sign.
AMY: Yeah, no, there’s a lot of islands. It’s all along that coastal area and so we see a lot of evacuations by boat. The Greek Coast Guard says it has evacuated almost 3,000 people – residents and tourists from Evia, the second largest island in Greece. More than half of that island has burned. And we’ve seen evacuations in more than 60 villages and settlements. We’ve had residents fleeing by boats; entire villages have been destroyed. There is also burning in areas in the Peloponnese, including Mani, Messsinia and in ancient Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games. Fortunately, there have been no damages to the world heritage sites out there.
JIMMY: Do we know what started the fire?
AMY: We don’t know. The causes are still to be determined. I think they’re focused more on putting out the fires than determining their causes right now. Still some heatwave, the worst heat in decades going on there, accompanied by months of drought. We’ve also seen wildfires in the areas in Turkey and Italy and Algeria.
JIMMY: How’s the government response been to this?
AMY: So Mitsotakis has just approved a supplemental budget of about 500 million euro for people who have lost homes and property in the wildfires. And the Greek government has said it will offer one-time payments of about 6000 euro to injured residents. We’ve also seen other countries pitching in sending firefighting planes, food and other aid. About 20 countries have done that so far.
JIMMY: That’s great.
AMY: Yeah, absolutely.
JIMMY: Well, besides just looking for better weather, what else should we be watching for?
AMY: I think we’ll definitely see the investigations into what caused some of these fires starting to ramp up. So that’ll be worth watching. Some criticism has emerged about how the government has handled the fires. Mitsotakis has apologized for “any weakness on the part of the government.” And the fire chief in Greece has said that authorities “truly did what was humanly possible.” So I think that they are working on it and they are preparing for some criticism to come.
JIMMY: Well, I suppose we’ll know for sure in the coming days here. Thanks for the update, Amy. Appreciate it.
AMY: Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much, Jimmy, good to talk to you.
JIMMY: Take care.
JIMMY: Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Joe Veyera, Irene Villora, Jess Fino and me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our interview featured editor Amy Pessetto 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 hello at factal dot com.
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
Top photo: A satellite image shows the extent of the burned area on the Greek island of Evia. Source: European Space Agency