Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Halima Mansoor discuss monsoon season in India and Pakistan, plus more on Kenya and Somalia reopening some land borders, municipal elections in Peru, Thailand's new parliament meeting and Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Halima Mansoor, Sophie Perryer, Irene Villora, Jimmy Lovaas and David Wyllie. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
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Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.
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 June 29
In this week’s forecast we’ve got a look at the monsoon season in Pakistan and India, Kenya and Somalia reopening some land borders, municipal elections in Peru, Thailand's new parliament meeting and Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.
You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter. I’ll throw a link to that in the show notes.
Monsoon season in India, Pakistan
Information compiled by Halima Mansoor
JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the monsoon season in India and Pakistan. For more on that I’ve got Factal Senior Editor Halima Mansoor.
JIMMY: Hello, Halima.
HALIMA: Hi, Jimmy. Thanks for having me.
JIMMY: Thanks for your time. You know, it's almost July so that must mean it's time for some monsoons and flooding. What can you tell us about all that?
HALIMA: Well, the summer monsoon has advanced across most of India. It hasn't arrived in Pakistan yet, but it's expected to make itself felt more prominently in the next few days. The impact has already been felt in India, where an earlier heatwave killed more than 90 people and destroyed some tomato crops. And those areas are currently feeling the cooling effect of the monsoon rains.
JIMMY: Well, what's the latest then? How are things at the moment?
HALIMA: Well, the monsoon remains a high-risk season in South Asia. It's already killed more than 20 people in India since the start and at least 21 in Pakistan, where it's in pre-monsoon incidents. So there is always a risk of things escalating. If you guys remember last year, Pakistan's floods killed more than 1,700 people between June and November. And those floods covered a third of the country at their peak. So we still have a way to go before we see how this pans out.
JIMMY: How about the impact from these monsoons on the areas outside of India and Pakistan? What kind of knock-on effects do you see with these storms?
HALIMA: Well, the monsoon is known as the lifeblood of India and Pakistan and the South Asia region's economy, which is in a large part agrarian. So, let's say India gets a good amount of rain, that might allow India to lift curbs that it imposed on sugar, wheat and rice exports. And it's the world's second biggest producer of wheat, rice and sugar. So a good monsoon could result in an easing on food inflation and a bad monsoon could heighten food inflation – and it would not just be limited to India or Pakistan. And if flooding in Pakistan this year sees similar levels as last year, the world will be expected to push in more aid to help people who are displaced; to help contain diseases such as malaria. And we know that the world is currently facing a, sort of like, donor fatigue due to money that is required and help that is required across the world by refugees, by war-struck countries. So a bad monsoon in Pakistan would not just be contained. The effects of it would not just be contained to Pakistan.
JIMMY: Well, Halima, considering all that, what do you think folks should be watching for next?
HALIMA: Well, if the Pakistan Met Department is, it has made an accurate prediction, this year will not be above average in terms of the rainfall expected. However, the Met department and the disaster agency of Pakistan have not ruled out extreme events such as flooding, urban flooding, hill torrents, snow melts; each of those come with associated long-term effects such as more disease, more water logging, more displacement. Those are all things we need to watch for. And over across in India, even though authorities are predicting an average monsoon season across most of the country, that does not rule out the more immediate impact that it has on people, which is again, deaths, injuries due to rain-related incidents, some displacement landslides. That's what I would be watching for.
JIMMY: Well, Halima, as always, I thank you for your time and thanks for keeping us informed. Appreciate it.
HALIMA: Thank you for having me, Jimmy.
JIMMY: Take care
Kenya-Somalia partially reopen land border
Information compiled by Sophie Perryer
JIMMY: Three border crossings between Kenya and Somalia will reopen by Saturday. That, following an agreement struck between the two nations in mid-May.
Kenya closed its land border with Somalia in 2011 following several incursions onto Kenyan soil by the militant group al-Shabab, which remains in control of large swaths of Somalia and continues to stage attacks against military and civilians.
Following a bilateral meeting earlier this year, the two nations agreed to reopen the border, initially at three key crossing points in a phased manner.
It’s a bid to improve trade and information sharing to tackle the ongoing scourge of al-Shabab.
Now, this reopening signals a further thawing of relations between Kenya and Somalia following several years of tensions over militant activity, a shared maritime border and Kenyan acknowledgement of the breakaway Somaliland region.
Kenya’s President William Ruto has faced domestic criticism for his decision to reopen the crossings after border regions experienced a spike in attacks attributed to al-Shabab, but Ruto has stood by his decision.
Municipal elections in Peru
Information compiled by Irene Villora
JIMMY: Voters in eight of Peru’s regions will once again choose new municipal leaders on Sunday.
The vote comes after 2022’s election results were tossed out in 12 districts due to lack of participation, an excess of null ballots and other irregularities.
Campaigning restrictions were enforced earlier this week and political rallies and demonstrations were banned starting on Friday.
A dry law also came into effect last week and will be enforced until Monday, with fines and jail time for those who sell alcoholic beverages.
Now, more than 22 million Peruvians are eligible to vote in these elections. They’ll elect 12 mayors and 60 local officials. It’s also the first polls since mass anti-government protests erupted across the country in December.
Demonstrators demanded early elections last year when Dina Boluarte replaced ousted President Pedro Castillo after he dissolved Congress.
A report by Amnesty International found that Peruvian security forces killed at least 25 protesters, including six children, in “extrajudicial executions.”
Government supporters hope the municipal elections can serve as an alternative to the dissolution of the current government.
Thailand’s new parliament meets
Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas
JIMMY: Thailand’s king will open a new parliamentary session on Monday. It will be the first time the country’s newly elected lawmakers meet following the May 14 general election.
The election in the spring saw the progressive Move Forward Party not only pull off a victory, but deliver a resounding rejection of royalist conservatives allied with a military that has led or backed the government since the coup in 2014.
Now, once the opening ceremony is completed, the Thai House of Representatives is expected to meet on Tuesday to elect a speaker.
At some point following that, the speaker will call for a joint session of parliament to vote for a new prime minister – and that’s a process that could bring more political turmoil.
While the Move Forward Party’s leader, 42-year-old Harvard grad Pita Limjaroenrat, says he has enough support to become prime minister, it remains to be seen if he truly has enough backers.
After all, his coalition is short dozens of seats to guarantee a majority and getting support from the Senate may prove to be a challenge considering all 250 Senators were appointed by the last military junta.
Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus
Information compiled by David Wyllie
JIMMY: Russia is set to start deploying tactical nuclear weapons into the territory of key ally Belarus on Friday.
That’s when special storage facilities are expected to be completed, though some weapons have already arrived in the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in March that he would station nuclear weapons in Belarus, comparing the move to NATO’s nuclear weapons sharing agreements that allows weapons to be stationed with allied military partners.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed his country has started taking delivery of the weapons but did not give details on how many or whether new facilities to house them had been completed.
Now, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has warned that deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus would be transferring weapons into the hands of a “crazy dictator.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Russia will retain control over the weapons and will make decisions on their usage.
Lukashenko promised rewards for those who join Russia and Belarus, proclaiming in an interview with state television, “there will be nuclear weapons for everyone.”
JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.
Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Sophie Perryer, Irene Villora, and David Wyllie. Our interview featured editor Halima Mansoor and it was produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing email@example.com
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
Copyright © 2023 Factal. All rights reserved.
Music: 'Factal Theme' courtesy of Andrew Gospe