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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jimmy Lovaas, Sophie Perryer, Jess Fino and Imana Gunawan. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
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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 July 1st.
In this week’s forecast we’ve got Carnival Cruise Line restarting operations, silent protests in Burkina Faso, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stepping down, a Delhi high court hearing on same-sex marriage in India and a look at Brazil’s mining industry.
You can read about most of these stories and more in our weekly Forecast newsletter. For more on the situation involving Brazil’s mining industry, be sure to subscribe to our free monthly newsletter called The Debrief. We’ll have a link to it in the show notes.
Carnival Cruise Line restarts operations
Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas
JIMMY: On Saturday, the Carnival Vista cruise ship is set to sail from Port of Galveston, Texas. It will be the first time a Carnival Cruise Line ship has sailed from the United States in more than a year.
But unlike its past journeys, this time all passengers are required to be vaccinated against coronavirus for at least two weeks before boarding the ship.
Now, at least two cruise ships that recently returned to sea have already seen positive coronavirus cases and a third ship’s journey was delayed after crewmembers tested positive.
The CDC has issued comprehensive guidelines for ships, including screenings and increased personal protective equipment, but the rules have met resistance in some states.
Texas, for example, has a new law that prohibits businesses from requiring proof of vaccination and Gov. Greg Abbot appears to have suggested that the law applies to Carnival.
Meanwhile in Florida, a federal judge ruled the CDC’s orders “exceed the authority delegated” to the agency and granted a preliminary injunction blocking the CDC from enforcing the order in Florida.
Of course, cruise lines are anxious to get back to business. Carnival, which operates several cruise lines with a combined fleet of more than 100 vessels, recently reported more than $2 billion in losses in its latest quarter and more than $14 billion since the pandemic started.
What’s more, the shutdown has impacted thousands of workers and many ports that rely on the tourism sector to keep things afloat.
For its part, Carnival appears confident they can fill ships. In fact, CEO Arnold Donald says demand is outstripping supply.
Burkina Faso opposition to hold silent protests
Information compiled by Sophie Perryer
JIMMY: Also on Saturday, opposition groups in Burkina Faso are expected to march throughout the country as part of silent demonstrations. They’ll be protesting against the government’s failure to tackle a growing jihadist insurgency.
Groups linked with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have been gaining ground in Burkina Faso and the wider Sahel region since 2012.
In fact, as many as 160 people were killed in an attack on the village of Solhan on June 4th -- an event opposition leader Eddie Komboigo said “represents the climax of the slaughter” by Islamist groups.
Burkinabé President Roch Kaboré urged the opposition to call off the demonstrations. He says they “will not make it possible to overcome terrorism” in the country.
Despite the demonstration, political instability in the region and France’s scaling back of its Operation Barkhane force will likely make it very challenging for Burkina Faso to take substantive action on the jihadist insurgency in the coming months.
Along with the military challenges that come with targeting disparate groups in a vast and largely lawless region, the country is also facing a refugee crisis, with more than 1.2 million people displaced by the violence.
Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO
Information compiled by Jess Fino
JIMMY: On Monday, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, will step down as chief executive officer of Amazon. He will, however, continue to serve as executive chairman of the multinational tech company’s board.
Bezos announced the news back in February. And then during the company’s annual shareholder meeting last month, he said he would be stepping down Monday, on the same day Amazon was incorporated in 1994.
In the years since, Amazon has become one of the most successful companies in the world, reaching a net value of $1 trillion last year.
Bezos, who also recently endured a public divorce from his wife of more than 20 years, is himself worth nearly $200 billion.
Now, in stepping down as CEO, Bezos is expected to focus his time on other initiatives like his Earth Fund, the Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund.
Andy Jassy, who currently leads Amazon's cloud computing business, will become the new CEO of the company.
Analysts say that move signals that Amazon Web Services is at the core of the business. It’s the division that brings the largest amount of sales.
Others have also suggested that Big Tech could be nearing the end of the founder-CEO era, with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin also stepping down from their respective roles back in 2019.
Delhi high court hearing on same-sex marriage in India
Information compiled by Imana Gunawan
JIMMY: Also on Monday, The high court in Delhi, India, will continue hearing petitions seeking legal recognitions for same-sex couples in the country.
In late May, the court adjourned hearings until July 6, with the solicitor general saying the court would only hear “extremely urgent” matters during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2018, India’s Supreme Court struck down parts of a colonial era-section of the Indian Penal Code that deemed consensual homosexual acts as illegal.
However, the legal system still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, leading several couples to file petitions with the Delhi High Court.
The central government responded this past February by submitting an affidavit to the court stating that in India, marriage was a “bond between a biological man and a biological woman,” therefore same-sex couples could not claim a “fundamental” right to be recognized under the country’s laws.
Now, legal recognition of same-sex marriage would mean those couples would be granted legal protection and rights afforded to heterosexual marriages, such as property rights or end-of-life decisions.
India’s central government, however, says changes to the existing marriage laws could cause “complete havoc” within the country’s personal laws, with potential implications for laws on marriages of people with different faiths.
While it remains to be seen whether the court will eventually rule in favor of same-sex couples, the cases have brought the issue into the public eye in a country where discussing topics on LGBTQ rights can still be considered taboo.
The Debrief: Brazil’s mining industry
Information compiled by Imana Gunawan
JIMMY: Our last item for today is on issues linked to Brazil’s mining industry. Factal editor Imana Gunawan wrote a report on that for our free monthly newsletter called The Debrief. I recently spoke with Imana about that.
JIMMY: Hi, Imana. Thanks for talking to us today about Brazil.
IMANA: Thanks for having me.
JIMMY: So I got a chance to check out your report in The Debrief. First, thanks for pulling all that together. It definitely helps shed some light on a pretty troubling situation that's probably going under a lot of folks’ radar. Can you kind of catch us up to speed on the latest?
IMANA: Yeah, so back on June 23, outside of Brazil's Congress in Brasilia, there were protests that turned pretty violent with tear gas and rubber bullets actually deployed against protesters and indigenous activists. So this event was pretty much the combination of two weeks of protests against new legislation that would undermine legal protection for indigenous territories and open them up to commercial agriculture and mining. But, you know, despite the recent attention on it, these protests are really just the latest example of Brazil's complicated relationship with mining.
JIMMY: How important is mining to Brazil?
IMANA: Pretty important. Since Portuguese colonization, Brazil's mining wealth basically has stimulated the economy. The country is actually home to one of the largest mineral deposits in the world, earning it around $30 billion annually in exports.
JIMMY: The protests have also been accompanied by renewed worries about safety issues, is that correct?
IMANA: Yeah, I think safety issues have been kind of an ongoing thing over the past few years. And obviously, of course, recently. Specifically, in 2015, there was a collapse of the Germano dam complex in the city of Marianna and it was considered one of the worst environmental disasters in Brazil's history. And more than three years later, a collapse of a second dam containing mining waste, which is also known as tailings, killed 270 people in Brumadinho. The two collapses combined killed nearly 300 people and polluted hundreds of miles of waterways, including even the Atlantic Ocean. And both dams were actually affiliated with the same company, Vale. It's the largest of more than 8,000 mining companies in Brazil and the top global producer of iron ore. So, you know, all that aside, in recent weeks there was also a government audit that found that another one of these dams, owned again by Vale, in the Minas Gerais state is at risk of collapse. And yet another one was evacuated due to similar hazards facing the collapsed Brumadinho dam. The company has denied the imminent risks facing these structures. But, you know, the government did find safety issues.
JIMMY: That is an alarming number of dam collapses and a shocking number of deaths. What's the government doing about this?
IMANA: Well, some would argue it's probably not enough. The Brazilian government has in the past struggled to enforce safety measures and enact regulations. In early 2021, the national mining agency said it would hire 40 additional safety inspectors, which is more than doubling the current tally. And because of the lack of inspectors, some dams, as you know, can assume were not being monitored for long times, often three or four years in a row. And so this lack of government inspectors means that companies can self regulate and instead hire independent auditors to verify the dam safety. And, you know, obviously, critics of these companies say that that causes a conflict of interest.
JIMMY: I want to go back to something you said earlier. I know you said the recent violence in front of the congress was basically a culmination of two weeks of protests, but these types of protests aren't exactly new, are they?
IMANA: Definitely not. Legislation for the land demarcation in indigenous territories was actually proposed initially by Brazil's powerful farming groups in 2007. But it received fresh impetus under the current president Jair Bolsonaro's administration. And so if approved, you know, a lot of indigenous rights advocates say it would further displace them, you know, indigenous traditional communities, many of whom have already faced increased violence from illegal miners and land grabbers. So the relationship between Bolsonaro and indigenous peoples has been pretty hostile, I would say.
JIMMY: So what's next? What should people be watching for?
IMANA: Yeah, so there is a general election coming up in 2022, so there is potential for a new administration and maybe even one with clear pro-environment agendas. But by that point, the damage might already be done.
JIMMY: I see. Well, thank you for the insight on this.
IMANA: Thank you so much for having me.
JIMMY: Hey, if listeners want to read more on this, what do you suggest?
IMANA: Yeah, definitely check out our latest issue of The Debrief newsletter. It also has a ‘Further Reading’ section that has links to additional sources and materials that you can check out.
JIMMY: That's great. Thanks Imana.
IMANA: Thank you so much for having me.
JIMMY: Take care.
JIMMY: Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jimmy Lovaas, Sophie Perryer, Jess Fino, and Imana Gunawan.
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 email@example.com
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
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