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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jimmy Lovaas, David Wyllie, Lara von der Brelie, Jess Fino and Rebecca Bratek. 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 September 16th.
In this week’s forecast we’ll look at the rally planned at the US Capitol, Canada’s federal election, the corruption trial of former South African President Jacob Zuma, a Polish hearing on an EU law and Biden’s vaccine mandate.
You can read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter. You can find a link to that in the show notes.
U.S. Capitol rally
Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas
JIMMY: Supporters of those jailed in connection to the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol are expected to hold rallies across the United States on Saturday. The main rally is scheduled for noon on the Capitol’s West Lawn, while smaller rallies are expected in at least 16 states.
Authorities are concerned about the “Justice For J6” rallies, as they’re being called, particularly in Washington, D.C.
Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe also stressed caution, urging authorities to take the potential for violence “more seriously” than they did in the lead up to January’s unrest.
Now, the rally is being organized by Look Ahead America, a group created by former Trump campaign worker Matt Braynard. He has said the rally is “demanding justice” for those arrested and Ashli Babbit, the woman who was fatally shot while trying to breach a barricaded door at the Capitol. Still, Braynard has called for a peaceful protest.
But while his organization claims a “perfect safety record” at its previous events and says they only expect 700 participants at the Capitol, it’s hard to overstate the implications of any violence should it occur.
Police are already trying to discern if recent security incidents in the area are connected to the upcoming rally.
Earlier this week, U.S. Capitol Police arrested a California man near the Democratic National Committee headquarters after finding he had multiple illegal bladed weapons in a pickup truck adorned with swastikas and other white supremacist symbols.
Canadian federal election
Information compiled by David Wyllie
JIMMY: Voters across Canada’s 13 provinces and territories will go to the polls Monday to vote in the country’s federal election, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party of Canada seeking re-election as the largest bloc in the House of Commons.
Now, this whole process actually started in August when Trudeau surprised the public by calling a snap election. He told voters he needed a fresh mandate to govern the country in order to implement his party’s plans to help Canada recover from the pandemic.
Expecting to receive credit for his handling of the pandemic,Trudeau instead saw his poll numbers drop and now looks to be in a precarious position.
Canadians have already voted in record numbers with some 5.8 million ballots cast in the four days of advance voting.
Now, Trudeau is seeking to regain a majority in this election after his party lost their parliamentary majority in 2019.
But, polls show a tightening race in recent weeks, with the Conservative Party of Canada gaining ground amid a strong roster of smaller parties.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh’s popularity may also serve as a foil, peeling off voters from the Liberals.
Trudeau’s hopes of an overall majority now look remote, with forecasts of a potentially reduced minority government or even a possible defeat.
Zuma corruption trial restarts
Information compiled by Lara von der Brelie
JIMMY: Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial is set to continue Thursday, having been postponed earlier this month.
Zuma is facing 16 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering for his involvement in a 1990s arms deal.
Since then, however, the former president has been granted special leave from prison on medical grounds by the head of the country’s Correctional Services — who is alleged to be a strong ally of Zuma.
Zuma is now due to appear in court in person though and he’ll need to supply medical evidence if he is to seek a further delay in the hearing.
Of course, if he is granted further medical parole, he’ll be following in the footsteps of other high-profile inmates, including his ally Schabir Shaik, who was granted special leave in 2009 from corruption charges on the basis that he was terminally ill.
He is, of course, still alive.
Zuma, meanwhile, is also expected to ask for the case’s public prosecutor to recuse himself before the trial gets underway on the grounds that he is biased.
Polish hearing on primacy of EU law
Information compiled by Jess Fino
JIMMY: On Wednesday, Poland’s Constitutional Court will rule on whether the Polish Constitution or European Union law has primacy in the country in a hearing that has been postponed four times.
Earlier this year, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked his country’s Constitutional Court to rule on whether Poland’s constitution or EU treaties take precedence.
The request follows a long-running dispute with the EU over changes to the court system in Poland.
According to the Polish government, EU treaties don’t give the bloc the right to interfere with the country’s judicial system.
It comes after the European Commission warned Poland that it could face financial sanctions if it doesn't comply with two decisions made by the European Court of Justice over Poland’s national disciplinary regime.
Now, should Poland’s top court give precedence to Polish law, the ruling could pose a threat to the EU’s legal order.
European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova warned it could lead to “Europe a la carte,” with each country applying the EU law differently.
Finally, some argue this legal procedure could hurt Poland’s long-term future in the European Union, at a time when it relies on the EU to revive its economy following the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden vaccine mandate
Information compiled by Rebecca Bratek
JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is on the Biden administration’s new coronavirus vaccine mandate. For more on that I recently spoke with Factal Senior Editor Rebecca Bratek.
JIMMY: Hi, Rebecca.
JIMMY: Alright, enough for the pleasantries, let's just dig into government regulations and disease.
REBECCA: Sounds good.
JIMMY: Hey, last week President Biden announced a new vaccine mandate and I guess to start with, what exactly is the mandate? You know, what's covered by these rules?
REBECCA: Okay, good question. There are two different mandates, or better to call them directives. The first one, it mandates that all federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus. There is no test-out option. They are offering exemptions for sincerely held religious beliefs or medical exemptions and things like that. But, essentially, the Biden administration expects everyone who works for the government is going to be vaccinated. The second is more of a directive to the OSHA arm of the Labor Department to create a rule that says large companies, which are defined as companies with 100 or more employees, those companies must mandate vaccines or a weekly testing option. That essentially could affect up to 100 million workers throughout the entire United States, from companies doing, you know, healthcare or teachers or giant tech companies, things like that. And, you know, it's up to those employers to decide, you know, are we going to mandate the vaccines or are we going to let our employees be tested?
JIMMY: So a mandate without enforcement is basically just a suggestion. Do these mandates actually have teeth?
REBECCA: Yeah, so the idea behind them is that they do. So, for federal workers who refused to get vaccinated, and if they don't have a valid religious exemption or medical exemption, they could lose their jobs. You know, that's a hard choice for a lot of people. Do I get vaccinated or do I lose my job? The OSHA rule for large companies is a little bit more loose. The idea is that if these companies that have 100 or more employees don't comply with the rules, they could be fined up to $14,000 per violation. So that's, you know, if someone refuses to get vaccinated, and they're not getting tested, that would be a violation. If someone, you know, if the company is not even trying to mandate any sort of thing, that could be a violation. But OSHA still has not released its final guidance and a lot of companies are really trying to figure out how they're going to enforce it, when they're going to start enforcing it and what they will choose to do with their employees if they don't get vaccinated.
JIMMY: How have the mandates been received?
REBECCA: You know, it's been mixed. So we have a lot of people who are, you know, hailing the decision; a lot of people who are vaccinated, you know, have felt that they've been unfairly, kind of, you know, persecuted for doing the right thing, which is, you know, something Biden talked, touched on in his speech last week. He talked about how Americans are growing impatient. But on the other hand, you have a lot of Republican governors and lawmakers who are already starting to challenge these directives. Nine states have already enacted laws banning mandates in some form, whether that's, you can't mandate it for school children or, you know, people who have sincerely held religious beliefs. So they're putting these laws on the book. You also have other states threatening to sue the Biden administration for the new mandates. Arizona’s attorney general announced that he's going to sue the administration for the OSHA rule, arguing that it's unconstitutional to force citizens to receive the vaccine. Whether that could be held up in court remains to be seen.
JIMMY: How's the public's response been?
REBECCA: You know, I think a lot of people who have chosen not to be vaccinated, feel very strongly in their beliefs that they don't want to be vaccinated. We've seen some protests across the country. They haven't been terribly large. I think it's fair to remember that the majority of Americans still are already vaccinated. Almost 54% of all Americans, and that's Americans of all ages, including those under 12, have been vaccinated. It's a little bit higher for people over the age of 12 just because we haven't yet cleared the vaccine for people under 12. But still, a majority of Americans are vaccinated or are making plans to be vaccinated.
JIMMY: Well, besides just watching to see how the mandates hold up to pressure, what else should folks be looking for?
REBECCA: Yeah, that's a good question. So cases are still on the rise in much of the United States, mostly in the US South where there are low rates of vaccination. So these states that are having problems within their hospital systems, whether that's, you know, they're running out of ICU beds, as I think they have in Mississippi and Tennessee and some other states. We're also seeing some states running out of oxygen or other medical supplies, something that hasn't really been a problem since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 when we were, you know, just kind of unprepared. And we're also, you know, starting to see reports of hospitals coming up with plans to ration care. A hospital in New York State, in upstate New York, had to close down its ward for delivering babies just because so many nurses quit. So we're seeing things like that. So it's not just care that's based on coronavirus, but we're seeing the spread through the whole system. But I think it's positive to note that analysts, especially Goldman Sachs, predicts that the mandates could lead to at least 12 million more Americans getting the vaccine. And with more people protected, we can spur the economic recovery that we really need right now. We'll have more people going back to work, more people, you know, participating in the labor market. And, you know, it just really would help the United States come back and get through the end of this pandemic.
JIMMY: Well, I suppose we'll see how it all pans out in the weeks ahead. Thanks for bringing us up to speed Rebecca.
REBECCA: Of course, no problem. Anytime.
JIMMY: Take care.
JIMMY: Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors David Wyllie, Lara von der Brelie and Jess Fino. Our interview featured editor Rebecca Bratek 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
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