TRUMP PIVOTS TO INFRASTRUCTURE
CINCINNATI VISIT TO FOCUS ON WATERWAYS
Donald Trump will visit Cincinnati today to muster support for his promised $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan.
The plan will focus on waterways, roads and other infrastructure projects and will be spruiked during a week-long nationwide tour. The push began on Monday, when the president released plans to privatise the US’ air-traffic support system over a three-year period. In Cincinnati, Trump will address the administration’s proposed upgrades to some 19,300 kilometres of inland waterways, dams, locks and ports, which are vital to transporting goods produced inland to coastal cities and international ports.
However, the administration’s infrastructure investment drive has been criticised for putting too much emphasis on privatisation. Critics also say that plans to significantly cut federal funding for transportation will heap pressure on local and state funding.
Hit by a slew of major controversies over the past few months—particularly on foreign policy issues—leading to 54% of Americans disapproving of Mr Trump; the president will be hoping to pivot away from these issues and refocus on a core election pledge to bring voters back onside on Wednesday.
PRIVATISING UKRAINIAN FARMS
DISSENT OVER IMF-MANDATED REFORMS
Ukraine’s parliament will begin discussing controversial IMF-mandated agricultural land reforms today. The country’s Agrarian Party, which represents Ukraine’s farmers, says it’s collected a million signatures opposing the proposed changes and will hold a 20,000-person march while lawmakers deliberate the changes.
The reforms are part of a $17.5 billion IMF package agreed to in 2015. In exchange, Kiev has been told to combat corruption and restructure its banks. Last year, a fact-finding mission concluded that privatising publicly owned farmland would de-incentivise local corruption, increase productivity and add billions to the economy; the Fund has now made a prerequisite for the fifth $1.9 billion loan tranche.
But the proposal is unpopular with some Ukrainians, who believe the reforms will lead to a ‘land-grab’ from the rich.
Ukraine has been slow to enact reforms and combat corruption over the past two years—since the IMF loan was announced in 2015 the country has actually fallen one place in Transparency International’s corruption index to 131 out of 176 countries.
FUTURE-PROOFING DATA PROTECTION
TOP MINDS MEET IN VIENNA
Almost every personal interaction and financial transaction involve some facet of online activity these days—from shopping to messaging to finding your way around a busy city. While more data is being inputted and used every day, the pace of technological innovation means online privacy regulation is struggling to keep up. Today, top European authorities, business leaders and researchers will meet in Vienna to discuss how the EU can better regulate this crucial aspect of modern life.
Currently, EU data regulation is governed by the Data Protection Directive—a 20-year-old law written before the smartphone or big data were even conceived. While a new EU data privacy law is scheduled to supersede this legislation in 2018, this too will likely find itself obsolete in the coming years, especially as society moves towards integrating things like artificial intelligence and brain-computer interfaces into every-day-life.
Attendees at today’s summit in Vienna will discuss how these new technologies will impact current laws and explore ways to future-proof the legislative drafting process.
Lebanese lawmakers will push to finalise a new electoral law before their term expires on June 20. The new legislation, which will redraw the electoral map from 26 districts to 15, has proved extremely difficult due to the sectarian nature of Lebanese politics; concerns of gerrymandering have been raised by ethnic and religious minorities. The country’s top leaders reached an initial agreement last Thursday, raising hopes of an end to the political crisis.
Canada will announce its defence policy for the next two decades. The White Paper will outline large equipment acquisitions, which are expected to be pushed back to 2020 in an attempt to cut costs. The announcement was delayed until after Canadian officials had spoken to the Trump administration, causing uproar at home. Canada spends 1% of its GDP on defence, making it one of the lowest spending NATO allies.