A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
After Joe Biden secured a decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary this week despite his name not appearing on the ballot, the Democratic nominating contest officially gets underway in South Carolina next Saturday (February 3) following the biggest shakeup of the presidential primary system in years. The decision to move the Palmetto State up in the Democratic calendar, stripping Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status, was designed to reflect the importance of Black voters to the party – though Biden’s support for the move has also been interpreted as a reward for the crucial role Rep. Jim Clyburn’s endorsement played in reviving Biden’s struggling campaign ahead of the state’s 2020 primary. Clyburn, as it happens, is due to take part in a Washington Post discussion on Tuesday (January 30) after warning that Democratic messaging isn’t breaking through the ‘MAGA wall’.
In Congress next week, all eyes will be on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on online child sexual exploitation scheduled for Wednesday (January 31), which is set to feature rare public testimony from Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok’s Shou Chew and Twitter’s Linda Yaccarino alongside the CEOs of Discord and Snap. Their appearances come after the committee announced in November it had been forced to enlist the US Marshals Service to personally subpoena the CEOs after the firms refused to cooperate, in what was described as a ‘remarkable departure from typical practice’. The hearing is part of a wider Senate effort to tackle the negative effects the internet can have on children, with bills introduced last year to force platforms to report child sex trafficking and enticement crimes and senators expressing concerns over the addictive nature of smartphones and social media.
It’s also a busy week in business news, with the Fed’s first interest rate decision of the year announced on Wednesday (January 31). Given widespread market expectations that the Fed will hold interest rates steady, the focus will likely be on Jay Powell’s press conference afterwards when the topic of potential future rate cuts is sure to come up. Next week will also see the second jobs report of the year on Friday (February 2) as well as a slew of earning reports from the likes of Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Meta, Apple and ExxonMobil.
Amid uncertainty in Congress about the likelihood of reaching an agreement on funding for Ukraine, European leaders gather in Brussels on Thursday (February 1) for an extraordinary summit aimed at agreeing on the bloc’s aid to Kyiv after Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban single-handedly blocked an agreement at their last summit in December.
The gathering follows the Turkish parliament’s vote this week approving Sweden’s accession to NATO, leaving Hungary the sole member of the alliance yet to sign off on Sweden’s membership application in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In the wake of the vote by Turkish lawmakers, Orban is said to have provoked fury by inviting Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson to Budapest to ‘negotiate’ over the issue, though he subsequently appeared to backtrack. Kristersson has agreed to talks in Budapest but appears keen to discuss the matter when both leaders are in Brussels next week.
Elections are scheduled in El Salvador on Sunday (February 4), and the country’s youthful president, Nayib Bukele, is expected to easily secure a second term despite a constitutional ban on leaders serving consecutive terms. Bukele, a baseball-cap wearing Bitcoin enthusiast, has introduced a series of hardline policies since taking office in 2019 aimed at tackling crime in the country. And while his mano dura (iron fist) policies, including the imposition of a state of emergency in 2022 that suspends key rights for suspects, have been criticized by some, the dramatic results in terms of reducing murders look likely to be handsomely rewarded at the ballot box.