SPOTLIGHT: THE MEANING OF MUHAMMAD ALI
Today marks the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Later this week, the man who for decades was the worldâ€™s most famous Muslim, and arguably its most famous person of any religion or race, will be laid to rest in an Islamic ceremony in the heartland of the American South. More than 35 years after his last boxing match, 14 years after the 9/11 attacks, and nearly eight years after the election of Barack Obama, the death of Muhammad Ali is an occasion to reshuffle the proverbial deck in the ways we think and talk about the front page of our times: the United States and the world, African-Americans, global Islam, sports, fame, faith â€" and more. That he became a figure of global unity and understanding after he hung up his gloves, is a testament to the character of the man. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz recalled when Ali tried, in vain, to save the life of the Jewish reporter Daniel Pearl, taken hostage by al-Qaeda. But what makes his widely-lauded humanitarian acts even more powerful was that heâ€™d first risen to prominence by disturbing the status quo with a singular self-confidence fused by both physical and intellectual prowess. Even as he is eulogized, before the burial in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, Aliâ€™s complicated life is a reflection of our complicated times. But also a reminder that doing good is at least as important as being great. Muhammad Aliâ€™s story is one that transcends and endures. We tracked down print newspapers around the world (from 23 countries!) that featured his passing on their front pages. Have a look here.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Holy Islamic month of Ramadan begins.
- 8th annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue opens in Beijing.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Washington for a three-day visit.
JORDAN INTEL OFFICERS KILLED
Three Jordanian intelligence officers were among five people killed in what officials are describing as a â€œterrorist attackâ€ in a Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of the capital city Amman, Al Jazeera reports.
â€" ON THIS DAY
Tetris and Levi Strauss blue jeans are in todayâ€™s 57-second shot of history.
FAVORITE TRAILS IN PERU PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Former Wall Street investor Pedro Pablo Kuczynski holds a narrow lead over his opponent Keiko Fujimori to become Peruâ€™s next president, El Comercio reports. According to the latest estimates, Kuczynski has taken a slight lead with 50,52% of the votes, while Fujimori is right behind with 49,48%, with 88% of votes counted.
CLINTON WINS PUERTO RICO
Hillary Clinton has moved closer to the Democratic nomination with important wins in the Virgin Islands on Saturday and in Puerto Rico yesterday, putting her less than 30 delegates away from becoming the partyâ€™s official White House candidate, AP reports. This comes ahead of the final round of primaries in New Jersey, California and four other states.
INSURGENT LEADING ROME MAYORAL RACE
Virginia Raggi of Italyâ€™s anti-establishment Five Star Movement, won the first round of a mayoral election in Rome, with the party also making important gains in other cities, La Stampa reports. Raggi, who campaigned hard against endemic corruption, could become the first female mayor of the Eternal City if she wins the runoff vote on June 19.
Are you familiar with the designations mipster, hijabista or turbanista? Writing for Lausanne-based daily Le Temps, Nic Ulmi introduces us to the so-called â€œmipsterâ€ phenomenon â€" a trendy niche at the crossroads between the worlds of fashion and Islam: â€œFor pious Islam, itâ€™s a dilution of faith into consumerism. For the identity concerns of a part of the Western opinion, the â€˜chic hijabâ€™ trend is, instead, â€˜re-Islamizationâ€™ of formerly secularized Muslim populations, or even an Islamization project of the world in general.
In the eyes of those in touch with the reality on the ground, the phenomenon is taking root simultaneously in two movements: a revival of religious practices and the assumption of the Western liberal-consumerist culture. This converging momentum leads to new hybrid identities, with varying elements of both religion and consumption.â€
Read the full article, Muslim And Hipster, Why â€œMipsterâ€ Fashion Is Trending.
U.S. REPORTER KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN
NPR journalist David P. Gilkey was killed yesterday in Afghanistan while on assignment with an Afghan army unit. NPR's Afghan interpreter Zabihullah Tamanna and an Afghan soldier were also killed when grenades hit their vehicle.
SWITZERLAND SAYS NO TO BASIC INCOME FOR ALL
Close to 77% of Swiss voters have rejected proposed legislation for an unconditional income for all adults that supporters had suggested could be as high as 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,560). But according to Le Temps, the people behind the initiative are â€œconfident their time will come.â€
RELIC OF JOHN PAUL II STOLEN FROM COLOGNE CATHEDRAL
A cloth with a drop of blood from canonized Pope John Paul II was stolen from the Cologne Cathedral, Der Spiegel reports. The relic is believed to have been taken between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Helping The Spanish Miracle â€" Toledo, 1963
Novak Djokovic became the eighth tennis player in history to have won all four Grand Slam titles in his career, after defeating Andy Murray yesterday to win the French Open. Heâ€™s also the first since Rod Laver in 1969 to have won all four titles in a row, having won the last Australian, U.S. Open and Wimbledon titles.
DEADLY STORM IN AUSTRALIA
The Australian East Coast was battered over the weekend by a massive storm that devastated some of Sydneyâ€™s beaches and coastline homes. At least three people have been reported dead and two are missing.
NORWAY COMMITS TO ZERO DEFORESTATION
The Norwegian government has pledged to stop contributing to the deforestation of the rainforest. Itâ€™s the worldâ€™s first country to make such a commitment.
â€" MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH
- African Startup Hub, Rwanda Attracts Ubers And Universities â€" Le Monde
- In China, Going Home After 23 Years Of Wrongful Imprisonment â€" Caixin
- Why Special Driving Tests For Senior Citizen Are Unfair â€" Süddeutsche Zeitung
Turkey has a new project to attract summer tourists, and it involves sending a jumbo jet to the bottom of the sea. Read more here.
Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.
It's hard to overstate the damage the pandemic has had on the airline industry, with global revenues dropping by 40% in 2020 and dozens of airlines around the world filing for bankruptcy. One moment last year when the gravity became particularly apparent was when Asian carriers (in countries with low COVID-19 rates) began offering "flights to nowhere" — starting and ending at the same airport as a way to earn some cash from would-be travelers who missed the in-flight experience.
More than a year later today, experts believe that air traffic won't return to normal levels until 2024.
But beyond the financial woes, the unprecedented slowdown in air travel may bring some silver linings as key aspects of the industry are bound to change once back in full spin, with some longer-term effects on aviation already emerging. Here are some major transformations to expect in the coming years:
Cleaner aviation fuel
The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden and the airline industry recently agreed to the ambitious goal of replacing all jet fuel with sustainable alternatives by 2050. Already in a decade, the U.S. aims to produce three billion gallons of sustainable fuel — about one-tenth of current total use — from waste, plants and other organic matter.
While greening the world's road transport has long been at the top of the climate agenda, aviation is not even included under the Paris Agreement. But with air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel.
Fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund.
In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials. Energy is supplied through wind turbines from the surrounding area, while the fuel's main ingredients are water and waste-generated CO2 coming from a nearby biogas plant.
Farther north, Norwegian Air Shuttle has recently submitted a recommendation to the government that fees imposed on the airline industry should be funneled into a climate fund aimed at developing cleaner aviation fuel, according to Norwegian news site E24. The airline also suggested that the government significantly reduce the tax burden on the industry over a longer period to allow airlines to recover from the pandemic.
High-flying ambitions for the sector
Hydrogen and electrification
Some airline manufacturers are betting on hydrogen, with research suggesting that the abundant resource has the potential to match the flight distances and payload of a current fossil-fuel aircraft. If derived from renewable resources like sun and wind power, hydrogen — with an energy-density almost three times that of gasoline or diesel — could work as a fully sustainable aviation fuel that emits only water.
One example comes out of California, where fuel-cell specialist HyPoint has entered a partnership with Pennsylvania-based Piasecki Aircraft Corporation to manufacture 650-kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell systems for aircrafts. According to HyPoint, the system — scheduled for commercial availability product by 2025 — will have four times the energy density of existing lithium-ion batteries and double the specific power of existing hydrogen fuel-cell systems.
Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce is looking to smash the speed record of electrical flights with a newly designed 23-foot-long model. Christened the Spirit of Innovation, the small plane took off for the first time earlier this month and successfully managed a 15-minute long test flight. However, the company has announced plans to fly the machine faster than 300 mph (480 km/h) before the year is out, and also to sell similar propulsion systems to companies developing electrical air taxis or small commuter planes.
New aircraft designs
Airlines are also upgrading aircraft design to become more eco-friendly. Air France just received its first upgrade of a single-aisle, medium-haul aircraft in 33 years. Fleet director Nicolas Bertrand told French daily Les Echos that the new A220 — that will replace the old A320 model — will reduce operating costs by 10%, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20% and noise footprint by 34%.
International first class will be very nearly a thing of the past.
The pandemic has also ushered in a new era of consumer demand where privacy and personal space is put above luxury. The retirement of older aircraft caused by COVID-19 means that international first class — already in steady decline over the last decades — will be very nearly a thing of the past. Instead, airplane manufacturers around the world (including Delta, China Eastern, JetBlue, British Airways and Shanghai Airlines) are betting on a new generation of super-business minisuites where passengers have a privacy door. The idea, which was introduced by Qatar Airways in 2017, is to offer more personal space than in regular business class but without the lavishness of first class.
Aerial view of Rome's Fiumicino airportcommons.wikimedia.org
Rome's Fiumicino Airport has become the first in the world to earn "the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating" from Skytrax, an international airline and airport review and ranking site, Italian daily La Repubblica reports. Skytrax, which publishes a yearly annual ranking of the world's best airports and issues the World Airport Awards, this year created a second list to specifically call out airports with the best health and hygiene standards.
The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.
Data privacy issues
However, as pointed out in Canadian publication The Lawyer's Daily, increased use of AI and biometrics also means increased privacy concerns. For example, health and hygiene measures like digital vaccine passports also mean that airports can collect data on who has been vaccinated and the type of vaccine used.
Auckland Airport, New Zealand
The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less?
At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel in particular is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.
Trying to forecast the future, experts point to the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks as at least a partial blueprint for what a recovery might look like in the years ahead. Twenty years ago, as passenger enthusiasm for flying waned amid security fears following the attacks, airlines were forced to cancel flights and put planes into storage.
40% of Swedes intend to travel less
According to McKinsey, leisure trips and visits to family and friends rebounded faster than business flights, which took four years to return to pre-crisis levels in the UK. This time too, business travel is expected to lag, with the consulting firm estimating only 80% recovery of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.
But the COVID-19 crisis also came at a time when passengers were already rethinking their travel habits due to climate concerns, while worldwide lockdowns have ushered in a new era of remote working. In Sweden, a survey by the country's largest research company shows that 40% of the population intend to travel less even after the pandemic ends. Similarly in the UK, nearly 60% of adults said during the spring they intended to fly less after being vaccinated against COVID-19 — with climate change cited as a top reason for people wanting to reduce their number of flights, according to research by the University of Bristol.
At the same time, major companies are increasingly forced to face the music of the environmental movement, with several corporations rolling out climate targets over the last few years. Today, five of the 10 biggest buyers of corporate air travel in the US are technology companies: Amazon, IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft, according to Taipei Times, all of which have set individual targets for environmental stewardship. As such, the era of flying across the Atlantic for a two-hour executive meeting is likely in its dying days.
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