SPOTLIGHT: HILLARY HISTORY
Hillary Clinton has held a long list of impressive titles: U.S. first lady, senator, secretary of state. And now sheâ€™s added another one to the list â€" Democratic Party nominee for the Oval Office. By virtually every count now, Clinton is set to be the first female candidate of a major party to win the presidential nomination. Tuesdayâ€™s contests cemented an insurmountable lead, with CNN projecting Clinton wins in New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico and the big prize: California.
Itâ€™s a historic win for sure. Nevertheless, Clinton still has much work to do among Democrats, as rival Bernie Sanders plans to stay in the race through to next Tuesdayâ€™s final primary in the District of Columbia. The Vermont senator is slated to meet with President Obama tomorrow at the White House, as the Democratic party embarks on the delicate job of re-uniting around one candidate. Wooing Sanders supporters, many of whom have been openly hostile to the former first lady, will be key in November against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Young voters have been particularly drawn to Sanders. So why has the so-called Gen Y, especially young women, shrugged at Clintonâ€™s history-making candidacy? Writing in the Washington Post, recent college graduate Molly Roberts says that unlike her motherâ€™s generation, young people consider gender equality to be a given. Clinton, more than ever, will take nothing for granted.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- World Oceans Day, with a special focus this year on stopping plastic pollution.
- Three-day High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS begins in New York.
CAR BOMB HITS TURKISH POLICE
A police station in the Turkish town of Midyat, near the Syrian border, was hit by a car bomb this morning. At least two officers were killed and several others are reported injured, according to Hürriyet. The attack comes just one day after a car bomb hit a police bus in Istanbul, killing 11 people.
â€œLeaving is quitting and I donâ€™t think weâ€™re quitters. Weâ€™re fighters,â€ British Prime Minister David Cameron said during a televised debate last night, two weeks before a referendum on EU membership. He warned that voting for Brexit was choosing the â€œLittle England option.â€ Recent polls show that opposition to the EU is growing, and not just in Britain.
â€" ON THIS DAY
From the Prophet Muhammad to Nineteen-Eighty-Four and Kanye West â€" take a look at todayâ€™s 57-second shot of History.
AUSTRIA FAR-RIGHT CHALLENGES ELECTION RESULT
Austriaâ€™s FPÖ party announced this morning it would challenge the result of last monthâ€™s presidential election, which saw Alexander Van der Bellen narrowly edge out nationalist candidate Norbert Hofer. Several allegations of irregularities over postal votes had been raised after the election.
FRANCE LAUNCHES ANTI-TERROR ATTACK APP
The French government has launched a terror alert application ahead of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament. SAIP, available on Android and iOS smartphones, will send geolocalized alerts and instructions in case of â€œexceptional events.â€
The killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo after a toddler fell in his enclosure is just the latest example of the twisted concept of the zoo industry. Following another spate of reports about the state of animals kept at the Buenos Aires and Mendoza zoos, Clarinâ€™s Matías Pandolfi asks: What lessons for your kids? â€œWe should consider the effects on children of visiting a place where they are shown the confinement, loneliness, enslavement, stress and pain of other living creatures, as if this were worthwhile in some way. Where is the justification for so much suffering just to make money â€" which is what zoos these days are designed to do? Every time we buy an entry ticket, we are an accomplice of this suffering.â€
Read the full article, Beyond The Gorilla Cage, Moral Costs Of The Modern Zoo.
The Auschwitz museum announced it had recovered some 16,000 items belonging to Jews killed at the death camp. The long-lost items, which include jewelry, cutlery, watches, brushes, tobacco pipes and more, had been stored away and forgotten by the communist regime in Poland.
French daily Le Figaro reports Wednesday that a 24-year-old woman will be prosecuted for posing as a victim of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris in order to get a 20,000-euro compensation (about $23,000). Read more about it on Le Blog here.
VIOLENT PROTESTS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
The police in Papua New Guinea opened fired on university students demonstrating against the government, injuring at least 17 protesters, Australiaâ€™s ABC reports.
CHINA TO ALLOW FOREIGN BANK CARDS
After years of lobbying, Visa and MasterCard have helped convince the Chinese government to end its monopoly on the national credit card market, The Shanghai Daily reports. According to Reuters, bank transactions reached 55 trillion yuan ($8.4 trillion) last year and the market will become the worldâ€™s biggest by 2020.
MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Sitting In History â€" Vacherie, 1992
RUSSIAN SPORTS MINISTER DRAGGED INTO DOPING SCANDAL
Russiaâ€™s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko is facing accusations he covered up doping allegations against a Russian top soccer player, The Guardian reports. Of course, the Russian soccer team will be under particular scrutiny at the Euro championship, which begins Friday in France.
â€" MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Where Are The Men Of Damascus? â€" Syria Deeply
- Why Friendship Is Overrated, A Grown-Up (And Grumpy) Reflection â€" Die Welt
- Europeâ€™s Largest Migrant Center Is Dead End For Refugees â€" La Stampa
BRAIN DEAD WOMAN GIVES BIRTH
A Portuguese woman who has been brain dead for 15 weeks gave birth yesterday to a healthy five-pound boy at a Lisbon hospital, Público reports.
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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