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Palestinian Toddler Killed, U.S. Spied On Japan, Fishy Sunscreen

Cecil the lion
Cecil the lion

ISRAELIS KILL PALESTINIAN TODDLER

An 18-month-old Palestinian boy was burned to death overnight when Israeli settlers set his family’s home in the West Bank city of Duma ablaze, Haaretz reports. The toddler’s mother, father and 4-year-old brother were seriously injured in the attack, which occurred at 4 am. The two masked attackers painted Hebrew graffiti on the home reading "Revenge" and "long live the Messiah" along with a Star of David before torching the place.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “horrified by this terrible and criminal act, calling it a “clear-cut terrorist attack.”
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he would include the attack in his case against Israel in the International Criminal Court, saying the government’s policy and recent announcement of more illegal settlement construction were directly responsible for the tragedy. Other Palestinian officials blamed the attack on “decades of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism.”
  • Hamas called for a "day of rage" at the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque, with authorities fearing riots on the site. Measures to bar all Muslim worshippers under the age of 50 from entering the holy site have been announced.
  • The arson attack came just hours after an ultra Orthodox Jewish man stabbed six people during Jerusalem’s gay pride march. The suspect, arrested by the police, had been released from prison three weeks ago. He had been sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2005 after stabbing three people at the same event. Read more from the BBC.

EXTRA!

“The probe zeroes in,” reads Friday's front page of French newspaper Le Quotidien de la Réunion after a piece of airplane debris was found on the French island. It is believed to belong to the missing MH370 flight that disappeared in the Indian Ocean 16 months ago. Read more about it on our Extra! feature.

IMF COULD REFUSE GREEK BAILOUT

The International Monetary Fund will not take part in a third bailout for Greece if the other creditors don’t approve measures to cut some of the country’s debt, The Guardian reports, quoting an IMF official. Germany and its Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble are fiercely opposed to debt relief, despite previous warnings from the IMF that Greece could never repay its debt, which now stands at more than 170% of its GDP.

  • Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party will examine the third bailout if it’s accepted by the Aug.20 deadline at an extraordinary party conference in September. But the Financial Times reports that many inside the party still oppose a new bailout and instead want the end of austerity and a “Grexit” from the single currency.
  • This came amid news that international creditors had asked the government to scrap a solidarity tax on the richest, on grounds that it could lead to tax evasion.

VERBATIM

“It's so cruel, but I don't understand the whole fuss. There are so many pressing issues in Zimbabwe â€" we have water shortages, no electricity and no jobs â€" yet people are making noise about a lion,” a Zimbabwean woman told AP about revelations that a Minnesota dentist killed the protected lion Cecil in Zimbabwe’s national park. “I saw Cecil once when I visited the game park. I will probably miss him. But honestly the attention is just too much,” she added. A White House petition to have the dentist, Walter Palmer, extradited to Zimbabwe has meanwhile garnered enough signatures to receive a presidential response.

FRANCE, RUSSIA REACH MISTRAL DEAL

Paris and Moscow have reached an agreement over the canceled delivery of two French Mistral warships. According to Kommersant, France will repay Russia 1.16 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in compensation for breaching the contract signed in 2011, under then-President Nicolas Sarkozy. In November of last year, France decided it wouldn’t deliver the carriers to Russia after its incursion into Ukraine.

ON THIS DAY


The New York International Airport, later named JFK, opened 67 years ago today. We’ve got your shot of history here.

U.S. ALSO SPIED ON JAPAN

New documents released by WikiLeaks show that the U.S. has been spying on the cabinet and companies of another ally, this time Japan, and sharing the information with its “Five Eyes” partners Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand. The revelations, also published in Australia’s The Saturday Paper, show that the targets go well beyond government officials and include the Bank of Japan and companies such as Mitsubishi. The eavesdropping targeted foreign policy and climate change policy, as well as trade negotiations, despite the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Severe heat doesn’t just threaten the physically vulnerable such as babies and the elderly. It also poses a serious risk to those suffering from anxiety, Marie-Pierre Genecand reports for Le Temps. “Emna Ragama, a psychotherapist and psychologist in Geneva, explains that when patients are exposed to high temperatures, their bodies trigger defense mechanisms that cause hyperventilation, dizziness, leg numbness and the sensation of running out of oxygen. ‘Sometimes fear can cloud their judgment,’ she says. ‘They feel exhausted by the fits and they develop symptoms of depression. If the heat wave lasts too long, they tend to avoid as much as possible and this leads to their isolation. What’s more, during the summer holidays, they may no longer be in contact with their usual network of friends.’

Read the full article, Hot Anxiety: The Invisible Victims Of A Heat Wave.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

TALIBAN NAMES NEW LEADER

The Taliban has confirmed to Al Jazeera reporters the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar, though it refused to offer any details about when or where he died. According to Afghan officials, Omar died in 2013 in a Pakistan n hospital. The group has reportedly appointed a new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

154° F (67.8° C)

The 100,000 residents of Iranian city Bandar Mahshahr experienced one of the hottest “feels like” temperatures ever recorded, when it reached 154° F (67.8° C) yesterday. The result is the combination of the actual air temperature (109° F) and of the dew point temperature (90° F). Read more from The Washington Post.

BEIJING TO HOST 2022 WINTER OLYMPICS

The International Olympic Committee has awarded Beijing the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The Chinese capital will be the first city to have hosted both the summer and winter events.

FISHY SUNSCREEN

Biotechnologists have developed a new type of sunscreen that’s made from aquatic slime, meaning it’s both biodegradable and natural, though not commercially viable.

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Future

7 Ways The Pandemic May Change The Airline Industry For Good

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.

Ready for (a different kind of) takeoff?

Carl-Johan Karlsson

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.

Black-and-white photo of an ariplane shot from below flying across the sky and leaving condensation trails

High-flying ambitions for the sector

Joel & Jasmin Førestbird

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 airport

Aerial view of Rome's Fiumicino airport

commons.wikimedia.org

Hygiene rankings  

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.

Smoother check-in

​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.

Photo of planes at Auckland airport, New Zealand

Auckland Airport, New Zealand

Douglas Bagg

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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