Women And The White House, Foreign Eye On Campaign 2016

Global coverage of the U.S. presidential race has zeroed in recently on the gender issue, from the only woman in the race, Trump’s wife and the influence of female voters.

Trump supporter at meeting in Bethpage, New York, on April 7
Trump supporter at meeting in Bethpage, New York, on April 7

Top Italian women’s magazine Io Donna ("I, Woman"), a weekly supplement of Milan daily Corriere della Sera, has been busy covering the U.S. campaign in its own way. Io Donna columnist Costanza Rizzacasa d'Orsogna has reported in recent weeks on a women’s movement in the U.S. to block Trump’s election by refusing to have sex with their husbands until the misogynist billionaire is defeated. Rizzacasa d’Orsogna has also covered the apparent falling-out between unlikely gal pal VIP daughters Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump, the competing political loyalties of Hollywood stars, and the latest twists and turns in the primaries of both parties. But most notable may be the moniker of Rizzacasa d’Orsogna’s campaign series, which leaves no room for doubt about how she sees America’s future: Hillarylandia.

It’s not the only global coverage focusing on female voters and the only woman in the race for the presidency, as Worldcrunch continues to follow foreign coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign, from all languages and corners of the world.

In a piece titled "Why Does America Dislike Hillary Clinton?" Katarzyna Wezyk writes in Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza that sexism remains a pervasive plague and that a capable woman in the United States "apparently is still two steps behind a man."

"Toughness is a stereotypically male attribute," she writes. "It is men who need to be aggressive and pertinacious. It’s their job to protect a woman, the family and the country. If a woman wants to be successful in politics, she needs to prove that she is tougher than her male competitors, that she will not let others push her around and that she will not serve sandwiches. But if she is tough and hard-boiled, she stops being womanlike. She becomes a Tartar, a butch or an ordinary bitch. A man who defends his opinions is assertive, a woman â€" aggressive. And indeed nobody likes an aggressive woman. On the other hand, nobody wants weak leaders. So either way is no good."

The Melania card

In a fascinating Yonder News essay entitled, "Can Melania Knauss Save America?" New York-based Andrej Mrevlje ponders what will become of his fellow Slovenian-born Big Apple transplant Melania Knauss Trump, "a former model, now the third wife of the most stormy, reckless, impolite, vulgar, violent and bossy presidential candidate that American politics has ever encountered."

"To me, Melania is similar to a sleeper cell," Mrevlje writes. "She’s not a terrorist, of course, but she could be radicalized in the same way former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi’s wife, Veronica Lario, was."

He notes that Berlusconi approached his future bride, a B-list actress, on a bus station in Milan and ultimately fell "for her big boobs." Like Melania, she lived in a lavish home and was in the background throughout much of their marriage. "Then Veronica met an intellectual â€" a philosopher and former mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari â€" and became radicalized. She’d had enough of her husband’s nonsense. Illuminated by Cacciari, she didn’t want her kids to be like their father. She filed for divorce and started the end of Berlusconi era. All this after the whole country failed to get rid of him."

Feminism in the age of Trump

Trump’s "misogyny firestorm" over the past few weeks â€" in which he argued that women who have abortions should be punished, among other things â€" has provided a "tidy" solution for Clinton’s "woman problem," columnist Nicole Hemmen writes for Australia’s The Age.

"An April 1 Gallup poll showed that seven out of 10 women view Trump unfavorably," Hemmen writes. "With Trump as the nominee, the debate over women's role in politics and society moves back several decades, making Clinton's second-wave feminism relevant again. In the face of Trump’s anti-women politics and rhetoric, Clinton has an opportunity to position herself as both an underdog and as a feminist icon who transcends generational boundaries."

First dude

The New York correspondent for Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo focuses on what could be Bill Clinton’s role in the White House if he returns as "first dude" or "first gentleman." It’s unlikely he’ll be making tea for the president, Anna Virginia Balloussier writes, nor should we expect to see him engage in a cookie bakeoff, as Hillary did with Barbara Bush.

Instead, the former president’s role would be one of political support, with Columbia University Professor Robert Shapiro saying that America’s first female president would likely entrust him with certain policy matters, as Bill had in fact done by letting Hillary lead the (ultimately futile) attempt to reform the health care system in 1993. But what would no doubt remain unchanged, says first lady expert Carl Anthony, is that people will continue commenting on the woman’s wardrobe and not on the "first gentleman’s" tuxedo.

Unfit to be tied

William Hague, former British foreign secretary and secretary of state, a staunch conservative, writes in The Telegraph that Donald Trump is "unfit" to be president. "We foreigners have to be careful how we comment. Yet with Donald Trump having swept, until this week, so much before him, it is vital we try to understand what is going on in America."

Hague tackles in detail some of Trump’s more troubling foreign policy convictions, but he writes that there are more fundamental problems with the 69-year-old Republican candidate. "Two characteristics make Trump fundamentally unfit to be president: his attitude to women and the way he treats rivals. The first of these, including crude and offensive remarks about female interviewers and candidates, shows deeply patronizing instincts. This isn’t just foul manners. It really matters because the way to liberate the greatest quantity of untapped talent in the 21st century is to achieve the full social, political and economic empowerment of women. Having a leader of the world’s most powerful country who shows no recognition of that cannot be a good idea."

In a piece entitled, "Donald Trump would never rise to the top in Australia," political consultant Ed Coper argues in the Sydney Morning Herald that "loudmouthed narcissistic billionaires with political aspirations exist the world over, but rarely do they capture the political imagination in the way Trump has enthralled America."

"Sometimes, though, with enough bluster and stardom you only need one message: America is losing, when it should be winning. That intersection of patriotism, pedestals and political plurality hits people in the guts in the U.S. Yes, we would ridicule a Trump-like candidate on this side of the Pacific, but we may also have to lay out the red carpet for President Trump’s first official state visit soon."

Swedes v. Cruz, Norwegians v. Sanders

Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter is skeptical that Ted Cruz, around whom the party establishment is rallying, would be a better option than his foul-mouthed primary nemesis. The GOP has for long hoped for a miracle to end the nightmare, Gunnar Jonsson writes. In other words, "anyone but the nutcase." But, he notes of perhaps Washington’s most reviled politician, "the plague is no better than cholera."

Norway, of all places, should appreciate a socialist Democrat, right? Think again. Norwegian daily Aftenposten notes that some of the reforms proposed by Bernie Sanders are quite radical even by European standards. A $15 minimum wage is about the same as Norway’s, though the cost of living there are considerably higher than in the U.S. Raising the minimum wage to $15, which New York and California have pledged to do, would by far bypass Germany’s 8.50 euros per hour.

Olympic standards

Russian daily Kommersant provided a recent candidate-by-candidate roundup of the race. Inevitably, "The Donald" stood out from the pack. On a substantive level, the paper called Trump the most "pro-Russian" of the presidential contenders, noting that he is the only candidate to have left the door open to better relations with Moscow. But journalist Nikolai Zubov also tried to quantify the innate marketing skills that the New York billionaire has brought to presidential politics. "If the primaries were the Olympics," he writes, "then the mascot of the games would unconditionally be Donald Trump."

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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

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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