French president Emmanuel Macron’s government unveiled its long-awaited €100 billion ($118 billion) “big green recovery” economic stimulus plan on Thursday. It’s meant to “reconcile economy with ecology” and includes wage subsidies, tax cuts for businesses and funding for environmental projects. It aims to move from emergency spending on covid to addressing longer term problems of weak investment and job creation. Environmental groups, however, say more could have been done to make a break from a high-carbon economy. For more of the national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.
Cargo may save aviation industry
As passenger traffic shows few signs of recovery, airlines are removing seats to make space for cargo, one of the least glamorous aspects of flying but likely to be aviation’s saviour amid the covid-19 downturn. Normally, 60% of global air cargo flies in the hold of passenger craft. With jets grounded, cargo volumes are down but demand for everything, from gadgets to fresh produce to medical supplies, has soared during the pandemic as people shop from home. Consequently, air freight rates have risen: rates to North America from Hong Kong are up almost 70% from early January, reports Bloomberg. Once a vaccine is found, airlines will be used to transport billions of vials quickly in a temperature-controlled environment. Singapore Airlines’ Scoot and Korean Airlines are converting passenger planes, and Emirates and Qatar have scaled up cargo destinations, while Qantas is flying fresh seafood and groceries.
US vaccine gets a pre-election date
Three days after the White House announced the US will stay away from the international effort to develop and distribute a covid-19 vaccine due to the association with WHO, the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told states to prepare to distribute a potential vaccine by 1 November—two days before the presidential election. The timing has taken on political importance as President Donald Trump seeks re-election in the world’s hardest-hit country, with some public health experts expressing concern a vaccine might be rushed through. To date, the US has reported over 6.1 million confirmed covid-19 cases, including 863,445 deaths. On Tuesday, the US had said it will not participate in the COVAX initiative because of “the corrupt World Health Organization”, further deteriorating Trump administration’s relations with the UN agency.
Here’s your Wi-Fi health chart
The stability of internet infrastructure has become crucial during the covid-19 crisis as video conferences and online classes have replaced live meetings. During the first month of the lockdown, 49 of 85 countries ranked in the Digital Quality of Life Index 2020 experienced deteriorated speeds of mobile internet. The report ranks countries on “five pillars”: Net affordability, quality, e-infrastructure, e-security and e-government. India ranks 57 out of 85 countries, though it is among the top 10 countries with affordable internet (see chart). In 75% of the nations surveyed, including India, people have to work longer than the global average to afford the internet. India stands out in e-governance despite lower than average digital quality of life level, the report observes.
Luxury brands flock to TikTok
Governments may dislike TikTok but Gen Z loves it, and brands that want to draw younger consumers believe it’s the best way to grab attention. The latest to join the platform is luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton. Fendi, Balenciaga, Dior and Stella McCartney joined TikTok in July, following Burberry, Gucci and YSL, which signed up earlier this year. Luxury brands have also found that their runway shows reach millions online, and they’ve been experimenting with Instagram’s Reels. Louis Vuitton, so far, has about 13,000 followers on TikTok in the US, while Gucci, which joined the platform February, has half a million. Gucci has made a mark with lighthearted posts like Gucci Moves, where ordinary people dance in Gucci clothing. It’s spawned popular spoofs like August’s Gucci Model Challenge, where people post videos of themselves in layered outfits inspired by the brand’s designs.
How cold was the Ice Age?
A team from the University of Arizona has worked out the temperature of the last Ice Age, officially known as the Last Glacial Maximum, about 20,000 years ago. They peg it at 7.8 degrees Celsius. Not so cold, if you’ve experienced north European winters you might think, but the findings will help climate scientists better understand the relationship between the current rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the average global temperature. During the last Ice Age, huge glaciers covered most of North America, Europe, South America and Asia, reports Phys.org. The team has concluded that for every doubling of atmospheric carbon, global temperature is likely to rise 3.4 degrees Celsius. The team now plans to create models of warm periods in the earth’s past to understand better how the planet reacts to high carbon dioxide levels, and estimate future climate change.
Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @shalinimb