GLOBAL PULSE: Saudi Arabia gets a new crown prince, climate change could make flights bumpier and Daniel Day Lewis quits

Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman al Saud. Courtesy: Kremlin

Dawn raid by ISIS-linked militants in Philippines 

An estimated 40 fighters from the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) raided a school in Philippines early on Wednesday morning, trapping nearly 70 people. All the people trapped were rescued by security forces. There were no children who were taken hostage during the raid by the militants, an official said. President Rodrigo Duterte had said Tuesday that he feared Christians could spark a civil war if they took up arms against groups like the BIFF and others who claimed to be affiliated with Islamic State. But he also clarified that the government would prevent civil war from erupting. “We can’t allow that because if civilians take up arms, it will be a civil war. So we have two jobs: How to hold the Christians with arms, and this IS-linked Maute,” Duterte said, while endorsing peace talks with some of the militant groups. It’s not certain if Wednesday’s raid will change his mind on the subject.

Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince

Saudi Arabia has a new prince in waiting. Reigning monarch King Salman Wednesday stripped potential successor Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of the title of crown prince and appointed his son, 31-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, in his place. The new crown prince is already the defence minister and heads the economic council that has to overhaul the country’s economy in order to reduce its dependence on oil. But it wasn’t all as rosy. At one point, he was banned by the deceased King Abdullah from setting foot in the Ministry of Defence after rumours of the 26-year-old being too brash reached him. Later the relation mended and it really helped that his father became the next monarch of Saudi Arabia. The new crown prince is working on a plan to make Saudi Arabia great again, but without oil money paying the bills. He has increased taxes, reduced subsidies and wants to invest abroad using a sovereign fund. He also has relatively radical beliefs. The crown prince says he doesn’t believe in polygamy and is even open to reversing the controversial ban on women driving cars. In a Businessweek profile of him, Prince Mohammed said that he’s used to resistance, hardened by bureaucratic enemies who once accused him of power-grabbing in front of his father and King Abdullah. At the time, he said he had studied Winston Churchill and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and would turn adversity to his advantage. Saudi Arabia will find out soon enough if he can.

Climate change could hit flights

At least 350 flights from Phoenix in the US were affected in the past few days as it was too hot. With temperatures hitting 120 degrees F, smaller jets couldn’t take off until the air cooled. Hot air makes it impossible for flights to take off since it glides over the wing of an aircraft, not allowing it to generate enough lift to take off. And here’s the bad news, as climate change affects the planet more this could become more regular across the world. Researchers told the New York Times that such disruptions could become more frequent. More worryingly for flyers, it could make air travel to some regions costlier and also puts them at greater risk due to increased turbulence. Already some airports in the US restrict the weight of aircraft before take-off given they don’t have runways long enough to deal with higher temperatures. So as global temperatures rise, heavier planes on long flights might have to wait for cooler periods in summer to able to take off with full capacity.

Another Republican win despite Trump

In spite of the daily ridicule and criticism of Donald Trump, the Republicans managed to pull off a crucial election in Georgia. The winning Republican candidate managed to associate and dissociate herself from the US president enough to convince voters to stick with the party. For the Republicans and Trump, it’s the best news possible. For the Republicans, it means they might still survive without Trump and that they can win elections despite him. Trump can count it as a victory of his brief tenure, which will strengthen his hand for the future. But for the Democrats, it only raises more questions. Though they fielded a relatively inexperienced candidate in a Republican seat, they might have to question when all the critique of Trump will bear electoral fruit and sharpen their choices of candidates in the future.

Daniel Day Lewis retires

Most actors don’t stop till they drop. Christopher Plummer of Sound of Music fame is 87 and will feature in at least five upcoming films. Anthony Hopkins is 79 and will feature in the latest installment of the Transformers franchise. But three-time Oscar winning actor Daniel Day Lewis has declared that the current film he’s starring in will be his last on the silver screen. Lewis, who has won Oscars for his performances in My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and Lincoln, has issued a statement saying that he will no longer be working as an actor. An actor who claims to immerse himself into the characters he plays, Lewis’s last film is to be director Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, which is about the fashion world of 1950s London and is expected to release later this year. The actor, who is second only to Katherine Hepburn when it comes to Oscars won for Best Actor, could potentially equal her record next year.

 

 

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