UN says world population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050

Thu, 2017-06-22 03:00

UNITED NATIONS: India’s population is expected to surpass China’s in about seven years and Nigeria is projected to overtake the United States and become the third most populous country in the world shortly before 2050, a UN report said Wednesday.
The report by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division forecasts that the current world population of nearly 7.6 billion will increase to 8.6 billion by 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.
It said roughly 83 million people are added to the world’s population every year and the upward trend is expected to continue even with a continuing decline in fertility rates, which have fallen steadily since the 1960s.
John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division, said at a news conference that the report includes information on the populations of 233 countries or areas of the world.
“The population in Africa is notable for its rapid rate of growth, and it is anticipated that over half of global population growth between now and 2050 will take place in that region,” he said. “At the other extreme, it is expected that the population of Europe will, in fact, decline somewhat in the coming decades.”
The UN agency forecasts that from now through 2050 half the world’s population growth will be concentrated in just 10 countries — India, Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, United States, Uganda and Indonesia. That order is based on the 10 countries’ “expected contribution to total growth,” the report said.
During the same period, it added, the populations of 26 African countries are expected to at least double.
Nigeria, currently the world’s seventh largest country, has the fastest growing population of the 10 most populous countries worldwide, and the report projects it will surpass the US shortly before mid-century.
The new projections also forecast that China, which currently has 1.4 billion inhabitants, will be replaced as the world’s most populous country around 2024 by India, which now has 1.3 billion inhabitants.
The report, titled “The World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision,” said fertility has been declining in nearly all regions in recent years.
Between 2010 and 2015, Wilmoth said, “the world’s women had 2 1/2 births per woman over a lifetime — but this number varies widely around the world.”
“Europe has the lowest fertility level, estimated at 1.6 births per woman in the most recent period, while Africa has the highest fertility, with around 4.7 births per woman,” he said.
The report said birth rates in the 47 least developed countries remain relatively high, with population growth around 2.4 percent a year. While this rate is expected to slow significantly in the coming decades, the UN said the combined population of the 47 countries is projected to increase by 33 percent from roughly 1 billion now to 1.9 billion in 2050.
More and more countries now have fertility rates below the level of roughly 2.1 births per woman needed to replace the current generation, the report said. During the 2010-2015 period, fertility was below the replacement level in 83 countries comprising 46 percent of the world’s population, it said.
The 10 most populous countries with low fertility levels are China, United States, Brazil, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, Germany, Iran, Thailand and United Kingdom, the report said.
In addition to slowing population growth, low fertility levels lead to an older population, the report noted. It forecasts that the number of people aged 60 or above will more than double from the current 962 million to 2.1 billion in 2050 and more than triple to 3.1 billion in 2100.
A quarter of Europe’s population is already aged 60 or over, and that share is projected to reach 35 percent in 2050 then remain around that level for the rest of the century, the report said.

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In Iowa, Trump rallies base, celebrates GOP resilience

Thu, 2017-06-22 03:00

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa: Struggling to advance his agenda in Washington, President Donald Trump traveled to the Midwest on Wednesday in search of his supporters’ warm embrace and to celebrate a Republican congressional victory in an election viewed as an early referendum on his presidency.
Trump touched down Wednesday evening in rainy Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and headed to a local community college, where he toured agriculture technology innovations, and then to a campaign rally where he reveled in Karen Handel’s victory in a special election in a House district in suburban Atlanta.
“We’re 5-0 in special elections,” said Trump in front of a boisterous crowd that packed a downtown arena. “The truth is, people love us … they haven’t figured it out yet.”
He also applauded Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney, and mocked Handel’s challenger, Jon Ossoff, saying the Democrats “spent $30 million on this kid who forgot to live in the district.”
Trump, no stranger to victory laps, turned his visit to a battleground state he captured in November into a celebration of his resilience despite the cloud of investigations that has enveloped his administration and sent his poll numbers tumbling.
With the appearance in Cedar Rapids, he will have held five rallies in the first five months in office.
The event underscores Trump’s comfort in a campaign setting. He laughed off the occasional heckler, repeated riffs from last year’s rallies and appeared far more at ease when going after Democrats in front of adoring crowds than trying to push through his own legislative agenda from the confines of the White House.
Trump’s aides are making a renewed push to get the president out of Washington. The capital is consumed with the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election and Trump’s firing of his FBI director.
Campaign rallies energize Trump by placing him in front of supporters who have stuck by him and are likely to dismiss the investigations as Beltway chatter.
Iowa, with its large share of independent voters, could be a proving ground for whether Trump can count on the support of voters beyond his base. Unaffiliated voters, or “no party” voters as they are known in Iowa, make up 36 percent of the electorate, compared with 33 percent who register Republican and 31 percent registered as Democrat.
Self-identified independents in Iowa voted for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a 13-percentage-point margin last year, according to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks. That margin helped Trump take the state by nearly 9 points after Barack Obama won it for Democrats the previous two elections.
Trump held a Des Moines rally in December as part of his transition-era “thank you” tour of states he had won, but has not been back to Iowa since.
At the rally, he touted his administration’s efforts to roll back regulations, mused about putting solar panels on a Mexican border wall, derided wind power for killing birds in a state that uses a lot of it and revealed that he urged the Senate to create a health care plan “with heart. Add some money to it!“
He avoided any discussion of the scandals surrounding his presidency, other than one brief reference to the “witch hunt,” which is what he has dubbed the probes into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
Trump’s evening in Iowa began with a tribute to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, whom he had just appointed the United States’ ambassador to China. He hailed Branstad, the longest-serving governor in the nation’s history and an early Trump backer, as “a legend” and “one great man.”
Trump’s stop at Kirkwood Community College was intended to draw attention to the school’s advancements in high-tech agriculture, but he resisted sitting behind the wheel of a virtual reality device that simulated a giant combine harvester. He was joined by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as part of the administration’s latest theme week, this time to highlight the importance of technology. He later touted the wealth of Ross and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, saying: “Those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?“
But much of Trump’s attention was on the suburbs of Atlanta, in the 6th Congressional District race.
Democrats had lavished attention and money on Tuesday’s special election, hoping for a victory that would underscore Republican worries about Trump and serve as a harbinger of a Democratic wave in 2018.
Instead, Handel’s victory, in a traditional Republican stronghold that rarely produces a competitive contest, was met with a sigh of relief among the GOP. It was the fourth straight special election that went to the Republicans.
Trump tweeted several times during the night and capped the night off with a text message to supporters crowing:
“Congrats to Karen Handel on a HUGE win in GA! Democrats lose again (0-4). Total disarray. The MAGA Mandate is stronger than ever. BIG LEAGUE,” he said in an apparent reference to his slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

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Maduro promotes military in shake-up of Cabinet in Venezuela

Associated Press
Thu, 2017-06-22 03:00

CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is promoting several members of the military as he reshuffles his Cabinet to allow top officials to run for seats in a special assembly to rewrite the constitution.
As part of the shake-up announced Wednesday night, three army generals were given key posts.
They include Gen. Antonio Benavides, who had been heading the national guard, accused of abuses during the crackdown on anti-government protests that have left at least 70 dead and hundreds injured. Benavides will now head a new agency created by Maduro to oversee the capital.
Maduro says Venezuela’s current ambassador to the Organization of American States Samuel Moncada will take over as foreign minister from Delcy Rodriguez. Rodriguez is among a handful of trusted aides competing in next month’s controversial election.

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FBI probing Michigan airport stabbing as ‘terrorism’

Agence France Presse
Thu, 2017-06-22 04:50

CHICAGO: The FBI is investigating as an “act of terrorism” a knife attack on a Michigan airport police officer Wednesday by a man yelling “Allahu Akbar.”
The stabbing at Bishop International Airport, in the city of Flint, comes amid a wave of jihadist-inspired attacks in Europe, most recently a foiled bomb assault at a train station in Belgium.
US officials identified the suspected assailant, who is in custody and cooperating with investigators, as a 49-year-old Canadian resident from Quebec named Amor Ftouhi.
“We’re investigating this incident today as an act of terrorism,” FBI special agent David Gelios told a news conference, detailing Ftouhi’s actions on Wednesday morning based on security camera footage.
Ftouhi was seen lingering with luggage around the airport’s non-secured public areas, including at a second-floor restaurant and a bathroom, before pulling out a 12-inch serrated-blade knife, yelling “Allahu Akbar” — “God is greatest” in Arabic — and stabbing an officer in the neck, police said.
During the attack, Ftouhi “referenced killings in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.
He also expressed “hatred for the United States” during questioning in custody, Gelios said.
“He was cooperative and has talked to us about what his motivations were,” he added.
The injured officer was identified as Jeff Neville, a 16-year veteran of the airport police force who wrestled Ftouhi to the ground during the assault until others could arrest him, police said, adding that Neville was in stable condition in hospital.
“Lt. Neville never stopped fighting until I handcuffed this person,” airport police chief Christopher Miller said.
No passengers were harmed in Wednesday’s assault, according to the airport, which was evacuated and remained closed until 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) when it was reopened.
Ftouhi was arrested on charges of committing an act of violence at an airport, and was expected to appear at a federal court in Flint.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that an attack on law enforcement would be “investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“President Trump has prioritized the safety of all law enforcement officers, and this Department of Justice is committed to that goal,” he said.

Ftouhi’s Canadian citizenship led to joint operations in Canada and the US, as authorities probed the incident.
Canadian media reported that police carried out a search of Ftouhi’s home in Montreal and made three arrests in connection with the stabbing attack.
Police had cordoned off the four-story building where Ftouhi reportedly lives, in the Rosemont area of Montreal.
Local television footage showed three people, their faces concealed by blankets, being led away by Canadian gendarmes and provincial police officers.
“We are investigating all of the details,” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said earlier on Wednesday. “Obviously Canada condemns this heinous and cowardly attack.”
Ftouhi legally entered the United States in Lake Champlain, New York on June 16th, Gelios said.
“We’re trying to develop further information as to his timeline and where he went after he entered the United States,” he said.

Flint is near the Detroit area, which is home to a large Muslim-American community. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder responded to news of a possible link to terrorism by sounding a note of caution.
“Even with this attack, we must continue to balance our need for increased security with understanding and tolerance,” Snyder tweeted.
The Michigan stabbing comes the day after a suspect with apparent jihadist sympathies set off a bomb in a foiled attack at a Brussels train station.
A day earlier in Paris, a suspected Islamist on a terror watch list rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle, and a man drove a van into a group of Muslims near a London mosque.
In the United States, an attack attributed to anger over politics seriously wounded top Republican congressman Steve Scalize week, when a rifle-wielding critic of President Donald Trump opened fire on lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game.
In this latest incident, the FBI’s Gelios said the Flint attacker was not known to authorities.
“Preliminary indications are we had no visibility on this individual,” he said.

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Tillerson urges China to put more pressure on N. Korea

Agence France Presse
Thu, 2017-06-22 04:50

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday urged Chinese officials to apply greater diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to force Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear weapons program.
Tillerson’s remarks came after he and Pentagon chief Jim Mattis met with the Chinese visitors at the State Department, where the former general said he saw scope for a better defense relationship.
The extent to which Beijing can influence Pyongyang is key in trying to defuse the North Korea crisis, and Tillerson’s remarks came the day after President Donald Trump appeared to suggest China’s President Xi Jinping had come up short in efforts to lean on Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
Calling North Korea the “top security threat” to the United States, Tillerson said China has a “diplomatic responsibility to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.”
Trump — who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail — has turned to Beijing to help pressure its ally North Korea, prompting concern among Asian partners that America might go easy on the South China Sea territorial dispute.
But on Tuesday, Trump sent a tweet suggesting Xi’s efforts had not borne fruit — a message he reiterated before supporters in Iowa.
“I do like President Xi,” he told the crowd Wednesday evening. “I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea, from China. That doesn’t seem to be working.”
Trump has not elaborated on what might happen next if China, by far the North’s most important trading and diplomatic partner, is out of ideas.
Tillerson said the US and Chinese officials had agreed that companies from both countries should not do business with any UN-designated North Korean entities.

Trump has made halting the North Korean nuclear threat his number one foreign policy priority.
On Wednesday the US leader took the formal step of extending for another year a national emergency with respect to North Korea that was first decreed in 2008 under president George W. Bush.
In a letter notifying Congress of the move, Trump wrote that the “existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula” together with the “provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions” of the Pyongyang regime “continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
In Beijing, officials insisted they have not given up hope of influencing Pyongyang.
“To resolve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, China has been making unremitting efforts and we have been playing an important and constructive role,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, while stressing China was not the “focus and the crux” of the crisis.
Last month, Beijing and Washington signed a limited deal to open new markets for each other’s exports, and a long-standing friend of the Chinese leadership, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, was confirmed as US ambassador.
But tensions remain — particularly over China’s building of artificial islands in disputed South China Sea waters.
“Secretary Mattis and I were clear that the US position remains unchanged,” Tillerson said.
Still, Mattis spoke in favor of greater communication with the Chinese military, including an officer exchange program to “improve transparency and mutual understanding.”

Despite international condemnation and sanctions, North Korea has a small nuclear arsenal and is developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that threaten Japan and South Korea — and one day could even hit some US cities.
Washington has 28,000 troops deployed in South Korea and a naval armada in the region.
China has tightened controls on trade in North Korean coal, but many doubt it will fully enforce any sanctions that might threaten the stability of its unpredictable neighbor.
Separately, Mattis blasted Pyongyang’s treatment of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old student who died on Monday after being evacuated in a coma from detention in North Korea.
His release last week initially seemed a gesture of goodwill by Pyongyang, but it quickly turned sour.
“We see a young man go over there healthy and, (after) a minor act of mischief, come home dead, basically… this goes beyond any kind of understanding of law and order, of humanity, of responsibility toward any human being,” Mattis said.
“What you’re seeing, I think, is the American people’s frustration with a regime that provokes and provokes and provokes, and basically plays outside the rules.”

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San Francisco to ban sales of vaping flavored liquid

Thu, 2017-06-22 03:00

SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco city supervisors unanimously approved a measure that bans the sale of flavored nicotine-laced liquid used in electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products, saying nicotine masked in cotton candy, banana cream, mint and other flavors entices kids into a lifetime of addiction.
Other cities have passed laws reducing access to flavored vaping liquids and flavored tobacco but San Francisco is the first in the country to approve a sales ban.
Sales of vaping liquids that taste like tobacco will still be allowed.
“We’re focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers,” said Supervisor Malia Cohen, who sponsored the bill.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for vaping products, said the ordinance is “complete nonsense” and ignores the benefits of flavored vaping products.
“There is a great deal of evidence that flavors are critical to helping adults quit smoking by helping them disconnect from the taste of tobacco,” said Conley, who quit smoking in 2010 with the help of watermelon flavored “e-liquid,” the liquid used in electronic cigarettes.
Conley pointed to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week that found the number of high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes fell to 2.2 million last year, from 3 million the year before. The CDC also estimates that the number of middle and high school students using tobacco products fell to 3.9 million last year, from 4.7 million the year before.
“Unfortunately, San Francisco supervisors ignored that data and the stories about how vaping was the only thing that helped many smokers quit,” he said.
The measure approved Tuesday requires another vote by the board next week, which is expected to pass. The law would take effect in April 2018.
Cohen, who represents the historically black Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, said tobacco companies advertise 10 times more in black neighborhoods and market candy and fruit flavored products to young people, the LGBTQ community and other minorities.
“For too many years, the tobacco industry has selectively targeted our young adults with products that are deceptively associated with fruits and mint and candy,” said Cohen, whose grandmother smoked menthol cigarettes for years and died of emphysema.
“Menthol cools the throat so you don’t feel the smoke and the irritants and it masks the flavors. This legislation is about saying enough is enough,” she added.
Businesses that violate the law could have their city tobacco sales permits suspended.
Small business owners have said they will lose business because people can still buy the flavored “e-liquid” and tobacco products in neighboring cities or purchase them online and have them delivered to their San Francisco homes.
“Those tobacco products aren’t 100 percent of our revenue, but they are an anchor product,” Miriam Zouzounis, a board member of the Arab American Grocers Association whose father owns a small corner store, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
She added: “Even at 15 percent of our stock, it’s what brings people through the door. We can’t compete with Safeway or Walgreens for food and milk items, let alone the online retailers filling the gap for everything else.”
The San Francisco ban is the latest restriction on tobacco products approved in California. The state’s cigarette tax increased in April by $2 per pack, more than doubling the previous tax of 87 cents a pack.
Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown approved tougher tobacco regulations as part of a special legislative session on health care. The state’s legal age to buy tobacco was boosted from 18 to 21 and existing regulations governing tobacco were extended to electronic cigarettes.
Federal law bans sales of flavored cigarettes. But it does not prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes or flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes.

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White House aims to speed US drone, wireless technologies

Thu, 2017-06-22 04:00

WASHINGTON: The White House is bringing together drone makers, wireless companies and venture capitalists on Thursday to look at ways government can help speed new technologies to the marketplace.
President Donald Trump will meet with the chief executives of General Electric Co, Honeywell International Inc. and AT&T Inc. AT&T Inc, major drone industry firms and venture capitalists in the latest effort by the White House to focus on innovative technologies as a way of spurring job growth.
Michael Kratsios, the White House’s deputy chief technology officer, told reporters the goal of the sessions is to find ways the United States “can maintain its leadership creating and fostering entirely new technologies that will drive our economic growth.” The chief executives of several unmanned aerial system, or drone, companies including Kespry Inc, AirMap, Airspace Inc, Measure UAS Inc, Trumbull Unmanned, and PrecisionHawk Inc. are attending the White House sessions.
Senior executives at Xcel Energy Inc, Verizon Communications Inc. and CenturyLink Inc. are also taking part as are venture capital firms including AOL co-founder Steve Case who heads Revolution LLC, 500 Startups, Cayuga Ventures, Epic Ventures and Lightspeed Ventures.
The administration wants to promote the development and commercialization of emerging technologies and speed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones and 5G wireless technology, Kratsios said.
The Obama administration implemented rules that opened the skies to low-level small drones for education, research and routine commercial use. The Trump administration is considering whether to expand drone use for purposes such as deliveries where aircraft would fly beyond the sight of an operator. Security issues would need to be resolved.
The FAA in March estimated that by 2021 the fleet of small hobbyist drones will more than triple and the commercial drone fleet will increase tenfold to about 442,000.
Last year, the FCC cleared the way for 5G, a lightning-fast next generation of wireless services. Testing is under way and deployment is expected around 2020.
New 5G networks are expected to provide speeds at least 10 times and maybe 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks. The next generation of wireless signals needs to be much faster and far more responsive to allow advanced technologies such as virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely, regulators say.
The networks could help wirelessly connect devices such as thermostats or washing machines to facilitate the Internet of things.

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