Daily News Roundup

June 18, 2019

TUESDAY, June 18.

The US is sending an extra 1,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions with Iran continue to grow.

And newsagency Reuters has been told more troops could soon be on the way.

Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the latest deployment was for what he says are “defensive purposes”.

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behaviour by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Mr Shanahan said in a statement.

The announcement came as the Pentagon released new photos officials said showed members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) were responsible for attacks last week on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf.

The Japanese-owned tanker, abandoned by its crew, was being towed to a port in the United Arab Emirates on Friday, after a Dutch firm said it had been appointed to salvage the ships.

The second tanker, the Front Altair, which was set ablaze by a blast, was still languishing at sea, although the fire that charred the hull had been extinguished.

The US military says the photos, taken from a Navy helicopter, show Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.

Officials last week said the move appeared to be an attempt to remove forensic evidence from the scene of the attack. But it is not clear if examination of the mine would have made it definitively clear that the device was planted by the IRGC.

Other photos show a large hole on the side of the Courageous, above the water line, that officials say appears to have been caused by another mine.

The release of the photos came as the US works this week to convince members of Congress and allies that the accusations against Tehran are true. Iran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks and has accused America of promoting an “Iranophobic” campaign.

Tehran, however, has repeatedly threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20 per cent of the world’s oil flows.

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The population of the world is predicted by the United Nations to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, an increase of 7.7 billion from now, with the largest growth figures to be in the world’s poorest countries.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a new report that world population could reach a peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.

But Population Division Director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”

The new population projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the growth between now and 2050. In descending order of the expected increase, they are: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.

In sub-Saharan Africa, population is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.

Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Lu Zhenmin said in a statement: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.

The report confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.

The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050.

In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, said the report.

But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost one per cent or more of their population.

“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by one per cent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10 per cent,” the UN said. “In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 per cent, between 2019 and 2050.”

According to the “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” report, migration is also a major component of population growth or loss in some countries.

Between 2010 and 2020, it said 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants while 10 countries will experience a similar loss.

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Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, who held power for just a year from mid 2012, has collapsed and died in court during his trial on  espionage charges.

The espionage trial of the Muslim Brotherhood former president Mohammed Morsi followed six years in almost constant  solitary confinement after being ousted and arrested by the military in mid 2013.

He was already serving 20 years jail for other “crimes” committed during his short presidency.

According to state TV and his family  reported by world news agencies, the 67-year-old had just addressed the court on Monday (local time), speaking from the glass cage he was kept in during sessions and warning he had “many secrets” he could reveal, a judicial official said.

A few minutes later, he collapsed in the cage, the official said

In his final comments, Morsi continued to insist he was Egypt’s legitimate president, demanding a special tribunal, one of his defence lawyers, Kamel Madour, said.

State TV said Morsi died before he could be taken to the hospital.

Morsi’s son, Ahmed, confirmed his father’s death in a Facebook post, adding, “we will meet again with God”.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor said a team of forensic experts would examine Morsi’s body to determine the cause of his death.

The Muslim Brotherhood said the death of Morsi — the first democratically elected head of state in Egypt’s modern history — was a “full-fledged murder” and called on Egyptians to gather for a mass funeral.

In a statement on its website, the Brotherhood also called for crowds to gather outside Egyptian embassies around the world.

The Brotherhood accused the Egyptian Government of “assassinating” Morsi through years of poor prison conditions during which he was often kept in solitary confinement and barred from visits.

Since his overthrow, Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have been in prison, and put on multiple and lengthy trials.

Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of ordering Brotherhood members to break up a protest against him, resulting in deaths.

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