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Tags: Muslims | to-Equal | Worlds | Christians | UN Votes Iran Onto Womens Panel | 277 | 000 U.S. STEM Jobs Are Unfilled

Muslims to Equal World's Christians; UN Votes Iran Onto Women's Panel

Sunday, 19 April 2015 09:26 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Muslims Worldwide to Nearly Equal Christians by 2050
2. 277,000 U.S. STEM Jobs Are Unfilled
3. U.N. Gives Iran Seat on Women's Rights Panel
4. Oil Glut Devastating Recyclables Industry
5. Anti-Semitic Violence Up 40 Percent Last Year
6. Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities — and Fastest-Shrinking

1. Muslims Worldwide to Nearly Equal Christians by 2050

Christianity will remain the world's largest religious group in the coming decades, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion — and if current trends continue, Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians by 2050.

That's one projection in a report from the Pew Research Center, which also predicts that atheists, agnostics, and others who are not affiliated with any religion will decline as a percentage of the global population, while increasing in the United States.

Christians numbered 2.17 billion in 2010 and Pew projects there will be 2.91 billion Christians in 2050.

During that period, Muslims will rise from 1.6 billion to 2.76 billion.

Hindus will increase from 1.03 billion to 1.38 billion by 2050, Buddhists will remain at 0.49 billion, and the unaffiliated population will rise from 1.13 billion to 1.23 billion.

As a percentage of the global population, Christians will remain at 31.4 percent (where they are today) in 2050, while Muslims will increase from 23.2 percent to 29.7 percent.

Muslims, a comparatively young population with high fertility rates, are the only major religion projected by Pew to increase faster than the world's population as a whole, which is expected to rise by 35 percent. The Muslim population will rise by 73 percent, and Christians by 35 percent.

Adherents of various folk religions, including African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, and Native American religions, are projected to increase by 11 percent, from 405 million today to 450 million in 2050.

Jews, who numbered 13.8 million in 2010, will increase to 16 million by 2050.

All other religions combined, including Baha'is, Sikhs, Jains, Taoists, and smaller faiths, will increase 6 percent, from 58 million to more than 61 million.

While the unaffiliated population is projected to rise to 1.2 billion by 2050, its percentage of the global population will drop from 16 percent to 13 percent as a result of faster growth in the global population.

But in the United States, the unaffiliated population is expected to rise from around 16 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2050.

Two factors largely determine the projected changes in religious populations around the world: fertility rates and age distribution.

The fertility rate among Muslims from 2010 to 2015 was 3.1 children per woman, the highest for any religion. For Christians, it was 2.7, and for the world at large, 2.5.

As for age distribution, 34 percent of Muslims are under age 15, compared to 27 percent for Christians and 27 percent for the world at large. Just 7 percent of Muslims are ages 60 and over, half the percentage of Christians.

Looking beyond 2050, Pew projects that by the year 2070, Muslims will outnumber Christians, comprising 34.9 percent of global population to Christians' 33.8 percent.

Other disclosures in the Pew report include:

  • Muslims will make up 10 percent of the overall population of Europe by 2050. Christians will become a minority in the U.K., France, the Netherlands, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • India will continue to have a Hindu majority, but it will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world.
  • In 2050, Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish.
  • Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa in 2050.

Editor's Note:


2. 277,000 U.S. STEM Jobs Are Unfilled

A growing shortage of workers skilled in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — points to a lack of students obtaining STEM degrees and the poor performance of U.S. students in those disciplines.

On a recent international education test, American students ranked 36th among developed nations in math, with a score of 481 out of a possible 1,000 — below the average score of 494.

In science, American students scored 497 out of a possible 1,000, which was below the average score of 501.

In contrast, students in Singapore scored 573 in math and 551 in science, while students in Japan and Korea also scored high in the test, Lloyd Bentsen IV disclosed in a column for the Dallas Morning News.

Yet some educators have been calling for more emphasis on the arts for STEM students, creating the acronym STEAM by inserting arts into STEM.

"The focus on STEM vs. STEAM only obscures the bigger problem — that our education system is broken," Bentsen asserts.

There are now 277,000 STEM job vacancies in the U.S., and it's estimated that there could be as many as 2.4 million vacancies by 2018.

Over the past 10 years, the growth of STEM jobs outpaced growth in other fields by a margin of three to one, according to the Commerce Department.

Students who pursue STEM fields have better job security than their counterparts, and they are paid higher wages.

"Pair that with the bleak employment rates for recent college graduates and the growth in STEM fields, and encouraging our children to pursue these fields seems like a no-brainer," writes Bentsen, grandson of Lloyd Bentsen, who served four terms as a U.S. senator from Texas and was Michael Dukakis' vice presidential running mate in 1988.

Bentsen IV served as an aide in John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, and is now a senior research fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis.

He concludes: "The growing STEM movement has been called the answer to poverty, gender discrimination, and unemployment. Without a firm grasp on the basics of scientific thought and processes, how could we expect our children to continue leading the world in technological innovation?"

Editor's Note:


3. U.N. Gives Iran Seat on Women's Rights Panel

Iran has been ranked among the worst countries on Earth regarding equal treatment for men and women, but that didn't stop the United Nations from voting to give Iran a seat on a women's rights panel.

In January, Iran will begin a three-year term as a member of the executive board of the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as U.N. Women.

The panel began operating in 2011 with the mandate of promoting equality for women worldwide.

The Islamic Republic garnered 36 votes from the U.N.'s 54-member Economic and Social Council, well over the 27-vote minimum needed for appointment to the panel.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power cited "deep concerns" about having Iran assume a position on the board of U.N. Women.

"In Iran, women are legally barred from holding some government positions, there are no laws against domestic violence, and adultery is punishable by stoning, making it wholly inappropriate that Iran assume a leadership role on women's rights and welfare at the U.N.," Power said in a statement.

In a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March, 36 human rights organizations expressed concern about Iran's record on women's rights, including "widespread and systemic discrimination [against women] in law and practice," CNS News reported.

The letter cited laws in Iran that discriminate against women in such areas as marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance.

The groups pointed out that a peaceful protest in Tehran in October against a series of acid attacks against women ended with government agents assaulting and arresting some of the protesters.

The World Economic Forum's most recent annual "Global Gender Gap" report placed Iran sixth from the bottom among more than 140 countries regarding gaps between women and men in political empowerment, economic participation and opportunity, education, and health.

The U.N. also has given Iran a seat on the executive board of the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

The United States provides 22 percent of the U.N.'s regular operating budget plus millions of dollars for individual agencies, CNS News noted. The State Department's fiscal year 2016 request includes $7.7 million for U.N. Women and $132 million for UNICEF.

Editor's Note:


4. Oil Glut Devastating Recyclables Industry

With the glut of oil on the global market driving down the price of crude, plastic containers made from oil have become so affordable that firms are turning away from recycled plastics.

Many U.S. cities and towns pick up used milk containers and other household plastics, earning cash from companies that recycle the plastics.

But the world is awash with oil. Thanks to fracking and other improved drilling techniques, the United States is producing more than 12 million barrels of oil a day, according to February figures reported by CNN, and the price of a barrel of oil is down more than 50 percent since last June.

As a result, the cost of new polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic widely known as PET that is used to make soft-drink and water bottles, is down from 83 cents a pound at the beginning of the year to 67 cents in late March, The Wall Street Journal reported. That's less than the recycled form, which costs 72 cents a pound.

So soft-drink and water-bottling firms are turning away from recycled plastics in favor of the new product, reducing the demand for recyclables.

The municipalities that collect recyclables may now have to pay more to pick up the plastics than they will receive from the recyclers.

"They are definitely concerned about the possibility that they may have to pay for the materials to be removed," Dominick D'Altilio, president of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers, told the Journal.

In some municipalities where dumping trash in landfills costs less than collecting recyclables, officials may be forced to forgo recycling.

The middlemen who buy used bottles and other items and then sort and sell them are especially hard hit by the plummeting prices for used products. In Europe, two German recyclers have gone bankrupt since December, and a British recycling firm went into a form of bankruptcy.

The situation is not likely to improve in the near future. A deal to loosen sanctions on Iran in return for concessions on its nuclear program could immediately put hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude on the already saturated global oil market.

Editor's Note:


5. Anti-Semitic Violence Up 40 Percent Last Year

Instances of anti-Semitic violence increased by nearly 40 percent worldwide last year, with a sharp rise in attacks in several European nations, according to a new report.

Some 766 violent anti-Semitic acts were registered around the world in 2014, up sharply from the 554 violent anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2013.

Those findings were released Wednesday, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, and were prepared in cooperation with the European Jewish Congress.

The report characterizes violent anti-Semitic acts as those "perpetrated with or without weapons and by arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions such as synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and monuments as well as private property."

Countries that saw a significant rise in violent incidents included the United Kingdom, with 141 compared to 95 the previous year; Australia with 30 (vs. 11 in 2013); Germany with 76 (vs. 36); Austria with 9 (vs. 4); Italy with 23 (vs. 12); Sweden with 17 (vs. 3); and Belgium with 30 (vs. 11).

But the highest number of violent incidents was registered in France, with 164 compared to 141 in 2013, the Daily Forward pointed out.

The number does not include the attack at a kosher supermarket in Paris that killed four, because that occurred in January of this year and not in 2014.

France has the largest Jewish population outside Israel and the United States, with about 475,000 Jews or just over 3 percent of the world's Jewish population, USA Today reported. There are about 5.7 million Jews in the U.S., home to 40 percent of the world's Jews, and just over 6 million in Israel.

"Many streets in our European cities have become hunting grounds for Jews, and some Jews are now forced to avoid community institutions and synagogues as a result," Dr. Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement.

"Some are choosing to leave the continent, many are afraid to walk the streets and even more are retreating behind high walls and barbed wire. This has become the new reality of Jewish life in Europe."

The report found that in 2014, there were 68 attacks on Jews and their property and institutions with weapons — more than double the number the previous year — and 101 cases of weaponless violence. The number of arson cases more than tripled compared to 2013, and there were 412 incidents of vandalism.

The 114 attacks on synagogues constituted an increase of 70 percent, and 57 community centers and schools, 118 cemeteries and memorial sites, and 171 private properties were targeted.

The report cited several possible reasons for the rise in attacks last year, including the conflict last summer in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, and a "general climate of hatred and violence" that has accompanied the sudden rise of Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

Editor's Note:


6. Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities — and Fastest-Shrinking

The U.S. population rose by just 0.75 percent in 2014, the lowest growth rate in more than 70 years, due largely to reduced immigration and a drop in the nation's birth rate.

But some metropolitan areas showed impressive population gains during the period from April 2010 to July of last year. At the same time, a review of data by 24/7 Wall St., a news and opinion site, found that the population fell or remained flat in a number of U.S. metros.

Of the metros with a population of at least 100,000, the fastest-growing by far over those four years is The Villages, Fla. The Sunshine State's largest retirement community surged an astonishing 21.3 percent from 2010 to 2014, reaching 107,056 residents last year.

The Villages was founded in the 1980s as a community for well-to-do retirees ages 55 and over, and more than half the population is 65 years or older.

No. 2 on 24/7 Wall St.'s list of fast-growing metros is Midland, Texas, where the population rose 13.7 percent to 155,723, fueled by a regional oil boom that attracted many new residents. The per capita income there is $129,193.

Next on the list is Austin-Round Rock, Texas, which has the largest population of any of the top 10 fastest-growing cities. The population in the state's capital rose 12.5 percent in four years, reaching 1.88 million, thanks in part to a large influx of young people.

No. 4 is Odessa, Texas, which is also enjoying a regional oil and gas industry boom. The population rose 12.3 percent to 149,378, and unemployment stood at just 2.6 percent in December.

Next on the list is Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.-N.C., where an influx of retirees helped push the population up 10.3 percent to 404,951.

Rounding out the top 10 fastest-growing cities, with their growth rates, are Bismarck, N.D. (9.9 percent); St. George, Utah (9.8 percent); Auburn-Opelika, Ala. (9.6 percent); Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (9.5 percent); and Crestview-Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (9.3 percent).

The fastest-shrinking metropolitan area with a population of at least 100,000 was Farmington, N.M., where the population growth was -4.9 percent. Americans were far more likely to leave the metro than to move there from 2010 to 2014, and the population fell to 126,503.

No. 2 among the fastest-shrinking locales was Johnstown, Pa., where deaths outnumbered births and many residents left the metro. The unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in December. The population fell 4 percent to 140,499.

A weak economy and a low GDP per capita of about $30,000 was responsible for much of the migration out of Sierra Vista-Douglas, Ariz., where the population fell 3.4 percent to 129,473.

No. 4 on the list was Flint, Mich., where the manufacturing industry has been declining for decades. The population of 415,376 was down 2.8 percent.

Next was Cumberland, Md.-W.Va., with population growth of -2.6 percent. The area's GDP per capita was $26,736 and unemployment stood at 7.5 percent in the metro with a population of 101,225.

Rounding out the list of America's fastest-shrinking metros was Saginaw, Mich. (-2.4 percent); Weirton-Steubenville, W.Va.-Ohio (-2.4 percent); Decatur, Ill. (-2.2 percent); East Stroudsburg, Pa. (-2.1 percent); and Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala. (also -2.1 percent).

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Editor's Note:


Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Muslims Worldwide to Nearly Equal Christians by 2050 2. 277,000 U.S. STEM Jobs Are Unfilled 3. U.N. Gives Iran Seat on Women's Rights Panel 4. Oil Glut Devastating Recyclables Industry 5. Anti-Semitic Violence Up...
Muslims, to-Equal, Worlds, Christians, UN Votes Iran Onto Womens Panel, 277, 000 U.S. STEM Jobs Are Unfilled, Oil Glut Devastating Recyclables Industry, Anti-Semitic Violence Up 40 Percent Last Year, Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities &8212 and Fastest-Shrinking
Sunday, 19 April 2015 09:26 PM
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