Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Developing Asia poised for slowest growth in 16 years; Islam to be largest religion by 2075; Declaration of war and the start of the American century

1 Developing Asia poised for slowest growth in 16 years (Straits Times) Developing Asia is on track to post its slowest annual growth in 16 years this year as it adjusts to China's rebalancing and possible spillovers from global policy uncertainty, the Asian Development Bank said.

The Manila-based lender kept at 5.7 per cent this year's growth forecast for developing Asia, which groups 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. That would be the region's weakest expansion since it grew 5.0 per cent in 2001. Next year, developing Asia should again grow by 5.7 per cent, the ADB said in its 2017 Asia Development Outlook report.

"Developing Asia continues to drive the global economy even as the region adjusts to a more consumption-driven economy in China and looming global risks," said Yasuyuki Sawada, the ADB's chief economist. Sawada said the region faces "risks from uncertain policy direction in the advanced economies, including the pace of interest rate normalisation in the US".

The ADB reduced its 2017 growth forecast for India to 7.4 per cent from 7.8 per cent and it expects growth there to pick up to 7.6 per cent in 2018.

2 Islam to be largest religion by 2075 (Harriet Sherwood in The Guardian) The number of babies born to Muslims is expected to overtake those born to Christians within two decades, making Islam the world’s largest religion by 2075, according to new analysis of data by the Pew Research Center.

People with no religious affiliation are set to shrink as a proportion of the world’s population as a result of their declining birthrate and growing numbers of Muslims and Christians. The analysis points to modest but significant demographic shifts in religious affiliation over the coming decades, as populations in the global south continue to grow rapidly and Christian populations in Europe age and die.

Between 2010 and 2015, an estimated 31% of babies born in the world were to Muslim parents, far exceeding the 24% share of the world’s population held by Muslims. In the same period, 33% of the world’s babies were born to Christians, only slightly higher than their 31% share of the global population.

That is set to change, owing to the relatively young age profile of Muslims and their higher fertility rates. Between 2030 and 2035, slightly more babies (225 million) will be born to Muslims than to Christians (224 million). Between 2055 and 2060, the gap is expected to widen to 6 million – 232m births to Muslims, and 226m to Christians.

In 2015, of the world’s 7.3bn people, Christians were the largest religious group, at 31%. Muslims were second at 24%, followed by religious “nones” (16%), Hindus (15%) and Buddhists (7%). Jews, adherents of folk religions (faiths associated with a particular group of people, ethnicity or tribe), and followers of other religions made up smaller shares of the global population.

3 Declaration of war and the start of the American century (San Francisco Chronicle) Before April 6, 1917, the US still was, in the words of American writer Walter Lippmann, a country where "money spent on battleships would be better spent on schoolhouses." Then, 100 years ago Thursday, the US declared war on Germany and, following victory in 1918, started what would eventually become known as "The American Century."

American immigrant communities were torn over whether to help the British, and pacifism was the watchword after the destruction of the US Civil War. President Woodrow Wilson won re-election in 1916 with the slogan "He has kept us out of war." Another of his campaign catchphrases had a more contemporary ring: "America first."

In Europe, both sides had already dug in for trench warfare in northern France and Belgium, with gas and tanks and precision shelling making battle more deadly than ever. Some days there were tens of thousands of casualties in unprecedented slaughter.

Despite American reluctance to get involved, there was outrage early on at the bombing and German destruction of Belgium's Louvain library and reports of other atrocities. Then, German submarines started attacking ships in the Atlantic. In 1915, the British liner Lusitania was torpedoed, killing some 1,200, including 128 Americans.

And in a diplomatic faux pas with huge consequences, German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann sent a telegram to his Mexico City office to draw Mexico into the war with a promise to get territory back in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. There was no WikiLeaks then, but British intelligence got hold of the missive and fed it to Wilson.

"It means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors," Wilson said. He asked for war. On April 6, Congress obliged.

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