Nation & World Briefly July 28
Share of rural population hits new low as cities, suburbs boom
WASHINGTON (AP) – Rural America now accounts for just 16 percent of the nation’s population, the lowest ever. The latest 2010 census numbers hint at an emerging America where, by mid-century, city boundaries become indistinct and rural areas grow ever less relevant. Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say.
More metro areas are booming into sprawling megalopolises. Barring fresh investment that could bring jobs, however, large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and north Texas, could face significant population declines.
These places posted some of the biggest losses over the past decade as young adults left and the people who stayed got older, moving past childbearing years.
“This place ain’t dead yet, but it’s got about half a foot in the grave,” said Bob Frees, 61, of Moundsville, W.Va., which now has a population of just over 9,000. “The big-money jobs are all gone. We used to have the big mills and the rolling plants and stuff like that, and you could walk out of high school when you were 16 or 17 and get a $15-an-hour job.”
Demographers put it a bit more formally.
New al-Qaida chief praises Syrian protesters
CAIRO (AP) – Al-Qaida’s new leader praised Syrian protesters seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad while trying to portray the uprising as an Islamic battle against American and Israeli interests.
The video message posted on extremist websites Wednesday is Ayman al-Zawahri’s first since al-Qaida named him its new leader in June following the death of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. commando raid in Pakistan.
The Egyptian-born al-Zawahri, who long served as bin Laden’s top deputy, directly addressed the Syrian protesters who have risen up against Assad’s rule despite a bloody government crackdown. The message appeared to be an attempt to place al-Qaida firmly on the side of the anti-government demonstrators.
“You are an example, explaining lessons to your Arab and Muslim nation in sacrifice, steadfastness and the struggle against oppression,” al-Zawahri said of the protesters. “How could you not? You are the sons of the Levant, the front for jihad and martyrdom.”
In the past, al-Qaida leaders, including bin Laden himself in a video released after his death, have sought to associate themselves with the uprisings sweeping the Arab world this year, offering guidance on how the protests should be led to serve al-Qaida’s extremist version of Islam.