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Egypt: Journalist held for appearing on Al Jazeera dies of virus | News



Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir, who was arrested last month after appearing on Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network, has died after contracting COVID-19 during pretrial detention, according to a media watchdog.

The 65-year-old’s death, announced late on Monday in a Facebook post by his daughter Sarah Monir, came a week after he was hospitalised with COVID-19 following his release from detention on July 2 due to his sickness.

“We are extremely disturbed by journalist Mohamed Monir’s death today after he spent more than two weeks unnecessarily held in pretrial detention at Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison,” Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said in a statement.

Monir was suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and serious heart problems, according to the CPJ.

The veteran journalist was arrested on July 14 on charges of joining “a terrorist group”, spreading false news and misusing social media after appearing on Al Jazeera, which is banned by Egypt’s government.

Political prisoners in Egypt can be held in pretrial detention for years on vague charges, often in what rights groups describe as unhealthy conditions without proper access to medical care.

His arrest came as Egypt steps up a crackdown on the press that it has been waging since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led the army’s 2013 overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

“Egyptian authorities must release all journalists held for their work, as even brief detentions amid the COVID-19 pandemic can mean a death sentence,” said Mansour.

In May, the CPJ documented the arrests of at least four Egyptian journalists, including Sameh Haneen, a Coptic Christian who also faces charges of joining a “terrorist” organisation.

The interior ministry later published video footage of an alleged confession by Haneen, in which he claimed he had been paid thousands of dollars for producing videos critical of the government for Al Jazeera at the request of members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mahmoud Hussein is an Al Jazeera journalist held in Egypt for more than three years.

An Egyptian national, he was arrested shortly after his arrival in Egypt on December 20, 2016, while on a personal visit. He has yet to be officially charged.

In May 2019, an Egyptian court rejected an order by the state prosecutor to release him. Authorities opened a new investigation against him with unspecified charges and returned him to prison.

Egypt and its Gulf allies – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have boycotted Qatar since June 2017, accusing it of “supporting terrorists” and interfering in its neighbour’s affairs, accusations Doha strongly denies.

Egypt ranks as the third-worst jailer of journalists behind China and Turkey, according to the CPJ.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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US debt projected to balloon to more than double GDP by 2051 | Debt News



The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that by 2051, the United States’ debt will skyrocket to 202 percent of its gross domestic product, up from 102 percent this year.

The U.S. federal debt will grow to more than double the size of the economy in three decades, increasing the risk of a fiscal crisis even though dangers appear low in the near term, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Debt will be equivalent to 202% of gross domestic product by 2051 from 102% this year, the nonpartisan arm of the legislature said Thursday in its long-term budget outlook. Its projection for 195% in 2050 was unchanged from the prior report, whose forecasts ran through that year.

Net interest payments on the debt are expected to remain relatively low for the next decade, then rise rapidly over the following 20 years, the CBO said. The agency projects 10-year Treasury yield, after inflation, at 2.6% in 2050. The nominal yield was at 1.54%, near the highest in more than a year, on Thursday.

The CBO also said that the two Social Security trust funds, for seniors and people with disabilities, will be exhausted later than the agency projected last year.

The report — which doesn’t reflect the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan currently working its way through Congress — follows the selloff in Treasuries over the past week that sent yields spiking. Investors are gaining more confidence that rates will move up, with U.S. growth and the labor market set for a stronger-than-expected uptick as vaccines roll out and states lift restrictions.

The CBO outlook’s debt projections will likely underpin already-firm opposition by Republicans to the relief plan, and could also concern some Democratic lawmakers as President Joe Biden prepares a followup multitrillion-dollar plan to build infrastructure and boost the economy in other ways.

“The risk of a fiscal crisis appears to be low in the short run despite the higher deficits and debt stemming from the pandemic,” the CBO said in the report. “Nonetheless, the much higher debt over time would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis in the years ahead.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday that the U.S. economy still has a long way to go before the central bank considers tightening, and underscored that the low-inflation world of the past several decades is unlikely to change.

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