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Twitter rolls back COVID misinformation policy

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The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, September 28, 2016.— Reuters/File

Twitter Inc has rolled back a policy that was aimed at tackling misinformation related to COVID-19 on the social media platform, lending itself to the risk of a potential surge in false claims even as cases rise in China and some parts of the world.

The move also comes amid concerns of Twitter’s ability to fight misinformation after it let go about half of its staff, including those involved in content moderation, under new boss Elon Musk.

“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” according to an update on its blog page. The update was first reported by CNN on Tuesday.

The specific measures that Twitter will drop were not immediately clear, and the company did not immediately respond to a request to share more information.

At the onset of COVID in 2020, Twitter instated a number of measures including labels and warning messages on tweets with disputed information about the health crisis and a framework to have users remove tweets that advanced harmfully false claims related to vaccines.

Meta Platforms Inc-owned Facebook and Alphabet’s YouTube services employed similar measures, which are currently in place.

Early this year, Twitter said that since March 2021 it had stopped enforcing a “civic integrity policy” related to lies about the 2020 US presidential election.

Billionaire Musk took over Twitter on Oct. 27, paying $44 billion for the company, and has moved quickly to initiate a number of changes to product and staff. Musk said on October 29 he would set up a content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints”.



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Kevin Stefanski on Deshaun Watson’s debut for Browns vs Texans: ‘I think he will be ready to roll’

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Deshaun Watson will return to the Cleveland Browns lineup on Sunday after serving an 11-game suspension, and head coach Kevin Stefanski is confident that the embattled quarterback “will be ready to roll” against his former team.  

Stefanski fielded a number of questions about Watson’s ability to perform and connect with the team after the NFL reinstated him on Monday following a lengthy suspension over allegations of sexual misconduct made by more than two dozen women.  

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to throw a pass during an NFL football practice at the team’s training facility Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.
(AP Photo/David Richard)

“As you know, we had Deshaun in the building for three weeks but not out on the field with us and then the last couple of weeks out on the field. Next step is obviously being out there taking all of the first team reps,” Stefanski said. 

BROWNS’ DESHAUN WATSON HAS ‘FOLLOWED ALL THE TERMS’ OF HIS SUSPENSION AHEAD WEEK 13 RETURN, GOODELL SAYS

“He has been doing a nice job getting the defense ready with the scout team reps that he has gotten. I think he has done a nice job with his time away physically, staying sharp and mentally staying sharp so I think he will be ready to roll.”

Watson will make his debut for the Browns against the Houston Texans on Sunday after signing a massive five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract in March. He last played on Jan. 3, 2020, but despite his significant time away, Stefanski was adamant that Watson would be ready to go. 

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, #4, looks to throw the ball during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field In Jacksonville, Florida, Aug. 12, 2022.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, #4, looks to throw the ball during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field In Jacksonville, Florida, Aug. 12, 2022.
(Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

“I have confidence in Deshaun based on his preparation. Really, the focus is on him just doing his job. We are still going to be all about the team effort and still offense, defense and special teams. This is never ever going to be about one person. As it relates to Deshaun, I believe in his preparation. I believe that he has worked really hard on a bunch of things to be ready to go.”

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“I certainly get it but can’t really control that,” Stefanski said of the concern about Watson’s time away from the field. 

“For me, for Deshaun and for all of our players, just have to keep the focus on doing our job. Think about there are some guys who don’t play preseason football, and they get in there Week 1 and need to get tackled the first time before they are ready to go. I think some of those things may be true, but I don’t want to put anything on Deshaun that I think is unfair for me to say at this point. We don’t know.”

Deshaun Watson, #4 of the Cleveland Browns, listens to questions during a press conference prior to a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on Aug. 18, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.

Deshaun Watson, #4 of the Cleveland Browns, listens to questions during a press conference prior to a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on Aug. 18, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.
(Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

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Watson was accused of being sexually inappropriate with the women during massage therapy sessions while playing in Houston. He was not indicted on criminal charges by two grand juries and reached financial settlements in 23 of 24 civil lawsuits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Stocks fall for a second day with the Dow down more than 100 points

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell Tuesday as traders struggled to recover from sharp losses suffered in the previous session and looked ahead to more economic data.

The 30-stock index lost 163 points, or 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.8%, while the S&P 500 shed 0.6%.

The major averages suffered steep losses Monday, with the Dow dropping nearly 500 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each lost more than 1%, after protests in mainland China against the country’s zero-Covid policy started over the weekend. This led to worries over the potential for Chinese Covid protocols could once again hamper global supply chains.

Overnight, however, global markets seem to catch a reprieve as a Chinese official told reporters that 65.8% of people “over age 80” had received booster shots. On top of that, the government reported the first decline in Covid infections within mainland China in more than a week. This contributed to a rally in the Hong Kong and Shanghai markets.

“It just adds another question mark in a time where there are plenty of question marks that we have about where we’re going as far as the global economy,” said Keith Buchanan, portfolio manager at Globalt Investments, on the developments in China.

“The market just had to react to what’s come its way, and it’s been hard to anticipate next development,” he added. “There’s nothing less predictable than a pathogen.”

Within the U.S., investors will watch for data coming later this week on topics such as gross domestic product and jobs for insight into how the economy is responding to inflation.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak at the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings on Wednesday. Investors will be listening for clues into if the central bank will slow or stop interest rate hikes.



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England witnesses rapid surge in Muslim population

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Muslims offer Namaz at Manchester Central Mosque in northwest England — AFP/File
  • Muslim population in England and Wales grew rapidly during past 10 years.
  • Muslims stand at 3.9 million or 6.5% of the population, up from 4.9% before.
  • Some 27.5 million people in England and Wales described themselves as Christian, down 13.1% points from 2011.

LONDON: The Muslim population in England and Wales grew rapidly during the past 10 years, showed the census data released by Office for National Statistics (ONS) Tuesday.

According to the 10-yearly census carried out in 2021, no religion rose by 12 points to 37.2% or 22.2 million, while Muslims stood at 3.9 million or 6.5% of the population, up from 4.9% before.

As per the census, “no religion” was the second-most-common response after Christianity as for the first time, less than half of the population in England and Wales identifies as Christian.

In an increasingly secular age, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said it was no “great surprise” that the Christian proportion was declining over time.

But he said that facing a cost-of-living crisis and war in Europe, people still needed spiritual sustenance.

“We will be there for them, in many cases, providing food and warmth. And at Christmas millions of people will still come to our services,” said the archbishop.

“At the same time, we will be looking beyond our immediate surroundings, remembering we are part of a global faith, the largest movement on Earth and its greatest hope for a peaceful, sustainable future.”

The religion question was added to the UK census in 2001. It remains voluntary to answer, but fully 94% of respondents did, according to the ONS.

Some 27.5 million people or 46.2% in England and Wales described themselves as Christian, down 13.1% points from 2011.

The next most common responses were Hindu (one million) and Sikh 524,000), while Buddhists overtook Jewish people (273,000 to 271,000).

The ONS has been releasing key sections from last year’s census piecemeal, and the latest dealt with religion and ethnic identity.

Data for Scotland and Northern Ireland are released separately.

It found the number of people in England and Wales identifying their ethnic group as white had fallen by around 500,000 since 2011, from 86% to 81.7%.

The proportion identifying as white and from the British Isles stood at 74.4%, down six points from 2011.

The category of “other white” grew, in a decade when Britain saw continued immigration from eastern Europe both before and after its Brexit referendum in 2016.

But the ONS noted that respondents could also choose from more options than in 2011, encouraging them to list other identities.

The second most common ethnic group after white was “Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh” at 9.3%, up from 7.5% a decade ago.

Within that group, most respondents identified their family heritage as Indian, followed by Pakistani, “other Asian”, Bangladeshi and Chinese.

The next largest ethnic group was the fast-growing African population, followed by Caribbean.

African evangelical churches have proliferated in London and elsewhere, providing some succour to the Christian share.



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Meghan Markle ends Spotify podcast ‘Archetypes’ with pointed dig at royals?

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Meghan Markle ended her 12-episode-long Spotify podcast Archetypes this Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Meghan Markle ended her 12-episode-long Spotify podcast Archetypes this Tuesday, November 29, 2022, with a seemingly pointed dig at royals.

As per The Telegraph, the Duchess of Sussex ended the final episode with a special quote by Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos which says: “What didn’t you do to bury me? But you forgot that I was a seed.”

In conclusion of her podcast, in which she interviewed several guests including Serena Williams, Mindy Kaling, and Mariah Carey among others, Meghan said that she had ‘learned so much about them and also myself’.

Meghan shared: “Many moons ago I heard a quote that I will share with you today because as we talk about labels, tropes and boxes that some may try to squeeze you into and roles and stereotypes that are attributed to you that don’t quite fit the full person that you are, this quote is what I wanted to leave you with.”

She added: “To that point my friend, keep growing and I’ll see you on the flip side. As ever, I’m Meghan.”

Meghan’s guests for the final episode of Archetypes included Trevor Noah, Judd Apatow, and Andy Cohen, in a first for the show that featured only women as guests earlier. 



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World Cup live updates: Netherlands, Senegal in position to advance from Group A

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Senegal entered its final Group A game against Ecuador needing a win. After the opening whistle blew, the Lions of Teranga came out with the appropriate intensity.

Senegal pushed ahead early and often, threatening an Ecuadoran side whose conservatism aligned with its reality — that a draw would propel it to the round of 16.

Senegal saw promising opportunities in the third and eighth minutes miss wide. Ismaïla Sarr and Iliman Ndiaye were constant threats down the flanks and in the box, but neither could find the back of the net. But in the 42nd minute, Senegal’s aggression was rewarded when Sarr’s attack was interrupted by a barging Piero Hincapié in the penalty area. Hincapié was called for a foul and Senegal was awarded a penalty kick, which Sarr converted two minutes later.



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Review | ‘The Corridors of Power’: A devastating look at genocide and inaction

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Comment

(3 stars)

There’s a giant cognitive dissonance at the heart of the documentary “The Corridors of Power,” Dror Moreh’s devastating and disheartening examination of genocide since the fall of the Soviet Union and the calculus that goes into the United States’ decision to act — or not. On the one hand, you have the movie’s dry title, evoking the West Wing of the White House, the floor of the United Nations and other suit-filled rooms; the film’s use of such dispassionate chapter headings as “Priorities,” “Legacy” and “Credibility”; and, finally, Moreh’s overreliance on a who’s who of talking heads from the realms of politics, diplomacy, academia and the military: Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Samantha Power, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta and many, many others.

On the other hand, there is the shaky, handheld footage of rotting corpses, executions in broad daylight and naked torture victims that the filmmaker of such shattering works as “The Gatekeepers” and “The Human Factor” has assembled from around the world to break up the monotony of his sit-down chats with power players past and present.

The disconnect is not accidental. Nor is it a flaw. Rather, it is the entire point of the film, which takes the United States’ reputation as the world’s policeman at face value. To be sure, there have been occasions when the conscience of the world is so stirred by outrage that coalitions form and nations come together to act in concert. But when someone somewhere in the world is “mugged,” to use the paltry euphemism of one of Moreh’s subjects, more often than not America is the “cop” you call for assistance.

How do we decide whether to respond? And in what fashion? And for how long? These are the questions Moreh is interested in. But the carefully parsed answers — which explain why Powers titled her Pulitzer-winning 2002 book on genocide “A Problem From Hell” — will make your heart sink. The “right” thing to do, whether in Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Cambodia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Syria, Libya or any of the other places discussed in the film, often creates new problems, not to mention doesn’t even solve the original conundrum.

The central focus of the film is, to use a choice turn of phrase cited by Jake Sullivan, the current national security adviser, an endless “loop of imperfection” that characterizes the question of what to do in the face of affronts to humanity that were supposed to have ended with the Holocaust. (As the late Madeleine Albright puts it, the horrifying regularity of genocide is less like the vaunted new world order than a “new world disorder.”)

In other words, Sullivan suggests, we and our allies are damned if we do something and damned if we do nothing.

The discussions that take place on camera, in tastefully appointed suites, are frank and often offer fascinating insights into these dilemmas. But it is the sharply jarring — and dismayingly repetitive — footage of carnage that will stay with you long after the echoes of the film’s subjects’ words have faded from your mind. Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, leaves viewers with a succinct rhetorical question, the answer to which is, by the end of the film, painfully obvious: “Where does this all end?”

Unrated. At Regal Gallery Place. Contains disturbing thematic material, images and discussion of violence, death, torture and rape. 135 minutes.



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Key CFP questions: Who’s No. 1? Where do Ohio State and Alabama land?

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This penultimate ranking could arguably be the most compelling, revealing regular-season College Football Playoff top 25.

Period.

If there is one upset in this weekend’s conference championship games — most realistically if TCU loses to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship or USC loses to Utah in the Pac-12 title game — it would open the door to controversy, allowing one-loss Ohio State and two-loss Alabama back into the conversation. The scenario in which both TCU and USC lose lends further credence to the possibility, which is why how far Ohio State falls is the biggest question for the committee. If the Buckeyes are at No. 5, they still have a chance to finish in the top four with some help. If the committee drops them below Alabama, their position becomes far more precarious.

Ohio State is already hanging by a thread after it was beaten soundly at home by a Michigan team playing without injured star running back, Blake Corum. Alabama, which has been an afterthought in the playoff race, on Tuesday could be ranked ahead of both teams it lost to — three-loss LSU and two-loss Tennessee.

Alabama and Ohio State’s résumés are complete. So who the committee deems better Tuesday night would seem to have an edge on Selection Day — if there’s an opening. A TCU loss wouldn’t rule the Frogs out, but they would be lumped in with Ohio State and Alabama as teams that didn’t win their conference. A USC loss would be harder for the committee to justify because the Trojans would have lost twice to Utah, creating doubt within the room that they are “unequivocally” one of the four best teams. A three-loss K-State isn’t getting in. A three-loss Utah isn’t getting in.

(Re)-enter Ohio State and Alabama.

According to ESPN’s strength of record metric, Ohio State’s résumé is significantly better than Alabama’s. The average top 25 team would have a 20% chance of going 11-1 or better against the Buckeyes’ schedule and a 29% chance of going 10-2 or better against the Crimson Tide’s schedule. The committee would also consider that the Buckeyes’ loss was to the No. 3-ranked team.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said his conference should “without a doubt” have two teams in the playoff. Alabama coach Nick Saban advocated for his team after its Iron Bowl win, saying, “We’ve lost two games to top-10 opponents, both on the last play of the game and both on the road. We could have easily won both games but didn’t.”

Which is why the Tide still needs help, as does with Ohio State. In addition to determining who’s in the bubble this week, the committee could also consider making a change at the top. Here are three other things to watch Tuesday night (7 ET on ESPN) when the group reveals its fifth of six rankings:

Who’s No. 1?

Both Michigan and Georgia could make a case for the top spot Tuesday night, and while the order could flip now or next week, it ultimately will be significant for seeding purposes. The No. 1 team faces the No. 4 team in one semifinal and the selection committee is careful to avoid putting the top team at a geographic disadvantage. Michigan owns the best win in the country, against the committee’s No. 2 team. The committee does not try to avoid rematches in the semifinals, so it’s possible Michigan could wind up at No. 1 on Selection Day and Ohio State could be No. 4.

The Wolverines outscored Ohio State 28-3 in the second half Saturday. They also have a top 25 win against No. 11 Penn State, and are No. 2 in the country in strength of record. Georgia, though, is close behind them at No. 5, with its best wins against Tennessee, Oregon and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have looked sluggish recently in the first half, though, scoring just 10 points against Georgia Tech and 9 the previous week in a 16-6 win at Kentucky. The committee has said in recent weeks that Georgia separated itself from the rest of the country as its No. 1 team. Is that still the case?

Can USC jump TCU?

The easiest move for the committee would be to bump undefeated TCU up to No. 3 following Ohio State’s loss, but USC’s back-to-back wins against ranked opponents UCLA and Notre Dame could give them a bigger boost. Including the Trojans’ Sept. 24 win at Oregon State — the team that just eliminated rival Oregon from the Pac-12 title game — USC has three wins against teams currently ranked in the CFP top 25. No other school has more than two wins against current top 25 opponents.

Which Group of 5 team leads for a New Year’s Six bowl bid?

The highest ranked conference champion from a Group of 5 league is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl, and that likely will be decided at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday when No. 19 Tulane hosts No. 22 UCF in the American Athletic Conference championship game. According to ESPN Analytics, Tulane has a 59% chance of winning. No. 24 Cincinnati should fall out of the rankings this week following its 27-24 loss to Tulane on Friday. It’s also worth keeping an eye on 10-2 UTSA, which is currently unranked by the committee, but will face North Texas in the Conference USA title game Friday. According to ESPN Analytics, UTSA has a 74% chance of winning.


ESPN reporters’ top-four picks

Andrea Adelson: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Blake Baumgartner: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Bill Connelly: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Heather Dinich: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
David Hale: 1. Michigan 2. Georgia 3. TCU 4. USC
Chris Low: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Harry Lyles Jr.: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Ryan McGee: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. USC 4. TCU
Adam Rittenberg: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Alex Scarborough: 1. Georgia 2 Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Mark Schlabach: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Paolo Uggetti: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Tom VanHaaren: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC
Dave Wilson: 1. Georgia 2. Michigan 3. TCU 4. USC



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Balenciaga Says Sorry Over Controversial Ad, Internet Isn’t Buying It

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Balenciaga is in the eye of a storm after two of its recent ad campaigns were accused of “sexualising children”. Following this, the luxury fashion house issued an apology. It is also suing its production company, North Six Inc, for $25 million. A few pictures showed children posing with plush teddy bear bags with bondage-themed elements. In photos from another Balenciaga ad campaign, the company had photos that featured Supreme Court documents on a child pornography case.

Balenciaga has removed all the controversial photos and has issued a detailed apology on Instagram.

While taking full responsibility for the photographs and ads showing children with bondage-themed bags, Balenciaga pushed part of the blame of the second ad on a “third party”, evidently North Six Inc. This particular photoshoot used court papers from the 2008 Supreme Court case, United States v Williams, as props. In the final ruling of the case, the US Supreme Court has criminalised the pandering of child pornography. The ruling reiterated the constitutionality of the PROTECT Act. The PROTECT Act is a federal law that raised the punishment for sexual exploitation and other forms of child abuse.

In the apology posted on Instagram, Balenciaga said that they were assured by the “third parties” that the props used in the photoshoot were fake office documents. It attributed the inclusion of these documents in the photoshoot to “reckless negligence” and revealed that the company had filed a complaint regarding the same.

Kim Kardashian, one of Balenciaga’s ambassadors, said that she is outraged by the campaign and is current reevaluating her relationship with the brand. “As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period,” Kim wrote in a series of tweers.

Social media users are unhappy with Balenciaga’s apology with many alleging that the claim that they were in the dark about certain aspects including the Supreme Court documents being in the photographs is a farce. Some users have highlighted the multiple stages of approval in place for a campaign like this to pass as evidence of the company being forewarned about what they were doing.

#CancelBalenciaga has been trending on Twitter with people expressing their outrage at the “disgusting” and “sick” imagery they propelled.

Read all the Latest Lifestyle News here





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Pakistan receives $500m from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – SUCH TV

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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced on Tuesday that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) had transferred $500 million to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

“AIIB has transferred today, as per their board’s approval, to State Bank of Pakistan/Government of Pakistan $500 million as programme financing,” the minister said on Twitter

Earlier this month, the finance minister had said Pakistan would receive the funds as co-financing for a development programme.

The Building Resilience with Active Countercyclical Expenditures Programme is an Asian Development Bank (ADB) financing programme to counter the social fallouts of economic crisis.

Last month, the ADB signed an agreement with Pakistan to provide a $1.5 billion loan for budgetary support and help flood-related rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.

The loan, provided under the BRACE Programme, was provided to fund the government’s $2.3bn countercyclical development expenditure programme designed to cushion the impacts of external shocks, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The $1.5bn loan was aimed to provide social protection, promote food security, and support employment for people amid devastating floods and global supply chain disruptions.

The State Bank later announced that it had received $1.5bn from the ADB “as disbursement of policy-based loan for the government of Pakistan”.

Early bond repayment

Today’s inflow from AIIB comes amid growing uncertainty about Pakistan’s ability to meet external financing obligations with the country in the midst of an economic crisis and recovering from devastating floods that killed over 1,700 people.

Pakistan’s reserves with the central bank stood at $7.8bn as of November 18, barely enough to cover a month’s imports.

But on Friday, SBP Governor Jameel Ahmad said he expected external financing requirements would be met on time because of inflows from international lenders. He said the country will repay a $1 billion international bond on December 2, three days before its due date.

The bond repayment, which matures on Dec 5, totals $1.08bn, Ahmad told a briefing, according to two analysts who were present.

For this purpose, the governor said funding was lined up from multilateral and bilateral sources, one of which was the $500m from AIIB which Pakistan received today, to ensure the repayment would not affect foreign exchange reserves.



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