KEY COVID NOS. WORLDWIDE
Pos / Country / New Daily cases / Total Deaths / Daily Deaths / Active Cases / Deaths/1M Pop
World 3,68,191 / 48,80,347 / 6,385 / 1,78,50,161 / 626.1
1 USA 67,565 / 7,37,273 / 1,266 / 97,76,034 / 2,211
2 UK 38,520 / 1,37,944 / 181 / 13,69,152 / 2,018
3 Russia 28,190 / 2,18,345 / 973 / 7,20,334 / 1,495
4 Turkey 33,860 / 66,605 / 237 / 4,84,923 / 779
5 Iran 13,391 / 1,23,081 / 213 / 3,56,748 / 1,442
6 Mexico 2,007 / 2,82,227 / 141 / 3,54,960 / 2,160
7 Brazil 7,359 / 6,01,442 / 176 / 2,68,159 / 2,804
8 Honduras 516 / 10,010 / 22 / 2,47,957 / 991
9 India 16,021 / 4,51,220 / 229 / 2,13,979 / 323
10 Ukraine 11,996 / 59,052 / 352 / 2,05,134 / 1,361
11 Poland 2,118 / 75,918 / 49 / 1,79,327 / 2,009
12 Romania 16,743 / 40,071 / 442 / 1,53,485 / 2,101
13 Germany 7,924 / 95,183 / 96 / 1,40,695 / 1,131
14 Serbia 6,930 / 8,841 / 53 / 1,24,722 / 1,017
15 Malaysia 7,276 / 27,525 / 103 / 1,08,997 / 837
16 Thailand 9,445 / 17,835 / 84 / 1,08,174 / 255
17 Norway 590 / 871 / / 1,04,807 / 159
18 Finland 622 / 1,100 / / 1,00,819 / 198
19 France 5,880 / 1,17,150 / 68 / 91,950 / 1,790
20 Italy 2,494 / 1,31,384 / 49 / 82,546 / 2,177
34 Pakistan 689 / 28,152 / 18 / 41,754 / 124
91 Bangladesh 543 / 27,713 / 14 / 10,620 / 166
G20 LEADERS DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN AND ITS COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS: US
Leaders of the G-20 countries on Tuesday discussed the situation in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, including the critical need to maintain a laser-focus on counterterrorism efforts and ensure safe passage for foreign nationals still stuck in the country.
Attended by leaders of G-20 countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, the group during the G-20 Extraordinary summit on Afghanistan held virtually also agreed to provide humanitarian assistance directly to the Afghan people through independent international organisations, the White House said.
The leaders discussed the critical need to maintain a laser-focus on our enduring counterterrorism efforts, including against threats from ISIS-K, and ensuring safe passage for those foreign nationals and Afghan partners with documentation seeking to depart Afghanistan," White House said in a readout of President Biden's meeting with G20 leaders.
The leaders also reaffirmed their collective commitment to provide humanitarian assistance directly to the Afghan people through independent international organisations and to promote fundamental human rights for all Afghans, including women, girls, and members of minority groups, it said.
The White House said that the US remains committed to working closely with the international community to address problems in Afghanistan.
The US remains committed to working closely with the international community and using diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic means to address the situation in Afghanistan and support the Afghan people, it said.
The G20 meeting took place days after American officials met Afghanistan's ruling Taliban in Doha, Qatar, for their first face-to-face talks since the US pulled its troops from the war-torn country in August.
US officials have said the talks are a continuation of engagement with the Taliban on matters of national interest, not about giving legitimacy to the hardline Islamic group-led government in Kabul.
IMF CHIEF KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA WILL REMAIN IN JOB FOLLOWING CHINA CONTROVERSY
Kristalina Georgieva retained her job as managing director of the International Monetary Fund following multi-day discussions by the IMF’s board that were held in response to controversy sparked by accusations Georgieva manipulated a report to benefit China.
The IMF’s executive board announced the decision on late Monday evening, just as the annual meetings of the fund and World Bank started on Monday in Washington, D.C.
The decision follows an investigation into allegations Georgieva pressured World Bank staff to inflate China’s rank on the “Doing Business” report to 78th place from 85 in the 2018 edition.
The IMF’s executive board said in a press release that information “presented in the course of its review did not conclusively demonstrate” that Georgieva “played an improper role” in the 2018 “Doing Business” index, and that it “reaffirms its full confidence” in the fund’s chief.
TALIBAN MEET E.U.-U.S. TEAM IN QATAR
The Taliban held their first face-to-face talks with a joint United States-European Union delegation on Tuesday in Qatar as Brussels pledged €1 billion ($1.2 billion) in aid for Afghanistan.
The hardline Islamists are seeking recognition, as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster, after they returned to power in August following the withdrawal of U.S. troops after 20 years of war.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres earlier urged the world to donate to drought-hit and impoverished Afghanistan to head off economic collapse, but also slammed the Taliban's "broken" promises to Afghan women and girls.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the E.U. aid package, meant "to avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse", at a virtual G20 summit hosted by Italy on Tuesday.
She stressed the funds are "direct support" for Afghans and would be channelled to international organisations working on the ground, not to the Taliban's interim government which Brussels does not recognise.
"We have been clear about our conditions for any engagement with the Afghan authorities, including on the respect of human rights," she said.
"So far, the reports speak for themselves. But the Afghan people should not pay the price of the Taliban's actions."
The Taliban badly need assistance as Afghanistan's economy is in a parlous state with most aid cut off even as winter nears, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.
FRANCE UNVEILS $35 BN REVIVAL PLAN
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday unveiled a five-year, €30 billion ($35 billion) investment plan for developing innovative technology and industrial activity, including building small nuclear reactors, electric cars and greener airplanes.
The goal of the state-funded France 2030 plan is to boost France’s economic growth over the next decade amid growing global competition with China and the U.S., Mr. Macron said. The money will start being spent next year, he said.
“If us, Europeans, and especially us, the French, want to be able to choose our future, it is key that we win... the battle for independence and better living conditions,” Mr. Macron said.
The plan includes €8 billion to develop energy technology that would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Macron said the funding would finance the building of small, modular nuclear reactors in France, which relies on nuclear power for 70% of its electricity.
In his announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Macron also vowed to make France by 2030 “the leader of green hydrogen” power, a form of energy which does not emit carbon dioxide and can be used in industries such as steel and chemical manufacturing that currently rely on fossil fuels.
The plan calls for €4 billion to be used to develop about 2 million electric and hybrid cars by the end of the decade.
In addition, France will “massively invest” in building its first “low-carbon plane” by 2030. The plan also provides money to develop by 2026 a reusable launch system to propel spacecrafts.
‘UK’S SLOW VIRUS LOCKDOWN COST THOUSANDS OF LIVES’
The British government waited too long to impose a lockdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, missing a chance to contain the disease and leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths, lawmakers concluded Tuesday in a hard-hitting report.
The deadly delay resulted from ministers failure to question the recommendations of scientific advisers, resulting in a dangerous level of groupthink that caused them to dismiss the more aggressive strategies adopted in East and Southeast Asia, according to the joint report from the House of Commons science and health committees.
It was only when Britains National Health Service risked being overwhelmed by rapidly rising infections that Prime Minister Boris Johnsons Conservative government finally ordered a lockdown in late March 2020.
There was a desire to avoid a lockdown because of the immense harm it would entail to the economy, normal health services and society, the report said. In the absence of other strategies such as rigorous case isolation, a meaningful test-and-trace operation, and robust border controls, a full lockdown was inevitable and should have come sooner.
Cabinet minister Stephen Barclay defended the government’s response, saying decisions were taken on the evidence and the scientific advice at the time.
Lawmakers said their inquiry was designed to uncover why Britain performed significantly worse than many other countries during the early days of the pandemic. Britain has recorded more than 137,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.
The 150-page report is based on testimony from 50 witnesses, including former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and former government insider Dominic Cummings. It was unanimously approved by 22 lawmakers from the three largest parties in Parliament: the governing Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party and the Scottish National Party.
CHINA LAUNCHES BIODIVERSITY FUND
China on Tuesday pledged to inject $233 million into a new fund to protect biodiversity in developing countries during a key UN conservation summit, despite disagreements among major donors on the initiative.
Beijing — the world’s biggest polluter — has sought to play a more prominent role internationally on biodiversity conservation in recent years.
Its pledge came as delegates from about 195 countries gathered in the southern Chinese city of Kunming for the first of a two-part summit on safeguarding plants, animals and ecosystems.
The summit aims to establish a new accord setting out targets for 2030 and 2050. “China will take the lead in establishing the Kunming biodiversity fund with a capital contribution of 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million) to support the cause of biodiversity conservation in developing countries,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a speech delivered via video link at the COP15 leaders’ summit.
“China calls on... all parties to contribute to the fund.”
KUWAIT ALLOWS WOMEN TO JOIN MILITARY IN COMBAT ROLES
Kuwaiti women will be allowed to enlist in the military in combat roles for the first time after years of having been restricted to civilian roles, the army said Tuesday. Defence minister Hamad Jaber al-Ali al-Sabah said the door had been opened for women to join various combat ranks, including as officers, the Kuwait Armed Forces tweeted. “The time has come for Kuwaiti women to be given the opportunity to enter the Kuwaiti military side by side with their brothers,” the minister said in remarks carried by state news agency KUNA.
He expressed confidence in women’s “capabilities... and their ability to endure hardship”. In the initial phase, the applicants will serve in the field of medical and military support.
Kuwaiti women earned the right to vote in 2005 and have been active both in cabinet and parliament — though they did not gain any seats in the current parliament. Unlike other Gulf countries, Kuwait’s parliament enjoys legislative power and lawmakers have been known to challenge the government and royals.
CLIMATE CHANGE: 'ADAPT OR DIE' WARNING FROM ENVIRONMENT AGENCY
Hundreds of people could die in floods in the UK, the Environment Agency has warned in a hard-hitting report that says the country is not ready for the impact of climate change.
Earlier this year in Germany, dozens of people died in floods.
"That will happen in this country sooner or later" unless the UK becomes more resilient to increasingly violent weather, the agency concludes.
Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the agency, said: "It is adapt or die."
The apocalyptic tone is deliberately intended to startle governments, companies and communities into preparing for global warming effects such as higher sea levels and more extremes of rainfall and drought.
The new report, seen by the BBC ahead of its publication on Wednesday, assesses the country's readiness to cope with the many different risks of climate change.
In its response, environment department Defra said it was taking key measures to protect the UK from the effects of global warming.
PAKISTAN AMONG TOP 10 COUNTRIES IN LIST OF LARGEST EXTERNAL DEBT STOCKS
Pakistan is among the top 10 countries that possess the largest external debt stocks and became eligible for the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, said World Bank report.
Citing International Debt Statistics in 2022, released by the World Bank on Monday, The News International reported that there was a wide divergence in the rate at which external debt accumulated in individual DSSI-eligible countries, including the group's largest borrowers.
The combined external debt stock of the 10 largest DSSI-eligible borrowers (Angola, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Zambia) was 509 billion dollars at end-2020, 12 per cent higher than the comparable figure at end-2019 and equivalent to 59 per cent of the external debt obligations of all DSSI-eligible countries combined.
They also accounted for 65 per cent of the end-2020 private non-guaranteed external debt of DSSI-eligible countries. The rate at which debt accumulated in individual countries varied considerably.
The World Bank report said that for Pakistan, the 8 per cent increase in external debt stocks reflected the inflow of budgetary support from official bilateral and multilateral creditors and rollover and new credit lines from commercial banks, The News International reported.
LOVE IS LOVE: GAY MARRIAGE POSSIBLE FOR DUTCH ROYALS
In the country that first legalised gay marriage, the Dutch crown princess has the right to marry a person of any gender without giving up her right to the throne, the prime minister said on Tuesday. Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia, 17, has not made any comments on the matter, and little is known of her personal life. The question arose after recently published books argued that the country’s rules exclude the possibility of a same-sex royal couple. But PM Mark Rutte said times have changed since one of his predecessors last addressed the issue in the year 2000. “The government believes that the heir can also marry a person of the same sex,” Rutte wrote in a letter to parliament. Gay marriage was legalised in the Netherlands in 2001.