Pakistan IMF | Israel Attack Gaza | Munich Rubble | US Citizenship Changes | Ukraine Nuclear Plant Attack – Global News This Week
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Pakistan Becomes Fourth-Largest Borrower from IMF, Awaits $3 Billion Loan Approval
Pakistan has emerged as the fourth-largest borrower from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is anticipating a fresh loan of $3 billion within the next nine months. However, the approval of the loan by the IMF’s board is pending.
Pakistan’s Rise in Borrowing:
Previously occupying the fifth position among IMF debtors, Pakistan’s additional borrowing of $3 billion has elevated its ranking. The country currently owes a total of $10.4 billion to the IMF, making it the largest borrower in Asia. Other countries in the region, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Armenia, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Mongolia, have significantly lower borrowing levels from the IMF.
Leading IMF Debtors:
Reasons for Pakistan’s Borrowing:
Pakistan is currently facing a severe balance of payments crisis due to the spillover effects of the Russia-Ukraine war and domestic challenges. The country has a long history of seeking assistance from the IMF, having availed nearly two dozen bailouts since the 1950s.
Fresh Loan Agreement:
The expected $3 billion loan is part of the fresh stand-by arrangement, which builds upon the 2019 agreement that provided a $6.5 billion bailout package. Pakistan is now looking forward to receiving the remaining $2.5 billion from the previously agreed-upon package.
Israeli fighter jets have launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in retaliation to rockets fired from the besieged enclave, following the conclusion of a large-scale offensive in Jenin, located in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli Response to Rocket Attacks:
In response to rockets fired towards southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, Israel conducted an attack targeting an underground weapons manufacturing facility belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian group governing the Strip. No casualties were reported from the Israeli strike.
Conclusion of Offensive in Jenin:
The Israeli army announced the withdrawal of its forces from Jenin, ending a two-day ground and air offensive. The offensive resulted in the deaths of at least 12 Palestinians, with approximately 100 others wounded. Residents who had fled the Jenin refugee camp, where the raid occurred, began returning to assess the damage to their homes and belongings. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society evacuated around 500 families, totalling approximately 3,000 individuals, from the camp.
Celebration and International Response:
Across the West Bank, thousands of Palestinians celebrated the withdrawal of Israeli forces. The Jenin refugee camp houses Palestinians who are descendants of those displaced during the establishment of Israel in 1948. The Israeli offensive in Jenin drew condemnation from various countries and organizations, including Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and the Arab League. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern about the assault on Jenin and has called for a meeting on Friday to discuss the situation.
In a remarkable find, construction workers in Munich have uncovered rubble from the city’s main synagogue, which was destroyed on the orders of Adolf Hitler 85 years ago. The discovery includes columns from the synagogue and a stone tablet displaying a portion of the Ten Commandments, delighting the local Jewish community and residents.
Historic Significance of the Discovery:
The Jewish museum’s director, Bernhard Purin, expressed his astonishment and called the finding one of the most moving moments in his 30 years of working in Jewish museums. The synagogue had been torn down in June 1938 after Hitler deemed it an “eyesore,” and its remnants had remained unseen since then. The November pogrom, known as Kristallnacht, followed five months later, resulting in attacks on Jews, synagogues, and Jewish-run businesses across Nazi Germany.
Details of the Discovery:
Rubble from the demolished synagogue is believed to have been submerged in the nearby River Isar since it was utilized to rebuild a weir 11 years after World War Two. Among the retrieved artefacts is a stone tablet that originally adorned the eastern wall’s Ark, which housed the Torah. The site of the former synagogue is now occupied by a department store.
The Significance of the Find:
A quarter of the stone tablet was missing, making the discovery even more meaningful. The Leonhard Moll construction company, responsible for demolishing the synagogue, had apparently stored the rubble on its premises until 1956. At that time, approximately 150 tonnes were dumped into the river to renovate the Grosshesseloher weir, including remnants from the synagogue and buildings destroyed during the war.
Response from the Jewish Community and Local Figures:
The head of Munich’s Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, who had worshipped in the synagogue as a child before its destruction, expressed her joy at the discovery. Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, described the find as a stroke of luck, while his deputy, Katrin Habenschaden, emphasized the city’s historic duty to secure the discovery and return it to the Jewish community.
The US citizenship test is undergoing updates, sparking worries among immigrants and advocates about potential challenges for test-takers with lower English proficiency. The changes to the naturalization test, which is a crucial step towards citizenship, have raised concerns following the previous administration’s alterations in 2020, which made the test longer and more difficult. While the test was reverted to its previous version under President Joe Biden, new modifications are now being proposed, including the addition of a speaking section and a shift to multiple-choice questions in the civics section.
Proposed Speaking Section Raises Concerns:
The proposed speaking section aims to assess applicants’ English skills by having them describe photos depicting daily scenarios. However, some immigrants, such as Heaven Mehreta from Ethiopia, worry that this new format, based on visual prompts rather than personal questions, could pose difficulties, particularly for those who learned English as adults. Shai Avny, an immigrant from Israel, also expresses concerns about increased stress during the test and the potential language barrier that may hinder effective communication.
Shift to Multiple-Choice Format in the Civics Section:
Another proposed change suggests transforming the oral short-answer format of the civics section into a multiple-choice format. This alteration would require applicants to possess a broader knowledge base to select the correct answer. For example, instead of simply naming a US war fought in the 1900s, the applicant would need to choose the correct option from a list of possibilities. This shift is anticipated to demand higher language proficiency and test-taking skills.
Challenges for Individuals with Limited English Literacy:
The new format for the civics section, involving increased reading comprehension, may pose difficulties for individuals with English literacy challenges, including refugees, immigrants, and those with disabilities that impact their test performance. For these individuals, the multiple-choice test may prove more daunting due to the increased amount of reading required.
USCIS Plans and Public Feedback:
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defends the proposed changes as reflecting current best practices in test design and aiming to standardize the citizenship test. The agency plans to conduct a nationwide trial in 2023, followed by a review from external experts. Public feedback will be sought, and the final implementation of the changes is expected late next year.
Record Numbers of Naturalizations:
Despite concerns about the test modifications, more than 1 million people obtained US citizenship in fiscal year 2022, with USCIS significantly reducing the backlog of naturalization applications. This positive trend highlights the ongoing importance of the citizenship test as a pathway to US citizenship.
Ukraine and Russia have exchanged accusations of planning to attack the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, a major facility in southeastern Ukraine currently occupied by Russian troops. Both sides have presented claims without providing evidence of an imminent threat to the plant. Concerns surrounding the plant’s safety have been heightened since Russia seized control of it and its staff during the early stages of the conflict. The United Nations’ atomic watchdog has expressed repeated alarm over the potential for a radiation catastrophe similar to the Chernobyl disaster. The plant’s six reactors are shut down, but operational power and qualified staff are still necessary for crucial safety systems.
Ukraine’s Allegations and International Response:
Ukraine alleges that Russia might attempt to create a deliberate leak at the plant to disrupt Kyiv’s ongoing counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims that Russian troops placed objects resembling explosives on top of the plant’s power units to simulate an attack. However, recent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found no activity related to explosives. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi emphasizes the need for vigilance, given the proximity of combat to the plant.
Russian Claims and Potential Impact:
Russia’s Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warns of a potential catastrophic provocation by the Ukrainian army at the nuclear plant. He alleges that the Kyiv regime poses a significant threat and claims that Russia is taking measures to counter it. The International Institute for Strategic Studies suggests that a Russian attack on the plant would likely not lead to widespread radiation dispersal but could cause localized panic. Possible scenarios include exposing a reactor core or triggering a blast involving the on-site spent fuel.
Rebuttal to Accusations:
Renat Karchaa, an adviser to Russia’s state nuclear company Rosenergoatom, dismisses Zelenskyy’s claims as baseless and aimed at maintaining tension around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Karchaa denies the need for explosives and asserts that the allegations are nonsense.
Preparedness and Contingency Plans:
Ukrainian emergency workers recently conducted a drill to prepare for a potential release of radiation from the plant. In the event of a nuclear disaster, approximately 300,000 people residing near the facility would be evacuated. Ukrainian officials emphasize that the shut-down reactors are safeguarded by robust concrete containment domes.