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Russia’s Kuliak faces disciplinary action after showing Z symbol | Russia-Ukraine war News

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The Russian gymnast who sported letter linked to invasion of Ukraine on medals podium blasted by the sport body.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) says it will open disciplinary proceedings against Russian artistic gymnast Ivan Kuliak for his “shocking behaviour” in displaying a symbol of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during an event.

The 20-year-old, who on Saturday finished third in the parallel bars final at the Apparatus World Cup in Qatar’s capital Doha, had the letter “Z” prominently placed on the front of his outfit as he stood next to Ukraine’s Illia Kovtun, who won the gold.

Russian forces have used the letter Z as an identifying symbol on their tanks and vehicles in Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion of its neighbour. Some supporters of the invasion have also been displaying the symbol.

“The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against … Kuliak following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup,” the FIG said in a statement on Sunday.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” designed not to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

The FIG has already cancelled all of its events in Russia and Belarus, adding that it would not allocate other events to the two countries until further notice.

Belarus has been a key staging area for Russian forces.

“The FIG adopted further measures against Russia and Belarus on March 4. From March 7, 2022, Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, are not allowed to take part in FIG competitions or FIG-sanctioned competitions,” the statement added.



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Americans’ financial health reached near decade high in 2021 | Business and Economy News

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The survey of 11,000 adults was taken last October and November, when inflation had topped 6 percent year-over-year, though before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed gas and food prices sharply higher.

Americans’ financial health reached its highest level in nearly a decade last year, the Federal Reserve said Monday, spurred by a strong job market and government support payments.

Almost eight in 10 adults said last fall that they were either “doing okay or living comfortably” when it came to their finances in 2021, according to an annual Fed survey, the highest proportion to say so since the survey began in 2013.

The survey of 11,000 adults was taken last October and November, when inflation had topped 6 percent year-over-year, though before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed gas and food prices sharply higher. The Fed did not ask any specific questions about how inflation was impacting Americans’ financial situations.

The survey also took place before the huge omicron wave of COVID cases occurred in late 2021, causing some Americans to pull back on travel and other spending.

The financial health captured by the report helps explain the resilience of consumers in the face of higher prices, as consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, has continued to rise even as inflation is near a 40-year high.

The report found that members of all racial groups reported healthier finances, with Hispanics showing the sharpest improvement and whites the smallest.

Nearly seven in 10 people said they could pay an unexpected expense of $400 with cash or its equivalent, the highest since 2013. Still, 11 percent said they would be unable to pay it at all.

People with children also reported a sharp increase in financial well-being, with three-quarters saying they were doing “at least okay” financially, up eight percentage points from 2020 and four points above 2019, before the pandemic.

The boost for parents likely reflected the reopening of schools, Fed officials said, allowing more parents to work and reduce their child care expenses. The expansion of the child tax credit, included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion financial relief package, was also likely an important factor, Fed officials said.

Lower-income parents reported the biggest increases in their financial health. For those earning less than $25,000, the proportion that said they were doing at least okay jumped to 53 percent from 40 percent.

The expanded child tax credit included monthly payments of up to $300 per child to most parents. Higher-income parents said they mostly saved the money, while for those with incomes of less than $50,000, three in 10 said they spent the largest portion on housing, while 15 percent said the biggest portion went to food.

The Federal Reserve, for the first time, asked about cryptocurrency in the survey. It found that 12 percent of Americans had held crypto in the past 12 months, but only 3 percent had used it in financial transactions. The Fed said 2 percent used it to make a payment, and 1 percent used crypto to send money to someone, Fed officials said.



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Tunisia union to boycott President Saied’s national dialogue | Labour Rights News

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The powerful UGTT union says it will hold a strike over wages and the economy, as it accuses Kais Saied of unilateral moves.

Tunisia’s powerful UGTT trade union has refused to participate in a national dialogue proposed by President Kais Saied, its spokesperson has said, arguing the process excluded democratic forces.

Saied sacked the democratically-elected government last July before dissolving parliament and seizing control of the judiciary, in moves opponents called a coup against the only democracy to emerge from the 2010 Arab Spring uprisings.

On Friday, he appointed a loyalist law professor to head a body charged with rewriting the 2014 constitution, which was a product of the inclusive democratic process following the Arab Spring protests that toppled long-time leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Political parties have been barred from a role in forming the new constitution.

The president has defended the power grab, saying his moves were legal and needed to save Tunisia from a prolonged political and economic crisis.

UGTT – also known as the Tunisian General Labor Union – has demanded a meaningful national dialogue on both political and economic reforms, but it rejected Saied’s unilateral moves.

“We reject any formal dialogue in which roles are determined unilaterally and from which civil and political forces are excluded,” UGTT Spokesperson Sami Tahri said.

UGTT Secretary-General Noureddine Taboubi said at a meeting of its executive committee that the proposed dialogue, which “ignores influential political actors” in the country “will not be able to resolve the crisis in the country or lay out a better future for it”.

National strike

The UGTT also announced on Monday that it will hold a national strike over wages and the economy.

With more than a million members, the UGTT is Tunisia’s most powerful political force and its call for a strike may present the biggest challenge yet to President Saied after his takeover and moves to rule by decree.

The date of the strike, by UGTT members working in public services and state companies, will be announced later, Tahri said.

Saied’s government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, seen as necessary to ward off national bankruptcy, but the UGTT has rejected proposed spending cuts and instead wants wage increases for state workers.

Saied’s July 25 power grab was welcomed by many Tunisians tired of a frequently deadlocked post-revolutionary democracy.

But his opponents, including the Islamist Ennahda party that has dominated the country’s post-revolution politics, have warned of a return to autocracy.

On Sunday, the Ennahda party rejected President Saied’s decision to name members of the advisory committee to draft the new constitution, saying the measure was “a complete deviation from constitutional legitimacy”.



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‘Palestine an open wound’ says Qatar’s emir at Davos forum | Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani News

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Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani says the international community should work to resolve forgotten and ignored conflicts.

The emir of Qatar has urged the international community to give as much attention to resolving the forgotten and ignored conflicts in the world, stressing in particular the Israel-Palestine conflict, as it has to the war in Ukraine.

Addressing business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said that while “laser focus” is rightly applied to finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis, help and solidarity should be given to victims of “every race, nationality and religion”.

“The most glaring example is in Palestine, which has been an open wound since the establishment of the United Nations,” he said. “Those families have been occupied for decades with no relief in sight. The escalation in illegal settlement aggression has been relentless and the same goes for the continued attacks against the Palestinian people.”

“I keep praying that the world wakes up to the injustice and violence and finally acts,” he said.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani smiles during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, smiles during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, May 23, 2022 [Markus Schreiber/AP Photo]

He mentioned the case of Shireen Abu Akleh, the veteran Palestinian-American Al Jazeera correspondent who was killed by Israeli forces earlier this month in the occupied West Bank.

“Her death was just as horrific as the seven journalists killed in Ukraine since March of this year, and the 18 other journalists killed in Palestine since 2000, and many other journalists killed in the line of duty in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen,” the emir said.

He said there should be no tolerance of attacks on journalists, and urged those in attendance to not accept a world where governments have double standards regarding the value of people based on their religion, region or race.

“We consider the value of each European life to be just as precious as someone from our region,” he said.

Sheikh Tamim pointed out that the Davos forum is of “exceptional importance” as it is held amid economic challenges and geopolitical turmoil.

“Before we can hope for economic prosperity, we must first examine, repair and enforce our framework for peace,” he said. “And we need to send a reassuring message to people around the world: only through unity, we can overcome the conflict that divides us. Our united efforts need to be based on principles already agreed on and the charter of the United Nations, international law, and respecting each other’s sovereignty.”



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