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European women’s work-life balance worsened since COVID outbreak — study

European women’s work-life balance has worsened since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, a European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) report shows. The EIGE’s Gender Equality Index 2022, which has a thematic focus on care, showed that the pandemic has increased informal and unpaid care at home, particularly pressuring women.  Women in the survey were more likely to face interruptions while teleworking than men, the report said. On average 20%...

English language test dashes nurses’ hopes of filling UK jobs

LONDON — As a fluent English speaker, Indian-trained nurse Deepa was surprised to learn she had to sit a language test to practice in Britain, her home for many years. She was even more shocked when she failed it — not just once, but 11 times. Deepa’s story is hardly unique — estimates suggest thousands of qualified nurses in Britain are barred from practicing because they cannot pass an English exam which they say even...

Half of world’s democracies in decline, says watchdog IDEA

By Eduardo Porter STOCKHOLM — Half of the world’s democracies are in a state of decline amid worsening civil liberties and rule of law while already authoritarian governments are becoming more oppressive, an intergovernmental watchdog group said on Wednesday. In its annual report, the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) said democratic institutions were being undermined by issues ranging from restrictions on freedom of expression to increasing distrust in the legitimacy of...

Best and worst cities for expats to live and work in

THREE different cities on three separate continents are the best places for expats to live and work, according to a new survey. Spain’s Valencia topped the InterNations Expat City Ranking list 2022 — with respondents raving about quality of life, public transport and sporting opportunities — followed by Dubai, which was lauded for the welcome it gives new arrivals. Mexico City came in third for its affordability. Not faring so well was Johannesburg, which ranked...

COVID protests escalate in Guangzhou as China lockdown anger boils

SHANGHAI/BEIJING — People in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Guangzhou clashed with white hazmat-suited riot police on Tuesday night, videos on social media showed, as frustration with stringent COVID-19 rules boiled over, three years into the pandemic. The clashes in the southern city marked an escalation from protests in the commercial hub of Shanghai, capital Beijing and other cities over the weekend in mainland China’s biggest wave of civil disobedience since President Xi Jinping took...

Former Chinese President Jiang, who mended US ties, dies at 96

BEIJING — Plucked from obscurity to head China’s ruling Communist Party after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin was expected to be just another transitional figurehead, destined to be a footnote in history. Yet Jiang, who died on Wednesday aged 96, confounded the naysayers, chalking up a list of achievements after breaking China out of diplomatic isolation in the post-Tiananmen era, mending fences with the United States and overseeing an unprecedented...

Japan to consider tapping FX account to boost defense spending – Kyodo

TOKYO – Japan‘s government is considering tapping funds under an account set aside for foreign exchange intervention to pay for an expected increase in defense spending, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday. The government could also issue additional bonds until a decision is made on whether to raise taxes as a long-term source of funding for the scheduled spending increase, Kyodo said without citing sources. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed his ministers on Monday to work on a plan to lift defense spending‘s share of gross domestic product to 2% within five...

Republicans cry weakness, others see sense in Biden’s China protest response

WASHINGTON – The administration of President Joe Biden has drawn Republican fire for its cautious response to nationwide protests in China against COVID-19 lockdowns, with some lawmakers accusing it of failing to seize a historic moment. But some analysts say caution is the right approach given the volatile US-China relationship and the risk of playing into a Chinese narrative that accuses “foreign forces” of being behind dissent. On Monday, the White House said it backed the right of people to peacefully protest in China but stopped short...

Chinese astronauts board space station in historic mission

BEIJING – Three Chinese astronauts arrived on Wednesday at China’s space station for the first in-orbit crew rotation in Chinese space history, launching operation of the second inhabited outpost in low-Earth orbit after the NASA-led International Space Station. The spacecraft Shenzhou-15, or “Divine Vessel”, and its three passengers lifted off atop a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 11:08 p.m. (1508 GMT) on Tuesday in sub-freezing temperatures in the Gobi Desert in northwest China, according to state television. Shenzhou-15 was the last of 11 missions, including...

Kazakh McDonald’s shut outlets temporarily after halting supplies from Russia – sources

ALMATY – McDonald’s licensee in Kazakhstan was forced to temporarily close its restaurants this month after cutting ties with Russian companies and running out of supplies, three sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters. The case highlights supply issues faced by many Kazakh businesses in the wake of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine and the Western sanctions against Moscow that followed. Neighboring Russia is Kazakhstan’s main trading partner. In a statement, the US-based company said that its “licensee in Kazakhstan has temporarily closed all of its restaurants due to local supply issues. We are working together...

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