Maryna Lialko had raised the girls alone after their father left the family, their grandmother, Nina Lialko, said.

“She was devoted to these two girls,” she said.

Kateryna was discharged this fall from Ohmadyt hospital, where she received psychiatric and physical therapy, and the girls are now in Kyiv living with their grandmother and aunt.

The aunt, Olha Lialko, said she has seen a shift in their personalities. Kateryna is increasingly turning inward; she speaks very little and struggles to maintain eye contact. Yuliia still can’t fully comprehend the loss.

“Katya is very closed; she keeps it all to herself,” Olha Lialko said. “Yuliia is missing mom a lot. She needs attention, she likes to cuddle.”

The family is trying to help the girls process their loss. And occasionally they see glimpses of the girls they knew before the war.

They dye their hair wild colors and play with makeup. They fight as only sisters can, and cling closely to each other for company.

But no one knows what will come next for them. Their life is on hold. They attend school online and have few friends in the new city. The family is unable to return home to Donetsk but unwilling to commit to staying in Kyiv.

“It will be very difficult for them to live without her,” their grandmother said. “This life has no sense at all.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting

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The Evolution Of Dress Codes In The Workplace

By Newsy Staff
September 22, 2022

Since the pandemic, dress code within companies has changed, as well as the decline in revenue from men’s suits.

Lately, a lot of major companies are rolling out requirements for employees to start coming into the office, which a lot of employees aren’t too thrilled about. A major point of contention? What we have to wear.  

Many Americans who have been working from home have traded in pencil skirts and blazers for the casual comforts of home or maybe a nice shirt for zoom, but casual shorts.  

But the truth is, this isn’t actually a new development thanks to the pandemic. U.S. revenue for men’s suits declined from $2.2 billion in 2013, to $1.9 billion in 2018. And to look even further back, an estimate in 1948 from a clothing manufacturers association put that revenue at $12.5 billion with inflation. 

The pandemic may have accelerated the trend, but the decline in formalwear has been going on for decades now.  

In the mid-20th century, formalwear was not just an office staple. For both men and women, suits and hats were the standard for everyday activities: from shopping for groceries, to going to the movies, to watching sports games.  

But major fashion trends in the ’60s and ’70s opened the door for more variety within formalwear, especially as new styles were being seen on television.  

Colorful power suits and trousers were in, and outfits that could be worn both to the office and after work drinks were seen as more practical and fashionable. It was what Esquire Magazine called “the rise of loose-collar culture.” 

Soon, the rise of casual wear would become unstoppable, thanks to the khaki pants and button-down collared shirts in Silicon Valley.  

The ’80s and ’90s saw the invention and rise of “business casual” what this 1995 article from the Chicago Tribune declared was a “confusing” new world. Silicon Valley already embraced a culture of rule-breaking, and creativity, and risk over conformity.  

The rise of “athleisure” clothes during the past couple of decades, like yoga pants and workout sneakers, coincided with this. By the time we reach the 2000’s, formalwear was confined to only certain industries, and outside the office could be seen mostly during special occasions like weddings.  

Though it’s worth noting, not even traditional industries might be so strict on the suit much longer! In 2019, Goldman Sachs infamously relaxed their dress code to “business casual.”

Some fashion experts have noted that the cultural implications of formalwear have been transferred to some areas of casual dress.  

Being able to work remotely, and thus dress casually, is more common in white-collar industries. One could argue there’s a new flex of status with high-end athleisure brands like Lululemon, or streetwear from luxury brands like Gucci.  

Changes in culture shape our changes in fashion, and we can trace those changes through our decline in formalwear.  

Source: newsy.com

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Pop Quiz: Can You Fall In Love With A Fictional Character?

In this segment of “Pop Quiz,” Newsy’s “In The Loop” dives into whether or not you can fall in love with a fictional character.

In 1955, a woman by the pseudonym of “Miss A” wrote in asking for advice about a crush. 

The response was: “I don’t know what you learned in college, but you are flunking the course of common sense. You have fallen for a piece of celluloid as unreal as a picture on the wall.” 

One year later, that advice column was published again in an academic paper that coined the phrase “parasocial relationship,” which was defined as a “seeming face-to-face relationship between spectator and performer.”  

Parasocial relationships have also been characterized as one-sided and basically imaginary, but they feel real, because as an audience member or a reader, we’re spending a lot of time with them. 

They have since been the focus of around 250 empirical studies over the past seven decades, and most of them analyze audience relationships with real life media figures: like TV personalities, actors, musicians, or, in more recent years, social media influencers. And some studies have looked specifically at fans of celebrities like Justin Bieber or Elvis Presley. Fun fact: there are still more than 600 active fan clubs dedicated to Elvis Presley.  

On a neurological level, we do know that the human brain is pretty good at experiencing imagined stimuli as if they were real. One study found that the auditory cortex in the brain can light up both when hearing a sound and when imagining that sound. 

So, it’s not a huge leap to suggest these fictional or “imagined” parasocial crushes might feel like the real thing. 

Fewer studies have been conducted on parasocial relationships with fictional characters; but the ones that exist have looked at anime characters, sitcoms like “Modern Family,”  readers of the “Twilight” series and, specifically, everyone who had a crush on the fictional vampire Edward Cullen.  

In a survey of around 240 women, 44% said the series had no real influence on them, and that it was all just fantasy. But 31% said the series showed them “the type of true love and strong commitment they would like to have in their own romantic relationship.”

Researchers have described parasocial relationships as identity-forming, allowing “adolescents to crystallize their beliefs, preferences and expectations.” 

Many researchers do note that parasocial relationships can lead to unrealistic expectations for real-life relationships, but others also saw them as “placeholders” for actual relationships that allowed people to romantically experiment.  

Another real-world example of a parasocial relationship is when a man named Akihiko Kondo held an unofficial wedding ceremony to marry the holographic pop star Hatsune Miku. The marriage is not actually legally recognized, but it’s one of many around the world.  

Skeptics can look at this as an example of something keeping him from making real-life relationships. In an interview with the New York Times, Kondo says he’s aware of how strange people think his attraction is. And while he knows that Hatsune Miku isn’t real, his feelings are — and he says he was able to pull himself out of depression and find a sense of love and solace because of it.  

All of that goes to show that parasocial relationships with fictional characters can, and do have real-world impacts. 

Companies have long capitalized on the appeal of parasocial relationships. And video games take this one step further, especially when you look at the entire genre of dating Sims, where players can virtually date fictional characters. 

Dating Sims have made an estimated $570 million across several platforms. “Stardew Valley” is one of the most popular ones, letting players date and marry from a pool of 12 fictional characters. And as of this spring, the game has sold over 20 million copies. 

The fandoms surrounding these games really confirm a lot of the past studies done on parasocial relationships. Players have described them as venues for escapism that provide a sense of autonomy and emotional safety, and that is especially true for queer gamers.  

One person told Huffpost: “I get to live through the experience of not being seen as weird or an outcast for being ‘different’ in my gender identity and sexuality.” 

It seems that our emotional attachments to fiction and pop culture are very real and can even have a purpose from giving us ways to form our emotional identities, providing venues for emotional escapism, as well as a way to explore and feel a real sense of love. 

Source: newsy.com

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Why Do Some People Live So Long?

The CDC predicts life expectancy to grow for Americans in the next few years from 76 years old to about 85 years old.

The U.S. life expectancy is 76 years according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Others are living beyond that benchmark. Government numbers show there are more than 72,000 centenarians in the U.S., or those who’ve reached the age of 100.  

The CDC predicts life expectancy for all Americans grow to 85.6 years by 2060.  They credit current patterns in mortality caused by an more vaccinations, fewer infectious diseases, and alcohol and smoking prevention programs.   

Jan Gantz is already past that. She celebrated her 90th birthday in April surrounded by friends and family at her home in Sarasota, Florida.  

“I’m almost 5-6 months from my 91st year and I still don’t know how I got to be 90. And as I told somebody, it happens one day at a time. And then all of a sudden, it’s like what?” said Gantz. “The party was beautiful, they put so much planning into it.”

You’re probably wondering what her secret is to staying happy and healthy. 

“I play mahjong several times a week, I go to the gym twice a week — that doesn’t mean it’s fun necessarily, I try and do water aerobics, entertain at least once a week and I go out socially,” said Gantz. 

The number of Americans 90-and-older has nearly tripled since the 1980s. 

But Jan still has some ways to go to reach the bar set by these two: Jeanne Louise Calment of France and Jiroemon Kimura of Japan. 

The oldest female and male ever lived to 122 years and 116 years, respectively, according to Guinness World Records. 

Family members say Calment had a good diet, but had a sweet tooth and ate about two pounds of chocolate a week. 

Kimura’s life motto was reportedly “eat light to live long.” 

There might be some truth to the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” 

A study out this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed obesity and diabetes can deter how long we live. Researchers recommended a Mediterranean diet focused on seafood and veggies and went light on meat and sugar. 

Regular exercise can slow down father time and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

German researchers analyzed a handful of studies and determined regular exercise can add almost four years to some people’s life span. Good genes also factor in. It’s estimated about a quarter of the variation in life span is dictated by genetics. 

Yet the science to all the specific genes and how they help longevity is still in the works. And then there’s lifestyle. 

The more seniors stay mentally active, the more it can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. 

It’s something Jan Gantz at 90 has been able to do, even through isolation during the pandemic. 

“I spent time reading, interacting on the computer with people playing mahjong and games, and it was just a different time. And I feel very blessed to have gotten through that and not feeling scarred by a lot of it,” said Gantz.  

When asked what advice Gantz has for others looking to live a long and happy life, she gave an answer that’s reflective of how she’s lived hers.  

“Be kind. And smile. You go out with a smile, you’re always going to meet somebody. And kindness I think in today’s world is going to go so far,” she said. 

Source: newsy.com

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Doctors Are Still Hunting For The Cause Of Long COVID Brain Fog

Studies show 30% of COVID patients report brain fog a few months after they’re sick. It’s 65 to 85% for long-haulers sick beyond that.

COVID-related brain fog is a condition that can feel very defeating and overwhelming. 

Newsy’s Lindsey Theis has COVID-related brain fog herself. And it’s a topic she’s covered since 2020. She says each person she’s spoken with tells her it’s a dramatic change that impacts how they think and move throughout their lives. For this story, Theis met a family dealing with what she says is one of the worst cases she’s ever seen. 

On a bright, sunny day in rural Rensselaer, Indiana, 45-year-old Kari Lentino’s mind is a slow-moving storm. 

“I feel like a brain blizzard half the time,” she said. 

Lentino is immunocompromised. She’s had COVID twice. Since June 2021, it’s left her with several neurological setbacks. She says her brain fog is among the worst of it. 

“I couldn’t remember passwords to get into certain systems. I worked at the library and I would forget what I was doing while I was doing it,” Lentino said. 

Her conversations now go at a snail’s pace as she searches for words. 

The mother of four and grandmother of two had to quit work and file for disability. 

She can’t watch her grandkids. She won’t run errands or drive. Now, her time is spent mothering her brain. 

Dr. Igor Koralnik is chief of neuro-infectious diseases and co-director of the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive COVID-19 Center, where he also runs a lab. 

He says 70% of his COVID brain fog patients are like Lentino — women in their early 40s. 

“We see that attention is their main cognitive problem,” he said. “Problem with attention, problem with memory, problem with multitasking and briefly, problems getting through their daily life and working in their current job capacity. …  We have people who have been infected back in March 2020 and still have decreased quality of life because of those symptoms and decreased cognitive function.”

Scientists think COVID cognitive dysfunction is from brain inflammation — but what causes it is still itself foggy.

One leading theory is that long COVID is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, including the brain. 

“We find that the virus has confused the immune system, and we think that it’s driving the immune system towards autoimmunity,” Koralnik explained.

Studies show 30% of COVID patients report brain fog a few months after they’re sick. It’s 65 to 85% for long-haulers sick beyond that.  

Researchers haven’t found brain fog treatments yet, so they tackle someone’s symptoms. 

But even diagnosing brain fog is tricky. It’s invisible. There’s no set case definition but it can include trouble focusing, struggling to remember names, places, or words, reacting slowly, confused judgment, losing a train of thought often and fatigue or exhaustion from concentrating.  

Back in Rensselaer, Lentino’s husband helps her prepare her pills. She takes eight medications and two vitamins daily, plus a handful more as needed. That’s in addition to her therapies and memory aids like calendars and post it notes. Those cues share spots in the Lentino home near the signs of her former creative and vibrant self. Prescription bottles near her paintings. Reminders near her Star Wars string art. 

“It’s frustrating and depressing. It takes so long to do anything,” she said. 

In the spot where she used to stand to paint, brushes and acrylics wait patiently. 

Lentino is waiting too, like so many brain fog sufferers. It’s a long, draining wait and the ultimate test of patience.  

On a hopeful note, research shows many brain fog patients recover memory and attention near the 6-to-9-month mark. For treatment, some doctors prescribe medicine, like steroids or antihistamines, plus therapies like speech or cognitive rehabilitation therapy. If you have brain fog yourself, experts say you can try memory games and puzzles, and focus on quality sleep and healthy eating. 

Source: newsy.com

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Next Level: Are We On The Brink Of Gaming’s Cinematic Golden Age?

Video games and movies have many things in common, but efforts to adapt franchises from one medium to another have historically been met with failure.

This episode of Next Level explores the intersection between video games and film, what elements get in the way of a good adaptation, and how creatives from both industries are working to bridge the gap. 

Source: newsy.com

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Mexican Faith Leader Jailed For Sex Abuse; Flock Stays Loyal

Legions of Naasón Joaquín García’s followers remain loyal to him, viewing his imprisonment as a challenge that will strengthen their church.

Their spiritual leader is behind bars in California after pleading guilty to sexually abusing minors. Yet legions of followers of Naasón Joaquín García in his home base in Mexico remain fervently loyal to him, viewing his imprisonment as a challenge that will strengthen their church, La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World), rather than weaken it.

His continued hold on his flock was evident recently at the Christian church’s main temple in Guadalajara, as thousands gathered to pray for their absent leader during their Holy Supper, the most sacred festivity for La Luz del Mundo. To gasps of surprise, Joaquín García addressed the congregation by telephone from his Los Angeles prison, where he is serving a 16-year sentence.

“I do not see the bars that separate me from you,” he told his followers. “I see your beautiful faces … because you are the children of God.”

Even outside the temple, the sound of his voice stirred emotions among dozens of devotees guarding entries to the sanctuary. Nearly all closed their eyes. Many lifted their fists. Some knelt and wept.

Near the end of the call, Joaquín García asked his followers to raise their hands and their voices to God and repeat after him: “I promise you, Lord, that whatever the suffering, I will never abandon you.”

It seems clear that many members of the church, founded in Mexico in 1926 and now active in many countries, aren’t ready to abandon Joaquín García as their “apostle” — the term used for the church’s leader. Many believe he was sent by God to preach to them and are convinced he is innocent, despite his guilty plea.

“The apostle always shows determination to move forward,” said Phares Ruiz, who traveled from El Salvador to attend the Holy Supper. “He’s firm in his convictions, and the church is firm as well in its purpose of moving forward.”

Ruiz told The Associated Press that his family has belonged to La Luz del Mundo for three generations.

Joaquín García, 53, was arrested in 2019 in California. He initially faced more than 20 charges, but most were dismissed after a plea deal with prosecutors. The church contended that prosecutors withheld or doctored evidence, and said Joaquín García pleaded guilty because he didn’t think he could get a fair trial.

“The Apostle of Jesus Christ has had no choice but to accept with much pain that the agreement presented is the best way forward to protect the church and his family,” the church said.

The home base of the church is the Guadalajara neighborhood of Hermosa Provincia, Spanish for “beautiful province.” Jericho, Bethlehem and Nazareth are among the names of roads converging on the white temple that locals call “the cake,” for its white tiers that diminish in size as they rise upward.

Congregation members in the neighborhood call each other “brother” and “sister” and take pride in helping one another. The church’s media relations office claims there is no crime in the area.

The neighborhood has cafeterias, clinics, a recreation center and a store that sells Bibles and religious-themed games for children. From the walls hang photographs of Joaquín García, smiling and wearing a tuxedo. Spanning the main street is a sculpture spelling “innocent” in Spanish.

Sara Pozos, 49, is among many in the neighborhood who believe their leader’s imprisonment has strengthened the church.

“I think it changed for the better in the sense that now we feel more united, and we feel more empowered,” she said.

“It has been a very difficult issue, of course, for him and for us,” she added. “We all suffer something in life, but one learns to know those moments where you see that God is doing something to help you, to get ahead, not to let you fall.”

Another neighborhood resident, Sailem Castillo, also said she was upbeat despite Joaquín García’s imprisonment.

“For us everything is very nice, everything continues to work,” she said. “Ministers, pastors and deacons have their same duties. They bless the bread, the wine, and do other things as if he were here, although physically he is not.”

The jailed leader is the grandson of La Luz del Mundo’s founder: Eusebio Joaquín González, a member of the military who began preaching in 1926. He’s known to church members as Aarón — a result, he said, of God asking him to change his name.

Aarón’s wife was the church’s first member. Today it claims a membership of more than 5 million in some 50 nations.

La Luz del Mundo is sometimes described as evangelical, but its members do not embrace this term. The church’s doctrine is learned from the cradle. Parents give biblical names to their children and take them to the temple at 40 days old to promise they will guide them to follow their path.

Most teachings translate into something quotidian. During services, the women sit to the right and men to the left. In some cities, people tithe more than 10% of their monthly income to the church. Biblical verses are cited to explain behavior.

Castillo, a recently married woman of 25, told AP the church advises members how “to lead a decent life,” in which women may not drink alcohol or go out on frequent dates. Like other women in Hermosa Provincia, she wears dresses and skirts that are not form-fitting, eschews makeup and earrings and wears her hair long.

The religion is “very demanding,” said Arlene M. Sánchez-Walsh, a professor of religious studies at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian institution near Los Angeles.

“It is not sufficient to say ‘I have converted’ or “I have baptized'” she said. “You have to follow certain steps to prove your loyalty.”

For some young people, these steps include memorizing songs honoring the apostle, reading the Bible before bed and not marrying someone from outside the church.

“All this goes to show that although you are part of this world, you have accepted a very particular way of life because you are Christian,” Sánchez-Walsh said.

Those born in the community are baptized at 14 because, according to the church, that lets them decide whether to reaffirm or leave the faith. Nevertheless, there are former members who say their ceremony was not optional.

Ahead of the baptism, in a ritual known as “the revivals,” children undergo days of prayer and fasting inside a temple. The revival consists of repeating “Glory to Christ” nonstop until the youths are heard speaking in tongues to testify that the Holy Spirit has entered them.

For Raquel Haifa, 43, fulfilling the revivals was a traumatizing experience that she considers abusive, because minors are not able to decline to take part.

“I did cry, because I was saying, ‘God, deliver me from this, make this time pass quickly,'” Haifa said from Texas.

Currently, journalists are not allowed to attend services or take photographs inside the church’s temples. Since Joaquín García’s arrest, La Luz del Mundo’s media relations team says it cannot make official statements on his case because litigation is ongoing.

On Sept. 8 a lawsuit was filed in California against Joaquín García and four church members alleged to be complicit in the sex abuse. The suit was filed by five women who — under the pseudonym Jane Doe — were identified as victims in the original criminal charges against him.

It accuses Joaquín García of conditioning victims, under the guise of religion, to serve him above all else, ultimately resulting in the sexual abuse over the course of several years.

The lawsuit includes detailed accounts from the five plaintiffs alleging that they were pressured by Joaquín García and his associates into performing for pornographic photo shoots, and were forced to engage in sex acts with him.

“The church weaponized the faith of their most vulnerable members,” said Jonati Joey Yedidsion, one of the lawyers handling the lawsuit. “Instead of protecting those innocent women, Naasón and the church fostered and then brutally preyed on their blind trust and allegiance in the ‘Apostle'”.

The case has been difficult for some former members who have distanced themselves from the church.

Speaking on a podcast called “I Left a Sect,” Lo-ami Salazar said Hermosa Provincia used to be her “happy place.”

“Knowing that these abuses took place there, in my happy place, in my safe place, is horrible,” she said.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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‘Biosphere’ Review: A Hilariously Thought-Provoking Sci-Fi Comedy

By Daniel Feingold
September 16, 2022

This uproariously funny and clever buddy comedy uses humor to talk about pressing societal issues.

Two dudes are in a biosphere after the world has ended. We don’t know exactly why, or how long ago. But childhood friends Ray (Sterling K. Brown) and Billy (Mark Duplass), who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Mel Eslyn, in a stellar debut) are now presumably spending the rest of their days in a dome protecting them from whatever made Earth uninhabitable. Climate change feels implied but is never directly referenced. Ray is a charismatic, quietly confident scientist who built the biosphere, while Billy is a well-meaning putz who somehow served as the last president of the United States when end times happened. Humanity had to have already been on its last legs for Billy to be an elected official at any level of government.  

The biosphere is designed not just to sustain life, but to also maintain some semblance of normalcy. The guys play video games, exercise, read, cook and have the necessities for comfortable living, relatively speaking. But they both seem to recognize this can only last for so long, and it’s a ceremonious seafood dinner, of all things, that sparks a doomsday scenario for their safety inside the dome, challenging their friendship, the way they see each other and the way they see themselves.  

And that’s really all I feel I should say. The less you know about this movie going in, the better. No trailer, no detailed plot summary, not even too much discussion about the themes “Biosphere” is tackling. Because, rest assured, while it approaches some deep, important topics in the span of 106 minutes, even knowing what those are would tip you off to possible directions the story is headed. That doesn’t seem fair. “Biosphere” made its world premiere with a surprise screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is appropriate for a movie you should embrace as a complete surprise.  

What I will tell you is “Biosphere” is creative, daring and hysterical. Eslyn and Duplass show no hesitation in pushing these two characters to unexpected, bold places. And they do so with comedy that often plays as both outrageous and tender. It’s their conduit for the social commentary that reverberates throughout the biosphere and in the feelings and interactions of the last men on Earth who inhabit it.  

 Eslyn also makes a remarkably assured feature-length directorial debut, helming an ostensible sci-fi comedy that’s so much more. A lot could go wrong with how this story is told and the messages it offers, and the seemingly unique but actually relevant questions it presents. She fearlessly handles this with sincere thoughtfulness and empathy.  

And when you have a cast of two, that dynamic had better work. Brown and Duplass are a delight to watch, both together and individually. Their chemistry as lifelong friends is believable from the moment we meet them on their morning jog around the dome, discussing the dynamics of video-game brothers Mario and Luigi. It’s a galaxy-brain conversation you have only with someone you feel comfortable around. Their banter never feels forced, and it seems likely the screenplay was light on dialogue in some places to allow space for the two actors to just riff organically.  

A surprise entry at TIFF, and one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for me, “Biosphere” goes far deeper than what it means to live in a post-apocalyptic world, continually pushing the audience to consider the human experience in ways most ordinarily wouldn’t. In the case of Ray and Billy, that consideration comes while stuck in a doomsday dome. Fortunately for us, all it could take is watching a movie.

Source: newsy.com

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Xi, Putin Hold Summit In Uzbekistan As Ukraine War Dominates

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 15, 2022

Russian President Putin and Chinese President Xi were due to meet one-on-one to discuss the war in Ukraine, according to one presidential adviser.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and leaders from India and Central Asia gathered Thursday in Uzbekistan for a summit of a security group formed by Beijing and Moscow as a counterweight to U.S. influence.

The meeting Friday of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization is overshadowed by Putin’s attack on Ukraine and strains in China’s relations with Washington, Europe, Japan and India due to disputes over technology, security and territory.

The event in the ancient sultanate of Samarkand is part of Xi’s first foreign trip since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic 2 1/2 years ago, underscoring Beijing’s desire to assert itself as a regional power.

Putin and Xi were due to meet one-on-one and discuss Ukraine, according to the Russian president’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov.

Xi’s government, which said it had a “no limits” friendship with Moscow before the invasion, has refused to criticize the attack. Beijing and India are buying more Russian oil and gas, which helps Moscow offset the impact of Western sanctions.

China “states explicitly that it understands the reasons that forced Russia to launch a special military operation,” Ushakov said Thursday, according to the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass.

Putin planned to meet Friday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ITAR-Tass said, citing Ushakov.

There was no indication whether Modi might meet Xi. Chinese-Indian relations are strained due to clashes between soldiers from the two sides in a dispute over a border in a remote area of the Himalayas.

Other SCO governments include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The meeting planned to consider an application by Iran, an observer of the group, to become a full member, according to ITAR-Tass.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which has the status of “dialogue partner,” was also in attendance.

Putin and Erdogan planned on Friday to “evaluate the effectiveness” of a deal under which wheat exports from Ukraine via the Black Sea resumed, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to ITAR-Tass.

The Chinese leader is promoting a “Global Security Initiative” announced in April following the formation of the Quad by Washington, Japan, Australia and India in response to Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy. Xi has given few details, but U.S. officials complain it echoes Russian arguments in support of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

The region is part of China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to expand trade by building ports, railways and other infrastructure across an arc of dozens of countries from the South Pacific through Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

On Thursday, Xi met with President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyzstan and said Beijing supports the “early operation” of a planned railway linking China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

China’s economic inroads into Central Asia have fueled unease in Russia, which sees the region as its sphere of influence.

Xi made a one-day visit Wednesday to Kazakhstan en route to Uzbekistan. Pope Francis was in Kazakhstan, but they didn’t meet.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Phoenix Suns Owner Fined $10M For Racist, Misogynistic Conduct

Robert Sarver, who also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, was suspended one year and fined the league maximum after a nearly yearlong investigation.

The NBA has suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year, plus fined him $10 million, after an investigation found that he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.”

The findings of the league’s report, published Tuesday, came nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise.

Sarver said he will “accept the consequences of the league’s decision” and apologized for “words and actions that offended our employees,” though noted he disagreed with some of the report’s findings.

The report said Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” though added that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”

The study also concluded that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, including telling a pregnant employee that she would not be able to do her job after becoming a mother; made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy; and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”

The $10 million fine is the maximum allowed by NBA rule.

“I take full responsibility for what I have done,” Sarver said. “I am sorry for causing this pain, and these errors in judgment are not consistent with my personal philosophy or my values. … This moment is an opportunity for me to demonstrate a capacity to learn and grow as we continue to build a working culture where every employee feels comfortable and valued.”

Sarver, the league said, cannot be present at any NBA or WNBA team facility, including any office, arena, or practice facility; attend or participate in any NBA or WNBA event or activity, including games, practices or business partner activity; represent the Suns or Mercury in any public or private capacity; or have any involvement with the business or basketball operations of the Suns or Mercury.

The league said it would donate the $10 million “to organizations that are committed to addressing race and gender-based issues in and outside the workplace.”

“The statements and conduct described in the findings of the independent investigation are troubling and disappointing,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We believe the outcome is the right one, taking into account all the facts, circumstances and context brought to light by the comprehensive investigation of this 18-year period and our commitment to upholding proper standards in NBA workplaces.”

It’s the second-largest penalty — in terms of total sanctions — ever levied by the NBA against a team owner, behind Donald Sterling being banned for life by Silver in 2014. Sterling was fined $2.5 million, the largest allowable figure at that time, and was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers as part of the massive fallout that followed him making racist comments in a recorded conversation.

The allegations against Sarver were reported by ESPN last year, which said it talked to dozens of current and former team employees for its story, including some who detailed inappropriate behavior. He originally denied or disputed most of the allegations through his legal team.

On Tuesday, Sarver’s representatives said the investigation’s findings “confirmed that there was no evidence, whatsoever, to support several of the accusations in ESPN’s reporting from November 2021.”

“While it is difficult to identify with precision what motivated Sarver’s workplace behavior described in this report, certain patterns emerged from witness accounts: Sarver often acted aggressively in an apparent effort to provoke a reaction from his targets; Sarver’s sense of humor was sophomoric and inappropriate for the workplace; and Sarver behaved as though workplace norms and policies did not apply to him,” read the report from the New York-based investigating firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Sarver will have to complete a training program “focused on respect and appropriate conduct in the workplace” during his suspension, the league said.

Among the league’s findings:

— That Sarver engaged in “crude, sexual and vulgar commentary and conduct in the workplace,” including references to sexual acts, condoms and the anatomy, referring to both his own and those of others.

— The investigation also found that Sarver sent a small number of male Suns employees “joking pornographic material and crude emails, including emails containing photos of a nude woman and a video of two people having sex.”

— Sarver, the investigation found, also exposed himself unnecessarily to a male Suns employee during a fitness check, caused another male employee to become uncomfortable by grabbing him and dancing “pelvis to pelvis” at a holiday party, and standing nude in front of a male employee following a shower.

— He also made comments about female employees, the investigation found, including the attractiveness of Suns dancers, and asked a female Suns employee if she had undergone breast augmentation.

The league also will require the Suns and Mercury to engage in a series of workplace improvements, including retaining outside firms that will “focus on fostering a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace.”

Employees of those organizations will be surveyed, anonymously and regularly, to ensure that proper workplace culture is in place. The NBA and WNBA will need to be told immediately of any instances, or even allegations, of significant misconduct by any employees.

All those conditions will be in place for three years.

The league said the results of the investigation were based on interviews with 320 individuals, including current and former employees who worked for the teams during Sarver’s 18 years with the Suns, and from the evaluation of more than 80,000 documents and other materials, including emails, text messages and videos.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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