Your Friday Briefing: Covid Protests Grow in China

As China’s harsh Covid rules extend deep into their third year, there are growing signs of discontent across the country. The defiance is a test of Xi Jinping’s leadership.

At the Foxconn iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, thousands of workers clashed with riot police. The workers were lashing out about a delay in the payment of bonuses as well as the company’s failure to properly isolate new workers from those who had tested positive. The new hires were recruited after thousands of workers fled the Foxconn plant last month because of a Covid outbreak.

Unrest is spreading elsewhere. In Guangzhou, migrant workers broke out of locked-down buildings to confront health workers and ransack food provisions. Online, many raged after a 4-month-old died. Her father said restrictions had delayed access to treatment.

Political fallout: Xi has used heavy censorship and severe punishment to silence critics, which makes the public airing of grievances particularly striking. Many Chinese have questioned the need for lockdowns at all. The unrest underscores the urgent question of how Xi can lead China out of the Covid era.

Record cases: Covid outbreaks across the country have driven cases to a record high. On Wednesday, the country reported 31,444 cases, surpassing a record set in April, Reuters reported. Cases have increased by 314 percent from the average two weeks ago.

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s longtime opposition leader, was sworn in yesterday as prime minister. He faces a divided country: One part of the electorate sees itself as modern and multicultural; another is driven by a conservative Muslim base.

Anwar’s rise to the top post came after days of political chaos: Saturday’s elections led to the first-ever hung Parliament. (No group won a majority, though his group had the most seats.) Anwar said that he had a “convincing majority” to lead with his multiethnic coalition.

A stunning comeback: Anwar, 75, has been the deputy prime minister and, twice, a political prisoner. Urbane and charismatic, he speaks often about the importance of democracy and quotes from Gandhi as well as the Quran.

Challenges: Anwar will have to contend with a more religiously conservative bloc of the electorate, which sees him as too liberal. He pledged to continue to uphold constitutional guarantees regarding the Malay language, Islam and the special rights of the “sons of the soil,” referring to the Malays and Indigenous people.

As families across the U.S. gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving, a few among them suddenly faced an empty chair after the country’s latest spate of mass shootings. Fourteen people were killed in three rampages over two weeks.

They include a janitor working his shift at a Walmart in Virginia, a 40-year-old woman returning home to Colorado for the holidays, a young man watching a drag show and three college football players.

White and Black, gay and straight, old and young, the newly dead are the very picture of the ideals — inclusivity, setting aside differences — that the U.S. prides itself on at Thanksgiving, our reporter Michael Wilson writes.

In 2009, UNESCO declared Manx, a Celtic language native to the Isle of Man, extinct. That rankled residents, who doubled down on efforts to preserve the ancient tongue. It’s now experiencing a revival thanks to a local school. “It sort of was on the brink, but we’ve brought it back to life again,” the head teacher said.

Les Knight has spent decades pushing one message: “May we live long and die out.”

Knight is the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction movement, which believes that the best thing humans can do to help the Earth is to stop having children. (Another one of his slogans: “Thank you for not breeding.”)

“Look what we did to this planet,” Knight told The Times. “We’re not a good species.”

His beliefs are rooted in deep ecology, a theory that sees other species as just as significant, and he sees humans as the most destructive invasive species. (In the past half-century, as the human population doubled, wildlife populations declined by 70 percent, and research has shown that having one fewer child may be the most significant way to reduce one’s carbon footprint.)

But not all scientists agree that overpopulation is a main factor in the climate crisis. India, for instance, is heavily populated, but contributes relatively little per capita to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, some experts say, that focus could distract from the need to ditch fossil fuels and preserve the planet for the living things already here.

Amelia Nierenberg – [source]

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