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Police Identify Body of Sarah Everard, Who Went Missing in London

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  • British police have identified the body of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home at night in London on March 3.
  • Everard’s story resonated with women worldwide, prompting many on social media to share their own experiences of intimidation, harassment, and abuse while walking alone.
  • Her disappearance generated more outrage after the public learned that a police officer was arrested on suspicion of her murder, which took place days after he was reported for indecent exposure in a separate case.
  • A police watchdog has launched an independent investigation into police conduct after believing two officers acted appropriately when addressing the indecent exposure.

Sarah Everard’s Disappearance Makes Global Impact

U.K. police confirmed Friday that they have identified the body of Sarah Everard, a week after the 33-year-old was reported missing.

Everard disappeared while walking home in South London on March 3. She left a friend’s house at around 9 p.m. and was last seen on a CCTV camera at 9.30 p.m. in a residential area.

The journey should have taken her around 50 minutes; however, her body wasn’t found until Wednesday in a wooded area in Kent.

Her story quickly prompted outrage over gender violence in Britain, but it also resonated worldwide as women across social media began to share their own experiences of intimidation, harassment, and abuse while walking alone.

Outrage Towards Police

The story generated even more outrage once the public learned that a serving Metropolitan Police officer had been arrested Tuesday on suspicion of Everard’s kidnapping and murder.

He had worked the day of her disappearance and was reportedly off duty when she was last seen. He also remains in custody on suspicion of indecent exposure in a separate incident that appears to have occurred days before Everard’s disappearance.

A police watchdog has already said it started an independent investigation into police actions involving the suspect. That investigation was called for on suspicion that at least two officers acted inappropriately when handling the indecent exposure case.

“If that had been followed up, he would have been suspended from duty,” Mick Neville, a former chief detective inspector at the Metropolitan Police told The New York Times.Officers must have treated this as a minor matter, not thinking that he was a police officer, and in hindsight, it took tragic proportions.”

Local police came under additional controversy for deeming a vigil planned for Saturday unlawful due to COVID restrictions, even threatening to fine attendees.

“By forcing us to cancel the Reclaim These Streets vigil, the Metropolitan Police will be silencing thousands of women like us who want to honor Sarah’s memory and stand up for our right to feel safe on our streets,” organizers of the vigil said in a statement.

After seeing the growing criticism towards police, Home Secretary Priti Patel, who oversees the country’s police forces, responded.

“If you are feeling angry or worried, please try to remember that tens of thousands of police officers are equally sickened by what has happened,” Patel said. “And there are currently hundreds of dedicated officers working night and day to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Moves Addressing Violence Against Women May Follow

Everard’s murder may add urgency to a plan aimed at tackling violence against women that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government pledged to unveil later this year.

According to End Violence Against Women, more than 500,000 women are sexually assaulted every year in Britain. One in five women will be subjected to sexual assault during her lifetime, according to national statistics.

Everard’s family has issued a statement while grappling with their tragic loss. “Sarah was bright and beautiful — a wonderful daughter and sister,” they said Thursday.

“She was kind and thoughtful, caring and dependable,” they added, describing her as “a shining example to us all.”

See what others are saying: (CNN) (NPR) (Wall Street Journal)

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China Cautiously Crawls Out of Zero COVID Policy

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Estimates put the number of people who will die if China fully reopens between 1.3 and 2 million, but higher vaccination rates could limit the death toll.


People Go Back to Bars

The Chinese government has begun to ease some of its notoriously strict pandemic lockdown measures, signaling that the end of the “zero-COVID” policy may be on the horizon.

On Monday, commuters in Beijing and at least 16 other cities were allowed to board buses and subways without a virus test in the previous 48 hours for the first time in months.

In Shanghai, visitors to most sites will require a negative test within the last week, rather than the last two days, though schools, hospitals, and bars will require one within the past 48 hours.

Dining in restaurants in some parts of Beijing is still prohibited, but bars and restaurants in many areas of the country are reopening.

In Urumqi, where anti-lockdown protests erupted late last month after an apartment fire killed 10 people, authorities said in a statement Monday that malls, markets, and other venues will reopen.

Zhengzhou, the central city home to the world’s largest iPhone plant which was last month rocked by violent unrest, will no longer require COVID test results for public transport, taxis, and visits to “public areas”, authorities said in a Sunday statement.

Beijing authorities had required registration to purchase fever, cough, and soar throat medicine, which they believed people were using to hide their coronavirus infections, but that mandate has been lifted. Certain districts in the capital also announced that some residents may self-isolate inside their homes rather than being forced to quarantine in a centralized facility.

Is China Ready to Reopen?

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who oversees COVID efforts, said last week that the country’s health system had withstood the test of the virus and that the omicron subvariant is less deadly than previous strains.

But there has not been a significant drop in cases recently to prompt the easing of restrictions. On Monday, the government reported 30,014 new cases, down from last week’s peak of over 40,000 but still near record highs for China.

Some observers speculate that the government’s move was related to the recent protests, in which thousands of people poured onto the streets of several major cities to demand freedom and an end to the zero-COVID policy. Authorities cracked down on demonstrators, and any mention of the protests was rigorously censored on Chinese social media.

There was no sign of any significant unrest this weekend.

Although many people are excited to enjoy less restricted lives and restart a shuddered economy, others are concerned about the public health consequences reopening society could incur. Estimates put the number of people who will die from the coronavirus if China fully reopens between 1.3 and 2 million, but higher vaccination rates could limit the death toll.

Last week, the government launched a campaign to vaccinate the elderly population.

Only about 40% of people over the age of 80 have gotten their booster shot, according to official statistics.

Health experts and economists say vaccination rates and ICU preparedness won’t be sufficient to fully end the zero-COVID policy until mid-2023 or 2024.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Associated Press) (Reuters)

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India Pedestrian Bridge Collapsed 4 Days After Renovations, Killing Over 100 People

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The company responsible for the upkeep of the Morbi bridge did not obtain a safety certificate before re-opening.


Bridge Collapses

After seven months of renovations, the Morbi walking bridge in India opened to the public. Four days later, the bridge collapsed, killing more than 130 people. 

According to the local government, there were about 200 people on the bridge when it collapsed on Sunday, despite its capacity of 125. 

During a campaign event on Monday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the state government had set up a committee to investigate the tragedy.

“I assure the people of the country that there will be nothing lacking in the relief and rescue efforts,” he stated.

Along with the investigation, the state has launched a criminal complaint against Oreva Group, the company responsible for maintaining the bridge. Oreva Group reopened the bridge after renovations without getting a safety certificate from the government. 

Shifting Blame

In response, Oreva Group spoke to a local news outlet and blamed those on the bridge for its collapse.

“While we are waiting for more information, prima facie, the bridge collapsed as too many people in the mid-section of the bridge were trying to sway it from one way to the other,” the group claimed.

The state government has offered compensation for the families of the deceased, but that is not enough for some. One father whose wife and two children died in the collapse told VICE he wants answers and accountability.

“Why were so many people given tickets? Who allowed them? Who is answerable?” he asked.

Indian police have arrested nine people including ticketing clerks and security guards for failing to regulate the crowd, according to Reuters. 

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (VICE) (CNN)

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Xi Jinping Tightens Grip on China by Eliminating Rivals

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Despite the staggering power grab, Xi faces geopolitical competition from abroad as well as social and economic instability at home.


Xi Surrounds Himself With Allies

Chinese President Xi Jinping shook up politics over the weekend when he revealed the government’s new leadership, almost exclusively composed of his own hardline loyalists.

Six men — Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, and Li Xi — will form the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top ruling body.

The four new members are all Xi loyalists, pushing out Premier Li Keqiang and the head of China’s top advisory body Wang Yang, two key party figures outside Xi’s inner circle who retired despite being eligible to serve another term.

For the first time in a quarter-century, China’s 24-member Politburo will be made up entirely of men, underlining the exclusion of women from Chinese politics.

An official account of the selection process said that a top criterion for leadership was loyalty to Xi, and rising officials must stay in lockstep with him “in thinking, politics and action.”

Topping off the developments, Xi officially secured an unprecedented third term as leader, something that was only made possible in 2018 when the government abolished term limits on the presidency. The weekend marked China’s greatest consolidation of political power in a single figure in decades.

As the 20th Communist Party Congress came to a close Saturday, China’s former leader Hu Jintao appeared reluctant as he was suddenly and inexplicably escorted from his seat next to Xi out of the Great Hall of the People.

Some commentators have argued that a tightly knit band of yes men may help Xi fend off internal party dissent, but it could ultimately result in poor governance as his subordinates fear giving him bad news.

The Arc of History Bends Toward China

Despite the extreme concentration of political power, China’s Communist Party stares down a gauntlet of challenges both foreign and domestic.

Beijing remains locked in a strategic competition with Washington, which has sought to contain the East Asian rival’s rise as a global superpower, but the past week’s congress may portend a stubbornly defiant China for years to come.

Xi is expected to use his firmly secure position within the party to pursue his agenda in full force — by strengthening Beijing’s claim over Taiwan, expanding China’s economic foothold in developing countries, and achieving self-sufficiency in strategic technologies such as semiconductors.

At home, China’s economy has faltered during the pandemic, with high unemployment, low consumption, and slow economic growth putting pressure on a government that stakes much of its legitimacy on promises to deliver prosperity to the population. Between July and September, the country’s GDP grew by 3.9%, according to official data released Monday, which is above many analysts’ expectations but still far below the state’s target of around 5.5%.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics postponed the data’s publication last week ahead of the 20th party congress, reinforcing concerns that Xi’s leadership will put politics before economics.

Monday’s announcement roiled stock markets, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunging 6%, as well as the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Composite Index both falling by about 2%.

Beijing has also seen increased political resistance from the population, from anti-lockdown protests in Shanghai to widespread mortgage boycotts over delays from real estate developers.

Last week, a man unfurled two large banners from an overpass in Beijing and called President Xi a “dictator” through a megaphone.

Such small-scale demonstrations are not new, but they took place in the capital just before the congress drew enough attention for photos of the stunt to go viral on social media, where an equally swift censorship campaign stamped out any mention of it.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (The Washington Post)

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