China backs away from Covid lockdown after mass protests

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China backs away from Covid lockdown after mass protests

Kyiv in darkness, South Africa in turmoil and the week in culture.

After a week of mass protests against its policies, China seems to be backing away from its harsh Covid rules. The demonstrations have been the biggest challenge to Beijing in decades. Residents in Guangzhou returned to work for the first time in weeks after Covid 19 lockdowns were lifted. Some residents were no longer required to take regular Covid tests in Chongqing. A senior health official in Beijing played down the severity of Omicron variants, a rare move. The demonstrations against lock-downs have not been publicly acknowledged by the ruling Communist Party. After policing measures mostly muted the protests, the party is signaling a willingness to address the root cause of the public anger: intrusive pandemic controls that have stifled economic growth and left millions confined in their homes for long stretches. Context: Xi Jinping, China's leader, has staked the legitimacy of the party on controlling the virus better than the nation's rivals in the West. Any reversal or abandonment could undermine his authority.

As temperatures drop, six million people in Ukraine are without power. There are 3.3 million people in Kyiv who are facing shortages of electricity, water and heat, as well as cellphone and internet service. 1.5 million people in the capital are still without power for more than 12 hours a day, according to municipal officials. Emergency supplies are stocked in the event of power failure. The National Philharmonic played on a stage lit by battery-powered lanterns. Doctors have performed surgeries by flashlight. A cafe has two menus with no hot food. The residents are exhausted, and threats are mounting. Temperatures are often below freezing now. Extended power outages threaten health care and cause an increase in accidents and hypothermia. Russian shelling knocked out power in Kherson, which was recently recaptured.

Cyril Ramaphosa's future as South Africa president hangs in the balance, a day after a parliamentary panel found that he may have broken the law. Opponents are lobbying for his departure as Parliament prepares itself for a possible impeachment hearing for corruption. A parliamentary report has cast heavy skepticism on Ramaphosa's explanation of how a large amount of U.S. currency came to be hidden in a sofa at his farm.

Ramaphosa was heralded as an anti-corruption crusader when he swept into office four years ago. One of the president's political foes claimed in June that Ramaphosa had between $4 million and $8 million stolen from his property in February 2020 and he didn't report the theft to the police. Ramaphosa says only $580,000 was stolen and the money was used to pay for the sale of 20 buffaloes. He may be doomed due to a corruption scandal of his own. C. is expected to elect its leadership at a national conference in two weeks. Ramaphosa was favored to win a second term if he was rocked by corruption allegations.

Since 2017, few countries ship more live animals overseas than Australia, which has exported a million cattle a year, on average. Damien Cave, our Sydney bureau chief, followed the route of some cattle to Indonesia, where they will be slaughtered and fattened by Islamic butchers. Advocacy groups insist that the route is dangerous and the journey is unethical. The business also has its own unique culture, at once a throwback and a modern marvel of globalization.