First Thing: Shanghai protests over zero-Covid policy spark clashes

<span>Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

A wave of civil disobedience – to degrees unseen in mainland China through the past decade – is taking root as frustration mounts over Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy persisting almost three years into the pandemic.

Hundreds of demonstrators and police clashed in Shanghai as protests over the stringent Covid restrictions as tensions flared for a third day and spread to several cities, in the biggest test for Xi since he secured a historic third term in power.

The protests erupted on Friday in Urumqi, the regional capital of the far west Xinjiang region, after footage of a fire in a residential building that killed at least 10 people the day before led to accusations that a Covid lockdown was a factor in the death toll.

Protests then spread to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou. Today, China reported a new daily record of new Covid-19 infections, with 40,347 cases. The cities of Guangzhou and Chongqing, with thousands of cases, are struggling to contain outbreaks.

  • How significant is the unrest? Widespread public protest is rare in China, where room for dissent has been all but eliminated under Xi, writes Helen Davidson, forcing citizens mostly to vent their frustration on social media, where they play cat-and-mouse with censors.

  • Chinese police assaulted and detained a BBC journalist covering a demonstration in Shanghai, releasing him after several hours, the broadcaster said. Authorities allegedly claimed they had “arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid from the crowd”.

Man who helped stop shooter at Colorado gay club ‘wanted to save family I found’

Flowers, candles, and mementos are left at a memorial after a mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs.
Flowers, candles, and mementos are left at a memorial after a mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs. Photograph: Isaiah Downing/Reuters

A member of the US navy who was injured while helping prevent further harm during a shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado last weekend has said he “simply wanted to save the family that I found”.

The petty officer 2nd class Thomas James made his first public comments on the shooting in a statement issued through Centura Penrose hospital in Colorado Springs, where he is recovering from undisclosed injuries sustained during the attack.

“If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person,” James said. “Thankfully, we are a family and family looks after one another.”

The Colorado Springs police chief, Adrian Vasquez, said James was one of two men who helped to stop the shooter who walked into Club Q late on 19 November with multiple firearms, including a semi-automatic rifle, and killed five people. At least 17 others were injured when a drag queen’s birthday celebration turned into a massacre.

  • How was the shooter subdued? James reportedly pushed a rifle out of the shooter’s reach while an army veteran, Rich Fierro, repeatedly struck the shooter with a handgun the shooter brought into the bar, according to officials.

  • Gun control returned as a leading topic over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats issuing fresh calls for a ban on assault weapons for the general public.

Covid blood-thinner drug treatment dangerous and does not work – study

A blood-thinning drug given as a potential life-saver to many patients recovering from severe Covid does not work and can cause heavy bleeding, research shows. It was approved for use in the UK in absence of any clinical trial data among discharged Covid patients.

The findings have led to calls for doctors to stop advising people to take Apixaban, because it does not stop them from dying or being readmitted to hospital and also can have serious side-effects.

Doctors keen to find effective treatments against Covid hoped the drug would reduce the risk of people experiencing blood clots by thinning their blood. However, during the trial, run by experts from Addenbrooke’s hospital and Cambridge University, some of the 402 participants who received the blood thinner had serious bleeding that led to them coming off the drug.

  • Thin suggestions of efficacy during small trial. Researchers found that while 30.8% of Covid patients who received standard care returned to hospital within a year, only a slightly smaller proportion of those on Apixaban did so (29.1%).

In other news …

  • Anger grows as illegal construction is partly blamed for landslide deaths on an Italian island. Seven people, including a three-week-old baby and a pair of young siblings, are confirmed to have died in Saturday’s landslide, which was triggered by a violent storm that sent mud and debris crashing down.

  • It ain’t me, babe: Bob Dylan apologises for using a machine to autograph “hand-signed” books. The musician has admitted he used an autopen to sign books and artworks because of vertigo, after fans compared signatures and discovered they were identical.

  • Niece of Iran’s supreme leader calls on other countries to cut ties with regime. In a video released after her reported arrest last week, Farideh Moradkhani, a well-known rights activist, condemned the “clear and obvious oppression” Iranians have been subjected to.

World Cup: late German equalizer salvages hopes

Germany’s Niclas Füllkrug scores his country’s equalizer against Spain, a rocketing shot into the top corner from nine yards out.
Germany’s Niclas Füllkrug scores his country’s equalizer against Spain, a rocketing shot into the top corner from nine yards out. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Two giants met yesterday as Spain faced Germany, who were facing elimination after a loss to Japan in their first game. A late equalizer saved Germany in a 1-1 draw, and they still have hope of reaching the next round. The same cannot be said of Canada, who are out of the tournament after their 4-1 loss to Croatia (more on that later). And there was trouble back home after Belgium lost to Morocco: rioters in Brussels torched a car as tensions flared after the surprise loss.

Today, Brazil return with their tricks, flicks and generally joyous football against Switzerland (11am ET). Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest players in history, also continues his (almost certainly) final World Cup when Portugal play Uruguay (2pm ET). The day’s other games are Cameroon v Serbia (5am ET) and South Korea v Ghana (8am ET).

Elsewhere at the World Cup:

  • It was the US’s turn to be involved in off-field controversy yesterday. The US Soccer Federation displayed Iran’s national flag on social media without the emblem of the Islamic Republic in support of protesters in Iran. Iran has asked Fifa to suspend the US for 10 games, which would be helpful for the Iranians as they play the Americans on Tuesday in a game which will decide whether the teams make the last 16. Our columnist, the former USA striker Eric Wynalda, played against Iran at the 1998 World Cup and has written about how to handle the pressures of Tuesday’s game.

  • Croatia have already transformed their own anger into victory. In the run-up to Sunday’s game, the Canada coach, John Herdman, said he wanted to “eff” Croatia, which understandably didn’t go down too well with the Europeans. After Croatia’s victory their coach, Zlatko Dalic, said: “I’d like to thank the Canada manager for motivation. In the end, Croatia showed who ‘effed’ who.”

  • Australia’s Martin Boyle has been ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury but has managed to stay employed. He has been appointed as the team’s “official vibes manager”. As the Socceroos’ manager, Graham Arnold, explains: “We’ve moved him into the staff now as our OVM ... he’s just one of the most fantastic blokes you will meet in your life.”

Stat of the day: temperatures plunge to -49F in parts of Russia

A large area of high pressure covering eastern Europe is bringing severely low temperatures across Siberia. In a part of the world where temperatures are often below freezing at this time of year, the mercury has been 68-77C below average in many areas over the weekend, with central and eastern Russia plunging to -13F to -49F, writes Andrew Stewart.

Over the next couple of days, westerly winds will result in temperatures rising above average in northern Russia but they will remain 50-68F below normal in southern Russia. The orientation of the high pressure system will allow northerly winds to send the cold air southwards across central and eastern Asia this week.

Don’t miss this: Star Trek’s George Takei on life as an ‘enemy alien’

“To take innocent people who had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor and categorize them as enemy aliens was outrageous,” recalls the actor turned activist Takei of the US policy of forced internment of Japanese Americans during the second world war. “At five years old I was an enemy.”

In 1943, internees were asked to swear their loyalty to the US and forswear allegiance to the emperor of Japan, writes Simon Hattenstone. “Takei’s parents refused to do so because the question wrongly assumed their loyalty was to Japan, while demanding allegiance to a nation that had horrifically mistreated them. The family were then sent to the harsher Tule Lake segregation centre in California for ‘disloyals’.”

Climate check: Melting point – could ‘cloud brightening’ slow the thawing of the Arctic?

The climate emergency is prompting some scientists to suggest extreme measures. But whether you call it geoengineering or biomimicry, others say interfering with nature will have too high a cost. Two suggestions for geoengineering the poles’ climate have drawn serious attention and have been the subject of theoretical modelling, writes Andrew Anthony.

The most popular and perhaps advanced of these is what is known as stratospheric aerosol injection, in which sulphur dioxide would be released into the stratosphere to gather around the poles. The idea is that the aerosols will have a similar effect to the ash clouds from volcanoes, which reach a high altitude and reflect sunlight, bringing down temperatures on Earth.

Last thing: A new start after 60: I quit drinking and learned to make guitars

Paul Edwards at home in Salford with a guitar he built.
Paul Edwards at home in Salford with a guitar he built. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

When Paul Edwards left school at 15, he headed to the careers office in Salford, Greater Manchester, to speak to the man behind the glass hatch. The careers officer riffled through his little box of cards, and pulled out two. One card advertised a vacancy for a violin-maker’s apprentice; the other for a precision grinder, which paid twice as much. Edwards’ mother told him there was no choice. He became a precision grinder.

He must have thought about this fork in the road many times since, because two years ago, at 62, he built a guitar, writes Paula Cocozza. “And the first thing I thought was: Why didn’t I do this when I left school?”

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