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AP, BBC, DAILY YOMIURI, KYODO (Japan)

Worldcrunch

TOKYO - Amidst continuing safety concerns, airlines and regulators have grounded the majority of Boeing’s flagship 787 Dreamliner planes around the world, reports the BBC.

By Thursday, chief air safety agencies in Europe, the United States, Japan and elsewhere had ordered flights halted.

The 787 is the newest jet for the Seattle-based company, but since its 2011 commercial launch, which already had been long delayed with technical problems, it has seen a series of additional problems, including: fuel leaks, a cracked cockpit window, braking problems, an electrical fire, and battery problems.

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Photo: An ANA 787 by Spaceaero2 via Wikipedia

On Wednesday night, Japanese All Nippon Airways (ANA) was forced to make an emergency landing due to battery malfunction. The Daily Yomiuri writes that the airline reported that an indicator light in an electrical panel at the front of the plane showed the presence of smoke. However, no passenger or crew member was able to confirm the smoke. No problems were reported with the take off or after the landing.

The AP says that U.S. officials and a Boeing engineer are due in Japan on Friday to further investigate this emergency landing.

Air India's decision on Thursday to ground its 787s, under orders from Indian aviation authorities, means that 36 of the 50 jets in use around the world are out of action. ANA, which has 17 and Japan Airlines, 7, voluntarily halted flights Wednesday after the emergency landing but aviation authorities have now made the grounding official, according to the AP.

Kyodo writes that in a statement, the U.S. regulator said that "As a result of an in-flight Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations."

Boeing have said that they are working in collaboration with the investigators. Company chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney stated “ We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity.”

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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