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Peng Shuai: Images of the tennis star are welcome, but we still don’t know if she is free | World News



Sunday lunch at Beijing Yibin Guesthouse is noisy and busy, with customers queuing for the restaurant’s signature dishes – fiery Sichuan noodles and pig’s elbow.

It’s a popular spot, and the one chosen to reveal Peng Shuai’s whereabouts to the world.

After three weeks of asking “where is Peng Shuai?” – this is China’s attempt at an answer.

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Peng Shuai dines in restaurant

Videos released by state media showed Peng at the guesthouse. Bizarrely, she and her guests mention the date out loud – five times in the short clip.

That’s not usually what friends on a Saturday night out do – more the sort of thing you would expect from a proof of life video.

On Sunday, when Sky News visits, staff confirm Peng was there. “Yes. She has been here for meal. Yes, it’s our restaurant,” a waitress tells us.

Did she see her personally?

“No, I didn’t. Yesterday I was busy with my work here. I didn’t see her. But she had a meal in our restaurant.”

State media followed up the restaurant video with footage of Peng at a junior tennis tournament the next morning at the National Tennis Centre, in the 2008 Olympics zone.

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Missing Peng Shuai seen at tennis final

When we slip into the stadium in the early afternoon, there’s no sign of her.

A staff member spots us in the stands and escorts us out. But he says she was indeed there: “Yes, I saw her. But you can’t be here, sorry.”

It’s the most we’ve seen of Peng Shuai since she accused Zhang Gaoli, a very senior Communist politician, of pressuring her into sex.

But none of this was published by Peng. Chinese state media, not her, is providing the updates.

National Tennis Centre, Beijing
The National Tennis Centre in Beijing, where Peng Shuai was pictured at a junior tournament

And her Weibo account, on which she first published the allegations, is still blocked.

That has left many unconvinced, including the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), which has been unflinching in demanding more information from the Chinese authorities.

After the restaurant video emerged, Steve Simon, the CEO of the WTA, wrote: “While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. This video alone is insufficient.

“As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug.”

National Tennis Centre, Beijing
A member of staff at the stadium said Peng had been there

The question “where is Peng Shuai” has been a shorthand – a rallying cry from the tennis world.

Her appearance is welcome.

But the bigger, trickier questions – about her allegations, about her whereabouts since she made them, about her freedom now – have not been answered yet.

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Qatar ‘unfairly treated and scrutinised’ says 2022 World Cup chief, who insists country is a ‘trailblazer’ | World News



Qatar has been “unfairly treated and scrutinised” according to the chief executive of the 2022 World Cup – who insists it is a “trailblazer” in the Middle East.

FIFA’S 2010 decision to award hosting rights to Qatar has been repeatedly criticised and organisations, including Amnesty International, have accused the country of failing to protect migrant workers and having a poor record on human rights.

Nasser al Khater, the chief of the organising committee, hit out at the criticism and said there has been “a lot of progress”.

Qatar has freqently been criticised for its human rights abuses

“Yes, Qatar has been unfairly treated and scrutinised for a number of years,” he said.

“There’s criticism, yes, there’s work that needs to be done. There is, however, a lot of progress but unfortunately, that has not been captured in reports such as Amnesty, Human Rights Watch.

“I think Qatar in a lot of sense, if you take it into context and you take it into the context of the region and you take it into the context of the amount of achievements that have been done over the past seven, eight or nine years, it’s quite extraordinary.

“Now, unfortunately, people don’t like to report on that – people like to report on anything that’s negative. No one has ever gone out of their way to sit and look at it objectively to see what this country has achieved over the past seven, eight years.”

The next World Cup is being in Qatar in December 2022. Pic: AP
The next World Cup is being in Qatar in December 2022. Pic: AP

World Cup organisers insist there have been just three work-related deaths since construction of the major stadiums began.

Infrastructure is still being completed, while building site entrances sit on most sides of the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium.

Luxury high-rise hotels and even the expanded road networks were not completed in time for the somewhat hastily arranged Formula One debut this weekend – despite work seemingly going on at all hours.

“The work is not as close to completion as the authorities have people believe,” a worker at the site perimeter said.

The Lusail Stadium is another venue under construction for the World Cup in 2022
The Lusail Stadium is being built specifically for the 2022 World Cup. (File pic)

“It will be ready but only because we are working so hard. We are doing our best.”

Lewis Hamilton, who qualified on pole position for Sunday’s race, has been praised for wearing a rainbow-coloured helmet ahead of the inaugural Grand Prix. He also called on fellow sportspeople to speak out about human rights issues as he arrived in the desert for the first time.

But Mr al Khater also said members of the LGBTQ+ community and same-sex couples would be free to visit Qatar for the World Cup unencumbered – despite the fact male homosexuality is punishable by a prison sentence and same-sex marriages not recognised by the government.

He said high-profile names are misinformed: “Nobody can stop anybody from taking a position publicly or privately if they wish but it is something that we will feel is not fair and honestly incorrect.”

But, when asked if an educational programme needs to be put in place for locals, he stopped short of agreeing it would be required.

FIFA awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup in 2010. (File pic: AP)
FIFA awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup in 2010. (File pic: AP)

“Everybody is welcome to come to Qatar and have an enjoyable time at the World Cup,” he added.

“They can come and enjoy their time here without fear of any sort of repercussions, it makes no difference to people’s (sexual) orientation, religion, creed, race whatsoever.”

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COVID-19: Violence in Vienna as thousands take to streets across Europe to protest against coronavirus measures | World News



Protesters have clashed with police in Vienna, as large crowds demonstrated on the streets of several European cities against the introduction of new COVID-19 restrictions.

Tens of thousands have been voicing their anger in the Austrian capital after the government announced a nationwide lockdown and said coronavirus vaccinations would become mandatory by law next year, blaming the country’s high infection numbers on those who have failed to take up the jab.

Police said several protesters were detained, but did not give exact numbers. Later, demonstrators threw bottles and beer cans and fired pyrotechnics at police, who used pepper spray to disperse crowds.

Demonstrators light flares during a demonstration against COVID lockdown measures in Vienna, Austria. Pic: AP
Demonstrators light flares during a demonstration against COVID lockdown measures in Vienna, Austria. Pic: AP
A man is detained in Vienna
A protester is detained by police in Vienna

And a day after an “orgy of violence” during rioting in Rotterdam left several people injured, thousands more gathered in central Amsterdam, despite organisers calling off the protest in the aftermath of Friday night’s events when police opened fire on protesters.

The demonstrators on Saturday left Dam Square and walked peacefully through the city’s streets, closely monitored by officers.

And a few hundred people also marched through the southern Dutch city of Breda to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

Demonstrations against virus measures also took place in other European countries including Switzerland, Croatia and Italy, with thousands taking part.

In Belfast city centre, hundreds gathered to reject the planned introduction of coronavirus certification for nightclubs, bars, restaurants and a range of other settings from 13 December.

Under the compulsory scheme, people wanting to gain entry will have to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination, a negative lateral flow test result, or proof of a coronavirus infection within the last six months.

Protest against COVID-19 measures in Amsterdam
There was also a protest against COVID-19 measures in Amsterdam

And in central Hull, around 200 anti-vaxxers marched through the streets, demanding that carers looking after the elderly and vulnerable should not be forced to have the jab.

In Vienna, people gathered at the public space of Heldenplatz, while about 1,300 police officers were on duty.

They used loudspeakers to tell demonstrators that masks were required, but most did not wear them.

Protesters waved Austrian and other flags and carried signs with slogans like “no to vaccination”, “enough is enough” or “down with the fascist dictatorship”.

Demonstration in Vienna against COVID restrictions in Austria
Demonstrators in Vienna protest against COVID restrictions in Austria
Police officers stand guard as demonstrators gather in the Austrian capital
Police officers stand guard as demonstrators gathered in the Austrian capital

Many of the signs focused on the newly-announced coronavirus vaccine mandate: “My Body, My Choice,” read one. “We’re Standing Up for Our Kids!” said another.

Among those taking part were far-right supporters, with the opposition Freedom Party vowing to combat new restrictions that are being brought in to try to combat a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Party leader Herbert Kickl, who announced earlier this week he had tested positive for coronavirus and had to isolate at home, made an appearance via video.

He denounced what he called “totalitarian” measures from a government “that believes it should think and decide for us”.

The nationwide lockdown will start on Monday and will initially last for 10 days, before being re-assessed, and will last a maximum of 20 days.

Most shops will close and cultural events will be cancelled. People will only be able to leave their homes for certain reasons, including food shopping, going to the doctor or doing exercise.

And the government has said it will make it compulsory to get vaccinated from 1 February 2022.

Around 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. In the UK it is about 68%.

Austria’s infection rate is among the highest in the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971.5 per 100,000 people – and daily cases keep setting records.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has apologised to all vaccinated people, saying it was not fair they had to suffer under the renewed lockdown restrictions when they had done everything to help contain the virus.

“I’m sorry to take this drastic step,” he said on public broadcaster ORF.

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Clashes in Rotterdam over COVID rules

While Austria so far stands alone in the EU in making vaccinations mandatory, more and more governments are clamping down.

From Monday, Slovakia is banning people who have not been vaccinated from all non-essential stores and shopping centres.

They will also not be allowed to attend public events or gatherings and will be required to test twice a week just to go to work.

Slovakia, where just 45.3% of the 5.5 million population is fully vaccinated, reported a record 8,342 new virus cases on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said: “It is really, absolutely, time to take action.” With a vaccination rate of 67.5%, her nation is now considering mandatory vaccinations for many health professionals.

Greece is also targeting the unvaccinated. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced new restrictions for the unjabbed, including stopping them entering venues such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums and gyms, even if they have tested negative.

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During last night’s violence in Rotterdam, protesters in the port city had gathered to voice opposition to government plans to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a “corona pass”, showing they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have already recovered from an infection.

The pass is also available to people who have not been vaccinated, but have proof of a negative test.

In an effort to slow a resurgence of the coronavirus, the Dutch government last week announced a three-week partial lockdown, in which restaurants and shops must shut early.

No spectators are allowed at sporting events, and people are only allowed four visitors to their homes.

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Police hunt for convicted felon who fled Atlanta airport after hidden gun discharged at security | World News



A convicted felon who tried to board a flight from Atlanta with a gun fled the airport after it was accidentally fired in the security screening area.

Three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the ensuing panic.

The gun discharge happened when a screening checkpoint employee was conducting a bag search after it was flagged by an x-ray.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the gun owner was advised not to touch the bag.

However, as the security officer opened the compartment containing the gun, “the passenger lunged into the bag and grabbed a firearm, at which point it discharged”.

The man, named as Kenny Wells, fled from the airport.

Terrified travellers, fearing an active shooter, bolted onto the tarmac on Saturday, halting flights during the busy Thanksgiving holiday period.

“More and more people started running – there was screaming,” said traveller Erika Zeidler.

Authorities are now searching for the 42-year-old gun owner on charges carrying a concealed weapon at a commercial airport, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, discharging a firearm and reckless conduct.

Two hours later the airport was given the all-clear
Two hours later the airport was given the all-clear

Police said one person requested emergency medical services after falling in a different part of the airport, while two others complained of “shortness of breath”.

Two hours after the 1.30pm shot was fired, the airport was given the “all clear”.

Hartsfield-Jackson was the world’s busiest airport in 2021, according to aviation analytics provider Official Airline Guide.

A record number of firearms were seized at US airport checkpoints in just the first nine months of 2021, the TSA said.

Nationwide, TSA officers have stopped 4,495 airline passengers from carrying firearms onto their flights, surpassing the 4,432 firearms caught throughout 2019.

In Atlanta alone, there were 450 firearms detected at airport checkpoints in 2021.

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