Wednesday Grab Bag: Shooting Suspect, Covid in China, Bird Flu, and Elon Musk

A killer arrested, surging Covid-19 in China, bird flu outbreaks, and Elon Musk’s challenge

Jonathan Good
Leans Left
Stephen Webber
Leans Right

Suspected Gunman Arrested

Over the past two weeks, forensic analysts connected a string of five shootings in Washington, D.C. and New York City (NYC) to one lone gunman. All of the attacks, two of which were fatal, targeted homeless men in the two metro areas. In a joint press conference, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and NYC Mayor Eric Adams (D) promised that city-owned shelters would not turn away any seeking help, urging people to get off the streets and vowing justice for the victims. 

Some advocates have criticized these mayors’ response to homelessness in both cities, saying recent efforts to remove the homeless from certain public areas have forced them into more dire circumstances. Both Bowser and Adams have defended those initiatives, arguing they are necessary to ensure public safety. Several large U.S. cities have begun to take similar approaches to homelessness, prompting outcry and protests in places like Seattle. In response to the shootings, the mayors called for the public’s help identifying the man. Early yesterday morning, after a weeks-long search, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosions arrested a suspect in the case in D.C. The shootings come amid rising violent crime rates in both cities.

Surging Covid in China

China, which has imposed some of the harshest Covid-19 restrictions of any country, is seeing a surge of cases, reporting its highest daily count since the beginning of the pandemic yesterday. While infections are comparably lower than most other nations, China has dedicated itself to a strict “zero-Covid” policy, using severe authoritarian measures to lock down regions with even a handful of positive cases. Some epidemiologists have warned that this approach could make the country vulnerable to Covid-19 variants. Most of the population does not have natural immunity, and China employs different vaccines that are not as effective against newer variants.

In the face of this latest surge, China enacted lockdowns in some of its most affected regions. On Sunday, the government shut down Shenzhen, a crucial commercial hub in south China, and ordered its 17.5 million residents to take three Covid-19 tests. Other populous areas currently under lockdown include the cities of Langfang and Dongguan, as well as the entire province of Jilin, where most of the cases are concentrated. All told, roughly 51 million people in China are currently under lockdown. Many observers are concerned that these measures will only worsen an already strained supply chain, as Chinese exports from these regions halt due to the quarantines. Already, these actions seem to have taken a severe economic toll, as Chinese stocks have continued to tumble as the government imposes more restrictions.

Potential Bird Flu Outbreak

Since February, a highly lethal strain of bird flu has slammed U.S. poultry farms. According to the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the industry has had to kill millions of commercially raised chickens and turkeys since the outbreaks began. This practice is a standard response to such infections, as farms cull the entire flock to prevent the further spread of the disease. To combat the virus, U.S. poultry producers have tightened safety measures, while some countries that buy poultry from the U.S. — Mexico, South Korea, and China — imposed their own restrictions, prohibiting imports from states with identified cases.

According to government officials, the United States is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry meat. Experts say this is the worst outbreak since 2015 when the industry had to cull around 50 million birds. The surging cases could further increase already high food prices. The USDA has already confirmed cases of bird flu in commercial poultry stocks in over a dozen U.S. states. Europe and Asia have already been suffering similar outbreaks since late last year. While the virus’ rapid spread is concerning, human cases of bird flu are rare.

Musk Challenges Putin

On Monday, billionaire philanthropist Elon Musk tweeted at Vladimir Putin, challenging him to single combat for the fate of Ukraine. Musk has been powering his Starlink satellites through SpaceX providing internet access to Ukrainians. His actions have helped release much of the war footage and information seen since the start of the invasion. 

In a second tweet, Musk asked the Kremlin in Russian whether the fight was on. However, only one Russian official has responded. Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, responded to the tweet quoting verses of the poem, The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda, by Alexander Pushkin: “You, little devil, are still young, Compete with me weak; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first.”

Left Narrative

Left-Lean Narrative

Right-Lean Narrative

Right Narrative

Questions & Answers

Reading Comprehension

Have your students take a reading comprehension quiz to see how well they understood the article and different opinions.

Launch Activity

Discussion Questions

  1. How can policymakers best ensure public safety while not compromising vulnerable populations, like the homeless?
  2. Do you think China’s “zero-Covid” strategy is feasible? Why or why not?
  3. How do these recent Chinese Covid-19 restrictions compare to such policies where you live?
  4. Is the practice of culling entire flocks due to bird flu infections an effective strategy? Is it immoral? Explain your view.
  5. Why do you think Elon Musk posted the tweet challenging Putin to “single combat”? What might he have been attempting to accomplish?

Current Events in this story

Check out these current event pages for history, narratives, activities, and more:

Accompanying Content

Fox 5 DC
Suspect arrested in connection with serial attacks on homeless men in DC, NYC: police

On Tuesday, authorities arrested a suspect who allegedly shot five homeless men in D.C. and New York City over the past two weeks. This video also outlines the timeline of the shootings.

Mar 15, 2022
Global News
COVID-19: China sees infections spike as other countries ease restrictions

Around the world, countries are easing their Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, China is imposing harsher ones for comparatively much fewer cases.

Mar 14, 2022
CBS 17
Farmers, scientists on alert after bird flu found in dozens of wild birds in NC

Farmers and scientists are on alert after officials confirmed bird flu in dozens of wild birds in North Carolina. These infections indicate it could be more widespread throughout commercial flocks. Although the virus rarely transfers to humans, it could negatively impact the supply chain and increase food prices.

Feb 19, 2022
Elon Musk challenges Vladimir Putin to ‘single combat’ for Ukraine | Rush Hour

Elon Musk has challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “single combat” over Ukraine on Twitter. Tens of thousands of users have since retweeted the post. It has even captured the attention of Russian officials, who have responded to Musk’s challenge.

Mar 14, 2022

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