Women’s Marches Around the World Reflect Worry Over Violence and Populism

By Elisabetta PovoledoPalko KaraszChristopher F. Schuetze and Raphael Minder

Jan. 19, 2019         The New York Times

ROME — Women of all ages, and some men, took to the streets in a dozen cities around the world on Saturday, the anniversary of the 2017 Women’s March that served as a strong rebuke of President Trump’s policies.

The annual marches and rallies have taken on wider themes since then, such as challenging the rise of the far right, while also calling for an end to inequality, the gender pay gap and violence against women.

Some events were organized in response to a call from the United States to create a “Women’s Wave.” But others were held independently, and in many cases, the core message was that women’s rights are about more than Mr. Trump.

In cities across the United States, women braved subzero temperatures in some parts of the country to march even as accusations of anti-Semitism have rocked the movement and prompted questions about its future.

The rallies in European countries like Germany and Italy included warnings of bleak times because of the rise of populism and the far-right. In London, women marched against punishing austerity measures. But the turnout fell shy of the many thousands that had filled the streets two years ago.

In Rome, women met in a downtown square, where they took aim at Italy’s populist government, which has been accused of whittling away at measures that protect women and migrants.

They chanted against fascism, against the “Italians First” mentality promoted by the government’s main political parties — the League and the Five Star Movement — and they blasted Italy’s grim record of violence against women.

According to a parliamentary report issued last year, one in three women have reported being “subjected to some form of physical or sexual abuse.”

“We are channeling our rage, once again,” said Kiersten Pilar Miller, the founder of an association that assists pregnant women in Rome. “We want all our anger turned into usable action.”

There were speeches, chants and songs, and even a demand for the government to lower taxes on tampons and menstrual pads.

Warning that the rise of the right in Europe and the United States puts at risk rights that affect women, as well as migrants, Raffaella Palladino, president of D.i.Re, a network of women’s centers and shelters, said that women were not going to “give up one millimeter” in defending their rights.

“This was a country that used to assist women who were victims of human trafficking, and exploitation. Now, we are erecting walls and closing ports to ships that rescue migrants at sea,” she told participants, referring to Italian policy under Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to no longer participate in sea rescues outside the maritime border and to bar ships carrying rescued migrants from docking.

In an interview, Ms. Palladino said women in Italy faced a difficult time. Violence is prevalent, and if women denounce their aggressors, she said, they do not get “sufficient protection.”

Although a report by Istat, the national statistic agency, said that 43 percent of working Italian women had been subjected to some form of harassment at least once during their life, the Me Too movement has not taken hold in Italy.

“MeToo was nonexistent in Italy because women were afraid of speaking out, and those who did were revictimized and condemned,” said Luisa Betti Dakli, a journalist and one of the speakers.

Carlo Cosenza of Sentinelli di Roma, an association that describes itself as “lay and anti-fascist,” got one of the biggest cheers of the day when he held up a poster showing Mr. Salvini and Mr. Trump.

“These people are trying to build a future that is not open to all. Let’s stop them now,” he said.

In London, organizers chose “Women Demand Bread & Roses” as a slogan this year to protest the government’s squeeze on essential services. It drew inspiration from the American “Bread and Roses” protests for working women’s rights in the 1910s.

The march across the heart of London drew around 3,000 people. They held signs reading, “Men of Quality Don’t Fear Equality” and “Brexit Wrecks It,” reflecting the political deadlock ahead of the March deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.

In Berlin, around 2,000 protesters marched from the Brandenburg Gate to the Alexanderplatz along the famous Unter den Linden. Organizers called for scrapping a Hitler-era law that makes it a crime for doctors to advertise that they perform abortions.

Marchers in Frankfurt, Germany, met at two spots at 5 minutes to 12, in a reference to the urgency of women’s issue. Roughly 1,200 people marched, according to the Frankfurt police, many wearing the pink knit hats emblematic of the movement.

They waved flag and held signs saying, “Teach girls to be somebodies, instead of Somebody’s,” and others spoke of racism, gay rights and abortion issues. Members of Green and Social democratic parties showed up with party banners.

Marches were scheduled for Sunday in cities such as Sydney, AustraliaTaipeiBuenos Aires and later in the year elsewhere.

Women in Spain held rallies this past week that were independent of the Women’s March movement but that denounced the return of the far-right in Spanish politics. On Tuesday, they protested against the right-wing coalition government taking office in Andalusia, led by the Popular Party but supported by Vox, a far-right party that secured its first parliamentary seats in elections last month.

Vox is nationalist and anti-immigrant, but has also angered women’s associations because of its call for Spain to abolish its abortion law and to overhaul another law covering gender violence. Vox has also questioned official data about domestic violence and wants to unwind gay rights in a country that was among the first to allow same-sex marriage, in 2005.

The protests involved about 45 women’s associations and took place in 50 cities. Protesters held signs that read, “Not a step backward,” in defense of abortion and other rights.

Elisabetta Povoledo reported from Rome, Palko Karasz from London, Christopher F. Schuetze from Berlin, and Raphael Minder from Madrid.



Bluefin tuna sells for record $3.1 million at Tokyo fish market, but scarcity clouds celebration

Decades of overfishing have sent stocks of this top ocean predator to less than four percent of historic levels.

By Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwagi
January 5 at 4:00 AM             The Washington Post

TOKYO – A bluefin tuna sold for a record $3.1 million at the first auction of the year at Tokyo’s new fish market on Saturday, but behind the celebrations hides a worrying tale of overfishing and dwindling stocks.

Kiyoshi Kimura, who owns the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain, paid 333.6 million yen for the 613-lb (278-kg) fish at the first auction of the year, and the first to be held at Tokyo’s new Toyosu fish market after last year’s the move from the famous Tsukiji market.

The price at the predawn auction was nearly 10 times higher than the price paid at last year’s auction — albeit for a considerably smaller fish — and roughly double the previous record, also set by Kimura, in 2013. There was an intense bidding war with a rival buyer who had won last year.

The winner said he was “very satisfied with the quality” of the fish, but admitted he had paid much more than he had expected.

“The tuna looks so tasty and very fresh, but I think I did (pay) a little too much,” Kimura told reporters outside the market later, according to news agencies.

Kimura said a single piece of the tuna would be served to customers in his restaurants later that day.

The fish was caught off the coast of northern Japan’s Aomori prefecture by fishermen from the small town of Oma, which has a nationwide reputation for the quality of its tuna catch.

Bluefin tuna is highly valued for its taste in sushi restaurants, but decades of overfishing have sent stocks plummeting.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Pacific Bluefin tuna, or Thunnus orientalis, as “vulnerable,” with a decreasing population.

“The celebration surrounding the annual Pacific bluefin auction hides how deeply in trouble this species really is,” said Jamie Gibbon, associate manager of global tuna conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Its population has fallen to less than 3.5 percent of its historic size and overfishing still continues today.”

In response to the growing scarcity of the fish, Japan and other governments agreed in 2017 to strict quotas and restrictions on fishing, in an attempt to rebuild stocks from 20 percent of historic levels by 2034.

That has caused considerable unhappiness and some hardship in Oma.

Oma tuna is known as the “black diamond” of tuna, because fishermen still use traditional manual fishing methods, rather than trawling, allowing them to catch the fish intact.

But to stick to the quota, fishermen there said they decided to go slow in the summer and concentrate instead on fishing in the fall and winter, when tuna fetches a higher price. However, when they ventured out, they found tuna harder to find than usual and catches low, leading to fears in November that the Oma tuna could eventually disappear from the nation’s sushi bars — although December’s catch was better.

Hundreds of Japanese fishermen also protested against the new quotas outside the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in June, while Oma also canceled its annual tuna festival in October in protest.

But Gibbon lamented that Japan and other countries were already lobbying for higher catch quotas for 2019, just one year into the 16-year recovery plan, while also noting reports of Japanese fishermen discarding and not reporting dead bluefin to avoid exceeding their quotas.

“It’s time for countries, including Japan, to support Pacific bluefin recovery, fund the necessary science, and commit to enforcing fishing limits, to ensure that there will still be bluefin left to auction,” he said.

Pacific Bluefin tuna reach a maximum length of nearly 10 feet (3 meters) and a maximum weight of 1,200 lbs. (550 kg). A top ocean predator, they have been described as “twice the size of a lion and faster than a gazelle.”

They are built like torpedoes, with a hydrodynamic shape, retractable pectoral (side) fins and, unlike other fish, eyes set flush to their body, according to WWF.

They have two main breeding grounds, off the coast of Japan. Most remain in the western Pacific all their lives, reaching from Russia’s Sakhalin Island in the north to New Zealand in the south. But others, when they reach one to two years of age, make a 6,000-mile (11,000-km) migration to rich waters off California and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, returning after two to four years to spawn in the same western Pacific waters where they began life, Pew Charitable Trustssay.

Pew says fishermen, mainly from Japan, South Korea and Mexico, often take fish before they reach maturity, which has badly undermined the population.

According to the Mongabay nature news website, bluefin are difficult to rear in captivity. With highly sensitive reactions to light and sound, they rarely spawn in captivity and often swim at top speed and die on impact with the sides of tanks or nets.




Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive

By Brad Plumer

Dec. 15, 2018                                       The New York Times

KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.

The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020.

It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track.

The United States agreed to the deal despite President Trump’s vow to abandon the Paris Agreement. Diplomats and climate change activists said they hoped that fact would make it easier for the administration to change its mind and stay in the Paris Agreement, or for a future president to embrace the accord once again. The United States cannot formally withdraw from the agreement until late 2020.

Observers said United States negotiators worked constructively behind the scenes with China on transparency rules. The two countries had long been at odds because China had insisted on different reporting rules for developing countries, while the United States favored consistent emissions-accounting rules and wanted all countries to be subject to the same outside scrutiny.

“The U.S. got a clear methodology to make sure that China and India are meeting their targets,” said Jake Schmidt, international policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That creates the level playing field they have been asking for.”

Many of the attendees at this year’s United Nations climate talks — known as COP24, shorthand for their formal name — expressed disappointment at what they saw as half measures to deal with a mounting climate crisis. Greenhouse gas emissions are still rising around the world, and millions of people are facing increased risks from severe droughts, floods and wildfires.

But supporters of the deal reached Saturday said that they hoped the new rules would help build a virtuous cycle of trust and cooperation among countries, at a time when global politics seems increasingly fractured.

“Particularly given the broader geopolitical context, this is a pretty solid outcome,” said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “It delivers what we need to get the Paris Agreement off the ground.’’

“The fundamentals are in place,” Mr. Diringer added.

Not every country got what it wanted at the meeting, which had been scheduled to end on Friday. Developing nations were hoping for more robust promises on climate aid, but that issue has been postponed for future talks.

The negotiations over the Paris rule book, often dense and technical, were frequently bogged down by sharp political disputes inside the saucer-shaped convention center here in Katowice, at the heart of Poland’s coal country.

Midway through the conference, a huge fight over climate science, with the Trump administration at the center, threatened to derail the negotiations altogether.

Most delegates at the talks had wanted to formally endorse a major report issued in October by the United Nations scientific panel on climate change, which said that fossil-fuel emissions would have to fall roughly in half within 12 years to avoid severe climate disruptions.

But the United States and three other big oil producers — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia — tried to weaken the statement’s language, enraging delegates from some of the most at-risk nations. By Friday, negotiators had crafted compromise language that expressed “appreciation and gratitude” for the report.

Then, on Friday, Brazil’s delegation held up the talks all through the night because it was fiercely opposed to proposed changes in rules around carbon trading markets. Negotiators eventually agreed to table the issue until next year.

With a diplomatic framework still alive and rules of the road in place, analysts said it was now up to individual countries to come back before the 2020 talks with concrete pledges to cut emissions more deeply. A few countries, including Chile, Vietnam and Norway, have already said they would start that review process.

When world leaders signed the Paris agreement in 2015, they said they would try to limit the rise in global temperatures to roughly 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels to avoid climate-related disasters like widespread food shortages and mass coral die-offs.

But with global fossil-fuel emissions still rising each year, the planet is now quite likely to cross that temperature threshold within 35 years.

“The real test is what happens when countries go home,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “All the decision text in the world doesn’t cut a molecule of carbon. You need action on the ground.”

In some countries, political obstacles to climate action are mounting.

For instance, at the Poland talks, several European Union officials pledged that the bloc would pursue stronger measures to cut emissions before 2020. But inside the union, discussions over a more ambitious climate target have dragged on, in part because Britain is distracted by Brexit; France is struggling with “Yellow Vests” protests; and Germany is grappling with its own difficulties in phasing out coal.

“We can’t ignore that there are a lot of headwinds,” said Laurence Tubiana, France’s former climate change envoy and a key architect of the Paris agreement.

Some experts at the talks argued that the march of cheaper, cleaner energy technologies would do far more to break the deadlock around climate policy than any complicated treaties could.

“Look at countries like China and India that are going ahead with renewables for their own reasons,” said Saleemul Huq, director of Bangladesh’s International Center for Climate Change and Development. “That’s what we need: for countries to move in that direction because it makes sense to them, not because they signed up for an agreement and they’re supposed to.”

Even some of the exhausted politicians in the thick of this week’s climate negotiations were ready to acknowledge the limits of diplomacy.

“Of course it’s important to have these rules, but a lot of the real action is happening by entrepreneurs; it’s happening by business people; it’s happening by the finance sector; by the money flowing; it’s happening at the city and state level,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister.

“Climate change is a complicated problem,” she said, “and it’s not going to be solved by national governments alone.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Brad Plumer is a reporter covering climate change, energy policy and other environmental issues for The Times’s climate team. @bradplumer