Ilaria Maria Sala

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‘In 2019, Carrie Lam called protesters “enemies of the people”. In 2020, she extended that designation to all who opposed the security law.’ Photograph: Lam Yik/Reuters

The arrest of 53 activists in Hong Kong on national security charges represents the purge of an entire generation of politicians. Police also demanded documents from three news organisations and for the first time arrested a foreign citizen – the US human rights lawyer John Clancey – on national security charges. These moves represent an assault on civil society the aim of which appears to be the destruction of the system that nurtured the type of political engagement that brought nearly 2 million people – almost a quarter of the population – out on to the streets in 2019.

Those arrested are suspected of subversion, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protestors at a rally at Hong Kong International Airport on Wednesday. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

As Hong Kong’s sleepless summer of political strife wears on, not a day, nay, an hour, seems to go by without someone evoking the 1989 crackdown against another group of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. On breathless postings on Twitter, people share pictures of military exercises by Chinese troops just across the border from Hong Kong, saying or suggesting that the end is near for the protest movement here. But who knows where or when exactly those pictures were taken, or for what purpose they have been made public.

On other social networks, friends and contacts bemoan what they see as the inevitable next stage in the current escalation of violence: Chinese army boots on the ground and a blood bath in Hong Kong.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester blocking a train door during a general strike in Hong Kong on Monday. Credit Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Anyone who thought that the antigovernment demonstrations rocking Hong Kong this summer were just the doing of radicalized youngsters should think again. On Monday, the first general strike in the city in about 50 years brought the territory to a near-halt. The protesters making front page news are supported by Hong Kongers from all walks of life, whether or not they, too, take to the streets.

Hong Kong’s labor laws allow strikes only against one’s employer, not for general political causes. Yet the Confederation of Hong Kong Trade Unions announced that more than 350,000 people participated, calling in sick or taking the day off.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flags compete during a Yellow Vests demonstration in December in Ventimiglia, Italy, near the French border. Credit Valery Hache/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

White sauce and migration, the fork and the Mona Lisa, a fast train and an African currency — the points of contention are many. Since coming to power eight months ago, the most unpredictable and quarrelsome government Italy has ever known has managed to pick a colossal fight with, yes, France.

On Thursday, the French government called back for “consultations” its ambassador to Italy. Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, both deputy prime ministers of Italy, had said that they gave their full support to the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests), who have been protesting throughout France for weeks, rattling the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rome’s official Christmas tree, nicknamed Spelacchio, or Mangy, is estimated to have cost Italian taxpayers 48,000 euros. Credit Massimo Percossi/European Pressphoto Agency

If the paragon of all Christmas trees is the one in front of the Rockefeller Center in New York — first erected, mind you, by an Italian in 1931 — the prize for most pitiful must go to the one that stands in Rome’s Piazza Venezia this year. Just days after it was put up, it began to gray and shed its needles, and soon it had become nearly see-through. The tree cuts so sad and forlorn a figure that it has been nicknamed Spelacchio, or Mangy.

Spelacchio arrived in Rome early this month from the Trentino region, near Italy’s border with Austria, and what with transport expenses and decorations, the 70-foot fir is estimated to have cost Italian taxpayers 48,000 euros, or $57,000.…  Seguir leyendo »

Abortion in Italy, a Right Wronged

Late last month, Cosimo Borraccino, a left-wing member of the regional council for Apulia, in southern Italy, proposed passing a local law to require the enforcement of national legislation granting women access to abortion. His opponents on the council, mostly from center-right parties, said the bill was unnecessary and that Mr. Borraccino was “slamming into a wall of self-evidence.”

Yet when it comes to reproductive rights in Italy, respect of the law is anything but self-evident. In fact, 9 out of 10 gynecologists in Apulia refuse to perform abortions, even though the right to obtain one has been legal since 1978.…  Seguir leyendo »