'If we stop, the world stops': Women's Day walkout paralyzes Spain
Newsletter: A deeper dive into the day's most notable stories
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- Millions in Spain marked International Women's Day with a general strike, staying away from their salaried jobs and boycotting unpaid work in the home
- Former FARC guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londoño, better known as "Timochenko," has abandoned his unpopular quest to become Colombia's president
- Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is visiting the U.K. amid duelling propaganda efforts and street protests over Saudi Arabia's bloody intervention in Yemen's civil war
Women's strike brings Spain to a standstill
Spanish women are marking International Women's Day by doing nothing for 24 hours.
Millions participatedin a general women's strike today, staying away from their salaried jobs and boycotting unpaid work at home.
Tens of thousands marched in Madrid, Barcelona and almost 200 other locations across the country under the movement's slogan: "If we stop, the world stops."
The threat was not an idle one.
Classes were cancelled as demonstrations sprang up outside schools and universities. Many workplaces were all but empty.
And statues all over Spain were dressed in aprons and decorated with mops, buckets and toilet brushes.
The strike, aimed at ending the country's enduring "macho culture," was endorsed by the woman mayors of Barcelona and Madrid, Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena.
At least two female cabinet ministers "worked to rule" today — in defiance of their boss, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. (The prime minister originally rejected the strike idea as "too confrontational," but Rajoy was pictured wearing its symbol — a purple ribbon — on his lapel today.)
A poll published in the paper El Pais found 82 per cent support for the strike, and that 80 per cent of respondents agreed that "machismo" still pervades Spanish culture.
In 2017, 99 Spanish women were killed by their partners. The year before saw 28,281 officially registered complaints of domestic violence, according to the national statistics office.
FARC's Timochenko bows out of presidential race
A former FARC guerrilla leader has abandoned his unpopular quest to become Colombia's president, pulling out of the campaign due to health problems.
Rodrigo Londoño, better known by his nom de guerre "Timochenko," had a heart attack last week and underwent surgery yesterday.
Londoño's pullout, which came via a statement from another former FARC commander at a news conference in Bogota this morning, means that the terror-group-turned-political-party will not field a candidate in the country's May presidential election. But it will have 74 former soldiers standing for office this Sunday in the national votes for Colombia's upper and lower houses.
But Londoño's campaign seemed unlikely to end in victory, with recent polls suggesting he had 1 per cent support among voters, well within the margin of error.
Gustavo Petro, another former rebel who was once a commander of the M-19 group, leads the race to succeed President Juan Manuel Santos.
The group accuses the country's far-right of orchestrating the attacks, and has suggested that the Colombian government was complicit in its refusal to beef up security.
But FARC, which has a long history of kidnappings, killings and atrocities, is not fondly remembered by the general public. The 50 years of fighting in Colombia killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 7 million.
The group says it may throw its support behind one of the other left-wing candidates for president.
It's not clear if anyone would be willing to accept such an endorsement.
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Dollars, diplomacy and death
London is the top European destination for citizens of Saudi Arabia.
In the first nine months of 2017, 138,000 of them travelled to the U.K.'s capital, spending an estimated $1.4 billion, to the delight of shopkeepers, hoteliers and restauranteurs.
But the British welcome mat is looking a little frayed this week as Mohammed bin Salman, the country's Crown Prince makes his first official visit.
The United Nations says that more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since the fighting began in 2015 — many as a direct result of Saudi airstrikes — while three million have been displaced from their homes. And 80 per cent of the country's population — 22 million people — are in need of humanitarian aid.
A British-owned, Riyadh-registered consulting firm has splashed out a considerable amount of money — $1.8 million, according to one report — on a #WelcomeSaudiCrownPrince campaign, purchasing full-page newspaper advertisements and billboards. Several iconic, black London cabs were wrapped with the Prince's smiling picture, and there were even trucks with giant electronic screens to carry the message around the city.
Two vans on Whitehall that appear to be advertising a sleazy gentlemen’s club are, on closer inspection, welcoming the Saudi Crown Prince. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/welcomesaudicrownprince?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#welcomesaudicrownprince</a> <a href="https://t.co/fkjaz0dlWl">pic.twitter.com/fkjaz0dlWl</a>—@jamesjonestv
The positioning was supposed to be progressive: "He is empowering Saudi Arabian women," read one ad in The Guardian, with a picture of young lady, wearing a headscarf and abaya, behind the wheel of a car.
But protesters were selling their own version of the man behind Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 modernization campaign.
Guerilla transit riders hung banners branding bin Salman as a "war criminal" from the top of double-decker buses. Save the Children invoked the destruction in Yemen by placing a statue of a rubble-surrounded child outside the Palace of Westminster.
Back in Saudi Arabia, the official coverage of the visit's kickoff focused on the pomp — a welcoming ceremony at the airport with Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and the traditional grip-and-grin photo with the Prime Minister outside 10 Downing St.
Last November, the Independent newspaper published an investigation that tallied a 500 per cent increase in U.K. arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the Yemeni war began, with a total price tag of $8.2 billion.
May did raise the issue of human rights in her meeting with the Crown Prince yesterday, urging him to allow aid groups full-access to Yemen and seek a negotiated solution to the conflict.
Change is undeniably happening in the Kingdom under the watch of the Prince, with the loosening of rules around entertainment and how men and women interact in public, along with massive investments in resorts, high-tech business parks and other economic diversification projects.
One of the groups protesting in London this week is Reprieve, an anti-death-penalty group.
By its count, execution rates in the Kingdom have doubled since bin Salman was appointed Crown Prince last June. And with more than 30 death sentences carried out so far this year, the country is on pace for 200 executions in 2018 — a modern record.
Quote of the moment
"The use of nerve agent on U.K. soil is a brazen and reckless act. This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way."
- Amber Rudd, the U.K.'s Home Secretary, vowing to track down the authors of the attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter "whoever they are, wherever they may be."
What The National is reading
- Saudi women hope right to drive will pave road to bigger freedoms (CBC)
- NYPD ready to arrest Harvey Weinstein, police official says (Daily Beast)
- #MeToo movement engulfs South Korea in storm of new abuse allegations (Asia Times)
- RCMP investigating supervisor for allegedly simulating sex act on an eggplant (CBC)
- Susan Sarandon: Paul Newman gave me part of his salary (BBC)
- Florida lawmakers pass bill allowing school staff to carry guns (CNN)
- Springtime for Milosevic: new musical adds gloss to life of accused Serb war criminal (Politico)
- Man blows up home after using fly spray as flamethrower (Sydney Morning Herald)
Today in history
March 8, 1977: David Suzuki on making science accessible
The original "war against science" was a civil one. David Suzuki's campaign to inform the public and make science more accessible wasn't all that popular with his fellow eggheads. They found the idea of a bearded hipster breaking things down on TV a little déclassé.
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