If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

GLOBAL REVOLT - Athens and Rio on Fire

Greek protesters have clashed with police in Athens at the start of a 48-hour strike against austerity measures.

Demonstrators threw stones and police responded with tear gas, with reports of minor injuries on both sides.

Greek leaders have been frantically trying to agree swingeing cuts demanded by the EU and IMF in return for a new 130bn-euro ($170bn; £110bn) bailout.

The smallest party in the coalition has withdrawn support for the package days before a parliamentary vote.

The far-right Laos party complained that Greeks were being humiliated by Germany, and the party's four cabinet ministers offered their resignations.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said it was time for Greece to make a "final strategic choice".

"If we see the future of our country within eurozone, within Europe, we should do what we have to do for the programme to be approved," he said.

Last night the Greeks presented their plans for austerity cuts to a meeting of eurozone ministers in Brussels.

Their proposals include:

15,000 public-sector job cuts
liberalisation of labour laws
lowering the minimum wage by 20% from 751 euros a month to 600 euros
negotiating a debt write-off with banks.

But the ministers demanded a further 325m euros in savings for this year. It is thought that the shortfall came because the Greek coalition could not agree to restructuring pensions.

Continue reading - BBC - Athens clashes over Greece eurozone austerity deal

Greek police union wants to arrest EU/IMF officials

Greece's largest police union has threatened to issue arrest warrants for officials from the country's European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders for demanding deeply unpopular austerity measures.

In a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday, the Federation of Greek Police accused the officials of "...blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty" and said one target of its warrants would be the IMF's top official for Greece, Poul Thomsen.

The threat is largely symbolic since legal experts say a judge must first authorize such warrants, but it shows the depth of anger against foreign lenders who have demanded drastic wage and pension cuts in exchange for funds to keep Greece afloat.

"Since you are continuing this destructive policy, we warn you that you cannot make us fight against our brothers. We refuse to stand against our parents, our brothers, our children or any citizen who protests and demands a change of policy," said the union, which represents more than two-thirds of Greek policemen.

"We warn you that as legal representatives of Greek policemen, we will issue arrest warrants for a series of legal violations ... such as blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty."

The letter was also addressed to the European Central Bank's mission chief in Greece, Klaus Masuch, and the former European Commission chief inspector for Greece, Servaas Deroose.

Policemen have borne the brunt of the anger of massed protesters who frequently march to parliament and clash with police in riot gear. Chants of "Cops, pigs, murderers!" are regularly hurled at policemen or scribbled on walls.

Thousands turned out on Friday for the latest protest in Athens, this time against new austerity measures that include a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage.

A police union official said the threat to 'refuse to stand against' fellow Greeks was a symbolic expression of solidarity and did not mean police would halt their efforts to stop protests getting out of hand.

Continue reading - Reuters - Greek police union wants to arrest EU/IMF officials

Violence erupts in Greece before austerity vote - Rough Cuts

Greece: running street battles erupt in Athens

Rio police vote for strike action

Police in Rio de Janeiro have voted to go on strike to demand better pay - just a week before the Brazilian city's annual carnival.

The state legislature had hoped to avoid industrial action by offering a 39% salary increase.

But unions said that rise was not enough to make up for decades of falling wages.

Protesters in Rio cheered when it was announced that the strike would go ahead.

A military police officer taking part in the protest, Tiago Rodrigues, said Brazilians should stay at home while the strike was on.

"We do not want a strike, we want better salaries," he said.

"Unfortunately, the population will now be caught up in this during carnival.

"We are advising people not to leave their homes. Stay indoors until the situation is calmer."

A strike by police in the city of Salvador, in Bahia state, since last week, led to an increase in reported murders and violence.

Continue reading - BBC - Rio police vote for strike action

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