In other news Friday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou shook up his government in a bid to defuse the country's debt crisis and get new austerity measures through Parliament. Also in Yemen, officials announced that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is in Saudi Arabia getting medical treatment, plans to return within days.
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The prime minister of Greece, Giorgos Papandreou, shook up his government today in a bid to defuse the country’s debt crisis. A reshuffled cabinet was sworn in, hoping to get new austerity measures through parliament.
The new finance minister, who had been in charge of defense, said the country must be saved and it will be saved.
EVANGELOS VENIZELOS, Greek finance minister (through translator):
I told the Defense Ministry that today I leave from defense to go to the real war. And I come here in the name of the Greek people because they are the real managers of the crisis. They are the ones called to make sacrifices. Only with the people, only with society, only with the productive forces in a climate of consensus and mutual understand can we carry out this great historic challenge.
Greek markets and political leaders reacted well to the shakeup. World markets also rose after Germany and France said they want a solution to the Greek problem soon, without forcing private investors to share the burden.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 42 points to close at 12,004. The Nasdaq fell seven points to close at 2,616. For the week, the Dow gained a fraction of one percent; the Nasdaq fell one percent.
Officials in Yemen announced today that President Ali Abdullah Saleh plans to return home within days. He’s been receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia after being wounded during an attack on his palace. Word of Saleh’s plans came as vast crowds, several hundred thousand people, filled a main boulevard in Sana’a, the capital. They chanted appeals to the Saudis to keep Saleh away from Yemen.
A new round of Friday protests swept across Syria, and activists said security forces killed at least 16 demonstrators. Thousands of Syrians marched in city after city following Friday prayers. They waved banners and called again for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, troops and tanks poured into Maaret al-Numan, near the Turkish border. It was part of a drive to crush dissent in the region.
The U.N. appealed today for $200 million immediately in relief for Southern Sudan. The South is three weeks away from gaining independence, but continued violence has displaced at least half-a-million people. Much of the trouble is along the border with Northern Sudan. And in the latest fighting, the North’s army shelled a town today in the disputed area.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.