As members of Greece’s parliament prepare to vote on a second bill to hasten planned austerity measures, around 300 people were injured and 50 stores were damaged in ongoing protests in Athens over the planned cuts. Police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters and arrested at least 38 people.
Greek lawmakers were compelled to make the cuts in order to receive more bailout money from the International Monetary Fund and European Union, or run the risk of defaulting on their debts. The second bill comes on the heels of a five-year, 28 billion euro plan, the details of which are encapsulated in Thursday’s vote. The IMF and EU will then release 12 billion further euros in bailout money.
Despite the turmoil within Greece, the vote comes as a relief for international market watchers who are worried about the ripple effects of Greece potentially defaulting on its debt.
Hundreds of Thousands of Public Workers Strike in Britain
Almost half of the public schools in Britain have been shuttered by a massive protest over public pensions, including three major teachers’ unions, customs and immigration officers, and air traffic controllers. The strikes have caused major disruptions across the United Kingdom as flights are jeopardized and parents of school-age children grapple with closed schools. The government had proposed cutting the pensions as part of an effort to reign in the country’s massive budget deficit. According to union estimates, some 750,000 people could be part of the strike.
The largely peaceful demonstrations took place in London and other cities across the country. No violence or large-scale arrests were reported.
The Telegraph has a live blog of the evolving strike here.
The strikers include those public workers in charge of dispersing state pensions.
Yemeni Vice President: Government Has Lost Control
Yemeni Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansoor Hadi told CNN that the government has lost control of five of the country’s provinces and that the security situation in the country is getting worse.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was injured in a rocket attack on his compound in early June, remains in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, and there is no definitive information on when or if he will return. That question has put Yemen’s government in limbo as unrest grows.
Hadi told CNN that he saw Saleh immediately after the bomb attack. The 68-year-old ruler’s chest had been pierce by a piece of wood and his face, arms and upper body had been burned, Hadi said. But, he added, the president’s health was improving daily.
Hadi also said the United States is using drone strikes to combat al Qaida elements in the country. Their presence has in the past shored up the U.S.-Yemen alliance, which is now in question with Saleh’s absence and the possible power vacuum.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has described the al Qaida offshoot based in Yemen as “an incredibly dangerous group that has taken full advantage of the chaos that has been in that country.”
Photo of President Ali Abdullah Saleh by Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images
Britain to Send Uniforms, Equipment to Libya Rebels
Coming on the heels of France’s announcement that it had delivered shipments of weapons to Libyan rebels earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his nation was prepared to send uniforms and communication equipment to aid forces fighting Moammar Gadhafi.
In addition to months of NATO airstrikes, rebel leaders have consistently said they need further aid and equipment.
China criticized France’s airlift of weapons and ammunition, including rocket-propelled grenades, as outside of the mandate provided by the U.N. Security Council resolution. Russia also called the arming of rebels a “crude” violation of the resolution.
Mahmoud Jibril, a spokesman for the opposition’s Transitional National Council, said an increase in foreign aid would provide an opportunity to “decide this battle quickly (and) to spill as little blood as possible.”
In a news conference Wednesday, President Obama defended U.S. involvement in the NATO strikes and said that a “noose was tightening” around Gadhafi.
Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images