World Bulletin / News Desk
Greek police fired teargas at hooded youths hurling petrol bombs and stones as tens of thousands took to the streets in Greece's biggest anti-austerity demonstration in months on Wednesday.
The clashes occurred after more than 50,000 people marched to parliament chanting "We won't submit to the troika (of lenders)" and "EU, IMF Out!" on a day of strikes against a new round of cuts demanded by EU and IMF lenders.
As the rally ended, dozens of black-clad youth threw stones, petrol bombs and bottles at riot police, who responded with several rounds of teargas. Police chased the protesters through Syntagma square in front of parliament as helicopters clattered overhead. Smoke rose from a small blaze in a corner.
The strikes, called by the country's two biggest unions representing half the four-million-strong work force, is shaping up to be the first test of whether Prime Minister Antonis Samaras can stand his ground.
Police officials estimated the demonstration was the largest since a May 2011 protest, and among the biggest since Greece first resorted to aid from international lenders in 2010.
"We can't take it anymore - we are bleeding. We can't raise our children like this," said Dina Kokou, a 54-year-old teacher and mother of four who lives on 1,000 euros a month.
"These tax hikes and wage cuts are killing us."
The traditional summer break has allowed the fragile conservative-led coalition to enjoy relative calm on the streets since narrowly coming to power on a pro-euro, pro-bailout platform, but unions predict an end to the lull.
"Yesterday the Spaniards took to the streets, today it's us, tomorrow the Italians and the day after - all the people of Europe," Yiorgos Harisis, a unionist from the ADEDY public sector group told demonstrators.
"With this strike we are sending a strong message to the government and the troika that the measures will not pass even if voted in parliament, because the government's days are numbered."
About 3,000 police - twice the number usually deployed - stood guard in the centre of Athens, which last saw serious violence in February when protesters set shops and banks ablaze as parliament approved an austerity bill.
Police formed a barricade outside parliament, and officers blocked a pensioner who tried to move towards Samaras's office holding a banner with pictures of Greek prime ministers under the title: "The biggest traitors in Greek history".
Ships stayed docked, museums and monuments were shut to visitors and air traffic controllers walked off the job for a three-hour stoppage.
"DESTROYING OUR LIVES"
Much of the union anger is directed at spending cuts worth nearly 12 billion euros ($15.55 billion) over the next two years that Greece has promised the European Union and International Monetary Fund in an effort to secure its next tranche of aid.
The bulk of those cuts is expected from cutting wages, pensions and welfare benefits, heaping a new wave of misery on Greeks who say repeated rounds of austerity have pushed them to the brink and failed to transform the country for the better.
"We can't just sit by idly and do nothing while the troika and the government destroy our lives," said Dimitra Kontouli, a 49-year-old local government employee whose salary was cut to 1,100 euros a month from 1,600 euros previously.
"My husband has lost his job, we just can't make ends meet."
A survey by the MRB polling agency last week showed that more than 90 percent of Greeks believe the planned cuts are unfair and burden the poor, with the vast majority expecting more austerity in coming years.
Unions argue that Greece should remain in the euro but default on part of its debt and ditch the current recipe of austerity cuts in favour of higher taxes on the rich and efforts to nab wealthy tax evaders.
But with Greece facing certain bankruptcy and a potential euro zone exit without further aid, Samaras's government has little choice but to push through the measures, which have also exposed fissures in his coalition.
With Greece in its fifth year of recession, analysts say patience is wearing thin and a strong public backlash could tear apart the conservative-led government.
"What people want to tell Samaras is that they are hurt and Samaras could use this to demand concessions from the troika," MRB polling director Dimitris Mavros said.
"The people are willing to give the government time, but on certain conditions like cracking down on tax evasion and securing a bailout extension. If the government succeeds in that, its life will also be extended."
The hackers broke into a database storing details of people who had registered for ECB conferences, visits and other events, the bank said.
Russia generated $356 billion from oil, gas exports last year, data shows.
While stopping far short of targeting physical energy supplies, EU ministers for the first time this week raised the idea of restricting Russian access to oil and gas technology.
They were among nine organisations and three people added to the EU's Syria sanctions list, published in the bloc's Official Journal
Land reform remains a sensitive issue in South Africa, where 20 years after the end of apartheid the white minority still holds around 87 percent of commercial farm land.
Talks are reportedly underway for a number of investment projects, including in pharmaceuticals and automotive assembly, but no final investment agreements are expected this week.
The yuan will be the world's third largest currency after the U.S. dollar and euro, a Chinese report predicts.
Unemployment currently stands at 12.7 percent in Kenya and affects 30 percent of the country's population
GM so far this year has recalled about 14.7 million vehicles worldwide with switch-related issues and has linked at least 16 deaths to those issues.
The deal includes hydropower and nuclear power plants in the South American country.
State-run think tank Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) reported earlier this month that a twin-engine version of the fighter jet is expected to cost around 8.5 trillion won
Western officials have repeatedly warned Iranian counterparts over the past six months that more economic pain is a risk for an OPEC member whose oil exports have already shrunk to a fraction of what they could have been
The EU's employment commissioner said he has asked to meet with Microsoft to discuss the social impact of the layoffs.
Although China has promised to invest in Brazil for years and failed to deliver, the pace of deals is picking up with a focus on deficient infrastructure.
The financial aid would be used for rebuilding houses and public buildings, the rapid restoration of water and energy supplies and urgent assistance for those still without proper shelter.
Washington and Brussels say Moscow has been fanning separatist violence in eastern Ukraine and broadened their sanctions, sending Russian shares and the rouble currency down.