Europe and Americas Greece passes crucial austerity bill
reek legislators have narrowly passed a crucial austerity bill, after thousands of people gathered outside parliament to protest against the cutbacks. The bill, which will further slash pensions and salaries, passed 153-128 in the 300-member parliament early on Thursday. It came hours after police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to push back rioters during an 80,000-strong anti-austerity demonstration. Police said at least 20 people had been detained. Approval of the cuts and tax rises worth 13.5bn euros ($17 billion) over two years was a big step for Greek efforts to secure the next instalment of its international rescue funds, and stave off imminent bankruptcy. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said the country will run out of euros on November 16 without the funds. "Today we took a big and decisive step towards growth," he said after the crucial vote. The tough measures to be implemented by 2016, include raising the retirement age to 67, slashing benefits and cutting the minimum wage. The close vote was a major political blow to the three-party coalition government, which holds a total of 176 seats in parliament. The result shows support for continued austerity three years into Greece's financial crisis is dwindling fast. Immediately after the vote and before the tally had been officially announced, two of the three coalition parties expelled a total of seven dissenting deputies from their ranks. Deputies from the third, the small Democratic Left, mostly abstained, in accordance with their party's line. Leader Fotis Kouvelis had said in the days leading up to the vote that he could not back labour reforms included in the bill. During hours of acrimonious debate in parliament, Samaras acknowledged that some of the measures in the bill were unfair, but insisted they were vital to avoid bankruptcy and Greece being forced out of the euro and back to its old currency, the drachma. "This [bill] will finally rid the country of drachmophobia," Samaras said. "Many of these measures are fair and should have been taken years ago, without anyone asking us to," Samaras said. "Others are unfair _ cutting wages and salaries - and there is no point in dressing this up as something else," he said, adding that the country was, however, obliged to take them.
PEOPLES DAILY, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2012
Guatemala continue hunt for hundreds in quake rubble H
undreds of rescuers are sifting debris of wrecked towns for survivors of Wednesday's earthquake in Guatemala. The 7.4-magnitude tremor, the most powerful to hit Guatemala since 1976, left at least 52 people dead, many more injured and thousands without power. President Otto Perez Molina told the BBC that 22 people were still missing and as many as 10,000 houses may have been rendered uninhabitable. Most of the damage was in San Marcos region, near the border with Mexico. The president, who visited the affected area on Wednesday, declared three days of mourning. He told Mundo that rescuers were continuing to search through the rubble. "We have identified the places where [survivors] could be, and rescue units are working there," he said. The mountainous town of San Marcos and the surrounding area was hit particularly hard, with 40 people confirmed dead. Many residents spent the night outside, huddled under blankets and afraid to go back into their homes. The only building left with electricity in the area was the hospital, which was packed with
ark Basseley Youssef, the conman behind an antiMuslim film that led to violence in many parts of the Middle East, has been given a oneyear prison sentence for probation violations unrelated to the film.
the injured and their families. In San Cristobal Cucho, a village 5km (3 miles) from San Marcos, 10 members of the same family were killed when their house collapsed. "The whole village is in mourning because an entire family was taken by God's nature. What can we do," said
local mayor Pedro Cardona. The other fatalities were in the neighbouring region of Quetzaltenango. About 2,000 soldiers joined hundreds of rescuers in a bid to find any possible survivors. "We started rescue work very early," said Julio Cesar Fuentes of the municipal fire
department. "The objective is our hope to find people who were buried." Late on Wednesday, the energy ministry said about 73,000 people were left without electricity. Roads had been deluged by landslides and most regions of the country reported some damage as a result of the quake.
Firefighters transport a wounded resident into a hospital
US jails anti-Islam film-maker The sentence was handed down on Wednesday after a plea bargain was reached between solicitors for Youssef and federal prosecutors.
Youssef's lawyer Steven Seiden (R)
Youssef admitted to using several false names and violating his probation order by obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license under a false name to commit bank fraud. US District Court Judge Christina Snyder accepted the plea agreement and immediately sentenced Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations. Shortly after Youssef left the courtroom, he issued a provocative statement through his solicitor, Steven Seiden. "The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn't kill the ideology," Seiden said. Asked what that meant, Seiden said, "I didn't ask him, and I don't know." Prosecutors agreed to drop
the other four allegations under the plea deal, which also included more probation time. Both sides agreed that none of the violations were a consequence of the content of "Innocence of Muslims," a film seen as offensive by Muslims. Deadly violence related to the film broke out on September 11 and spread to many parts of the Middle East. But Assistant US Attorney Robert Dugdale argued Youssef's lies about his identity had caused harm to others, including the film's cast and crew. "They had no idea he was a recently released felon," Dugdale said on Wednesday. "Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts" about partaking in the film.
Police battle prison drug-gang in Sao Paulo
t least eight more people have been killed in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area overnight, a public security spokesman said, despite plans by state and federal police to join forces to contain the violence. State authorities appear unable to contain the murder spree, which experts blamed on a prison drug-gang known as the First Command of the Capital, or "PCC," that is said to be targeting state military police. Press reports initially spoke of nine deaths in assaults and clashes with
police, but a spokesman for the state public security secretariat told the AFP news agency on Thursday that he could only confirm eight. The latest deaths bring the number of killings, including that of several military police, to at least 55, over the past week. The PCC has been linked to around 100 murders of police and prison guards across the state this year. On Tuesday, state and federal authorities agreed to set up a new, joint police agency to spearhead the fight against organised crime.
Police screen residents of suspected hideouts
Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 09, November, 2012 Edition