Protestors and Riot Police Clash in Athens

From the Associated Press:



Riot police fired tear gas at youths hurling rocks near the Greek finance ministry Tuesday, trying to quell the anger unleashed by a general strike as parliament debated new cost-cutting measures.

The latest austerity measures must pass in two parliamentary votes Wednesday and Thursday if Greece is to receive bailout funds from the EU and the IMF to stave off a possible default in July. If the votes don’t pass, Greece could become the first eurozone nation to default on its debts, sending shock waves through the global economy.

The clashes with police came at the start of a two-day strike called by unions furious that the new euro28 billion ($40 billion) austerity program will slap taxes on minimum wage earners and other struggling Greeks. The measures come on top of other spending cuts and tax hikes that have sent Greek unemployment soaring to over 16 percent.

“The situation that the workers are undergoing is tragic and we are near poverty levels,” said Spyros Linardopoulos, a protester with the PAME union blocading the port of Piraeus. “The government has declared war and to this war we will answer back with war.”

Hooded youths ripped up paving stones and set trash bins on fire in central Athens as police gave chase and fired tear gas and stun grenades. Earlier, about 20,000 people had marched peacefully in two separate demonstrations, while another 7,000 protested in the northern city of Thessaloniki without incident.

Everyone from doctors and ambulance drivers to casino workers and even actors at a state-funded theater were joining the strike or holding work stoppages for several hours.

Hundreds of flights were canceled or rescheduled as air traffic controllers walked off the job for four hours in the morning–and were holding another walkout in the evening. Strikes by public transport workers snarled traffic across the capital and left tourists stranded around Piraeus.

Read the whole thing here. Aside from a healthy crop of youthful anarchists, most of the protestors in Athens are government employees. They are clinging to an unsustainable fantasy-world where public sector jobs, pay and benefits always expand. It is only an order of magnitude different than scenes playing out in Madison, Trenton and Columbus.

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