- - Thursday, June 23, 2011

GREECE

Taxpayers angry about new revenue measures

ATHENS | Greeks seething after two years of belt-tightening reacted in anger on Thursday about a new round of tax rises and spending cuts worth some $5.4 billion, which they said would again hit honest taxpayers hardest.

Coming on top of a 10 to 15 percent reduction on pensions and salaries over the last year and a half, the raft of new measures announced by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will cut average earnings by another 3 to 4 percent, analysts said.

People on the streets of Athens, who have protested for weeks over the government’s plan to carve out savings of $40 billion by 2015, were livid at the measures they said once again failed to tackle rampant tax evasion and corruption.

IRAQ

Bombs kill 40 in Shiite neighborhoods

BAGHDAD | Four bombs ripped through Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad Thursday evening, killing at least 40 people in the worst violence the capital has seen in months, Iraqi officials said. An American civilian contractor working to improve education in Iraq was killed in a separate attack.

The violence underscored the fragile nature of the security gains in Iraq at a time when American forces are preparing to withdraw by the end of this year.

The first three bombs went off in quick succession in a southwestern Baghdad neighborhood shortly after 7 p.m. One targeted a Shiite mosque, another exploded just outside a popular market, while the third went off inside the market where people were doing their evening shopping ahead of the Muslim weekend, Iraqi police officials said.

The officials said 34 people died and 82 others were injured in the three blasts. An official from Baghdad’s Yarmouk hospital confirmed the casualty figures.

SENEGAL

President cancels new law after massive protests

DAKAR | Senegal’s president agreed late Thursday to cancel a proposed change to the country’s constitution that would have paved the way for his son to take power, amid massive street demonstrations marking the most serious challenge to the leader’s decade-long rule.

President Abdoulaye Wade instructed his minister of justice to intervene in front of parliament, whose 150 members had been meeting since morning to deliberate the controversial amendment. The new law would have created the post of vice president, a departure from Senegal’s European-style government, which has a president and a prime minister.

The opposition charged that the post was being created so that Mr. Wade could nominate his unpopular son, and if the two were elected it would automatically create a mechanism for the son’s succession. The 85-year-old president is running for a third term, and many worry that he may die in office.

MEXICO

Calderon defends drug policy in meeting with crime victims

MEXICO CITY | President Felipe Calderon met face-to-face with several emotional victims of drug-related crimes Thursday, telling them that, while he regrets the extensive loss of lives, he won’t apologize for deploying thousands of federal forces to drug hot spots in a four-year effort many blame for increasing the violence.

Mr. Calderon and his Security Cabinet met with poet Javier Sicilia and relatives of people who have died or disappeared since he launched a crackdown against organized crime shortly after taking office in December 2006.

The meeting at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle was emotionally charged, with a mother breaking down in tears as she demanded results in the investigation of her four missing sons, and a relative of two slaying victims of drug traffickers holding back tears while he asked for an update in their case.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Four cops get death for killing human rights activist

KINSHASA | A military magistrate in Congo Thursday sentenced four policemen to death over the killing of a prominent human rights campaigner.

Col. Camile Masungi also sentenced one defendant to life imprisonment and acquitted another three over last year’s killing of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire.

All eight were policemen.

Mr. Bahizire headed Voice of the Voiceless. His body was found in his car in a suburb on the outskirts of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. He appeared to have been strangled.

Voice of the Voiceless is one of the largest rights groups in Congo.

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