- - Sunday, November 11, 2012

DUBLIN — Official returns show that voters approved an amendment to insert stronger rights for children into Ireland’s constitution, with a narrower-than-expected 57.4 percent “yes” vote.

Only a third of registered voters participated in Saturday’s referendum, reflecting a low-key campaign.

All political parties and children’s charities supported the “yes” side.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Sunday the amendment will allow his government to pass laws that would make it easier for Irish children to be adopted, for courts to remove children from abusive homes and for children to testify in court.

Analysts say the unexpectedly high “no” vote reflects low turnout among “yes” voters, anti-government feeling, and a surprise Supreme Court ruling.

Ireland’s highest court found that the government’s information booklet on the children’s rights amendment was biased and violated referendum law.


Greeks to vote on 2013 budget

ATHENS — About 15,000 protesters converged on the Greek capital’s main square outside Parliament on Sunday, ahead of a vote by lawmakers on the 2013 budget that would once more cut pensions and salaries so Greece can qualify for its next vital batch of rescue loans.

Lawmakers were to vote at midnight or shortly after, and the legislation is expected to pass.

The vote comes four days after a separate bill for deep spending cuts and tax increases for 2013-14 squeaked past with a narrow majority in the 300-member Parliament following deep disagreements among the members of Greece’s three-party coalition government.

Approval of the austerity bill and the budget are key steps toward persuading Greece’s international creditors — the International Monetary Fund and the other European countries that use the euro — to release the next $40 billion installment of its bailout loans.

Without it, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said Greece will run out of euros Friday.


Voters choose president amid talk of bailout

LJUBLJANA — Slovenians voted for a president Sunday, hoping whoever wins will boost the prospects of the small, economically struggling country, which may become the next European nation needing an international bailout.

Three candidates were competing — incumbent President Danilo Turk, former Prime Minister Borut Pahor and ruling center-right coalition candidate Milan Zver.

But none was expected to win the majority needed for an outright victory, so a second round of balloting will likely take place Dec. 2.

The presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but it still commands political authority in this nation of 2 million.

Chosen for a five-year term, the president heads the army and proposes the national bank chief. The latter is an especially sensitive task, considering the severe financial crisis caused here by state-owned banks’ rampant lending.

The race for president also could affect political stability in Slovenia, where the government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa faces strong opposition to the reform package it believes will help save the economy, such as pension and labor reforms.

Mr. Jansa’s government also has pushed for the recapitalization of banks and the creation of a so-called “wealth fund” to manage state property, but the opposition is demanding a referendum on those measures.

Surveys suggest Mr. Turk was leading, followed by Mr. Pahor and Mr. Zver. Both Mr. Turk and Mr. Pahor have criticized Mr. Jansa’s government.

All three candidates promised to do their best to boost optimism in this European Union nation.

About 14 percent of voters cast ballots in the first four hours of voting. Some 1.6 million people were eligible to vote.


Right-wingers injure two police officers

WARSAW — Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at a right-wing march that took place in Warsaw as Poland marked its independence day.

Police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said two officers were injured and that several hooligans were detained after throwing stones and metal objects at the police.

The right-wing hooligans disturbed just one of the many marches taking place in the capital Sunday to mark 94 years since Poland regained sovereignty after more than 120 years of imposed foreign rule.

In a march led by President Bronislaw Komorowski, thousands of people walked peacefully.

During last year’s observances, many police officers were injured, and there was damage in the streets when right-wing marchers clashed with opponents and police.


Gunman’s brother blames parents in new book

PARIS — The radicalization of the French gunman who killed seven people on an eight-day shooting spree this spring began at home, his brother recounts in a new book and documentary, according to media reports.

Mohamed Merah killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three paratroopers in and around the southern city of Toulouse in March before dying in a standoff with police.

Merah claimed links to al Qaeda and said he had received training at an Islamist paramilitary camp in Pakistan.

One of his brothers, Abdelkader, also faces preliminary charges in the case and is in police custody.

The attacks raised painful questions about whether France is failing to integrate the children of Muslim immigrants, like the Merahs, who are of Algerian origin. Many blamed the poverty of the neighborhoods many immigrants and their children live in for driving them to radical Islam.

But a new book by another of Merah brother, Abdelghani, says his parents, particularly his mother, are responsible for Mohamed’s radicalization.

According to excerpts published in Le Figaro and other newspapers, Abdelghani Merah made a silent vow on the day of Mohamed’s funeral to tell the world how they were raised on anti-Semitism.

“I will explain how my parents raised you in an atmosphere of racism and hate before the Salafis could douse you in religious extremism,” he writes in “My Brother, That Terrorist,” due out Wednesday.

Salafis are ultraconservative Muslims.

The Merahs’ mother was at one point held for questioning but has since been released. Their father left the family for Algeria when the children were young, but has since sued the French state for Mohamed’s death.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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