Monday, February 13, 2012

..Violence erupts in Athens..

As Greece’s parliament approved austerity measures Monday, whole swaths of Athens burned.

Protesters set cinemas, shops and banks on fire to express their anger over spending cuts they believed would further exacerbate the country’s economic crisis. At least 45 buildings burned and 67 people were arrested. Police tear-gassed crowds. It was the worst violence the capital has seen in years. The riots also spread to Greece’s second-largest city , Thessaloniki, the islands of Crete and Corfu, and towns across the country.

Hacker collective Anonymous reacted to the cuts, too, taking down the Web sites of Greece's prime minister, the police and parliament, the International Business Times reports. As of this writing, those sites were back up.

The Washington Post’s Michael Birnbaum reports on the spending cuts:

“The measures, which will slash the minimum wage, trim a fifth of government workers and slash entitlement spending, are wrenchingly unpopular in a country already seized by 21 percent unemployment and dim prospects for the future. But European leaders say that Greece will eventually go bankrupt — even with the new $182 billion bailout — if it does not make the changes they are requiring.”

Much of the rioting Sunday took place just outside the parliament building, where tear gas from the protests seeped inside. At one point, a Communist Party lawmaker hurled the thick austerity measures bill across the room.

“The people [have] sent a message: Enough is enough!” Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of a public sector union, told Reuters. “They can’t take it anymore.”