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Friday, March 22, 2013

Cyprus Says Bailout Package Could Be Agreed Tonight

Cyprus awaited a decision on its future on Friday as the country’s government continued to negotiate with international lenders over a bailout package worth €10 billion. “In a few hours we will be called upon to take the big decisions and reply to the hard dilemmas”, said government spokesman Christos Stylianides in the capital Nicosia. “The next few hours will determine the future of this country. We must all assume our responsibility”, he added. President Nicos Anastasiades urged lawmakers to pass new legislation, writing that “there will be painful aspects, but the country must be saved”. Sources said the legislation might force losses on savers before the end of Friday, but it was largely expected that those with deposits under €100,000 would be protected from any measures. According to Bloomberg, those with deposits above that figure could stand to lose up to 40 percent of the sums. Capital controls were also expected to be introduced by the country’s government, with a limit on daily cash withdrawals and the cashing of cheques, as well as restrictions in payments and transfers of funds between accounts. A debate on the measures, which were described as acceptable by the EU and the IMF, was expected to begin in the country’s parliament at 18:00 GMT.

UK Government Floats Idea of ‘Security Bond’ for Visitors

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for cash deposits of more than £1,000 from visa applicants from “high risk” countries, who would be repaid the fee when leaving the UK. While acknowledging that migrants had made important contributions to British society, he said there should be no tolerance for abuses of the system. The idea had already been floated by the previous Labour government, but was never implemented, being criticised at the time by leading Liberal Democrat MPs as “half-baked” and “clearly discriminatory”. Clegg said critics should reconsider the idea, saying it could be a “useful, additional tool” and that “if we get this right, there is no reason why this cannot make the system work more efficiently”. Former Labour minister Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said that the idea was “unworkable, impractical and also discriminatory”, and that those countries targeted by the measure would be “very angry” and would be “likely to retaliate against Britain”.

Burma Declares State of Emergency After Violence Between Buddhists and Muslims

The Burmese government has imposed a state of emergency on the town of Meiktila follow three days of violence between Buddhists and Muslims led to the deaths of at least 20 people. The decision was announced by President Thein Sein on state television. The riots began on Wednesday after an argument in a gold shop led to mobs setting Muslim buildings alight, including some mosques, followed by street fighting by men from the rival communities. The disturbances have caused food shortages in the region as the main market in Meiktila has been closed for the past five days. Burmese riot police have been sent into Meiktila and were seen evacuating people from burning homes, but have been accused of doing little to stop the deaths and destruction being carried out in both communities. The BBC’s Jonathan Head said that the conflict between the country’s Muslim minority and the Buddhist majority had erupted in the more open political climate of the past two years.

More than 16,000 Pig Carcasses Found in Chinese Rivers

The number of dead pig carcasses raised from rivers that supply water to Shanghai in the last two weeks has risen to more than 16,000. The city’s authorities have said 10,570 carcasses had been pulled from the Huangpu river, along with another 5,528 pigs recovered from upstream tributaries. While updates from the government have guaranteed that repeated tests show the water is safe, no explanation has been given on the source of the carcasses. Local media have reported that the number of carcasses thrown away has increased as police forces have clamped down on farmers selling illegal pork products from diseased pigs. City residents took to online forums to vent their anger at the local government. “They are only giving the runaround, who believes in what they are saying”, wrote Huang Beibei, whose first photographs of pig carcasses on the water prompted government attention. “The explanations are bordering on being ridiculous”, wrote columnist Liu Shengjun, adding that the situation was similar to the SARS crisis in 2003.

Weekend Read: How Football Explains Israel

Beitar Jerusalem FC, the only team in the Israeli Premier League never to have signed an Arab player, announced in January the signing of two Muslim players from Chechnya. In the days that followed, Israel braced for impact. In Grantland.

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