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Friday, June 21, 2013

Brazilian Cabinet in Emergency Meeting Over Mass Protests

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday in order to discuss the effects of the mass protests that mobilised more than one million people in 25 cities across the country on Thursday night. Sources in the presidential palace said Rousseff was taken aback by the violence in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília and decided to cancel a state visit to Japan, calculating that she could not remove herself from the country at this time. They also stated the government was worried about the impact the ongoing protests would have on international investors and on how Brazil is seen abroad, particularly because the country is hosting many foreign journalists covering the Confederations Cup. Although some local administrations have already decided to nullify proposed fare hikes, one of the main demands made by protestors, the mass movement shows no sign of letting up, with protests scheduled for more than 60 cities on Friday night.

Greek Governing Coalition in Turmoil as Junior Partner Quits

Greek politics were once again thrown into turmoil on Friday as the Democratic Left (Dimar) party pulled out of the governing coalition because of disagreements over the closure of public broadcaster ERT. “This issue is fundamentally an issue of democracy”, said party leader Fotis Kouvelis. Dimar was the smallest party in the governing coalition and, if it withdraw support for the government in parliament, the coalition would be left with a slim majority of three seats. Dimitris Chatzisokratis, a member of the party executive, suggested that the party would consider supporting the government on a case by case basis. Party leader Kouvelis, was quick to address talk of snap elections, which would put austerity plans at risk. “The country doesn’t need elections. The Democratic Left insists on its reform policy and will continue to seek and demand solutions within the European reality”, he said. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras invited Dimar back to the coalition through a televised address late on Thursday. “I want us to proceed all together, as we started. But I will forge ahead in any case”, he concluded.

Diplomatic Row with Germany Derails Turkey’s EU Membership Talks

Turkey’s efforts to break a three-year deadlock over its bid to join the European Union have been seriously hurt by its government’s tough handling of the streets protests sweeping the country. German Chancellor said earlier in the week that she was “appalled at the very tough” response led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but was firmly rebuffed by Egemen Bağis, the Turkish official in charge of negotiations with the EU, who said that she should not interfere in domestic politics and that anyone using Turkey for political gain would suffer “an inauspicious end”. Bağis also warned of severe retaliation if accession negotiations were halted. They were only reopened after French President François Hollande reversed, as a goodwill gesture, a block imposed by his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. Turkey first opened negotiations eight years ago, together with Croatia, who will become a member in one week’s time.

Spain Detains ‘Jihadist Suspects’ in Ceuta

Spanish police arrested on Friday morning eight people accused of being a part of a network linked to al-Qaeda in Ceuta, a Spanish territory on the north coast of Africa. Authorities said those detained, all Spanish citizens, were attempting to recruit volunteers to fight in Syria by funding, indoctrinating and assisting their travels. “We are aware that they facilitated the travel of a number of persons from Ceuta, Morocco and other places in Spain, via Turkey”, said Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Díaz. He added that the operation was a “hard blow” against international terrorism. A statement by the Interior Ministry revealed that the group had already recruited dozens of people. Some had already participated in suicide attacks while others were training in camps and preparing for joining combat operations.

Weekend Read: How Austerity Has Failed

“What is being done here in the UK and also in much of the eurozone is worse than a crime, it is a blunder. If policymakers listened to the arguments put forward by our opponents, the picture, already dark, would become still darker.” In The New York Review of Books.

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