Athens in flames as protests against austerity get violent

A preview of America in a few years? Or "it could never happen here?":

A riot police officer was engulfed in flames after a petrol bomb was thrown by protesters outside parliament. Photograph: Dimitri Messinis/AP
Violence has erupted on the streets of Athens as a crowd of at least 80,000 gathered to protest against fresh austerity measures being voted on by the Greek parliament.

Police fired teargas, stun grenades and water cannons in an attempt to prevent a small group of protesters, some of them throwing petrol bombs that engulfed at least one officer, from storming the parliament building.

News agencies reported smoke and small fires in the streets near Syntagma Square, the scene of the biggest protests seen in the Greek capital in recent months.

The angry scenes came at the end of a two-day general strike called to oppose a €13.5bn (£10.7bn) package of cuts demanded by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in return for a financial lifeline to prevent the government running out of money. Greece's central bank has seen a mass resignation of 45 officials angry at wage caps imposed as part of the belt-tightening. The parliamentary debate was briefly halted when staff and opposition MPs walked out. But despite the protests inside and outside the chamber, the coalition government of Antonis Samaras was confident on Wednesday nightthat it would secure parliamentary approval for the cuts needed to trigger the €31bn bailout.

I think it requires a history of political violence for something like this to happen in America - unless things get really bad in which case all bets are off. The rioters in Greece really don't care what happens if their government doesn't get that 31 billion euros. They don't seem to realize that if the Samaras government is denied that bailout money, government workers will get paid nothing - zero. Or they will be paid in drachmas, which will be a joke of a currency.

Crazy times coming to Greece.

A preview of America in a few years? Or "it could never happen here?":

A riot police officer was engulfed in flames after a petrol bomb was thrown by protesters outside parliament. Photograph: Dimitri Messinis/AP

Violence has erupted on the streets of Athens as a crowd of at least 80,000 gathered to protest against fresh austerity measures being voted on by the Greek parliament.

Police fired teargas, stun grenades and water cannons in an attempt to prevent a small group of protesters, some of them throwing petrol bombs that engulfed at least one officer, from storming the parliament building.

News agencies reported smoke and small fires in the streets near Syntagma Square, the scene of the biggest protests seen in the Greek capital in recent months.

The angry scenes came at the end of a two-day general strike called to oppose a €13.5bn (£10.7bn) package of cuts demanded by the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in return for a financial lifeline to prevent the government running out of money. Greece's central bank has seen a mass resignation of 45 officials angry at wage caps imposed as part of the belt-tightening. The parliamentary debate was briefly halted when staff and opposition MPs walked out. But despite the protests inside and outside the chamber, the coalition government of Antonis Samaras was confident on Wednesday nightthat it would secure parliamentary approval for the cuts needed to trigger the €31bn bailout.

I think it requires a history of political violence for something like this to happen in America - unless things get really bad in which case all bets are off. The rioters in Greece really don't care what happens if their government doesn't get that 31 billion euros. They don't seem to realize that if the Samaras government is denied that bailout money, government workers will get paid nothing - zero. Or they will be paid in drachmas, which will be a joke of a currency.

Crazy times coming to Greece.

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