Police clash with protesters in #Romania

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Protesters clash with riot police on University Square in Bucharest on January 14, 2012 during a protest against the government’s austerity program and Romanian President Traian Basescu

Romanian police fired tear gas and clashed with protesters during an anti-government rally, the third consecutive day of demonstrations against austerity cuts and falling living standards.

The protests were the most serious since President Traian Basescu came to power in 2004 and were the result of pent-up frustration against public wage cuts, slashed benefits, higher taxes and widespread corruption.

In 2009, Romania took a two-year 20 billion euro loan from the International Monetary Fund, the EU and the World Bank, as its economy shrank by 7.1%.

Romania imposed harsh austerity measures under the agreement, reducing public wages by 25% and increasing taxes.

The unlikely catalyst for the protests, however, was the resignation of popular health official Raed Arafat, a Palestinian with Romanian citizenship who opposed health reforms proposed by the government.

On Friday, Mr Basescu told the government to scrap the reforms, but public anger had already risen against Mr Basescu and the government.

Widespread support for Mr Arafat has led commentators drawing parallels with ethnic Hungarian Laszlo Toekes, whose opposition to late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989 was the spark for the anti-communist revolt.

Understanding the #Ethiopia land-grab phenomenon

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The scope and magnitude of the ongoing land grab phenomenon can be daunting. Although this shadowy deal by all accounts favors the new foreign landlords greatly, it cannot simply be measured by the apparent lopsided economic benefits those foreign interests or their agents or their partners in TPLF/EPRDF ruling clique get. The resultant disadvantages to local populations and society at large is incalculable and the impending environmental impact staggering. Because it directly affects local populations where acquisitions are taking place in particular and the people of the country in general in many, many ways, this “deal of the century” is more than an economic issue. In short, this scramble for farmlands expropriates the natural assets of the people that the author refers to as “… potentially the most substantial source of comparative advantage…”, displaces and uproots families and communities, relegates the very owners of the land to serfdom, and because the practice is unregulated and these foreign landlords are free to do whatever they want with their new acquisitions, the environmental hazards and the ecological impacts would be incalculable. Moreover, in addition to the obvious financial benefits dictators like Meles Zenawi & Co. get as a result of the Yemeret Neteka Ena Kirimit deal, the new landlords would prove to be a source of vital diplomatic and political support to sustain their tyrannical rule. Those foreign land lords are equally aware of the fact that most, if not all, of their 9-page “contracts” they entered into with the regime that gave them this exploitative and unfair deal would depend on the longevity of those currently in political power. Therefore, doing all they can to keep them in power would prove to be an irresistible enterprise. It is safe to assume that this aspect is part of the calculation of Meles Zenawi’s and his regime’s decision to giveaway Ethiopian fertile farmlands to foreign investors so easily and at will.

Read the complete article: http://snup.us/mUT