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General Strike Brings Greece To A Standstill



ATHENS - The three-month old Greek coalition government is facing its first anti-austerity general strike Wednesday, with disruptions bringing the country to a standstill.

Greek public sector unions have called a strike that is likely to draw thousands of workers out into the street today to protest against the new rounds of austerity measures, initiated by the conservative-led coalition government and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Good morning #Greece; nice day for a strike, cool and cloudy with sporadic Molotov showers expected #26SGr twitter.com/VeriasA/status…

— Anthony Verias (@VeriasA) September 26, 2012

@northaura twitter.com/Vorphalax/stat…

— Vorphalax (@Vorphalax) September 26, 2012

The revelation of new spending cuts, worth nearly $15.5 billion in order to secure aid, and the expected slashing of wages, pensions and welfare benefits has been met with a sour response from the Greek public, a third of whom now live under the poverty line.

Reuters reports that the MRB polling agency last week published a report showing 90% of Greeks believe the planned cuts are unfair and burden the poor.

Costas Tsikrikas, head of the ADEDY public sector union that is calling for the strikes, told Reuters: "The new measures are unbearable, unfair and only worsen the crisis. We are determined to fight until we win."

"We call on all workers to join us in the march against the policies that the troika is imposing," Tsikrikas said.

Greek daily Katherimini reports that flights have been grounded for a three-hour walkout, ships moored and shutters pulled down in Greece's major cities in preparation for the mass protests.

Three thousand police officers have been deployed in Athens as Greek authorities expect demonstrations to become violent, after February's clashes between demonstrators and the police.

According to several tweeps, police has started detaining people before the protest. As usual. #Athens #26Sgr

— Bill Lampos (@lampos) September 26, 2012

Police reportedly blocking people from heading downtown to join #26sgr demo. (New) Democracy at work.

— Manos Moschopoulos (@maledictus) September 26, 2012

The Guardian is reporting that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and head of the IMF Christine Lagarde will meet in Athens today to attempt to negotiate a joint EU-IMF venture.

The British daily's Athens correspondent Helena Smith wrote: "This comes against a backdrop of reports that Merkel and Lagarde are at odds over how to proceed with the debt-stricken country following clear evidence of what the IMF managing director has described as a "financing gap" in Athens’ EU-IMF-sponsored rescue program."

"Growing pressure from the Washington-based fund for a restructuring of Greece’s debt mountain – this time in the official sector i.e, by EU governments - has reportedly exacerbated tensions."

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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