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REUTERS,KATHIMERINI (Greece)

Worldcrunch

ATHENS – For the second time in three weeks, crowds are gathering in central Athens today for marches against a new wave of spending and pension cuts.

Trade union leaders says they hope to show EU leaders meeting in Brussels that a new round of austerity measures will only worsen the plight of the Greek people.

According to the Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini, the strikes are expected to disrupt public services, banks, schools, hospitals, airports, and disrupt public transportation, bringing much of the country to a standstill.

#Greece Communist union PAME gathering in Omonia sq, A. Papariga giving speech now, march to #Syntagma next.#rbnewstwitter.com/MakisSinodinos…

— Theodora Oikonomides (@IrateGreek) October 18, 2012

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ coalition government is holding delicate negotiations with Greece's "troika" of creditors -- the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. The country is preparing 11.5 billion euros of cuts to satisfy the troika and secure the next installment of its 130-billion-euro bailout.

"Just once, the government ought to reject the troika's absurd demands," Yannis Panagopoulos, head of the GSEE private sector union, told Reuters.

European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels for a two-day summit to try and bridge their differences over plans for a banking union, although no substantial decisions are expected, reviving concerns about complacency in tackling the debt crisis which exploded three years ago in Greece.

Greece is in its fifth consecutive year of recession and more than a quarter of its workforce is unemployed.

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China

How China's Mass Protest Took The World By Surprise — And Where It Will End

China is facing its biggest political protests in decades as frustration grows with its harsh Zero-COVID strategy. However, the real reasons for the protests run much deeper. Could it be the starting point for a new civic movement?

Photo of police during protests in China against covid-19 restrictions

Security measures during a protest against COVID-19 restrictions

Changren Zheng

In just one weekend, protests spread across China. A fire in an apartment block in Urumqi in China’s western Xinjiang region killed 10, with many blaming lockdown rules for the deaths. Anti-lockdown demonstrations spread to Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu and other cities. University students from more than half of China's provinces organized various protests against COVID restrictions.

Why and how did the movement spread so rapidly?

At the core, protesters are unhappy with President Xi Jinping's three-year-long Zero-COVID strategy that has meant mass testing, harsh lockdowns, and digital tracking. Yet, the general belief about the Chinese people was that they lacked the awareness and experience for mass political action. Even though discontent had been growing about the Zero-COVID strategy, no one expected these protests.

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