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Geopolitics

Spain: Austerity, Indignados And An Ill-Timed Cigar

EL PAIS (Spain), CLARIN (Argentina), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

MADRID - The showdown over Spain's tottering economy continued Thursday, as embattled Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unveiled a 13-billion euro package of austerity measures.

After a six-hour cabinet meeting, Rajoy's government emerged with details of the budget for 2013, which appeared as a last ditch attempt to avoid a bailout, Reuters reported.

Facing one of the largest deficits in the beleagured euro zone, Spain will slash its ministry budgets by 8.9 percent and freeze public-sector wages for a third consecutive year.

Tensions remained high following Tuesday’s violent clashes between police and anti-austerity protestors, who tried to surround the Congress building in Madrid in opposition against looming budget cuts.

Spanish authorities have taken a hard-line approach with the protestors, dozens of whom were bloodied and beaten this week during clashes with riot police. Government officials congratulated police for their handling of the situation. Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Días blamed “extremely violent” demonstrators for the clashes.

Protestors shot back, accusing the government of a clear case of police repression. Lashing out at what they describe as the “repressive agents of the regime,” members of a protest group called Plataforma En Pie said the police crack down was “unjustified” and caused “many injuries, including to a man in serious condition.”

Speaking Wednesday from New York, where he is participating in the UN General Assembly, Spanish President Mariano Rajoy criticized the “indignados,” as the protestors have been dubbed, and praised the quiet “majority of Spaniards who don’t protest, who don’t end up on the front pages of the newspapers,” El Pais reported.

But sure to raise tensions was Rajoy himself very much on the front page of the papers. The conservative leader, who has a reputation for high-end tastes, was immortalized enjoying a cigar on New York's Sixth Avenue just as his government prepared to unveil the harsh austerity measures.

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LGBTQ Plus

My Wife, My Boyfriend — And Grandkids: A Careful Coming Out For China's Gay Seniors

A series of interviews in Wuhan with aging gay men — all currently or formerly married to women — reveals a hidden story of how Chinese LGBTQ culture is gradually emerging from the shadows.

Image of two senior men playing chinese Checkers.

A friendly game of Checkers in Dongcheng, Beijing, China.

Wang Er

WUHAN — " What do you think of that guy sitting there, across from us? He's good looking."

" Then you should go and talk to him."

“ Too bad that I am old..."

Grandpa Shen was born in 1933. He says that for the past 40 years, he's been "repackaged," a Chinese expression for having come out as gay. Before his wife died when he was 50, Grandpa Shen says he was was a "standard" straight Chinese man. After serving in the army, he began working in a factory, and dated many women and evenutually got married.

"Becoming gay is nothing special, I found it very natural." Grandpa Shen says he discovered his homosexuality at the Martyrs' Square in Wuhan, a well-known gay men's gathering place.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

Wuhan used to have different such ways for LGBTQ+ to meet: newspaper columns, riversides, public toilets, bridges and baths to name but a few. With urbanization, many of these locations have disappeared. The transformation of Martyrs' Square into a park has gradually become a place frequented by middle-aged and older gay people in Wuhan, where they play cards and chat and make friends. There are also "comrades" (Chinese slang for gay) from outside the city who come to visit.

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