Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in London over the weekend to oppose proposed budget cuts being pursued by the new government. And while most of the union-led demonstrators reportedly remained peaceful, violence and vandalism were frequent occurrences. (See videos at bottom of page.)
When the Portuguese Parliament failed to pass an austerity bill on March 23, the country’s Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, resigned. That move leaves Portugal leaderless for at least two months while facing a significant financial crisis: it must refinance nearly $13 billion of short-term debt by June. Investors have already pushed interest rates on Portugal’s sovereign 10-year debt to almost 8 percent, while credit-rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s both downgraded that debt’s quality on March 24.
On the 50th anniversary of the United Nations treaty that led to the global “War on Drugs,” a group of prominent officials and legislators from the United Kingdom declared the battle a failure and formed a commission calling for new policies to deal with problems associated with drugs.
The European Union is seeking broad new powers over the formerly sovereign nations of Europe, including direct taxation, further centralization of economic decisions, the ability to levy massive fines on national governments, harmonization of corporate tax policy, and more, prompting a fierce backlash by activists and even some governments.