Tag Archives: Saturday

88 injured, 29 arrested in Madrid as anti-austerity march turns violent


Protesters clashed with police in Madrid as thousands of people trekked across Spain to protest austerity which they claim is destroying their country. Under the banner “no more cuts!” the protesters called for an end to the government’s “empty promises.”

Police arrested at least 29 protesters following the clashes which took place after the march. According to emergency service, 88 people were injured – 55 of them police, El Mundo newspaper reports.

Protesters were seen throwing stones and firecrackers at police. According to witnesses, officers used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Clashes broke out during a final speech at the demonstration when protesters tried to break through a police barrier. Riot police took charge by beating protesters with batons, AP reported.

“The mass rally was coming to an an end when reportedly a group of younger protesters, who had masks on their faces, started throwing rocks at the police. Police tried to push them away from the parameter that they organized around this area,” RT’s Egor Piskunov reported from Madrid.

“They (police) tried to push them (protesters) away from these police fences and then we started seeing firecrackers being thrown at police and reportedly authorities started firing rubber bullets at the protesters. As a result, there are injuries on both sides and several people have been arrested as well.”

“I can confirm that there is very heavy police presence in this whole district. Since it is the center of Madrid, there are lots of luxury hotels in this part of town and security here is very tight,” he added.

Six “columns” of trains, cars and buses, as well as bands of pedestrians have travelled from Extremadura, Andalusia, Valencia, Murcia, Asturias, Galicia and Aragon, among other Spanish regions, to converge on Madrid in mass protest this Saturday. The demonstration itself has been dubbed 22-M, Marches for dignity.

Eight groups of activists are expected to move into the Spanish capital at different points throughout the course of the day. As a precautionary measure, the Madrid authorities have closed roads in the center of the city and asked people to use public transport whenever possible on Saturday. In addition, the Spanish authorities have deployed 1,650 riot police to keep the situation under control in Madrid.

The protest movement is demanding an end to the so-called Troika-style cuts in Spain, more jobs and affordable housing.

“Why am I here? I’m sick of this government. With all the promises they never fulfill. They said they were going to create more jobs and lower the taxes but it’s a lie! Instead, unemployment rose from 4 to 6 million. This is the only way we can fight back,” one of the protestors, who had been on the road since March 9, told RT correspondent Egor Piskunov.

A large proportion of the protesters who have made their way on foot to the Spanish capital are unemployed and plan to camp in Madrid until their demands are met.

“There are too many reasons: my sons have to work every day from 8 in the morning to five of the next morning only for 400 euros per month! Also I’m a teacher and I know what cuts in the public sector mean,” said another activist. “All these evictions – this is insane. I’m marching to Madrid because I can’t walk to Berlin or Brussels. We must stop them and the Troika!”

Hundreds of people are evicted from their homes every day in Spain. The General Council of the Judiciary reported that 49,984 forced evictions had been carried out across the country last year, which averages about 185 a day.

The number of evictions reached an all-time high in Spain in 2012 with over 500 a day, according to a report by the BBC. This combined with an unemployment rate of 26 percent, the second highest in Europe after Greece, has left many Spanish citizens with nowhere to turn. This is reflected in the growing number of suicides in the country, with the country’s National Institute of Statistics estimating that at least 8 people take their lives every day in the country.

Pepe Caballero, one of the organizers of the protests said the Spanish government is trying to return Spain to the Franco era.

“What the government wants is to go back to the Franco years and keep the working class from demonstrating in the streets and saying what our main problems are. We won’t allow that to happen and they know it,” Caballero told RT, adding that the protest movement will change Spain from the “bottom to the top.”

At the beginning of this month, the Spanish Minister of Employment Fatima Banez said that Spain had finally pulled itself out of the recession and registered economic growth. However, the Spanish Union of Workers dismissed Banez’s announcements as “government propaganda.”

Anti-austerity demonstrators crowd into Colon square as they take part in a demonstration which organisers have labeled the "Marches of Dignity" in Madrid, March 22, 2014

Anti-austerity demonstrators crowd into Colon square as they take part in a demonstration which organisers have labeled the “Marches of Dignity” in Madrid, March 22, 2014

via 88 injured, 29 arrested in Madrid as anti-austerity march turns violent — RT News.

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MADRID : Big protest in Spain against government austerity

People gather during a protest against the Government in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, March 22, 2014. Thousands from different parts of Spain marched towards the Capital to join a large anti-austerity demonstration, demanding the resignation of the Government and to express their anger at government financial cuts, its housing rights policies, and the high unemployment rates

MADRID — Tens of thousands of demonstrators from across Spain have marched in central Madrid to protest government measures they claim have eroded civil rights in the country.

Six columns of protesters — each from a different region of Spain — arrived at the outskirts of the city early Saturday before heading for Colon square, carrying banners bearing the slogan “Marching for Dignity.”

By late afternoon, Madrid’s principal boulevard, Paseo del Prado, was packed with people chanting against government’s austerity policies and the cuts they have entailed.

The protest includes trade unions, civil servants and organizations representing people evicted from their homes for not being able to make mortgage payments after losing their jobs.

One woman carried a banner saying, “My daughter can’t be here because she’s had to emigrate.”

The Olympian.

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Crimea hopeful of referendum, ready to join Russia ‘by end March’

Children wave Russian flags during a mass pro-Russian rally in the center of Sevastopol, on March 8, 2014.

Children wave Russian flags during a mass pro-Russian rally in the center of Sevastopol, on March 8, 2014.

Crimea has fast-tracked preparations for the republic’s referendum and for its possible joining with Russia, statements from the autonomy’s leaders reveal. Though no decision has been made by Moscow, they say Crimea may be part of Russia by late March.

Amid the ongoing media hysteria on the alleged Russian “invasion” of Crimea, the region’s pro-Russian leaders are staying calm, if not jubilant. Following claims that the Ukrainian hryvna may soon be swapped for the Russian ruble, and that the result of the March 16 referendum on the future of the Autonomous Republic is “easily predictable” by the mood of the majority of Crimea’s population, they are now saying that joining Russia could take place this month.

“The transition from one jurisdiction to the other is a complicated process, but I think in the case of favorable outcome of the referendum, the Crimeans will be able to feel as citizens of another country within one month – within March,” the speaker of the region’s Supreme Council, Vladimir Konstantinov, said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Konstantinov then announced that if Crimea becomes Russian, the autonomy’s budget will become larger than under the Ukrainian standards. According to the speaker, the Crimean authorities “did not count on that” but the Russian side gave “guarantees” of budget enlargement.

Pro-Russian demonstrators raise their hands as they shout slogans during a rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on March 8, 2014.(AFP Photo

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow on statements coming from Simferopol, but earlier the State Duma – Russia’s parliament – said it would debate the issue of Crimea joining Russia only after the referendum takes place.

Earlier on Friday, Grigory Ioffe, first deputy chair of the region’s parliament, said that Crimea is not looking for any “privileges” from Russia if it joins the country, and that the Crimean authorities are certain the regional economy will prosper after getting rid of Ukrainian corruption.

Ioffe stressed that the “historic” referendum will be “very democratic and open” and will be held “in full compliance” with both the Ukrainian constitution and the international treaties that Ukraine had adopted. International observers, including those from the OSCE, as well as media and NGO representatives are “most welcome” to observe the referendum, he told journalists.

Crimea’s Central Election Committee is indeed expecting that some international observers will come to inspect the March 16 referendum, the committee’s head, Mikhail Malyshev, told Interfax on Saturday. About 1,250 voting stations will be set up for the event and over 2.2 million ballot papers printed. The autonomy’s population was just under two million people as of 2013, with Russians making up 58.5 percent of it, Ukrainians comprising 24.3 percent, and Crimean Tatars constituting an important minority of 12.1 percent.

While the Russian-speaking majority has for years been in favor of separating from Ukraine – at least by obtaining a broader autonomy and returning to the 1992 constitution – the Tatars have been divided on the issue. Many Tatars strongly reject the idea of Crimea joining Russia, as they have themselves been pushing for the creation of a national autonomy within the Ukrainian state.

Self-defense squads swear in

Thousands of pro-Russian demonstrators rallied in Sevastopol on Saturday, calling on everyone to cast their votes at the March 16 All-Crimean referendum. The city has a special status, and is officially not part of Crimean Autonomous Republic, but will nevertheless join the referendum and vote whether they want to become part of the Russian Federation.

Pro-Russia supporters attend a rally in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol March 8, 2014.

Organizers of the event displayed a huge banner with the words of famous Russian Admiral Pavel Nakhimov, who was killed in the Crimean War:

“Protect Sevastopol to the last!” Speaking at the rally, city administration officials promised that new, larger social security benefits are being readied for the residents of Sevastopol.

Pro-Russian activists have also announced a flashmob in support of the peninsular region joining Russia. They plan to gather at least 5,000 people to form a “living flag” of Russia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the first batch of the so-called self-defense squads swore allegiance to Crimean authorities in Simferopol on Saturday.

Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov called the swearing-in ceremony a “historic event,” stating that Crimea’s own Armed Forces are being formed.

Speaking to journalists, Aksyonov said the forces will ensure that the referendum is held in a peaceful manner. He stressed that “the Armed Forces of the Republic of Crimea have been created for defense, not for offense.”

So far, the self-defense squads keeping peace and order across the peninsula have been mostly quiet when asked about their origins and command, but many maintained that they are Crimean citizens who joined the improvised militia as vigilantes to prevent the violent events of Kiev’s Maidan from engulfing Crimea. Others said they are from Russia, sparking media speculations that all these forces are in fact Russian military in disguise – something Russian President Vladimir Putin has categorically denied.

In eastern Ukraine, the weekend also started with mass pro-Russian demonstrations. A crowd of anti-Maidan demonstrators gathered to rally in the city of Donetsk, where the “People’s Governor” Pavel Gubarev was arrested along with dozens of pro-Russian protesters earlier on Thursday. Thick police presence was reported from the scene of the rally, which took place in front of the regional administration building, with at least 500 law enforcers, some unidentified armed men, and police vehicles maintaining order, according to Interfax.

In Kharkov, about 6,000 people rallied in protest of the coup-imposed Kiev authorities on the central Freedom Square. Some of the demonstrators later formed an anti-fascist march, in which some 1,500 people with Russian flags marched to the city’s Constitution Square.

The Kharkov, protesters demanded that coup-imposed regional heads show up and speak with them, but none of the authorities came out. The police did not attempt to block the rally. The demonstrators gave officers white tulips and tied St. George’s ribbons on riot shields.

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Missing Malaysia plane ‘may have turned back’

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the names of the passengers were being investigated

Malaysian authorities announced that they were now investigating the possibility a missing Malaysian Airlines plane had turned back before disappearing, and were widening the search area accordingly.

As the search of the Malaysia Airlines flight continues into a second day on Sunday, Malaysian aviation authorities said it was “fearing the worst” and that radar displays indicated the plane could have turned around.

Al Jazeera‘s Scott Heidler, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, said the search would now be extended to the west coast of Malaysia.

“This raises a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “If the pilots had the wherewithal to turn around why did they not communicate with any of the towers. Still the officials saying there wasn’t a distress call.”

No weather problems had been reported in the area before the plane dropped out of contact, and the pilots did not send a distress signal – something that has been highlighted by experts as unusual for a modern jetliner.

There was still no confirmed sighting of wreckage from the Boeing 777 in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam where it vanished from screens early Saturday morning en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

The identities of four passengers on board the missing jetliner are being investigated over ‘airline security fears’ as planes and ships from across Asia resumed the hunt for the plane that disappeared with 239 people on board.

Stolen passports

Foreign Ministry officials in Rome and Vienna said names of two nationals listed as passengers matched passports reported stolen in Thailand. Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said authorities were also checking the identities of two other passengers.

“All the four names are with me,” said Hishamuddin, who is also defence minister. “I have indicated to our intelligence agencies and I have also spoken to international intelligence agencies for assistance.”

He said help was also being sought from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). However, an attack was only one of the possibilities being investigated.

“We are looking at all possibilities,” he said. “We cannot jump the gun. Our focus now is to find the plane.”

Vietnamese naval boats sent from the holiday island of Phu Quoc patrolled stretches of the Gulf of Thailand, searching for any wreckage, scouring the area where an oil slick was spotted by patrol jets just before nightfall on Saturday.

On Sunday, the search efforts were increased, with 22 aircraft and 40 ships from various authorities now scouring the original search area and the area to the west that could have been reached if the plane did turn around.

Li Jiaxiang, administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said some debris had been spotted, but it was unclear whether it came from the plane.

Vietnamese authorities said they had seen nothing close to two large oil slicks they saw Saturday and said might be from the missing plane.

Finding traces of an aircraft that disappears over sea can take days or longer, even with a sustained search effort.

Terrorism is always considered a possibility, but the sudden disappearance of Flight MH370 has given extra emphasis to speculation a bomb might have been on board.


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Malaysia Airlines : four passengers’ identities under investigation

No trace of plane found and airline ‘fearing the worst’ as scrutiny of two passengers who travelled on stolen passports widens

Malaysia Airlines staff at a media conference in Beijing on Sunday. Photograph: Feature China/Barcroft Media

The identities of four passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight are under investigation, the country’s transport minister said on Sunday, as the company confirmed that it was “fearing the worst”.

Investigators are examining the entire passenger manifest after European diplomats said late on Saturday that two of the 227 passengers were travelling on stolen passports. Hishamuddin Hussein, who is also defence minister, said Malaysia would work with the FBI and other international agencies and that two more names were being checked.

“All the four names are with me,” he said, according to Reuters.

He spoke as the multinational hunt for any sign of the Malaysia Airlines flight missing with 239 people on board widened on Sunday, with officials saying search and rescue teams had so far found no trace of it.

Hishammuddin also said there was a chance the aircraft had turned back in mid-air.

“We are looking at the possibility of an aircraft air turn back, in which case different locations will have to be identified,” he said.

Citizens from 14 nations were on board, though the vast majority were Chinese. The 12-strong flight crew were all from Malaysia.

On Saturday night, diplomats confirmed that two Europeans listed on the passenger manifest – an Italian, Luigi Maraldi and an Austrian, Christian Kozel – had not been on the flight and were safe and well. Maraldi had his passport stolen in Thailand last year and Kozel’s was stolen in the region two years ago.

The flight was a codeshare with China Southern and the two people named as Maraldi and Kozel on the list booked together via the Chinese airline, Chinese media reported.

The company said it had CCTV footage of the two people who checked in as Maraldi and Kozel.

The Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens just 40 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of Saturday morning. It was last detected over the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam.

On Sunday morning the Malaysian director-general of civil aviation, Azaruddin Abdul Rahman, told reporters the search had expanded to a larger area of the South China Sea area and west coast of Malaysia, the Straits Times reported.

Warships from Singapore and China were heading to the area and the United States also offered vessels and aircraft.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, Malaysia Airlines said: “More than 24 hours after the loss of contact with Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the search and rescue teams are still unable to detect the whereabouts of the missing aircraft.

“In fearing for the worst, a disaster recovery management specialist from Atlanta, USA will be assisting Malaysia Airlines in this crucial time.”

An earlier statement began with the words: “Malaysia Airlines humbly asks all Malaysians and people around the world to pray for flight MH370.”

Vietnam’s deputy transport minister, Pham Quy Tieu, said no wreckage had been seen in the vicinity of two oil slicks detected late on Saturday, but that the search continued.

The pilot of another flight told a Malaysian newspaper he had made brief contact with the plane via his emergency frequency, at the request of Vietnamese aviation authorities who had been unable to reach it as expected. Vietnam has said it believes the flight never entered its airspace.

The unnamed man said his Japan-bound plane was deep into Vietnamese airspace when officials asked him to relay to MH370 to establish its position, and that he succeeded at about 1.30am local time.

“The voice on the other side could have been either Captain Zaharie [Ahmad Shah, 53,] or Fariq [Abdul Hamid, 27], but I was sure it was the co-pilot.

“There were a lot of interference … static … but I heard mumbling from the other end.

“That was the last time we heard from them, as we lost the connection,” he told the New Straits Times.

He sakd he did not think any more of it at the time, as losing connections was common.

Malaysia Airlin

es executives have said the flight was at 35,000 feet when it vanished and had given no indication of problems when last in contact.

William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical university in Arizona, told Associated Press the lack of a distress call ‘‘suggests something very sudden and very violent happened”.

Both Malaysia Airlines and Boeing-777s have strong safety records.

CNN reported that an FBI team was flying to Malaysia to assist in the investigation because three Americans were on board. It cited an unnamed official.

via Malaysia Airlines: four passengers’ identities under investigation | World news | theguardian.com.

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Egypt passes presidential election law

President Adly Mansour

Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour announced a presidential election law on Saturday, setting the stage for polls to take place later this year to elect a new president to replace ousted leader Mohamed Morsi. The election is seen as a major step to restore order and stability in Egypt after the military deposed of Mosrsi in July. Army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi has emerged as Egypt’s most popular political figure but has not yet announced his candidacy, though his aides have confirmed that he intends to run.

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Malaysia airlines flight carrying 239 people crashed into the sea

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone Saturday at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone Saturday at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 carrying 239 people crashed into the sea, reports Vietnamese state media citing a Navy official. The craft disappeared from radars early on Saturday morning over Vietnamese airspace.

Vietnamese state media said the plane came down close to Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island, however these reports have not yet been confirmed by Malaysia Airlines.

Malaysia Airlines said flight MH370 lost touch with Subang Air Traffic Control around 02:40 local time Saturday morning

The aircraft left Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 and was expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 local time (22:30 GMT).

Despite local news reports, Vietnamese and Malaysian rescue crews have not located the plane’s signal, but Hanoi believes the craft disappeared in Vietnamese airspace.

“We have been seeking but no signal from the plane yet,” Pham Hien, director of a Vietnam maritime search and rescue coordination center, told Reuters.

The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said in a statement.

“Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft,” the airline added.

There were 14 nationalities represented among the 227 passengers, according to airline officials. Passengers include 153 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, seven Australians, four Americans, and one Russian, among others.

A woman (C), believed to be the relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, covers her face as she cries at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing March 8, 2014.

“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew,” Malaysia Airlines said in a further statement.“Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support.”

The last contact the plane had with air traffic controllers was 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu, the airline said on Saturday. The pilot of the flight was 53-year-old Malaysian national Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah who has logged a total of 18,365 flying hours and has been working for Malaysian airlines since 1981.

China is assisting Malaysia Airlines with the search for the plane, Chinese state television reported.

“We are very worried after learning the news. We are trying to get in touch with relevant parties to check it out,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in statement.

The flight was a codeshare with China Southern Airlines.

Prior to July 2013’s deadly crash of an Asiana Airlines 777 in San Francisco, the aircraft had been one of only a few long-range jets built by Boeing and Airbus to have never recorded a fatality.

The 777 first flew in 1994, and was introduced into commercial service in 1995. Boeing had delivered 1,100 of the aircraft around the world as of last year.

“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Boeing tweeted. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”

via Malaysia airlines flight carrying 239 people crashed into the sea – Vietnamese state media — RT News.

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Hagel voices ‘US concerns’ over Egyptian constitution.

903US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed Washington’s concern over the arrests in the context of a restrictive new protest law. “Secretary Hagel noted that the Egyptian government’s response to free expression will demonstrate the interim government’s commitment to a non-violent, inclusive and sustainable democratic transition,” the Pentagon said. Hagel’s comments came during a call with Egypt’s military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on a range of topics.

The call came as the panel amending Egypt’s suspended constitution began voting Saturday on some 250 changes,

The constitution before the 50-member committee makes drastic changes in ensuring civil liberties, fighting discrimination, criminalizing torture, protecting religious freedoms and giving lawmakers power to remove the president. Yet the draft also allows Egypt’s powerful military to choose its own chief and try civilians in military tribunals.

“This is the path of rescue from the current condition,” said Amr Moussa, the elder Egyptian statesman leading the constitutional panel. “It is the transition from disturbances to stability and from economic stagnation to development.”

The military suspended the Islamist-drafted, voter-approved 2012 constitution in the July 3 coup that ousted Morsi. The constitutional panel, dominated by secularists, has been working on changes as part of a military-backed timeline that calls for voters to approve it. It plans for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held early next year.

On Saturday, 48 panel members began voting on the changes in a session aired live on state television. Most articles passed unanimously. One issue the panel faced was how the principles of Islamic law, or Shariah, already called the main source of law in Egypt, should be defined. Some feared a definition would allow for a heavier implementation of Shariah and the creation of a religious state.

The panel voted to refer to Supreme Constitutional Court’s limited definition of Shariah’s principles. That “didn’t appease the Islamist representative,” said panel member Kamal el-Helbawi, an independent who once belonged to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

The panel voted for an amendment banning slavery, human trafficking and “the sex trade.” The panel’s sole Islamist party representative opposed the amendment, as some say the article restricts early marriages.

The panel also voted in favor of abolishing the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, as well as an amendment defining Egypt as a “civilian” government in Arabic. That term angers Islamists, who say it means secular.

Among articles the panel will vote on Sunday is one allowing lawmakers to vote out an elected president and call for early elections if they have a two-thirds majority. Another allows parliament to prosecute the president for “violating the rules of the constitution.”

A proposed change also prohibits the establishment of political parties on religious grounds, meaning the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party and Al-Nour, the political arm of Salafi Call movement, could be banned.

Other controversial changes up for a vote include one giving the military the right to choose its own army chief, who serves as the defense minister, over a transitional period of eight years. Another gives the military the right to try civilians in front of military tribunals for a series of crimes. The tribunals are known for swift and harsh verdicts that cannot be appealed.

Once approved, the panel will hand the draft constitution to interim President Adly Mansour. Mansour has a month to call for a public vote on it.

The military-backed government hopes to pass the constitution with more support than Morsi’s constitution garnered. Only a third of voters cast ballots in 2012 and it passed by 63.8 percent. Billboards calling on voters to support the draft constitution already have been put up around the capital, Cairo, though some already have reservations about it.

“The constitution is better than the previous one, but it is not the best in general,” said leading civil rights lawyer Nasser Amin, an alternate member of the panel. “Polarization and divisions had its impact on the constitution.”

For  Egyptians, the constitution is the first step toward normalcy and stability after nearly three years of tumultuous political change that has dealt a heavy blow to the economy and plunged the parts of the country into lawlessness.

Meanwhile Saturday, a few kilometers (miles) from where the panel met, brief clashes broke out between riot police and protesters. The clash grew out of anger over the arrest of 24 activists Tuesday who held a demonstration in defiance of a new law heavily restricting protests.

The new law allows security agencies to bar protests not previously reported to authorities, while also setting prison terms and high fines for violators. It appears aimed at ending the near-daily protests by Islamists supporting Morsi and others opposing the military-backed interim government. The law has angered secularists as well.

On Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa-Eldin called on authorities to review the law to show that the state was ready to listen to the country’s secular activists.

“It is not a shame and it does not detract from the prestige of the state to reconsider a law that will only widen the gap between the state and the youth,” Bahaa-Eldin said on his official Facebook page.

Protesters, Israeli police clash at demonstration against plans to relocate Negev desert Bedouins | i24news

Israeli Prime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said violent protests against the Prawer Bill, aimed at resettling the large majority of the Bedouin population living in Israel’s Negev desert, would not be tolerated and that offenders would be tried “to the full extent of the law.”

Netanyahu spoke with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino following violent riots during the “day of rage” against the Bill. “We will try the offenders to the full extent of the law. They will not be tolerated. We shall continue to advance the Praver Bill,” he said.

Netanyahu further added: “The attempts of a loud and violent minority to deprive a bigger community of a better future is very severe.”

Clashes broke out Saturday evening between Israeli police and protesters as thousands of protesters erected road blocks and attacked police officers across the country.

Around 1,200 people began protesting peacefully at around 13:00 GMT in the southern Bedouin village of Hura , but at around 14:30 GMT turned violent as demonstrators and the large police force, including cavalry and helicopters, began clashing. Police arrested ten people.

Protesters threw stones at security forces deployed at the demonstration. Police responded with tear gas to disperse the protest. After the clashes erupted, some protesters began setting tires on fire, and one intersection at which protest took place, was closed to traffic.

Meanwhile, some 1,500 protesters blocked a main street in Israel’s northern city of Haifa and chanted “We will sacrifice our lives for Palestine” and “We won’t let Prawer pass.” A policer officer was stabbed in the leg by a protester in Haifa and sustained light wounds.

Among the protesters were Arab MKs including Haneen Zoabi, who in 2010 took part in the controversial Gaza Flotilla in which nine Turkish activists were shot following violent attacks on Israeli special forces attempting to stop the flotilla’s main ship.

Several dozens also demonstrated in Jerusalem’s Old City, hurled stones and tried to block a road. Police used water cannons to disperse the crowd.

Israeli Police Souther District Commander Yoram Halevy said Police are aware of attempts to inflame tensions and bring a new round of violent protests in Israel.

“This is not the first time we’ve heard people make warnings about a Third Intifada,” Halevy said. “We approved a license for a peaceful protest and to my dismay, from the beginning it declined very quickly when they began throwing rocks and we were forced to close the highway.”

“They also threw Molotov cocktails and garbage cans,” he said, adding that “there is an attempt to start a war here but we won’t allow it to happen.”

Police said that by 18:00 GMT 28 people arrests were made and 15 police officers were lightly hurt, including Coastal District Commander Haggai Dotan; the spokeswoman of the Negev subdistrict Navah Tabo, and an officer from the Central District who was stabbed in the leg by a protester.

Situation in south ‘catastrophic’

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called the rioting “serious but expected” and the situation in the south “catastrophic.”

“It is our duty to stop the situation in which there are some citizens to whom the laws of planning and construction apply and there are others who ignore them and used violence to ensure the laws don’t apply to them,” Liberman wrote on Facebook.

According to Liberman, “this isn’t a social problem or a housing crisis, but a battle for the land…We are fighting for the national lands of the Jewish people and some are intentionally trying to steal them and forcibly take them over. We cannot close our eyes and escape this reality.”

He called for the government to deal with the situation before it becomes impossible by building modern cities for Israeli Arabs, with tall buildings and infrastructure.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch issued a statement condemning the violent protests against the Bedouin resettlement plan. “I strongly condemn the fierce violence by the protesters. When such brutal violence is directed at officers it’s clear that the rioters’ goal is not a legitimate and legal protest.”

International Day of Rage

Saturday was dubbed as the ‘International Day of Rage’ against the relocation plan with demonstrations expected to take place in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Berlin, The Hague, Cairo and other cities around the world, after organizers spent weeks drumming up support for a series of simultaneous rallies.

The Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, also known as the Prawer-Begin Plan, was drawn up by former Likud Knesset member Benny Begin and approved by the Cabinet in January of this year and approved by the parliament in a first reading in June.

It calls for Israel to officially recognize and register the vast majority of Bedouin settlements throughout the South, while compensating the residents of 35 unrecognized communities, housing some 30,000 to 40,000 people, who will be moved off state-owned land into towns built by the Israeli government.

The government says the plan will give the Bedouin the services and economic opportunities they currently lack. Bedouins and human rights activists however see the plan as a land grab tinged with anti-Arab racism with some even referring to it as an “ethnic cleansing” scheme.

A cabinet statement has said “most” residents — who do not currently receive government or municipal services — would be able to continue living in their homes after the villages are granted legal status. Bedouin advocates say that there are no obstacles to recognizing all of the current villages in place.

The government has so far neglected to provide infrastructure services to the scattered Bedouin communities, citing high expenses.

Bedouin rights groups refute such claims, arguing that isolated Jewish towns and farms in the Negev have been given such services while Bedouin requests have been ignored, an accusation the government in turn denies.

Protesters, Israeli police clash at demonstration against plans to relocate Negev desert Bedouins | i24news – See beyond.

Algeria’s Bouteflika nominated for 4th term .

Algeria‘s 76-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was on Saturday designated his party’s candidate for president in the 2014 election, the National Liberation Front (FLN) said.

“The central committee has chosen the president of the party, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to be the FLN candidate in the next presidential election,” said a party statement issued after a meeting in the capital.