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Spain protesters oppose austerity measures

SPAIN

MADRID — Tens of thousands of people from throughout Spain rallied in the capital Saturday against austerity measures enacted by the government, which is trying to save the country from financial collapse. The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has introduced stinging cuts and raised taxes in a bid to reduce the deficit and to reassure investors. Large protests against government cutbacks also took place in Lisbon on Saturday. Demonstrators threw tomatoes and fireworks at the Portuguese headquarters of the International Monetary Fund. (AP)

SYRIA

Envoy lacks plan for Syrian peace

DAMASCUS — The new international envoy seeking to end Syria’s civil war summed up his first foray to Damascus on Saturday with a startling and frank admission that he still has no plan for stopping the bloodshed that he warned could threaten world peace. Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the UN and the Arab League, offered the bleak outlook after three days of meetings with Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad. Activist groups said more than 50 people were killed Saturday in violence centered in Aleppo and the outskirts of Damascus. (AP)

LEBANON

Muslim-Christian unity urged by pope

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BEIRUT — Pope Benedict XVI told Syrians at a rally for young people Saturday that he admired their courage and that he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. On a day of appeals for religious freedom in the region, he said it was time for Muslims and Christians to work together against violence and war. He spoke on the second day of his visit to Lebanon. Benedict said he understood that there were young people present from Syria in the crowd of 20,000 people. (AP)

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