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WORLD IN BRIEF: Greece passes cuts as riots seize capital

Greece passes cuts as riots seize capital

ATHENS, Greece — Greece fended off a bankruptcy that threatened to roil global financial markets, approving severe spending cuts and tax increases Wednesday in the face of violent protests by Greeks who said they have suffered enough.

The package of austerity measures would keep bailout money flowing to Greece from the rest of the world. It would free $17 billion in fresh loans, although the money will only be enough to see the nation through September.

Investors around the world cheered the news, but protesters, fighting tear gas, hurled whatever they could find at riot police and tried to blockade the Parliament building.

2 journalists, translator freed in Afghanistan

PARIS — Two French journalists held hostage in Afghanistan since December 2009 were freed Wednesday in good health, bringing cheers and joyful tears in France which has been united in its campaign to bring the two men home.

Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, in captivity for nearly 550 days, were freed along with the journalists’ translator, Reza Din, authorities said.

Two other Afghans held with them were freed earlier, but nothing was said in order to keep negotiations on track, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

Clashes reveal Egypt’s volatility 5 months later

CAIRO — Two days of street battles between security forces and protesters in Cairo show just how volatile Egypt remains nearly five months after the popular uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.

More than 1,000 people were hurt in the unrest Tuesday and Wednesday, driven by discontent over the slow pace of justice for old regime figures accused of corruption and killing protesters.

The clashes in Tahrir Square — the worst since the 18-day uprising — add a new layer to an already painful and chaotic transition from Mubarak’s regime to democratic rule under the supervision of the military.

The violence will likely set back efforts to empower the discredited police to fully take back the city’s crime-ridden streets after they melted away during the early days of the Jan. 25 to Feb. 11 uprising.

— From wire reports