Austerity plans outlined
Spain and Greece outlined plans Thursday to reduce government spending and raise taxes to convince international lenders and financial markets they are on track to cut their deficits. The latest round of belt-tightening comes as economies across Europe get weaker and public resentment toward austerity grows stronger. Spain’s plan to slash its deficit in 2013 and 2014 signals to many analysts that it’s preparing to request a financial lifeline from other governments and the European Central Bank. To receive this help, countries must first show they are serious about reining in deficits. For similar reasons, Greece’s coalition government agreed to cut spending over the next two years by $14.77 billion. Without the cuts, Greece would have been cut off from vital bailout loans that it needs to pay its bills — and stay in the eurozone. The loans come from the International Monetary Fund, European Union and the ECB.
Christians fleeing Sinai
Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, a local priest said Thursday. Father Youssef Sobhi said that Islamic militants dropped leaflets on the doorsteps of shops owned by Copts in the city of Rafah near the border with Gaza and Israel, ordering them to leave town within 48 hours and making an implicit warning of violence if they failed to do so.
Cartel suspect arrested
Mexican marines acting on U.S. intelligence seized the leader of a breakaway faction of the hyper-violent Zetas cartel, officials said Thursday, proclaiming the third such arrest in a month as a victory for a bi-national strategy focused on removing the leadership of Mexico’s powerful organized crime groups. Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as “El Taliban,” was seized by a team of marines in the northern city of San Luis Potosi, the Mexican navy said. He becomes the 24th of Mexico’s 37 most-wanted alleged cartel leaders to be killed or captured under President Felipe Calderon, who ends his term in two months.
Compiled from wire reports.