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Chatter: Greek workers strike as EU leaders meet in Brussels

Protesters take to Athens streets (again) as European leaders meet for a two-day summit, Chinese economic growth slows for a seventh straight quarter, and Zimbabwe's latest tourist attraction.
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Graphic. (Antler Agency/GlobalPost)
                           
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Need to know:

Greek workers have launched yet another general strike, this time to protest fresh austerity cuts as European leaders meet in Brussels for a two-day summit.

At least 20,000 protesters have gathered in central Athens in the hope of showing that a new wave of wage and pension cuts will only deepen the country's situation. This is Greece's 20th nationwide strike since the debt crisis began two years ago.

Greece's economic fate will likely feature large in discussions among EU leaders: the country due to run out of money next month. 

Also on the table will be plans for a banking union, over which European states are sharply divided. 

Ahead of the summit, Angela Merkel called for the EU to be given powers to veto member states' budgets. But expect strong opposition to the German chancellor's idea from members concerned about any increase in the EU Commission's powers.

Want to know:

The alleged organizer of the attack against 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was captured by the Pakistani military during a 2009 offensive — only to be released three months later, according to a Reuters report.

Malala, who had a bullet removed from her skull last week, remains in a stable condition at a British hospital. There are unconfirmed reports she has come out of her coma and is slowly regaining consciousness.

The man who planned the attack, known as Ataullah, was one of two gunmen who shot Malala earlier this month, Reuters said. He is believed to be on the run.

Ataullah had been detained by Pakistani security forces in 2009, but was freed after no evidence supporting his militancy was found.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack on Malala, saying she deserved to die because she had spoken out against the group and praised US President Barack Obama. 

Dull but important:

China's economy has slowed for a seventh consecutive quarter, growing at just 7.4 percent between July and September. 

The new official figures are in line with expectations, but their release comes at a sensitive time in China. The country is just weeks away from a five-yearly Communist Party congress, a key moment in the installation of a new national leadership.

Chinese growth has been hurt by weak demand for its products at home and abroad.

But a bit of good news: economists say the world's second-biggest economy has also showed signs of stabilizing and rebounding. You can bet Xi Jinping is breathing a little easier. 

Just because:

In a world first, Twitter has blocked access to a neo-Nazi account at the request of the German government.

The neo-Nazi group's tweets will no longer be visible in Germany — although the rest of the world can still see them.

This is the first time Twitter has implemented its local censorship policy, which allows it to block content in specific countries if tweets violate local laws.

Alex Macgillivray, Twitter's general counsel, explained the decision in (where else) a tweet: "Never want to withhold content; good to have tools to do it narrowly & transparently." 

Strange but true:

Zimbabwe has some big tourist attractions: the stunningly beautiful Victoria Falls, exotic animals at Hwange National Park, the ancient ruins of Great Zimbabwe — and now Robert Mugabe's house.

Government ministers have approved plans worth millions of dollars to fix up homes of pre-independence nationalists, including Mugabe's house in a Harare suburb, in an attempt to boost tourism.

According to a Zimbabwean news report, the project was inspired by "township tourism which has been successfully promoted in South Africa, with several homes of anti-apartheid icons in Soweto being converted to tourist sites."

But one political analyst slammed the idea as an example of the Mugabe-led government's skewed priorities.

"How can they prioritize renovating those houses when the economy is bleeding with an unemployment rate of over 80 percent, when universities have no ablution facilities?" wondered Pedzisayi Ruhanya.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/chatter-greek-workers-strike-eu-leaders-meet-brussels

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