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September 29, 2010
Anti-austerity protests sweep across Europe
BRUSSELS (AP) -- Tens of thousands of workers marched Wednesday through the streets of Europe, decrying the loss of jobs and benefits they fear will come with stinging austerity measures seeking to contain government debt. Police fired shots in the air to disperse protesters at a general strike in Spain. Greek bus and trolley drivers walked off the job, joined by doctors who staged a 24-hour strike at state hospitals. Unions claimed a crowd of 100,000 marched on European Union headquarters in Brussels. From Ireland to Greece, workers united around the theme that they are victims of a debt crisis caused by reckless high-spending bankers undermining Europe's cherished welfare state. They complained of higher taxes, job cuts, soaring unemployment and smaller pensions. (36 images)

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A demonstrator throws out jeans after breaking into a Levi's store in Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. Spanish workers staged a general strike Wednesday to protest austerity measures imposed by a government struggling to slash its budget deficit and overcome recession. AP / David Ramos


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A protestor sprays paint on a public bus driving along Madrid's Gran Via, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. Spanish workers staged a general strike Wednesday to protest austerity measures imposed by a government struggling to slash its budget deficit and overcome recession. AP / Victor R. Caivano



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A man walks past burning garbage bins in central Barcelona during the general strike held in whole Spain on September 29, 2010 as unions launched a 24-hour general strike all around Spain to protest tough government labor reforms and austerity measures. AFP/ Getty Images / Josep Lago



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A demonstrator throws a plastic object on burning garbage containers in central Barcelona during the general strike held in Spain on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Josep Lago



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A riot police runs as a patrol police car burns during riots in Barcelona, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. Spanish workers staged a general strike Wednesday to protest austerity measures imposed by a government struggling to slash its budget deficit and overcome recession. AP / Manu Fernandez



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A demonstrator prepares to throw a stone into a store in central Barcelona during the general strike held in Spain on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Josep Lago



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Riot police hit out at demonstrators during protests in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / David Ramos



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A demonstrator clashes with an anti-riot police squad member in central Barcelona during the general strike held in Spain on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Josep Lago



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A woman speaks to policemen during the general strike held on September 29, 2010 in Madrid, Spain as unions angry over what they see as a policy U-turn. AFP/ Getty Images / Pedro Armestre



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A demonstrator fights an anti-riot police member in central Barcelona during the general strike held in Spain on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Josep Lago



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Protestors shout slogans against open stores on Madrid's Gran Via, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Victor R. Caivano



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A man observes the riots from his closed shop in Barcelona, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / David Ramos



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A man reads a newspaper in a coffee shop as strikers pass on the street during the general strike in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Alvaro Barrientos



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General Workers Union leader Candido Mendez, fourth left, and Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, third right, leader of Comisiones Obreras' Union, lead a march with a sign that reads "rectify" in Madrid on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Paul White



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Striking workers pack the central Puerta del Sol square during a demonstration march as part of a nationwide general strike organized by the Spanish unions, in Madrid, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Paul White



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The windscreen of a bus is seen on the parking lot of the Madrid transport bus company during the general strike held in whole Spain on September 29, 2010 in Madrid as unions angry over what they see as a policy U-turn react after Spain's Socialist government was forced to impose unpopular measures to fix a battered economy. AFP/ Getty Images / Pedro Armestre



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A bus driver gestures on the parking lot of the Madrid transport bus company during the general strike held in Madrid, Spain on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Pedro Armestre



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Two passengers play a game of cards at the airport after many scheduled flights were canceled as some air traffic controllers and ground crews honored the general strike call organized by the Spanish unions, in Madrid, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Paul White



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A protesters is detained by plain-clothes policemen, during a demonstration, in Brussels on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Yves Logghe



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A demonstrator holds a banner as he marches down a main boulevard in Brussels Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. Labor unions prepared a march of nearly 100,000 workers on the European Union institutions on Wednesday to protest the budget slashing plans and austerity measures of governments seeking to control spiraling debt. AP / Geert Vanden Wijngaert



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People demonstrate to say ''no to austerity'', on September 29, 2010 in Brussels. Police threw a ring of steel around EU headquarters as tens of thousands in a sea of banners from across Europe took to the streets in a worker backlash against painful spending cuts. AFP/ Getty Images / Goerges Gobet



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People demonstrate to say ''no to austerity'', on September 29, 2010 in Brussels. AFP/ Getty Images / Goerges Gobet



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Protesters dressed as bankers and traders take part in an EU-wide demonstration against austerity on September 29, 2010 in Brussels. The protest was timed to coincide with a plan to fine governments running up deficits. Placard at center reads: "Leave our earnings" and at right: "Don't touch our benefits." AFP/ Getty Images / Goerges Gobet



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Riot police detain a protester in Brussels on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Geert Vanden Wijngaert



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Riot police detain protesters in Brussels on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Geert Vanden Wijngaert



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Demonstrators of a Greek trade Union hold a banner, as they march down a main boulevard in Brussels on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Yves Logghe



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Protestors hold placards in front of a banner during a demonstration in Brussels Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. AP / Virginia Mayo



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Protesters march in front of lines of police during a Solidarity trade union demonstration against budget cuts, in front of the Polish government office, in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. About 6,000 protesters marched in rainy Warsaw in one of many demonstrations that took place across Europe to protest government austerity plans aimed at cutting deficits. AP / Czarek Sokolowski



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Protesters march in solidarity with trade unions during a demonstration against budget cuts, in front of the Polish government office, in Warsaw on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Janek Skarzynski



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Protesters march in solidarity with trade unions during a demonstration against budget cuts, in front of the Polish government office, in Warsaw on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Janek Skarzynski



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Protester hold up posters during a protest against against wage cuts and austerity measures during a rally in front of the government headquarters in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010. The government has enforced hard austerity measures this year, slashing public sector wages by a quarter and raising sales tax. The country needed 20 billion euros ($26 billion dollars) in bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank in 2009. Part of the funds helped pay state wages and pensions last year, when the economy shrank by 7.1 percent. The banner reads "No to changes in the work legislation - Not reacting means tactically accepting." AP / Vadim Ghirda



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A protester holds a poster during a trade union demonstration against budget cuts, in Berlin, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010. Several hundred protesters marched in Berlin in one of many demonstrations that took place across Europe to protest government austerity plans aimed at cutting deficits. The Poster reads: "Make Capitalism History - There is no ecological capitalism". AP / Markus Schreiber



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Italian workers and pensioners belonging to the CGIL trade union follow a rally in central Rome's Piazza Farnese on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Filippo Monteforte



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A Portuguese worker shouts as he takes part on a demonstration in downtown Lisbon on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Sara Matos



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Portuguese workers take part in a demonstration in downtown Lisbon on September 29, 2010. AFP/ Getty Images / Sara Matos



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A demonstrator shouts slogans while marching in central Athens on September 29, 2010. Greeks joined the European day of action against the austerity measures. The banner reds "IMF out." AFP/ Getty Images / Louisa Gouliamaki



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