Live, from Athens:
For the first time since the outbreak of the crisis two years ago, protesters pushed up to the steps of the parliament building itself, setting fire to a sentry box occupied by the ceremonial guards who stand watch over the main symbols of the Greek state.
Prime Minister George Papandreou, trailing badly in opinion polls, has appealed for support from Greeks before parliament votes on the latest measures which include tax hikes, wage cuts and public sector layoffs.
The mood was furious among demonstrators, fed up after repeated doses of austerity and increasingly hostile to both their own political leaders and international lenders demanding ever tougher measures to cut Greece’s towering public debt.
“Who are they trying to fool? They won’t save us. With these measures the poor become poorer and the rich richer. Well I say: ‘No, thank you. I don’t want your rescue’,” said 50-year public sector worker Akis Papadopoulos.
There is no way out of this mess except for a sovereign default. And if the Greek protestors think they hate austerity measures now, just wait until post-default Athens has neither EU bailouts or international credit to lean on.
Hyperinflation and perhaps a civil war will follow. Not the classic kind of civil war, with two sides and well-trained armies squaring off against one another for control of the country. More like the failed-state type of civil… mess. Violent, bloody mess.