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Austerity protests stall Europe

  • Spanish riot policemen stand in a line against the window of a bank during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

    Spanish riot policemen stand in a line against the window of a bank during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

  • A worker is seen at an empty Madrid Atocha train station, during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

    A worker is seen at an empty Madrid Atocha train station, during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • A worker is seen at an empty Madrid Atocha train station, during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

    A worker is seen at an empty Madrid Atocha train station, during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • A demonstrator blows a horn in front of Spanish riot police during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

    A demonstrator blows a horn in front of Spanish riot police during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

  • A demonstrator blows a horn in front of Spanish riot police during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

    A demonstrator blows a horn in front of Spanish riot police during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

  • Demonstrators are seen backlighted as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

    Demonstrators are seen backlighted as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Demonstrators are seen backlighted as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

    Demonstrators are seen backlighted as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • A man kneels down handcuffed next to police vans after being detained by the police during a general strike in Madrid, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Paul White)

    A man kneels down handcuffed next to police vans after being detained by the police during a general strike in Madrid, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Paul White)

  • A man kneels down handcuffed next to police vans after being detained by the police during a general strike in Madrid, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Paul White)

    A man kneels down handcuffed next to police vans after being detained by the police during a general strike in Madrid, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Paul White)

  • Riot police officers pin down a demonstrator during clashes with protestors in a general strike in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)

    Riot police officers pin down a demonstrator during clashes with protestors in a general strike in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)

  • Riot police officers pin down a demonstrator during clashes with protestors in a general strike in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)

    Riot police officers pin down a demonstrator during clashes with protestors in a general strike in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)

  • Police officers try to push protesters back onto the pavement after they blocked traffic on Oxford Street, London, whilst taking part in a picket and demonstration they said was over dismissals of 28 workers employed by contractors on the Crossrail transport project, for being trade union members, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes on Wednesday in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms. Crossrail, due to start running services in 2018, is a new train line that will include twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London and link 37 stations including transport hubs such as Heathrow airport with business districts including the City and Canary Wharf. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

    Police officers try to push protesters back onto the pavement after they blocked traffic on Oxford Street, London, whilst taking part in a picket and demonstration they said was over dismissals of 28 workers employed by contractors on the Crossrail transport project, for being trade union members, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes on Wednesday in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms. Crossrail, due to start running services in 2018, is a new train line that will include twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London and link 37 stations including transport hubs such as Heathrow airport with business districts including the City and Canary Wharf. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Police officers try to push protesters back onto the pavement after they blocked traffic on Oxford Street, London, whilst taking part in a picket and demonstration they said was over dismissals of 28 workers employed by contractors on the Crossrail transport project, for being trade union members, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes on Wednesday in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms. Crossrail, due to start running services in 2018, is a new train line that will include twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London and link 37 stations including transport hubs such as Heathrow airport with business districts including the City and Canary Wharf. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

    Police officers try to push protesters back onto the pavement after they blocked traffic on Oxford Street, London, whilst taking part in a picket and demonstration they said was over dismissals of 28 workers employed by contractors on the Crossrail transport project, for being trade union members, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes on Wednesday in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms. Crossrail, due to start running services in 2018, is a new train line that will include twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London and link 37 stations including transport hubs such as Heathrow airport with business districts including the City and Canary Wharf. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • European trade unionists protest in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European trade unionists protest in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • European trade unionists protest in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European trade unionists protest in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • A train stands still at a deserted platform at the Brussels South train station on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A 24-hour rail stoppage and scattered strikes through the south of the nation disrupted daily life. Both the Thalys and Eurostar high-speed rail services that connect Brussels with London and Paris were severely disrupted. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    A train stands still at a deserted platform at the Brussels South train station on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A 24-hour rail stoppage and scattered strikes through the south of the nation disrupted daily life. Both the Thalys and Eurostar high-speed rail services that connect Brussels with London and Paris were severely disrupted. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • A train stands still at a deserted platform at the Brussels South train station on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A 24-hour rail stoppage and scattered strikes through the south of the nation disrupted daily life. Both the Thalys and Eurostar high-speed rail services that connect Brussels with London and Paris were severely disrupted. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    A train stands still at a deserted platform at the Brussels South train station on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A 24-hour rail stoppage and scattered strikes through the south of the nation disrupted daily life. Both the Thalys and Eurostar high-speed rail services that connect Brussels with London and Paris were severely disrupted. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • Worker holds  placards reading " , We are all Greek, enough austerity" , during a demonstration against austerity, in Marseille, southern France,  Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday, with strikes and protests planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    Worker holds placards reading " , We are all Greek, enough austerity" , during a demonstration against austerity, in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday, with strikes and protests planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

  • Worker holds  placards reading " , We are all Greek, enough austerity" , during a demonstration against austerity, in Marseille, southern France,  Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday, with strikes and protests planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

    Worker holds placards reading " , We are all Greek, enough austerity" , during a demonstration against austerity, in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday, with strikes and protests planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

  • Protesters hold Spanish and Italian flags outside the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    Protesters hold Spanish and Italian flags outside the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

  • Protesters hold Spanish and Italian flags outside the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    Protesters hold Spanish and Italian flags outside the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

  • European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

    European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

  • Demonstrators shout and wave flags as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

    Demonstrators shout and wave flags as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Demonstrators shout and wave flags as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

    Demonstrators shout and wave flags as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

  • Police clash with demonstrators during a protest against Italian Government austerity measures in Rome, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. Protesters clashed with police in various demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Turin, Padua and Brescia. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

    Police clash with demonstrators during a protest against Italian Government austerity measures in Rome, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. Protesters clashed with police in various demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Turin, Padua and Brescia. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

  • Spanish riot policemen stand in a line against the window of a bank during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

    Spanish riot policemen stand in a line against the window of a bank during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

  • Spanish riot policemen stand in a line against the window of a bank during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
  • A worker is seen at an empty Madrid Atocha train station, during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
  • A worker is seen at an empty Madrid Atocha train station, during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
  • A demonstrator blows a horn in front of Spanish riot police during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
  • A demonstrator blows a horn in front of Spanish riot police during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
  • Demonstrators are seen backlighted as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
  • Demonstrators are seen backlighted as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
  • A man kneels down handcuffed next to police vans after being detained by the police during a general strike in Madrid, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Paul White)
  • A man kneels down handcuffed next to police vans after being detained by the police during a general strike in Madrid, Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Paul White)
  • Riot police officers pin down a demonstrator during clashes with protestors in a general strike in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)
  • Riot police officers pin down a demonstrator during clashes with protestors in a general strike in Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's main trade unions stage a general strike, coinciding with similar work stoppages in Portugal and Greece, to protest government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms. The strike is the second in Spain this year. (AP Photo/ Fernando Hernandez)
  • Police officers try to push protesters back onto the pavement after they blocked traffic on Oxford Street, London, whilst taking part in a picket and demonstration they said was over dismissals of 28 workers employed by contractors on the Crossrail transport project, for being trade union members, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes on Wednesday in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms. Crossrail, due to start running services in 2018, is a new train line that will include twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London and link 37 stations including transport hubs such as Heathrow airport with business districts including the City and Canary Wharf. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
  • Police officers try to push protesters back onto the pavement after they blocked traffic on Oxford Street, London, whilst taking part in a picket and demonstration they said was over dismissals of 28 workers employed by contractors on the Crossrail transport project, for being trade union members, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The protest was held to coincide with planned European strikes on Wednesday in Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium against austerity measures and economic reforms. Crossrail, due to start running services in 2018, is a new train line that will include twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London and link 37 stations including transport hubs such as Heathrow airport with business districts including the City and Canary Wharf. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
  • European trade unionists protest in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • European trade unionists protest in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • A train stands still at a deserted platform at the Brussels South train station on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A 24-hour rail stoppage and scattered strikes through the south of the nation disrupted daily life. Both the Thalys and Eurostar high-speed rail services that connect Brussels with London and Paris were severely disrupted. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • A train stands still at a deserted platform at the Brussels South train station on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A 24-hour rail stoppage and scattered strikes through the south of the nation disrupted daily life. Both the Thalys and Eurostar high-speed rail services that connect Brussels with London and Paris were severely disrupted. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • Worker holds  placards reading " , We are all Greek, enough austerity" , during a demonstration against austerity, in Marseille, southern France,  Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday, with strikes and protests planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
  • Worker holds  placards reading " , We are all Greek, enough austerity" , during a demonstration against austerity, in Marseille, southern France,  Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday, with strikes and protests planned in Italy, Greece, Portugal, France and Belgium. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
  • Protesters hold Spanish and Italian flags outside the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
  • Protesters hold Spanish and Italian flags outside the Greek parliament during a protest in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
  • European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • European trade unionists protest outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
  • Demonstrators shout and wave flags as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
  • Demonstrators shout and wave flags as they march through Gran Via street during a general strike in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Spain's General Workers' Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
  • Police clash with demonstrators during a protest against Italian Government austerity measures in Rome, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Workers across the European Union sought to present a united front against rampant unemployment and government spending cuts Wednesday with a string of strikes and demonstrations across the region. Protesters clashed with police in various demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Turin, Padua and Brescia. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
  • Spanish riot policemen stand in a line against the window of a bank during a general strike against government austerity measures, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. A Spanish Interior Ministry official says 32 people have been arrested and 15 people treated for minor injuries in disturbances as a general strike in Spain against austerity measures and economic reforms began. The General Workers Union said the nationwide stoppage, the second this year, was being heeded by nearly 100 percent of workers Wednesday in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and constructions industries. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Hundreds of thousands of Europe’s beleaguered citizens went on strike or snarled the streets of several capitals yesterday, at times clashing with riot police, as they demanded that governments stop cutting benefits and create more jobs.

Workers with jobs and without spoke of a “social emergency” crippling the world’s largest economic bloc, a union of 27 nations and half a billion people. In Madrid and Barcelona, where the crisis is hitting particularly hard, protesters and police fought street battles resulting in dozens injured and numerous arrests.

The protests were met with tear gas in Italy and Spain, but were largely limited to the countries hardest hit by the austerity measures designed to bring government spending into line with revenues. Wealthier nations like Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark saw only small, sedate demonstrations.

Governments backing the line of stringent austerity were not impressed by the show of force.

‘‘We must nevertheless do what is necessary: break open encrusted labor markets, give more people a chance to work, become more flexible in many areas,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. ‘‘We will of course make this clear, again and again, in talks with the unions.”

Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos spoke of “a long crisis that has meant sacrifice and uncertainty,” but said: “The government is convinced that the path we have taken is the only possible way out.”

To combat a three-year financial crisis over too much sovereign debt, governments across Europe have had to raise taxes and cut spending, pensions and benefits. As well as hitting workers’ incomes and living standards, these measures have also led to a decline in economic output and a sharp increase in unemployment.

The zone of the 17 countries that use the euro currency is expected to fall into recession when official figures are released tomorrow. Unemployment across those countries has reached a record 11.6 percent, with Spain and Greece seeing levels above 25 percent.

With no end in sight to Europe’s economic hardship, workers were trying to take a stand yesterday.

‘‘There is a social emergency in the south,” said Bernadette Segol, secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation. ‘‘All recognize that the policies carried out now are unfair and not working.”

Spain’s General Workers’ Union said the nationwide strike – the second this year – was being observed by nearly all workers in the automobile, energy, shipbuilding and construction industries. The country, reeling from austerity measures designed to prevent it from asking for a full-blown international bailout, is mired in recession with 50 percent unemployment among its under-25s.

Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, a CCOO Spanish union leader, called yesterday’s actions “a political strike against the policies of a suicidal and anti-social government.”

The Spanish strike shut down most schools, and hospitals operated with skeleton staffs. Health and education have both suffered serious spending cutbacks and increased moves toward privatization.

Frustration spilled into violence when riot police clashed with demonstrators in Madrid and Barcelona. Television images showed protesters hurling rocks and bottles at officers, who clubbed demonstrators to the ground and hauled away others in police vans. At least one police vehicle was torched in Barcelona, and Spanish media showed images of a 13-year-old boy with his head bloodied from a beating by the riot police.

In the evening, tens of thousands filled the downtown streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and other cities, though officials and organizers gave differing turnout figures. The Interior Ministry said there were 35,000 in central Madrid, but unions said there 350,000. In Barcelona, organizers claimed more than 1 million turned out. Authorities there said it was around 50,000.

By early evening, 118 people had been arrested across Spain and 74 people, including 43 police, injured.

In Italy, protests turned violent as well, with some of the tens of thousands of students and workers clashing with riot police in several cities. Dozens of demonstrators were detained and a handful of the police were injured, according to Italian news reports.

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