Flights Grounded, 3 Killed in Greek Strike, Protests
Violence hits Athens just as Berlin weighs $28B loan
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2010 7:29 AM CDT
A protester holds a banner depicting Greek Prime Minister during a rally outside the Greek Parliament in Athens, Tuesday, May 4, 2010.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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(Newser) – Greece was paralyzed by a 24-hour general strike that grounded all air traffic today, and 3 people died in a fire set by protesters trying to storm the parliament, MSNBC reports. Street battles were breaking out in the capital just as Angela Merkel was busy asking the German parliament to lend Greece 22 billion euros in a key part of a 110-billion euro bailout package for the bankrupt country. Demonstrators were protesting austerity measures that the Greek government has accepted as part of the bailout plan.

Many Greeks, angry about belt-tightening measures like public-sector salary cuts and higher alcohol and cigarette taxes, say they're being punished for the mistakes of others, the New York Times reports. Meanwhile, pushing for approval of the aid package for Greece, Merkel told German lawmakers it was the only way to prevent “a chain reaction that would contaminate the markets” across Europe.