In brief: Irish voters support European fiscal treaty
Dublin – Irish voters have approved a European treaty to keep government spending in check, offering a small victory Friday to the region’s leaders as they battle a worsening debt and banking crisis that has raised fears over the survival of the euro.
A referendum to adopt the fiscal pact won by a strong margin of 60.3 percent to 39.7 percent, though only about half of Ireland’s voters cast ballots Thursday. Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who campaigned hard for the “yes” side, hailed the result as a signal that his bailed-out nation “is serious about overcoming its economic challenges.”
A “no” vote in Ireland would likely have increased investor anxiety over government indebtedness, and so there was some relief in European capitals that the obstacle had been cleared.
But critics also noted that a new European Union treaty to enshrine future budgetary discipline does nothing to address the immediate problems engulfing the region, such as low economic growth and high unemployment. Figures released Friday showed that, in the 17 nations that share the euro currency, joblessness remained at a record 11 percent in April.
Venezuela bans sale of guns, ammunition
Caracas, Venezuela – Venezuela’s government banned sales of guns and ammunition Friday with a measure that officials said is aimed at fighting rampant violent crime.
Private gun shops are now prohibited from selling guns under the measure, which had been announced previously. Only the police and the military will be exempt from the ban on gun sales.
Critics noted that only a small percentage of guns have recently been sold legally to permit holders and said most gun sales have long been illegal and unregulated.
Luis Izquiel, a lawyer who heads a security committee for Venezuela’s opposition coalition, said that while there are about 25,000 gun permits legally registered with the authorities, there are many more weapons on the streets. In 2010, Amnesty International estimated there were a total of 10 million firearms in the country.