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Dueling protests in Yemen unfold peacefully

SANAA, Yemen — Thousands of pro- and anti-government demonstrators held peaceful protests in this impoverished capital Thursday, playing out themes that have rocked nations across the Arab world as autocratic leaders struggle to press back the roaring demands of movements hungry for democracy, accountability and the rule of law.

Yemen’s tribal culture and its heavily armed population raised fears of violence as events here seemed to unfold at a consolidated pace, with all sides trying to draw lessons from popular uprisings in Tunisia and then Egypt. But the events in the city appeared to end peacefully one day after the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, went on television to offer his own concession to increasingly large opposition protests. He promised that he would not run — and that his son would also not run — when his term expired in 2013.

“I came here today to take part in the rally against extremism and to promote democracy,” said Sadiq al-Qadoos, a pro-government demonstrator joined by thousands who were camped in Sanaa’s Tahrir Square, or Liberation Square, for the past two days. “And to show I am against chaos.”

Merkel, in reversal, proposes new plan to rescue Euro

BRUSSELS — For a year, as Europe struggled with its debt crisis, Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, lived up to her nickname of “Frau Nein,” or Mrs. No, by stalling on each rescue effort.

Suddenly Merkel is saying “yes,” and that could mean a big leap forward in European integration.

When they meet here on Friday, the 27 heads of government will hear new ideas on how to save the euro, delivered by Merkel and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, but written largely in Berlin.

In exchange for bolstering the euro zone rescue fund, Merkel will press others to mimic Germany’s economic rise. She is proposing to coordinate retirement ages across countries, scrap any links between wages and inflation and bring corporate tax systems closer together.

GOP proposes $32 billion cuts in discretionary spending

WASHINGTON — After clamoring loudly about their plans to curtail federal spending, House Republicans announced Thursday that they would cut $32 billion for the remainder of the fiscal year — a minuscule amount compared with a projected annual deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion.

The Republican proposal is effectively $58 billion less than the domestic and foreign aid programs in President Barack Obama’s budget request for 2011 — far short of the $100 billion in cuts that Rep. John A. Boehner promised before the November elections that catapulted Republicans into the House majority and made him the speaker.

Republicans said that their cuts, prorated for the balance of the fiscal year, still fulfilled their campaign pledge to reduce to 2008 levels the government’s discretionary spending on everything other than national security. They said that the Democrats’ failure to approve a budget or pass any of the normal spending bills precluded further cuts.

But their unwillingness to impose steeper reductions also reflected the severe difficulty they face in slashing spending on the wide scale demanded by some Republicans, especially Tea Party-backed freshmen elected