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Thousands on Paris streets to denounce EU ‘austerity’ pact

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Thousands of left-wing protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to denounce the European Union fiscal pact forcing governments to stick to tough deficit limits.

Chanting “Resistance!”, protesters marched through central Paris in a rally organisers said was aimed at fighting EU-imposed austerity, not at criticising the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande.

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“This day is the day the French people launch a movement against the policy of austerity,” one-time presidential contender and Left Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said at the march.

Melenchon denied the protest was aimed at Hollande, saying: “This is a left-wing demonstration under a left-wing government.”

Organisers said 80,000 people took part in the rally. “It was very successful, beyond our expectations,” said Annick Coupe, a spokeswoman for the Solidaires union.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is to open what is expected to be a long and difficult debate on the fiscal pact in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

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The pact, agreed by EU leaders in March, requires its signatories to write into law a commitment to limit structural deficits to within 0.5 percent of gross domestic product under normal circumstances.

Many on the French left — including within the Socialists and their Green Party allies — have said they will vote against the measure, but with right-wing deputies backing the pact it is expected to be approved.

Speaking to deputies from the left-wing PRG party on Sunday, Ayrault said approving the pact would be an “essential step” in resolving the debt crisis threatening the eurozone and its single currency.

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“Francois Hollande and I will never take the responsibility … of making the euro disappear,” he said. “The future of the eurozone is at stake.”

Hollande’s government on Friday unveiled a 2013 budget aimed at plugging the 37-billion-euro hole in France’s public finances through tax rises and spending cuts.

About 1,500 people also protested against austerity measures in Brussels, police said, in a demonstration called by left-wing groups and unions.

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The protest was aimed at pushing for measures in Belgium and Europe “to fight against poverty and share prosperity equally,” the CSC union said.

The Paris march came the day after tens of thousands of people massed on the streets of Portugal’s and Spain’s capitals to protest austerity cuts.

In Madrid, demonstrators faced off with riot police and denounced the conservative government’s deep budget cuts, while in Lisbon, protesters rallied against an austerity programme that is expected to get even tougher to meet pledges made to the country’s international creditors.

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‘Absolute contempt for the American people’: Trump destroyed for shameless G7 golf club announcement

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White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday announced that next year's G7 summit will be held at Trump National Doral Miami -- and then smugly brushed aside questions about President Donald Trump using his office to personally enrich himself.

Mulvaney's press conference, in which he insisted that the president will not personally profit from holding the meeting there and claimed that it was simply the "best" place to hold the summit, drew harsh and angry reviews from across the web -- check out some of the reactions below.

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‘I can’t believe what I see’: Ex-Russian foreign minister dumbstruck after Trump cedes American dominance

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During an appearance on MSNBC this Thursday, former Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev commented on the "meltdown of American diplomacy" in the wake of President Trump's withdrawal of US troops from northeast Syria, effectively green-lighting Turkey's invasion of the region.

According to Kozyrev, Trump's recent foreign policy decisions "plays right into [Putin's] hands," adding that it's clear now why Putin's "cohorts were celebrating when Trump was elected."

"Russia is in support of [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] who is losing ... and who is isolated there [in a war] where there is no end," Kozyrev said. "It's a dead-end war there which they are waging, and all off a sudden [Trump] is coming [Putin's] way from the American side."

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‘Get over it’: Trump’s chief of staff reveals Ukraine quid pro quo — but insists it’s just ‘politics’ as usual

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White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitted that President Donald Trump held up Ukraine aid to pressure the country to investigate a conspiracy theory.

Mulvaney, who is also the White House budget director, told reporters Thursday that Trump's desire to investigate his belief that a DNC computer server was hidden in Ukraine was part of the reason congressionally approved military aid was held up.

However, he insisted that did not represent a quid pro quo arrangement.

"We do that all the time, get over it," Mulvaney said. "Politics is going to be involved in foreign policy, elections do have consequences."

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