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Portuguese government condemns high court’s budget rejection

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Portugal’s centre-right government on Saturday condemned the constitutional court’s rejection of several aspects of the country’s tough 2013 budget, saying that the decision “makes it difficult” to make budget cuts promised to creditors.

The court’s decision would have “a negative impact” on the austerity programme underway, said government spokesman Luis Marques Guedes.

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He said that the Portuguese prime minister had requested an emergency meeting with President Anibal Cavaco Silva to discuss the situation.

On Friday the court ruled that some measures in the budget were unlawful, including the scrapping of a 14th month of salary for civil servants and retirees, as well as cuts to unemployment and sickness benefits.

The rulings — at a time of mounting public anger over the deepening austerity — could compromise the government’s need to apply tough budget measures to meet the terms of a 78-billion-euro ($100 billion) EU-IMF bail-out that was granted in 2011.

Local media said the court decision would see the state lose out on about 1.2 billion euros in savings.

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“It’s the laws that need to conform to the constitution and not the other way around,” court president Joaquim Sousa Ribeiro said Friday in a statement, adding that the decision covered all of 2013 and therefore carries retroactive powers.

The 2013 austerity budget, approved by parliament last year, was expected to bring Portugal 5.3 billion euros in savings, 80 percent financed by tax increases that Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar has called “enormous” but indispensable to pull the bailed-out eurozone country out of the crisis.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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Trump uncorks bizarre rant on ‘clean coal’ in Oval Office: ‘When you talk minerals, it’s about digging’

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President Donald Trump on Friday uncorked a strange and nonsensical rant about the virtues of so-called "clean coal" during an Oval Office conversation with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

When asked about the importance of Australia's mineral industry, the president praised the country for doing so much to extract resources in what he described in an environmentally friendly way.

"Coal, as an example, you're the leader of safety in coal digging and we've actually studied it," the president said. "We're doing a lot of coal. You have very little -- you have almost no -- used to have a thing, black lung disease, and in Australia you almost don't have it anymore, you've got all of the dust down."

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The View explodes in confusion after Meghan McCain makes Trump’s Ukraine debacle all about herself

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Meghan McCain managed to place herself at the center of a debate about a whistleblower complaint filed against President Donald Trump.

"The View" grappled with reports that Trump dangled U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for damaging information against Joe Biden, and co-host Abby Huntsman agreed that was an impeachable offense -- but expressed doubts about the accuracy.

"This is a blown-up story and we have no facts, there's no gray area," Huntsman said. "It's black and white, and that would give Trump all the more ammunition if this isn't even true to say, this is what the media does."

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Dem lawmaker encourages acting-DNI to ignore White House and deliver the whistleblower report directly to Congress

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Appearing on CNN on Friday morning to discuss an alarming whistleblower report on Donald Trump's actions that the president's administration is withholding from Congress, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) encouraged the acting Director of National Intelligence to hand the report over and ignore the administration.

Speaking with CNN host Jim Sciutto, Swalwell made a direct appeal to acting-DNI head Joseph Maguire.

"This is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to unite and say, we don't want this in our democracy," Swalwell explained. "You know, that's why I wrote the Protecting Our Democracy Act, to, you know, have a bipartisan commission look at this."

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