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Greek Parliament Approves Austerity Measures

ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images(ATHENS, Greece) -- Amid protests, the Greek Parliament voted Wednesday in favor of budget cuts that will grant the country the bailout loans it needs to help get itself out of massive debt.

The vote -- imposing $40 billion worth of austerity measures, primarily in wage cuts and tax hikes -- passed 155 to 138, paving the way for Europe and the International Monetary Fund to release $17 billion worth of bailout money that Greece needs to avoid defaulting on its debt.

Leading up to the approval, protesters gathered in the streets of Athens, clashing with riot police for hours.  Demonstrators were seen throwing large chunks of marble -- broken off of pavement and stairs -- at police, who fired back with rounds of  tear gas and stun grenades.

A day earlier, workers began a 48-hour general strike opposing the austerity measures.

Lawmakers are scheduled to hold another vote Thursday regarding the implementation of the measures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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