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Berlusconi resigns: Italian prime minister steps down

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stepped down after parliament voted to pass debt reforms, the Associated Press reported.

Europe and the markets say TGIF!!

Greeks have a new government, Berlusconi is expected to go this weekend ... but the euro zone crisis is far from over
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Mario Monti, probable replacement for Silvio Berlusconi as Italian Prime Minister, arrives for Friday's vote in the italian Senate on an austerity package. (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

At the end of the worst week for Europe politically and economically since the fall of the Berlin Wall here's where we are:

Greece's new Prime Minister Loukas Papademos was sworn in and the new PM pledged Greece would do everything required to stay within the euro

Italy's Senate voted through a package of austerity measures the first step in paving the way for Silvio Berlusconi to resign.

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Italy: Senate approves budget cuts

If the bill also passes in the lower house, Berlusconi could resign as early as Saturday.

On Location Rome: Berlusconi's End?

Italians react to the news that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will step down.

Europe: can anyone save it from itself?

As Italian bond yields reach unsustainable highs and world markets begin to fall, Europe faces the worst crisis of leadership since August 1914. And we all know how that turned out.
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A statue to one of the fallen of World War I. Are today's European leaders as inept in guiding the continent through troubled times as those in charge in August 1914? (Peter Macdiarmid/AFP/Getty Images)


A snapshot of a moment in history:

November 10, 2011.  Global stock markets are falling. The yield on Italian bonds continues to rise.

A German newspaper reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel is going to float the idea of re-writing the rules governing the euro zone at her Christian Democratic Union party meeting next week. At present there is no mechanism for countries inside the euro to leave.

Merkel reportedly wants a new treaty provision that defines the ways in which a nation can leave - or be asked to leave - if it doesn't meet the basic conditions of euro zone membership. You want to know the basic conditions?: an annual budget deficit no higher than 3 percent of GDP and a national debt lower than 60 percent of GDP.  Italy's debt is currently 120% of GDP. Got the picture?

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Berlusconi's classical tragicomedy

The Italian Prime Minister's resignation with strings attached would be funny if it wasn't a tragedy for Italy,
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Silvio Berlusconi: is he peering into the future in this photo taken earlier this year? (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
Berlusconi says he will resign ... but not just yet.
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Best of Berlusconi (Quotes, Photos, Awkward Political Moments)

Berlusconi proved there are no limits to his ability to shock when he called President Obama "sun-tanned" in November 2008. A year later, he said of Obama and his wife Michelle: "You wouldn't believe it, but they go sunbathing at the beach together — his wife is also sun-tanned."

Lessons from the life of Joe Frazier for Europe's leaders

Decency and honor and courage: if only Europe's leaders had a fraction of what Smokin' Joe had.
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Joe Frazier, an old warrior, at his gym in Philadelphia in 2009 (AFP/Getty Images)
Europe's leaders could learn something from the life of Smokin' Joe Frazier
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EU finance ministers meet to discuss Greece and Italy

Questions hover over the meeting, not least, what can be done to shore up the European Financial Stability Fund, the "Big Bazooka" that was supposed to defend Italy and Spain from the bond vigilantes? It looks like the Bazooka has no ammo
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Silvio Berlusconi waves hello at last week's G-20 summit. Everyone in Italy and the rest of Europe wants to know: When will you wave good bye?!?! (Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Questions, Questions, Questions:

The Finance Ministers gathering in Brussels are surrounded by uncertainty.  What about Greece?  When will the new government take over?

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Italy: Berlusconi denies resignation rumors

The speculation came as Berlusconi prepares to face a crunch vote on public finances, which could show that the Italian PM no longer holds a parliamentary majority.
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