PANHANDLING

Portugal Asks EU for Bailout

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates admitted Wednesday what the rest of Europe has long known: His beleaguered country is on the brink of collapse and needs between €60 billion and €80 billion ($86 billion and $115 billion) in bailout funds from other members of the eurozone. Faced with ballooning debt, sinking credit ratings, and awful economic growth, Socrates attempted to implement austerity measures last month but lost a vote and was forced to call elections. As acting premier in a caretaker government, he said there was no other choice. "I tried everything, but in conscience we have reached a moment when not taking this decision would imply risks that the country should not take," he said. Portugal joins Ireland and Greece in the European bailout club. The EU hopes that by containing Portuguese strife, it might prevent a more costly bailout of Spain.