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The French parliament early on Saturday backed a reform of the country's prostitution law that will impose a 1,500-euro fine on anyone paying for sex. The bill will give France some of the toughest legislation on prostitution in Europe, similar to that of Sweden. Previously, buying and selling sex for money was not illegal in France but the act of soliciting was, as was pimping. Movie stars like Catherine Deneuve, who played a middle-class housewife who chooses to prostitute herself in the 1960s film "Belle de Jour", is one of several dozen celebrities who have signed a petition against the law.
CARDIFF (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Wales captain Sam Warburton insisted his side's 30-26 defeat to Australia at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium wasn't a setback, even though it represented a ninth straight loss to their 2015 World Cup pool rivals. For Wales, this latest reverse was their 22nd defeat in 23 Tests against the southern hemisphere giants of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia under coach Warren Gatland, and their 18th loss in a row against the SANZAR trio since they beat the Wallabies back in 2008. However, Warburton -- tour captain of the British and Irish Lions side that won 2-1 in Australia earlier this year -- did his best to downplay Saturday's result in the final international of 2013 by saying his focus had already turned to the next edition of Europe's Six Nations Championship, where Wales will be bidding for a third successive title.
By Marina Lopes and Lesley Wroughton NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. airlines United, American and Delta, have notified Chinese authorities of flight plans when traveling through an air defense zone Beijing has declared over the East China Sea, following U.S. government advice. The United States said on Friday it expected U.S. carriers to operate in line with so-called notices to airmen issued by foreign countries, although it added that the decision did "not indicate U.S. government acceptance of China's requirements. Airline industry officials said the U.S. government generally expects U.S. carriers operating internationally to comply with notices issued by foreign countries. In contrast, two major airlines in Japan, the United States' close ally, have agreed with the Japanese government that they would fly through the zone without notifying China.
Ukraine's opposition on Saturday called for early elections after riot police brutally broke up a pro-Europe rally, leaving dozens injured in a crackdown on protests against President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to salvage a key EU deal. The agreement would have brought Ukraine closer to the EU and away from historical master Moscow, which put pressure on the ex-Soviet country -- still reliant on Russia for energy and as an export market -- to turn its back on the deal with Brussels. The government announced it was halting work to sign the accord a week before the summit, sparking the biggest protests in Ukraine since the 2004 pro-West Orange Revolution. "I am deeply outraged by events that took place on Independence Square overnight," the president said in a statement Saturday.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Saturday he was "deeply outraged" by incidents at a pro-Europe rally in the capital Kiev which had led to violent confrontation between protesters and police, and caused injury. Early on Saturday, riot police broke up a rally by protesters in Kiev using batons and stun grenades and an undisclosed number of people were injured.
Though the European Union appears to have lost to Russia in the first round of an East-West tussle over winning friends and influence in eastern Europe, some analysts would disagree. Moscow instead may be on a slippery slope. Europe's leaders headed home disappointed and dragging their feet after a two-day Eastern Partnership summit in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, this week designed to draw six ex-Soviet states closer to the West, first and foremost among them mighty Ukraine. The president of the country's 46 million people, Viktor Yanukovych, handed the 28 leaders of the 500-million strong European Union a stinging snub.
European ambassadors and intelligence officials are making discreet trips to Damascus in a bid to resume contacts with the Syrian regime after years of outspoken support for the opposition, diplomats say. "Since May, little by little, we have begun to return, at first cautiously for a day, then two, then three," explained one European ambassador to Syria who has been based in Beirut since December 2012. Much of the diplomatic corps based in Damascus left the city last December. More than 120,000 people have been killed in Syria's 32-month conflict, which also has forced millions to flee their homes.