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World in brief: Rally backs rights for unwed couples

Thousands of supporters of legislation that would grant legal rights to unmarried couples, including gays, rallied Saturday to urge lawmakers to resist Vatican pressure against the measure.

The proposal would grant hospital visitation, inheritance and other legal rights to unmarried couples who live together both in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Some rights, such as visitation, would be granted immediately, while couples would have to live together several years to be eligible for inheritance and other rights.

Italy’s Cabinet last month approved the proposal, which faces a potentially tough battle in Parliament, and has heightened tensions within the often bickering center-left government.

Participants, some waving rainbow-colored flags, gathered in Rome’s Piazza Farnese for the rally because two Italian men registered their union at the French consulate there in 2002 under a French law that gives gay couples broad legal rights.

Hong Kong

Beijing muffles CNN’s ‘Talk Asia’

China on Saturday apparently blacked out parts of a CNN interview with Hong Kong’s leader when he began discussing moves toward democratic reform in the territory.

During CNN’s “Talk Asia” program, Donald Tsang was talking about his plans to consult the Hong Kong public on how to bring universal suffrage to the territory, which is ruled by China but has a wide degree of autonomy. He said he was eager to address the democracy issue if he wins a second term as chief executive of Hong Kong later this month.

The show then abruptly went to commercials, after which the screen blacked out momentarily. When the show resumed, Tsang was speaking about his relationship with Beijing state leaders.

China restricts foreign television channels such as CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp.’s BBC World to hotels and apartment buildings where foreigners live. Officials monitor the signals and routinely black out broadcasts on sensitive topics.


Protesters demand Basque crackdown

Hundreds of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Spain’s capital Saturday to demand a tougher government policy toward Basque separatists.

Demonstrators demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, accusing him of insulting victims of the ETA separatist group by seeking peace talks and granting house arrest to a notorious ETA killer.

The opposition conservative Popular Party, which called the demonstration, estimated the crowd at 2.1 million. That would make it Spain’s largest protest in years. The central government did not immediately offer its own figures.

It was the third protest in just over a month over the Popular Party’s accusations that Zapatero is appeasing ETA. Spain has become increasingly divided over how to deal with ETA, which has killed 800 people since 1968 in its drive for Basque independence.