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China protests Sarkozy meeting

China protested strongly to France against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, summoning the French ambassador and calling the incident a “rude intervention” into Chinese affairs.

Although China routinely lodges protests when world leaders meet with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the complaint Sunday came as Beijing hardens its line toward the Himalayan region and steps up efforts to isolate the Dalai Lama internationally.

Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama on Saturday privately in Gdansk, Poland, during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of former Polish President Lech Walesa’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama has also received the prize.

Bangkok, Thailand

Opposition calls emergency session

Thailand’s main opposition party called for an emergency parliamentary session today to prove its majority, a key step to forming the next government and ending months of political paralysis.

The Democrat Party’s formal appeal indicated it was confident of forming a government following the court-ordered ouster last week of the ruling coalition, which had been packed with allies of the fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The weeklong airport siege that ended last Wednesday left more than 300,000 foreign travelers stranded and dealt a crippling blow to the economy and the crucial tourism industry.

Democrat Party Secretary-General Suthep Thuagsuban filed the motion today for the extraordinary session with the speaker of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament.

Milan, Italy

Tenor dumped from La Scala

The famed opera house La Scala threw its understudy into one of its biggest nights Sunday, removing tenor Giuseppe Filianoti at the last minute for the season-opening premiere of “Don Carlo” after he made mistakes during a dress rehearsal.

American tenor Stuart Neill, who has mostly performed in second and third casts, got the break of a lifetime in the title role and survived his unexpected debut of “Don Carlo” with generous applause – and a smattering of boos.

That’s not bad for the self-ordained critics of La Scala’s uppermost balconies, who in another era hurled salami and risotto at singers they deemed unworthy. In 1992, they even booed legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti as he sang “Don Carlo,” considered among the most difficult tenor roles.

“Tough crowd, but no I wasn’t nervous at all,” the 43-year-old Neill said backstage still in costume just minutes after the curtain came down.

Neill, a native of Atlanta, Ga., was thrown into the title role just a day before the premiere.

From wire reports


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Early exit polls show strong support to lift Ireland ban on abortion

UPDATED: 3:05 p.m.

Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.