- - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

PARIS — Gay marriage and adoption were in the spotlight in France as the Catholic Church used a religious holiday to urge politicians to protect heterosexual traditions.

Socialist President Francois Hollande has said he wants a law allowing gay marriage and adoption next year.

While polls suggest most French are in favor, this is a traditionally Catholic country. For Wednesday’s Assumption holiday, the French bishops’ conference asked priests to read a prayer calling on politicians to follow “their conscience” and resist requests by special interests, and stressing the importance of “the love of a father and a mother.”

The Sipa news agency reported that some parishes ignored the suggested prayer and that churchgoers were divided over whether the church should get involved in politics.

Town begins cleanup after youth rampage

AMIENS — The northern city of Amiens on Wednesday began a costly cleanup after two nights of rioting that left France again asking itself what to do about marginalized urban neighborhoods that have erupted into violence in the past decade.

The city’s northern quarter was calm overnight, 24 hours after rampaging youths torched cars and public buildings, hurled explosives improvised from fireworks and fired buckshot at police.

France’s Interior Ministry announced Wednesday that a heavy police presence would be maintained in the neighborhood for several days to ensure there was no repeat.

About 250 officers were deployed overnight following clashes in which 16 officers were injured, one of them seriously.

BOLIVIA

Police: Bolivian crowd lynched 2 Brazilians

LA PAZ — Police said an angry crowd in a Bolivian town bordering Brazil lynched two Brazilian men shortly after they were arrested for shooting and killing three Bolivians and wounding two others.

Police Chief Edwin Rojas of San Matias said the two men were pulled from their jail cell Tuesday night, beaten and burned alive.

The circumstances of the killings purportedly committed by the Brazilians were not immediately clear.

Town council member Claudio Rojas said that people in the town of 15,000 are tired of its lawlessness.

Cocaine traffickers and car thieves from both nations are active in San Matias. It is along a principal drug-trafficking route for Bolivian cocaine.

UNITED NATIONS

Agency opens public debate on future of the Internet

GENEVA — The U.N. telecommunications agency has invited the world’s more than 2 billion Internet users to join a debate about the future of the Internet.

The Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union’s announcement Wednesday follows criticism from civil-society groups that say preparations for an upcoming global conference have been shrouded in secrecy.

The World Conference on International Telecommunications takes place Dec. 3-14 in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai.

Diplomats have for months been holding closed-doors discussions about proposals that include enhanced government surveillance and changing the way Internet traffic is billed.

Industry groups have warned that some of the proposals could jeopardize the smooth running of the Internet.

Activists, meanwhile, say greater government control of the Internet could endanger free-speech online.

The ITU website for public debate: http://www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/public.aspx.

CANADA

Canadians split on Quebec independence

OTTAWA — Slightly more than half of Canadians in the rest of the country would rather not see mostly French-speaking Quebec province split from the federation, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The results of the Abacus Data survey come as the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ), leading in public opinion polls, is poised to take power in a Sept. 4 election.

The PQ has vowed to try to wrest new powers and funding from the federal government in Ottawa if it wins.

Any failure could be used to bolster its separatist agenda. But observers do not expect a rush to a third referendum on sovereignty under a PQ banner.

The slight majority (52 percent) in favor of unity in the Abacus survey is up slightly from another poll conducted in February that found 49 percent “don’t really care if Quebec separates from Canada.”

The majority of Canadians outside of Quebec, however, said they strongly oppose giving more federal funding, powers or special status to Quebec to keep them in the federation.

One in four of 1,795 respondents surveyed Aug. 10-12 said they would like to see Quebec removed from the country, while 22 percent were unsure.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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