AFP 0900 GMT News Advisory

Duty Editor: Jocelyne Zablit

Tel: +33 1 40.41.46.36

-- TOP STORIES --

+ Thai protesters storm army headquarters

+ EU faces letdown by ex-Soviet states

+ France launches debate on prostitution

+ Japan's wrestling diplomat in final bout

+ Did ISON comet survive brush with sun?

Thailand-politics-protest,WRAP

BANGKOK

Defiant Thai opposition protesters storm the army headquarters and besiege Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's party offices, intensifying their fight to bring down her government.

650 words moved by Anusak Konglang. Picture. Video. Graphic

Also moved: Thailand-politics-protest-leader,PROFILE

EU-EEurope-summit-Russia

VILNIUS

The European Union suffers a setback in its bid to draw ex-Soviet states into the Western fold when jewel-in-the-crown Ukraine refuses to sign a landmark political and trade deal years in the making.

700 words 1100 GMT by Claire Rosemberg. Picture. Video. Graphic.

France-prostitution-politics-law-rights

PARIS

French lawmakers start debating a high-profile and controversial bill that would punish the clients of prostitutes, amid fierce debate in a country with a long history of liberal attitudes to sex.

500 words 1100 GMT by Fabrice Randoux. Picture

Sudan-Japan-diplomacy-wrestling-Kordofan,lead

KHARTOUM

A wrestling diplomat from Japan challenges a Sudanese Nuba opponent for the sixth and final time on Friday, and this time he is hoping for his first win.

600 words 1100 GMT by Ian Timberlake. File Picture

US-space-astronomy,lead

WASHINGTON

Astronomers pour over the latest data to establish whether any part of comet ISON may have survived its fiery, close encounter with our Sun.

500 words 1000 GMT by Jean-Louis Santini. Picture

-- EUROPE --

Turkey-politics-Erdogan,FOCUS

ANKARA

Turkey's once all-powerful Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is battling problems on both the domestic and international fronts that threaten to diminish his popularity ahead of a highly-charged election cycle next year.

750 words 1100 GMT by Fulya Ozerkan. File picture

Russia-Ukraine-EU-politics,FOCUS

MOSCOW

Russia's lingering sway over ex-Soviet nations was on full display this month as it mixed economic threats with political persuasion to wrest Ukraine away from a historic alliance with the European Union.

600 words 1300 GMT by Dmitry Zaks. Picture. Video

Finance-public-debt-rating-Netherlands-S&P

THE HAGUE

The Netherlands loses its coveted "AAA" rating after being downgraded by Standard & Poor's rating agency citing weakening growth prospects, leaving only three eurozone countries left standing in the exclusive club.

550 words 1000 GMT by Jan Hennop

-- MIDDLE EAST --

Iraq-unrest,WRAP

BAGHDAD

Authorities discover the bodies of 18 people dumped in farmland north of Baghdad just hours after they were abducted by men in military uniform, in a scenario gruesomely reminiscent of Iraq's sectarian war.

500 words moved by Salam Faraj. Graphic.

Egypt-politics

CAIRO

The army-installed authorities in Egypt tighten their grip on dissent with the arrest of a prominent blogger and tighter restrictions on protests in a crackdown reminiscent of autocratic rule.

500 words 1000 GMT by Jay Deshmukh. Picture. Video.

Israel-Palestinians-conflict-UN-US,FOCUS

JERUSALEM

A year after the United Nations granted Palestine non-member observer status, pressure is mounting on its leaders to exploit that standing rather than take part in peace talks few expect to bear fruit.

600 words 1300 GMT By Selim Saheb Ettaba. File picture. File video

-- AFRICA --

SAfrica-AIDS-health,FOCUS

Johannesburg

South Africa has been hailed as a model of HIV treatment, but some experts now fear its very success may be breeding complacency and making people less careful about infection.

750 words 1200 GMT by Susan Njanji. Picture. Video

-- AMERICAS --

Fbl-WC2014-Brazil-accident,lead

SAO PAULO

A Sao Paulo stadium will not be removed from the World Cup roster despite a construction accident that killed two workers and which will delay its completion, a Brazilian official says.

450 words moved. Picture. Video

Mexico-politics-crime-economy,FOCUS

MEXICO CITY

Gruesome mass graves, relentless drug cartels and emerging vigilantes have put Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's pledge to reduce violence to the test in his first year in power.

650 words moved by Laurent Thomet. File picture

Brazil-telecom-space-Embraer-telecommunication-aerospace-defence

SAO PAULO

Brazil's state-owned telecom provider Telebras signs a $560 million contract to deliver a satellite for secure communications, following months of outrage over revelations of US cyber-spying.

500 words moved.

US-economy-unemployment-company-Walmart,FOCUS

WASHINGTON

Walmart, the biggest retailer in the United States, is opening its first-ever stores in the US capital -- but some are not giving it a warm welcome.

700 words moved by Guillaume Decamme. File picture

US-IT-telecom-regulate,FOCUS

WASHINGTON

America's plain old telephone network is rapidly being overtaken by new technology, putting US regulators in a quandary over how to manage the final stages of transformation.

750 words moved by Rob Lever. File picture

-- ASIA --

China-Japan-US-SKorea-diplomacy-dispute,WRAP-update

BEIJING

Chinese state media call for countermeasures "without hesitation" if Japan violates the country's newly declared air zone, escalating the rhetoric after Beijing sent fighter jets to patrol the area following Tokyo's defiant military overflights.

750 words 0930 GMT by Neil Connor. Graphic

Also moving: Japan-China-SKorea-diplomacy-dispute-sea,FACTS

Afghanistan-unrest-US-civilian,lead

KABUL

Afghan President Hamid Karzai bitterly criticises a US drone strike that he says killed a two-year-old boy, as acrimony between Kabul and Washington deepens over a deal to allow US troops to stay in the country after 2014.

600 words moved by Mushtaq Mojaddidi. File picture

HongKong-Macau-ferry-accident,WRAP

HONG KONG

Eighty five people are injured when a high-speed ferry travelling from Hong Kong to Macau collides with an "unidentified object", raising new concerns over maritime safety a year after a ferry collision that claimed 39 lives.

700 words moved by Dennis Chong. Picture. Video. Graphic

afp