TOP STORIES FOR TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2015
SARTANA, Ukraine --Fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified on Tuesday ahead of much-anticipated peace talks, with both sides claiming significant advances and the government accusing the rebels of shelling a town far behind the front lines. SENT: 600 words, photos. By Peter Leonard.
UKRAINE-BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL
DONETSK, Ukraine -- At the Trudovskoi bus station in Donetsk, the gossip these days focuses on whose house has been hit by shelling, where you can get food handouts and who has heat in the dead of winter. Day and night, mortars and rockets rain down on the rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine -- mainly in the city's outlying districts, where the poorest people live. UPCOMING: 970 words by 1400 GMT. By Peter Leonard.
LILLE, France -- Disgraced former International Monetary Fund boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a French court Tuesday that he was unaware that women who participated in orgies at luxury hotels in Paris and Washington D.C. were prostitutes. 65-year-old Strauss-Kahn and 13 co-defendants are on trial in this northern French city, accused of aggravated pimping in connection with a sex ring centered on the Hotel Carlton in Lille. SENT: 350 words, photos. By Philippe Sotto and Greg Keller.
SWISS FRANC TRAP
BUCHAREST, Romania -- Elvis Constantin Cluci and his wife had planned a second child, their dreams set on a little brother for their 2 ? year-old daughter. But due to a surge in the Swiss franc that caused the Romanian couple's mortgage payments to rise, not only is another child out of the question but they have had to send their daughter to live with grandparents 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. Now they see her only once or twice a month. They simply cannot afford both day care and their mortgage on a small studio apartment in Bucharest. They can barely even scrape together the gas money to drive to see her. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. By Vanessa Gera and Alison Mutler.
PARIS -- Would Picasso have donated 271 works to an electrician who worked for him for a few years in southeast France? A French court began to contemplate that mystery on Tuesday at the start of a three-day trial of Pierre Le Guennec (Luh Gehn-EK) and his wife, Danielle. They claim that the artist, or his wife, gave them the 180 lithographs, collages and paintings and 91 drawings around 1970 when Le Guennec began working as a general handyman at Picasso's estate. SENT: 340 words.
PARIS -- A court has ordered a private clinic in the Riviera city of Cannes to pay out 400,000 euros ($450,000) -- each to two 20-year-old girls accidentally switched at birth and given to the wrong parents -- part of a 1.88-million euro payment to members of the two families. The clinic's lawyer, Sophie Chas, said she wasn't immediately certain whether an appeal would be lodged against Tuesday's decision by the court in Grasse. SENT: 100 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1400 GMT.
FRANKFURT, Germany -- Swiss bank UBS said Tuesday that profits rose 5 percent in the fourth quarter as a tax benefit and new inflows from wealthy Asian investors boosted the bottom line. The bank cautions however that the sharp rise in the Swiss franc -- which happened after the quarter ended -- would "put pressure on our profitability." SENT: 250 words. By David Mchugh.
MOSCOW -- Data released by Twitter shows that Russia nearly tripled its requests in the past six months to remove posts critical of the government. Twitter said in its report late on Monday that it received 89 removal requests in July-December from governmental agencies compared to 32 six months earlier as well as two court orders. SENT: 130 words.