World briefs: Corruption trial begins in China

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JINAN, China -- As the trial of Bo Xilai, the fallen Communist Party aristocrat, neared its start in this eastern provincial capital, security officers, journalists and some supporters of the charismatic Mr. Bo fanned out in the streets around a downtown courthouse Wednesday, looking for signs of how the closed-door hearing might unfold.

The scandal that brought down Mr. Bo is arguably the biggest one to shake the party in decades,.

Detained by security officials since March 2012, Mr. Bo was indicted in late July on charges of taking bribes, corruption and abuse of power. The charges came almost one year after his wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence for murdering Neil Heywood, a British family associate.

The trial that starts today is expected to be the final blow to Mr. Bo's vaunted political career -- he had until last year been one of 25 Politburo members and party chief of the municipality of Chongqing; he had even been considered a candidate for one of the very highest party posts, which were handed out in November.

Cholera alert for Cuba

MIAMI -- The U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba has issued an alert for cholera, triggering fresh allegations that Havana is hushing up an outbreak of the potentially fatal disease to avoid damaging its $2.5 billion-a-year tourism industry.

Officials at the Florida Department of Health said Wednesday that they have received no reports of cholera imported from the island -- although tens of thousands of Cuban-Americans visited there during this summer's vacation period.

Polio virus hits Israel

JERUSALEM -- Israeli President Shimon Peres is urging the country's children to get polio boosters after a rare appearance of the virus spread to the north of the country.

Israel already immunizes its children against the disease. The campaign launched this week gives a second boost of protection.

Palestinians mull response

JERUSALEM -- The Palestinians might turn to U.N. bodies in response to Israeli settlement building even before their negotiations with Israel have run their course, a Palestinian spokeswoman said Wednesday, reflecting growing frustration over recent Israeli plans to promote more than 3,000 new settlement homes.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said she was expressing the official Palestinian position, though it was not clear if her warning was a sign of frustration or actual intent.

Greenpeace vessel banned

MOSCOW -- Russia has refused to allow a Greenpeace ice-breaking ship to enter Russian waters known as the Northern Sea Route, the environmental organization said Wednesday.

The Arctic Sunrise was poised to launch a protest against Arctic oil drilling, but it was banned on the grounds that its hull was not adequately ice resistant, Greenpeace said.

Malaysia's war on graft

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia may allow phone tapping and Internet monitoring as it steps up the war on corporate and government graft, which costs the country as much as $9 billion a year, a minister says.

It also plans legislation to make company directors liable for corruption involving staff and will appoint chief integrity officers in government ministries, Paul Low, the minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of fighting graft, said in an interview.

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