World briefs: War prompts action on polio

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TRIPOLI, Lebanon -- Health officials are rushing to vaccinate millions of children from Egypt to Turkey, fearing a polio outbreak in Syria could spread as tens of thousands of refugees flee the civil war.

The officials want to reach all children under 5 in seven vulnerable places: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip, Turkey and Syria, about 22 million in all.

The $30 million campaign by the U.N. and Arab health officials seeks to inoculate even those who already may have been vaccinated against the highly contagious virus that can paralyze or kill.

27 killed in Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD -- A series of bomb blasts and gunfire attacks swept Iraq on Wednesday, mostly targeting Shiites who were marking one of their holiest religious events.

At least 27 people were killed in nine attacks that stretched to the northern cities of Tikrit and Mosul and to the regions west of Baghdad and Fallujah.

The attack with the most casualties was in Baquba, north of Baghdad, as Shiite pilgrims marked Ashura, the solemn commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Three improvised bombs ripped through the crowd, killing nine and wounding 35.

Charles to collect pension

LONDON -- Prince Charles plans to claim his government pension when he turns 65 today, but he still hasn't started the job he was born to do.

Palace officials said Wednesday that Charles will contribute the government pension to a charity that helps elderly people.

Charles is entitled to about 110 pounds ($175) per week because of his service in the Royal Navy and voluntary contributions he has made.

The eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II has been heir to the throne since his mother became monarch in 1952, when he was 3.

Vote on release delayed

MOSCOW -- The Ukrainian Parliament postponed a vote Wednesday on a bill that would free the jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, and allow her to seek medical treatment in Germany.

Western governments have long pressed for the release of Tymoshenko, whose conviction and imprisonment they viewed as a politically motivated effort to sideline her as a rival to President Viktor F. Yanukovich.

Killing clouds peace talks

JERUSALEM -- A Palestinian teenager fatally stabbed a 19-year-old Israeli soldier on a bus in northern Israel on Wednesday, police said, shocking Israelis who have grown unused to such killings in their cities and further clouding a peace process that was severely strained by Israeli settlement plans in the West Bank.

Infuriated by news of long-term planning for more settlement housing, the Palestinian leadership is expected to meet today to discuss the future of the U.S.-backed negotiations, which began this summer and were supposed to continue for nine months. The latest crisis was set off by reports Tuesday that Israel's housing minister, Uri Ariel, had initiated planning for about 20,000 new settlement homes.

Toronto mayor won't quit

TORONTO -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to City Council Wednesday that he bought illegal drugs while in office, but adamantly refused to step down despite calls from nearly every councilor to take a leave of absence and get help.

"I'm most definitely keeping this job," said Mr. Ford, 44, insisting he was "a positive role model for kids."

Wednesday marked the first time he admitted buying illegal drugs.


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