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Zimbabwe charges candidate with treason

Little more than a week after losing the presidential election, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was charged with treason Wednesday, fingerprinted and released on bail. The government says he plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai has denied the accusation, dismissing the charges as a government attempt to weaken the opposition. If convicted he could be sentenced to death or to life in prison.

Magistrate Dominic Musavazi released the opposition leader on $27,000 bail and ordered him to surrender his passport and deeds to property valued at $54,000. Tsvangirai must report to police weekly.

Several banks and businesses closed Wednesday in support of a nationwide strike called to protest election irregularities and continuing violence. Some factories and shops in Harare were shut, but most government offices, post offices and schools remained open. Union officials said they expected the three-day walkout to take greater hold today.

Embassy blast kills 4

LIMA, Peru _ An explosion outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima late Wednesday killed at least four people, local media reported. Details about the dead and injured were not clear, and some reports put the initial death toll at eight.

The explosion damaged a hotel and bank across the street from the embassy, witnesses said. The embassy suffered no apparent damage. No one claimed responsibility for the blast.

The blast comes a few days ahead of a visit by President Bush, who is to arrive in Lima on Saturday for a meeting with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo and leaders from Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Suharto's son on trial for murder

JAKARTA, Indonesia _ The youngest son of ex-dictator Suharto went on trial Wednesday, accused of ordering the assassination of a judge who ruled against him in a graft case.

Hutomo Mandala Putra, known as Tommy, smiled and waved at onlookers but said nothing as he arrived in handcuffs under heavy security. If convicted of murder, he could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors say the millionaire son of Suharto paid two hit men $10,000 to kill Supreme Court Judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who had sentenced Tommy to 18 months in prison over a multimillion-dollar real estate scam.

Two assassins on a motorbike shot the judge at close range five times on July 26, 2001. Police say the gunmen, who are being tried separately, have confessed that they were working for Tommy.

Ships will be "it,' not "she'

LONDON _ Ending centuries of seafaring tradition, a shipping industry newspaper said Wednesday it will no longer refer to ships with the feminine pronoun "she."

Lloyd's List, which is one of the world's oldest daily publications, said in the future it will refer to all vessels as "it."

In an editorial, the newspaper said it was time to "bring the paper into line with most other reputable international business titles."

But, editor Julian Bray added, "I don't think there is anything wrong with calling ships "she' in conversation. It's a respectable maritime tradition."