Chatter: China's Gu Kailai gets suspended death sentence




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Need to know:

Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, has been given a suspended death sentence for the murder of a British businessman.

A court in China's eastern city of Hefei found Gu guilty of poisoning Neil Heywood after a one-day trial. Under China's legal system, suspended death sentences are almost always commuted to life imprisonment. 

China executes more prisoners than any other country, but experts said such a punishment would be unlikely for Gu. 

The scandal has challenged the secretive Chinese Communist Party in the run-up to their once-a-decade leadership transition. Bo, the former Chongqing party chief who was considered a rising star, has not been seen in public since the investigation into Gu was announced. 

Want to know:

British-born Hollywood filmmaker Tony Scott has died after jumping from a bridge in Los Angeles.

The Top Gun director's death is being investigated as a suicide. He was seen jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, and a suicide note was later found in his office.

The death of 68-year-old Scott, brother of Blade Runner director Ridley, has shocked Hollywood and drawn an outpouring of tributes.

Scott's films also included Crimson Tide and Days of Thunder. He served as producer of this summer's Prometheus, directed by his brother.

Dull but important:

Somalia is to get its first formal parliament in more than 20 years, marking an end to eight years of rule by a UN-backed transitional government. 

The new parliament will vote to choose a president today, with security tightened across the capital Mogadishu in preparation.

Somalia has been without a fully-functioning central government since 1991, but life in Mogadishu has improved in the last year since African Union troops pushed out Al Shabaab militants.

The war-torn nation still has a long way to go: the transitional government has faced corruption allegations, and the selection of the new parliament has been marred by accusations of bribes and intimidation.

Just because:

As of today, journalists in Myanmar need no longer submit their stories to state censors before publication. 

The country's information ministry announced the end of pre-publication censorship of media, a policy that began in 1964, in the latest series of democratic reforms since a civilian government took office last year. 

While Burmese reporters are optimistic, they point out this doesn't mean the end of censorship altogether: laws remain in place that could still see journalists punished for what they have written.

As GlobalPost's Hanna Ingber reported from Yangon, in this time of dramatic transition, "the old rules no longer apply. And the new rules are still unclear."

Strange but true: 

Congratulations to Miss China, Yu Wenxia, who was crowned Miss World 2012 over the weekend. 

Our commiserations to all the other pageant contestants who were forced to travel to the inner Mongolia mining town of Ordos, on the edge of the Gobi desert in remotest rural China, to attend the gala. 

Previous Miss World events were held in Sanya, a resort city on the beaches of tropical Hainan island in China's south. But this year, the event was held in bleak Ordos, famous for being "a modern ghost town."

The town has become one of the wealthiest places in China, thanks to a coal mining boom. But no one wants to live there.

Clever Ordos city officials somehow managed to get Miss World to come to town. But following Miss China's triumphant victory, pageant fans have grumbled that the judges were biased.