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JAPAN: 5.6 quake shakes same area

An earthquake registering 5.6 shook the Pacific off Honshu in the northeast area ravaged by a March 11 quake and tsunami that knocked out power at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday. No damage or casualties were reported and no tsunami watch was issued. The epicenter was 51 miles southeast of Fukushima, and 28 miles deep.

SUDAN: Independence day for South

The people of South Sudan finally get their own country Saturday, an emotional independence celebration few thought possible during a half century of civil wars and oppression that has left more than 2 million dead. President Salva Kiir will ride in a motorcade and parades will burst forth in front of visiting world leaders. When the party ends, South Sudan faces grim realities: It will be one of the most underdeveloped countries on the planet. Only 15 percent of its citizens can read and fears of renewed conflict abound. Independence was made possible by a 2005 peace deal between north and south. In January, former guerrilla fighters shed tears as they cast votes to break away from the Khartoum-based north. Casting ballots at special U.S. polling stations were some of the 3,800 war orphans, the Lost Boys of Sudan, who were taken in by communities in the United States. The world's newest national capital, the Nile River city of Juba, was war-ravaged ruins six years ago, when the 1983-2005 north-south civil war ended, the second war between the mostly Arab north and the south, where traditional African religions and Christianity are practiced.

CHINA: No, ex-leader's not dead

After a week filled with rumor and intrigue, the official New China News Agency had the following message Thursday to relay to the world: Former President Jiang Zemin is not dead. Rumors had started swirling last Friday when the ailing 84-year-old was absent from a ceremony at Beijing's Great Hall of the People commemorating the Communist Party's 90th anniversary.

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