The people of Southern Sudan will choose next month whether to break up Africa's biggest state into north and south and create the world's newest nation. Much is at stake, including most of Sudan's oil reserves and -- potentially -- peace in one of the continent's more volatile countries.
The biggest question looming as the Jan. 9 referendum approaches: Will the north and its Arab-led government let the mostly ethnic-African south go without more bloodshed?
These days, an air of melancholy hangs over Khartoum, Sudan's dusty desert capital.
The American student Amanda Knox, convicted in Italy of murdering her British roommate, started an appeal against her conviction and sentence Wednesday. The judge in the northern town of Perugia will decide whether to accept the defense's request for a complete review of all the evidence and a request for new witnesses. A positive ruling could signal a possible reduction of Knox's 26-year prison sentence.
Striking unions in Portugal are protesting the government's austerity measures. Parliament is expected to vote on the plan Friday. Portugal is one of the European countries facing massive problems caused by its national debt. Many Portuguese are angered by the government's plans to freeze pensions and cut the wages of civil servants by five percent.