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Southern Sudanese began registering to vote in their much anticipated referendum on independence, scheduled for Jan. 9. The vote, stipulated by a 2005 peace agreement between Sudan's government and southern rebels after decades of civil war, will most likely lead to the South's secession. Sudan is Africa's largest country and among its most ethnically diverse.
8 | Ireland
The Celtic Tiger Whimpers
Fearing a domino effect, finance ministers from the 16 euro-zone countries gathered in the hope of resolving Ireland's debt crisis before the country's fiscal woes spread to other vulnerable nations in the region. Despite resistance from the Irish government, which has not asked for assistance and denies needing a bailout, the ministers prepared the way for a possible multibillion-euro aid package akin to the bailout given to Greece earlier this year.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
Ireland had a long economic boom. Then the Great Recession arrived
2010 BASED ON IMF PROJECTIONS
SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, WORLD ECONOMIC OUTLOOK DATABASE, OCTOBER 2010
9 | Afghanistan
A Change in The Deadline
Using the Iraq war as a blueprint, the U.S. is pushing a plan to transfer security duties to the Afghan government by 2014, effectively ending the U.S. combat mission then. The new timetable--a gloss on the commitment Obama made a year ago to commence the American withdrawal by July 2011--came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai insisted that the U.S. stop all night raids, citing civilian casualties. The U.S. recently tripled the number of such operations.
10 | Haiti
Haitians frustrated by the growing number of cholera deaths--now more than 1,000--in their nation took part in violent demonstrations against U.N. peacekeepers, whom they suspect of having introduced the disease. The protests, occurring two weeks before Haiti's presidential elections, have halted the flow of medical supplies in some areas.
* | Who They're Protecting in Paraguay:
The Paraguayan government suspended a planned expedition by Britain's Natural History Museum into the nation's Dry Chaco region, after protests on behalf of the Ayoreo people, one of the world's last uncontacted tribes. The estimated 150-person hunter-gatherer society still lives in voluntary isolation; contact with outsiders could spread fatal diseases. The trip will be rescheduled if it's determined that the Ayoreo face no harm.