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North Korea placed its military on combat alert Monday and warned that any attempt to shoot down its soon-to-be-launched "communications satellite" would be a declaration of war. It also blocked access by hundreds of South Koreans to their jobs in the joint industrial park on its side of their border and cut all communications with the government in Seoul. The moves came as US and South Korean forces opened their annual maneuvers.

Despite the suspicions of his followers, Zimbabwe's prime minister ruled out foul play in the traffic accident last Friday that killed his wife, Susan, and caused him head injuries. Leaving a hospital for her funeral, Morgan Tsvangirai said, "let's mourn with hope" that Zimbabwe's shattered economy can be rescued and its tension-filled unity government can be successful.

Western-style democracy will "never" be permitted in China, parliament chief Wu Bangguo said Monday. In his speech to the National People's Congress (above), he called the communist system "the correct orientation" and said it should be strengthened. His lengthy defense of communism appeared to be a response to an open letter signed by 300 Chinese activists that called for greater political rights. A year ago, Wu also rejected democracy, but only in passing.

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