Adrift since the tsunami last year, the long journey of a Japanese ghost ship across the Pacific sputtered to an end Thursday by cannon fire, the Associated Press reports. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter’s guns ripped holes in the 164-foot-long ship afloat in the Gulf of Alaska.

After about four hours, the ship vanished beneath the surface, sinking more than 6,000 feet, some 180 miles from the Alaska coast.

Officials sunk the ship to ensure it would not pose a hazard to busy shipping lanes or the coastline. The boat had no cargo aboard.

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Malawi president

Malawi president suffers heart attack. President Bingu wa Mutharika was hospitalized and is in serious condition, according to doctors. Mutharika, who is 78, has governed Malawi since 2004. (New York Times)

Some reports say Mutharika has died. Doctors and cabinet ministers told the BBC, Reuters and other agencies that the president had died after the attack, but the death was not officially announced and state media are still reporting that he has been flown to South Africa for medical treatment. (BBC, Reuters, Times of India, AP)

Mali rebels

Mali’s Tuareg rebels declare independence from the nation. The rebels, who have taken advantage of a military coup in the capital to seize control of the country’s north, said in a statement Thursday that they “proclaim the irrevocable independence of the state... starting from this day.” (AP)

U.S. Marines

Marine faces dismissal for criticizing President Obama. Sergeant Gary Stein posted photos of Obama’s face on mock film posters to his Facebook page, including one poster for the movie “Jackass.” (AP)

A landmark priest abuse trial saw testimony this week from a tearful former Marine. The man recalled the day he became afraid of a priest who he says molested him as a teenager. (Reuters)