US Election Wrap: Two U.S. media organizations have declared that the Democratic Party has won a majority in the U.S. Senate, and with it, complete control of the U.S. Congress following Tuesday's midterm elections.
NBC and the Associated Press say Democratic challenger Jim Webb is the winner over Republican Senator George Allen in (the southern U.S. state of) Virginia. Webb holds a lead of about seven-thousand votes, out of more than two-million ballots cast.
Allen has not conceded defeat, and his campaign says he will wait until a re-check of the vote counting is completed by local officials. But one advisor says Allen has no intention of seeking a recount if the votes remain in Webb's favor.
The opposition Democrats had already swept to victory in the House of Representatives, With Webb's victory, they would control both chambers of Congress for the first time since 1994.
Rumssfeld Resigns: U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will deliver a speech in (the midwestern U.S. state of) Kansas today (Thursday), a day after his resignation was announced by President Bush.
His speech is expected to focus on the war on terrorism.
Rumsfeld, who has become a lightning rod of criticism over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, is stepping down in the wake of the Republican Party's massive defeat in Tuesday's congressional elections.
Mr. Bush told reporters Wednesday that he and Rumsfeld had a "series of thoughtful conversations" and agreed the "timing is right" for new leadership at the Pentagon. The president has nominated former CIA chief Robert Gates to succeed Rumsfeld.
Israel – Palestinians: Palestinians are preparing for a mass funeral for 18 people -- mostly women and children -- killed by Israeli artillery fire in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun early Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to join the traditional funeral procession before mass prayers and burials later today (Thursday).
In New York, the U.N. Security Council is to meet today to discuss the mounting violence in the Gaza Strip. Qatar -- the only Arab member of the Security Council -- requested the session.
Officials in Washington, Europe, the Middle East and at the United Nations have voiced shock and dismay at the Gaza shelling.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed regret for the deaths. The Israeli military says the artillery fire was in response to militants' rocket attacks. The military also vowed to continue its Gaza offensive.
China – Death Penalty: China's chief justice says courts must exercise what he calls "extreme caution" when handing out the death penalty.
Xiao Yang was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that judges should avoid ordering an execution if there is any legal leeway.
He said if a convict surrenders, or helps solve a case, then judges generally should not pass a death sentence.
Xiao advised judges to act, in his words, as if walking on thin ice, when it comes to ordering the death penalty. However, he ruled out the possibility of abolishing executions altogether.
Thailand – Violence: Police in southern Thailand say coordinated bomb attacks on car and motorcycle dealerships have wounded nine people.
They say the bombs exploded almost simultaneously today (Thursday) at eight showrooms in (the Muang district of) Yala province. Authorities say militants posing as customers planted the devices inside vehicles on display.
The hidden bombs were timed to detonate at around noon local time (0500 UTC), damaging vehicles and shattering glass.
Thai authorities blame the bombings on Muslim insurgents fighting a separatist rebellion in three southern provinces.
Iraq: Iraqi police say nearly
20 people were killed and many more wounded in a string of attacks in and around Baghdad today(Thursday).
In one of the bloodiest incidents, seven people were killed and at least 27 others wounded when a suicide attacker blew up his explosives filled car in central Baghdad.
Listen to our World News for details.