IRAQ: Iraqi police say at least 22 people have been killed and 80 others wounded in a suicide car bombing in Iraq's northern city of Baiji. Security officials say today's attack targeted a checkpoint manned by Iraqi soldiers and members of a U.S.-backed volunteer force fighting al-Qaida. The attack took place on a road leading to the state-run North Oil Company. To the south in Baquba, witnesses say a suicide bombing at a funeral killed four people from another U.S.-supported volunteer group fighting al-Qaida militants. Volunteer forces of mainly Sunni Arab fighters have been credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq in recent months.
THAILAND ELECTION: Thailand's Election Commission says final results of Sunday's national election show loyalists of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra winning, though not with a majority. Election officials said today that the People's Power Party captured 233 of the 480 seats in the lower house of parliament. The rival Democrat Party was second with 165 seats, while the Chart Thai Party finished third with 37. Speaking from Hong Kong, where he was watching the elections, Mr. Thaksin told reporters today he wants to return to Thailand, possibly as early as February.
JAPAN - TOYOTA: Japanese-based Toyota is on track to overtake U.S.-based General Motors as the world's largest auto maker. The company today announced it will produce nine-and-a-half million vehicles this year, edging out GM's projected output of nine-and-a-quarter million. Toyota also unveiled its sales and production forecasts for 2008. The company plans to make nearly 10 million vehicles next year - a five-percent increase over 2007. The projected increase will put Toyota well ahead of General Motors - a company that has long been the world's largest auto manufacturer.
INDIA - CHINA: India and China have wrapped up five days of joint military exercises, the first such drill involving the the world's two largest armies. Troops from both countries participated in a mock scenario today during which they targeted a training camp set up by terrorists along the Indo-China border. The exercise wrapped up the joint training mission named "Hand-in-Hand, 2007," during which 100 troops from India and China gathered in southern China's Yunnan province. Indian officials have volunteered to host another joint military exercise next year.
NEPAL - BRIDGE: Nepalese officials say at least six people have been killed and dozens are missing after a bridge collapsed in western Nepal. Police say at least 300 people were walking across a suspension bridge above the Bheri River in the Surkhet district today (Tuesday) when the bridge collapsed. They were on their way to a religious fair. Officials say some of those who fell managed to swim to safety, but many more people may have been swept downstream. Rescue crews have been dispatched to the scene.
GERMANY - CHILD PORN: German prosecutors are investigating 12-thousand people on suspicion of possessing child pornography. Authorities say the probe has been under way for several months. A state prosecutor (Peter Vogt) told German radio the investigation also involves suspects in 70 other countries. The operation began after an internet provider in Berlin tipped off authorities when he noticed very large data transfers.
CHRISTMAS: Pope Benedict has urged people to make room in their lives for the poor, their neighbors, and God. Benedict conducted a traditional midnight mass as Christmas arrived in Rome. Speaking to the faithful in the Vatican and millions more on television, Benedict compared modern life -- where he says people have no room for others -- to the story of how Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room at the inn. Later today, Benedict delivers his Christmas Day speech. He plans to express holiday greetings in 60 languages.
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