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US Voters Choosing New President


US POLITICS: Voters in the United States are selecting a new president today to succeed George Bush, who has led the country for nearly eight years. Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have been campaigning for nearly two years to be chosen to take the oath of office next January 20th. If Obama is elected, he will become the nation's first African-American president. If McCain is chosen, he will become the oldest man elected to a first term, and his running mate Sarah Palin will become the country's first female vice president.

FIRST VOTES: Residents of two tiny towns in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire were the first to cast votes today in the presidential election. Following a long tradition, polling stations in the towns of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location opened at midnight, hours before regular voting begins in the rest of the country. The tradition began in Hart's Location in 1948 to accommodate the town's railway workers, whose shifts often kept them away from the polls during normal voting hours. The results are already in from both towns.

WORLD ECONOMY: European stock markets are higher today, despite a warning from the European Commission that the global financial crisis may already have pushed Europe into a recession. A report issued as finance ministers from the 15 nations of that use the euro currency met in Brussels Monday said the continent's economy will barely grow, or possibly even shrink next year. The ministers ruled out a joint economic recovery plan, opting instead to coordinate their separate national programs. Finance ministers from the entire European Union will meet in Brussels today.

CHINA - TAIWAN: Negotiators for China and Taiwan signed agreements today that expand passenger flights and allow shipping links across the Taiwan Strait. The four deals increase the number of weekly passenger flights between the two sides from 36 to 108. They also allow 60 cargo flights per month, along with direct shipping links. After signing the agreements in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, visiting Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin and his Taiwanese counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung shook hands and sipped champagne. Chen is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the island since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949.

NOKOR MISSILES: South Korean officials say North Korea has nearly completed building a new missile base near its border with China. South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-Hee told parliament today that he believes the new site is designed to fire a larger missile or satellite projectile than rockets deployed on the North's existing east coast facility. Pyongyang has not commented on Lee's statement to the parliament in Seoul. In 2006, North Korea launched a long-range Taepodong-2 missile from its east coast Taepodong base. The launch was considered a failure, because the rocket plunged into the ocean shortly after lift-off.

THAILAND BLASTS: Police in Muslim southern Thailand say at least 62 people were wounded today when two bombs ripped through a local government office and a busy tea shop. Authorities say the first blast appeared to target a meeting of village chiefs at a district office in Narathiwat province, one of the three southernmost provinces gripped by a Muslim insurgency since 2004. Police say a second blast a few minutes later hit a nearby tea shop. Authorities said no deaths have been reported.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan authorities say two gunmen on a motorcycle have shot dead an intelligence official in southern Afghanistan. Officials say Kandahar's deputy intelligence chief was killed Monday night. The attackers have not been caught. The Afghan Islamic Press reports that a Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the assassination (in a phone conversation with one of its reporters). There has been a recent spike in the killing of pro-government individuals in Kandahar, an area with a heavy presence of Taliban militants.

PAKISTAN QUAKE - US AID: The U.S. government has announced an additional one-and-a-half million dollars in emergency relief to the victims of last week's earthquake in southwestern Pakistan. This brings the total U.S. emergency assistance package, offered through the U.S. Agency for International Development, to two-and-a-half million dollars. Washington's announcement Monday came a day after the International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for seven-point-eight million dollars to help the October 29th quake survivors.

Listen to our World News for details.

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