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Celebrations Across World Following Obama's US Win


US ELECT - WORLD: People around the globe, from everyday citizens to world leaders, are showing support for African-American Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election. In the ancestral hometown of Obama's late father, Kogelo, Kenya, villagers hugged each other and pumped their fists in the air when the Democratic senator's victory was announced. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared Thursday a national holiday to honor Mr. Obama's victory. South Africa's President, and Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community, Kgalema Motlanthe, today said the region is proud of Mr. Obama's achievements and looks forward to a fruitful relationship.

US ELECT - ASIA: Asian leaders are voicing hope that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's victory will lead to increased cooperation with the region and support in resolving a range of difficult issues from the global economy to the environment. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Mr. Obama's campaign message of hope is not just for America, but for a world which in many respects is fearful for its future. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso voiced his confidence in what he said was Mr. Obama's "capable" leadership. Mr. Aso says he is confident the United States will continue to play a key role as the world addresses a multitude of serious challenges.

US ELECT - CONGRESS: U.S. news media say Democrats have retained control of the U.S. Congress, and captured at least five Senate seats from their Republican rivals. In a Senate race in Virginia, former Governor Mark Warner defeated Republican Jim Gilmore to replace retiring long-time Republican Senator John Warner. The two Warners are not related. In North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan defeated incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole, a key name in the Republican party. Voters in Colorado, New Hampshire and New Mexico also elected Democrats (Mark Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Tom Udall, respectively) over Republican rivals in Senate races.

WORLD ECONOMY: European stock markets are down sharply in early morning trading today, despite early gains in Asia following news of Barack Obama's decisive win in the U.S. presidential election hours earlier. The key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt are down by more than one percent, thanks to a nine percent drop in shares of ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker. The company announced earlier that it would cut production by 30 percent. Asia's key markets all closed higher today. Tokyo's key Nikkei index closed nearly four-and-a-half percent higher, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ended the day's trading three percent higher.

NOKOR - KIM: North Korean state-run media have released photographs of leader Kim Jong Il visiting two military units, in the latest apparent effort to quash rumors that he is seriously ill. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) today released separate reports with a single picture each showing Mr. Kim inspecting the Korean Peoples Army units. But neither report said when or where the visits occurred. South Korean and U.S. officials say Mr. Kim suffered a stroke in August. The North Korean leader has not been seen in public since that time. North Korea denies Mr. Kim is ill, and analysts say Pyongyang appears to be trying to counter North Koreans' suspicion about their leader's health.

IRAQ: The U.S. military says coalition forces have captured two suspected members of al-Qaida in Iraq and 13 other suspects in operations today. In a statement, the military said the operations occurred in and around the capital Baghdad, as well as Mosul. On Tuesday, Iraqi police said 14 people were killed in separate attacks in Baghdad. Police say the deadliest attack was the bombing of a bus station in Baghdad's Mashtal neighborhood that killed seven people. In the capital's northern neighborhood of al-Qahira, four people were killed and eight others were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion. Other, smaller attacks were reported around the city. The violence follows a string of bombings Monday that killed 10 people.

RUSSIA - US: Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has blamed the United States for the recent military conflict between his country and Georgia. Mr. Medvedev today said in his state-of-the-nation address that aggressive U.S. policies led to Russia launching military operations against Georgia in August. He also promised that Moscow will respond to any threats in the region. The Russian incursion into Georgia strained Russian ties with Washington, pushing NATO -- over strenuous Russian objections -- to move Georgia toward alliance membership. Russian-U.S. relations also have been tested by a U.S. plan to install a missile defense system in eastern Europe.

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli officials say suspected Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have fired 20 rockets today into southern Israel. There was no immediate report of casualties. On Tuesday, the Israeli army said it killed at least six Palestinian militants, in the first armed clash since a June cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Military officials said they launched air strikes against militants who were firing mortars at Israeli forces on Tuesday. At least five militants were killed. Shortly before the air strikes, a Hamas militant was killed in a gunbattle with Israeli troops, who were moving into central Gaza (near the al-Bureij refugee camp) to destroy a suspected militant tunnel about 250 meters inside the occupied territory.

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