US ELECT - WRAP: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is moving swiftly to assemble his
administration before he formally takes office next January.
Sources close to Mr. Obama's transition team say the president-elect
has compiled a list of names for the post of Treasury Secretary. They
include Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New
York, Lawrence Summers, who held the post under former President Bill
Clinton, and Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
They say Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator Chuck
Hagel are being considered for Secretary of State. Former Navy
Secretary Richard Danzig is a leading contender to fill the Defense
Secretary post. (News Updates)
US ELECT - CONGRESS: Senate races in four U.S. states remain undecided, but Tuesday's
election has already increased the Democratic majority in both houses
Democrats seized five Senate seats from the Republicans in Tuesday's
election, giving them 56 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber of
Congress. That is just four shy of the 60 seats needed to overcome
Republican delay tactics.
The races in Alaska, Georgia, Minnesota and Oregon are too close to call.
In Minnesota, the Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman
and Democrat and former comedian Al Franken will be decided by a
recount. Coleman leads by about 475 votes of nearly two-point-nine
TAIWAN - CHINA: Thousands of Taiwanese protesters faced off with police today as Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou met China's top envoy on
relations with the island.
The meeting between Mr. Ma and Chen Yunlin at a government guesthouse
in the capital Taipei lasted only five minutes and took place five
hours earlier than expected to sidestep protests. Thousands rallied
today outside their meeting place bringing traffic to
standstill as they shouted "Taiwan is my country" and "Chen get out."
In their brief meeting, Mr. Ma praised the landmark deal that Chen
signed with his Taiwan counterpart earlier this week. The deal further
opens transportation links between the island and China.
US - AUTO INDUSTRY: Leaders of America's so-called "Big Three" automakers will meet with
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today to discuss a possible
government-funded bailout of the ailing domestic industry.
The chief executives of General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler
will likely push for congressional passage of a 25 billion dollar loan
package to shore up their dwindling cash reserves. The proposed loan is
in addition to an earlier 25 billion dollar loan offered by the U.S.
Energy Department to help the automakers produce more fuel-efficient
The president of the United Auto Workers union will also attend today's
meeting with Pelosi.
WORLD ECONOMY: Asian and European markets are plummeting today as
new fears of a growing global recession overshadow Tuesday's historic
election of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.
Europe's key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt were all down an
average of three percent, while trading on Russia's MICEX was suspended
for an hour after stocks took a sharp dive.
Share prices across Asia were also down today, with Tokyo's Nikkei
index losing six-and-a-half percent, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong
dropping just over seven percent. Markets in the region fell after
Japanese-based automakers Toyota and Isuzu announced
larger-than-expected cuts in their full year earnings forecast.
US - MIDEAST: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is heading to the Middle East
for more talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on the regional
peace process. Rice will meet the now-caretaker Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni today in Tel
Aviv and go to Ramallah in the West Bank Friday for talks with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Rice has said the Bush administration will pursue Israeli-Palestinian
peacemaking efforts until President Bush leaves office in January.
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas revived
peace talks late last year with a desire to reach a final deal by the
time Mr. Bush leaves office.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani officials say an airstrike has killed at least 11 suspected
militants in the country's volatile northwest.
Officials today said the strike targeted insurgent positions
in the semiautonomous Bajaur region, bordering Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, reports from Pakistan said Islamic militants released 12
school children abducted Tuesday from a government school in the
A spokesman for a Taliban group led by the radical cleric Maulana
Fazlullah had accused the students of spying for
Pakistani security forces in the Swat region.
In other violence Wednesday, the militants killed one of the four
police officers kidnapped three days ago in Swat's Charbagh.
BHUTAN - KING: The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has crowned its new ruler, King
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck -- the youngest reigning monarch in the
The coronation of the 28-year-old Western-educated hereditary monarch
as Bhutan's first constitutional king culminates a two-year transfer of
royal power from his father, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated two
In today's ceremony in the capital, Thimpu,
King Jigme Singye transfered the Raven Crown to his eldest son, giving
him the title of the Fifth Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King.
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