WORLD ECONOMY: Official data released today (Monday) show the world's second-largest economy contracted by one tenth of one percent in the three months ending in September.
This marks the second quarter in a row that Japan's economy has experienced a decline -- there was a nine-tenths percent contraction between April and June.
The world financial crisis has wreaked havoc on the world's major economies. Japan is now in its first recession since 2001.
Recession is most often defined as two consecutive three-month periods of negative economic growth.
Last week, the European Union said 15 nations that use the euro as their currency are officially in a recession. And many experts believe the U.S. economy is headed into recession -- it contracted by three tenths of one percent July and September.
IRAQ: The U.S. ambassador to Iraq has described as "historic" the Iraqi
cabinet's approval of a security pact that extends the presence of U.S.
forces in Iraq.
Ryan Crocker spoke during a symbolic signing ceremony today (Monday) with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Crocker said the security pact is important for U.S.-Iraqi relations.
The Iraqi cabinet voted Sunday in favor of the security pact, which allows U.S. troops to stay in the country until the end of 2011.
All but one of Iraq's 28 cabinet ministers supported the deal, after almost a year of tough negotiations with Washington. The Iraqi parliament's deputy speaker (Khalid al-Attiyah) said he expects lawmakers to vote on it by November 24th.
OBAMA TRANSITION: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama meets with John McCain today (Monday) - their first face-to-face talks since Mr. Obama defeated the Arizona senator in the presidential election November fourth.
The incoming president's transition office says the former rivals for the presidency will discuss ways to bring about a "more effective and efficient" government.
Mr. Obama has said he wants to work with both Democrats and Republicans to find answers to the country's problems.
INDONESIA QUAKE: A strong earthquake has struck off the coast of the eastern Indonesian
island of Sulawesi, killing at least two people and damaging hundreds
Thousands of Sulawesi residents evacuated their homes and other buildings when the quake struck early today (Monday). Many buildings collapsed during the quake.
While the full extent of the damage is still not known, no tidal wave was reported.
TIBET CONFERENCE: Hundreds of Tibetans from around the world have opened a week-long conference in northern India (today/Monday) - a meeting that could redefine their struggle to win autonomy for Tibet.
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called the six-day landmark meeting in the town of Dharamsala - the headquarters of Tibet's government-in-exile.
The speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, Karma Chophel, told VOA that the Dalai Lama will not attend the gathering, so as not to influence public opinion.