Woman Confirmed

As Liberian President

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Africa's first elected female president pledged in her acceptance speech Wednesday to end Liberia's history of corrupt, brutal and male-dominated rule.

Confirmed as the winner of Liberia's first election since a 1989-2003 civil war that killed 200,000 people, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said her victory marked a new beginning for her country and for African women, whom she called on to help govern their countries.

"We have shattered the glass ceiling theory, and I hope women will seize the moment to become active in civil and political affairs," said Johnson-Sirleaf, 67.

The final, certified results of the Nov. 8 runoff showed Johnson-Sirleaf beating George Weah, former soccer superstar, 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent.


* LONDON -- Britain's attorney general has invoked the Official Secrets Act to block publication of a leaked memo that purports to show disagreements between Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush over the Iraq war. The memo came to light Tuesday after a report in London's Daily Mirror said Bush wanted to bomb the Qatar headquarters of the Arabic TV network al-Jazeera.


* BRUSSELS -- Uzbekistan has told NATO allies they can no longer use its territory or airspace to support peacekeeping missions in neighboring Afghanistan -- an apparent retaliatory move against countries critical of the former Soviet republic's human rights record, alliance officials said. They said, however, that alternatives would be found and that the mission would not be hurt.

* BEIJING -- China reported its second confirmed death from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has claimed more than 60 lives in Asia since 2003. A 35-year-old farmer, identified only by her surname, Xu, died following contact with sick and dead poultry, the Health Ministry said.

-- From News Services