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Daily Archives: 11/03/2010

Meeting of British Foreign Secretary William Hague with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague sign a bilateral film co-production agreement marking resumption of cooperation between Israel and UK film industries, in Jerusraem on November 3, 2010. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

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November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / BRITISH EMBASSY IN ISRAEL) — The meeting focused on the status of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the need to get beyond the current impasse.

The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on 3 November as part of his first visit to Israel as Foreign Secretary.

Their meeting focused on the status of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the need to get beyond the current impasse. In addition they discussed shared concerns including the threat posed by Iran’s attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon capability and the need for international cooperation against terrorism. The two Ministers also discussed Middle East regional developments, including the situations in Yemen, Iraq, and Sudan.

The meeting was also a chance to build on the UK’s and Israel’s strong bilateral relationship. The Foreign Secretary reiterated the UK government’s commitment to urgently resolve the “unacceptable situation” with regard to universal jurisdiction. Both Ministers expressed their appreciation for the breadth and intensity of official exchanges between the two Governments and affirmed their shared commitment to an early meeting of the High-Level UK-Israel Strategic Dialogue. Both Ministers also touched upon the strength and depth of current partnerships in areas such as business, science and innovation.

At the end of their meeting, Foreign Secretary Hague and Foreign Minister Liberman signed a Film Co-production Agreement, marking another milestone in the extensive cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Photostream : British Foreign Secretary William Hague in Israel

Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) shakes hands with British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the presidential compound in Jerusalem, on November 3, 2010. Hague is on an official two day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) meets with British Foreign Secretary William Hague at the presidential compound in Jerusalem, on November 3, 2010. Hague is on an official two day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, right, meets with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman as they prepare to sign an agreement which will increase cooperation between the two countries' film industries, in Jerusalem, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. Israel announced Wednesday that it has suspended a special strategic dialogue with Britain to protest repeated attempts by pro-Palestinian activists to arrest Israeli dignitaries on war crimes charges during visits to the United Kingdom. The announcement came as Hague was meeting with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem and senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Wednesday. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (2nd L) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague (2nd R) sign a co-production film treaty after their meeting in Jerusalem November 3, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun )

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague shake hands after signing a co-production film treaty after their meeting in Jerusalem November 3, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun )

Photostream : British Foreign Secretary William Hague meets Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad (R) shakes hands with British Foreign Secretary William Hague during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 3, 2010. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad (R) meets with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 3, 2010. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad (C) looks on as British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Palestinian Education Minister Lamis al-Almi exchange cooperation agreements in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 3, 2010. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to be buried in elite cemetery

Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin

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November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who died aged 72 on Wednesday morning, will be laid to rest in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery, a Russian TV channel said on Wednesday.

Chernomyrdin will be buried beside his wife Valentina, who died in March, the Rossiya 24 channel said.

The cemetery, which lies beside a baroque 16th and 17th century convent, is the traditional resting place for Russia’s elite.

It hosts a number of Russian and Soviet politicians, such as Boris Yeltsin and Nikita Khrushchev, as well as literary figures such as Nikolai Gogol and Anton Chekhov.

After serving as Russian prime minister under Yeltsin from 1992-1998, Chernomyrdin was made Russian ambassador to Ukraine in 2001, a post he held until 2009, when he was designated as a presidential advisor.

 

MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti)

Former Russian PM Chernomyrdin dies aged 72

Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin

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November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin died early on Wednesday morning at the age of 72, a source in the political establishment said.

“Chernomyrdin died at 4 am Moscow time [01:00 GMT]. He had been severely ill,” the source said.

After serving as Russian prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin from 1992-1998, Chernomyrdin was made Russian ambassador to Ukraine in 2001, a post he held until 2009, when he was designated as a presidential advisor.

Chernomyrdin was a steadfast supporter of Yeltsin and supporter of privatization and a number of other reforms, although he started his career by opposing many economic changes.

He was minister of the oil and gas industries during the late 1980s and helped to turn the ministry into the state-owned gas company Gazprom in 1989. He was the company’s first chairman of the board, a post which he retained on-and-off until 2000, and his stake in the company made him one of Russia’s richest men.

Chernomyrdin is best known in the Russian-speaking world for his colorful use of language and coined the now popular proverb “we wanted the best, but it turned out as always,” uttered after the Russian Central Bank carried out an unsuccessful monetary exchange in the early 1990s.

MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti)

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak: Negotiations to resume after US elections

File Photo : Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak (R) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell during their meeting in Tel Aviv January 21, 2010 (Getty Images / REUTERS/Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy/Handout )

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November 02, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — Defense minister says stalemate in negotiations with Palestinian Authority coming to an end, addresses religious-secular tensions.

The peace talks with the Palestinian Authority will move forward after the midterm elections in the US,  Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday.

“There are elections in the US today, and I suppose that it will take them a few weeks after the elections to settle in,” he said during a visit to a high school in Emek Hamaayanot Regional Council in northern Israel. “I hope and believe that we can see real progress in the negotiations in the next few months.”

Barak also addressed the escalating tension within Israel between ultra-Orthodox and secular citizens. He told the high school students about a visit he paid to the IDF’s Menashe Regional Brigade, where a haredi combat unit serves.

“In the past, 10 years ago, an entire unit of haredi soldiers would have been considered impossible,” he said.

“The haredim, whose incorporation in the job market – especially the haredi men, similarly to the incorporation of women of the Arab sector into the job market – requires attention from the State, as well as the creation of a foundation and a training system. But we must also recognize equality and the need for inclusion,” he said.

In response to the yeshiva funding bill, which has provoked demonstrations and arguments in recent days, Barak said that Israel must level the playing field between religious and secular students.

“The State, which has been giving different forms of support to yeshiva students, must find the way to give secular students and young people the same things, in an equal manner,” he said.

(MS)

Sources: Netanyahu expects Obama to resume Mideast efforts after midterms

U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd L) arrives with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II (L-R) to make a statement on Middle East peace in the East Room of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jason Reed )

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Nov 2, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — PM Benjamin Netanyahu asks Clinton to meet with him during his visit to the U.S. next week, already planning to hold talks with Biden in New Orleans.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the Obama administration will renew its initiatives to relaunch direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority after the U.S. midterm elections conclude on Tuesday, sources in Jerusalem said on Tuesday.

The sources said that Netanyahu was interested in resuming the political process and had asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to meet with him during his visit to the U.S. next week.

The premier is already planning talks in New Orleans with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Both Netanyahu and Biden are scheduled to address November 7-9 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

President Barack Obama, who is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled over Israeli settlement building, leaves on November 5 for a 10-day visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. As such, the two leaders will not meet during Netanyahu’s trip.

A new round of direct peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians got under way in Washington on Sept. 2 only to stop a few weeks later when Israel lifted restrictions it had imposed on a 10-month West Bank settlement building.

Polls released ahead of Tuesday’s midterms predicted hefty losses for Obama’s Democrats. Israeli ministers expect this will force him to avoid any bruising showdowns with Israel and its supporters in the coming months for fear of further undermining his shaky electoral position.

Palestinians hope that after the vote, Obama will refocus on foreign affairs and use the last two years of his presidential mandate to seek a place in history by securing an end to the decades-old conflict, regardless of obvious domestic risks.

(MS)

President Obama calls Boehner, says he looks forward to working with him and GOP to “find common ground”

President Barack Obama (left) & House Republican leader John Boehner (right)

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November 02, 2010 (KATAKAMI / POLITICO) — In the only action from the White House all evening, President Obama called John Boehner and other leaders of Congress to talk about the election results. He called Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Mitch McConnell, too.

“In his calls with Rep. Boehner and Sen. McConnell, the President said he was ‘looking forward to working with him and the Republicans to find common ground, move the country forward and get things done for the American people,’ ” the White House said in a statement.

House Republican Leader John Boehner Remarks at Election Night Results Watch

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who broke down in tears during his speech, gives a thumb-up after addressing supporters at a Republican election night results watch rally in Washington, November 2, 2010. Boehner, the likely next Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, pledged on Tuesday to cut government spending and reduce the size of government. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jim Young )

Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington, DC

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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(KATAKAMI / BOEHNER’S FACEBOOK) — Thank you. Thank you Pete Sessions, for your tireless leadership.  And thank you to all our candidates, supporters, and volunteers who have worked so hard to make this moment possible.

Let me just say this: it’s clear who the winners are tonight, and that’s the American people.  Your voice was heard at the ballot box!  Your voice!

Listen, I’ll be brief, because we have real work to do – and this is not a time for celebration … not when one in 10 of our fellow citizens are out of work … not when we have buried our children under a mountain of debt … not when our Congress is held in such low esteem.

This is a time to roll up our sleeves.  To look forward with determination.  And to take the first steps toward building a better future for our kids and grandkids.

Across the country right now, we are witnessing a repudiation of Washington … a repudiation of Big Government … and a repudiation of politicians who refuse to listen to the people.

Of course, this campaign is not yet over.  To folks out in the West, where the polls are still open, seize this opportunity to be heard … to reject the spending sprees, the bailouts, the backroom deals, the takeovers and all the nonsense … and to join your fellow Americans in putting Washington on notice.

Because for far too long, Washington has been doing what’s best for Washington – not what’s best for America.

Tonight, that begins to change.

With their voices and their votes, the American people are demanding a new way forward in Washington.  And I’m here tonight to tell you that our new majority will be prepared to do things differently… to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried before in Washington – by either party.

•        It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it.

•        Reducing the size of government instead of expanding it.

•        Reforming the way Congress works and giving government back to the people.

•        And for all those families asking ‘where are the jobs?,’ it means ending the uncertainty in our economy and helping small businesses get people back to work.

The people’s priorities will be our priorities.  The people’s agenda will be our agenda.  This is our Pledge to America … this is our pledge to you!

While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people’s House, we must remember it is the president who sets the agenda for our government.  The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight, and that message is: “change course.”

We hope President Obama will now respect the will of the people, change course, and commit to making the changes they are demanding.  To the extent he is willing to do this, we are ready to work with him.

But make no mistake, the president will find in our new majority the voice of the American people as they’ve expressed it tonight: standing on principle, checking Washington’s power, and leading the drive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government.

These are the principles our new majority will stand for, and we hope you will stand with us in the hard work that lies ahead.  Because we are humbled by your trust in us.  And we recognize that with this trust comes the responsibility to listen, and listen we will.

Let’s start right now by recognizing this is not a time for celebration.  This is a time to roll up our sleeves and go to work.

We can celebrate when small businesses are creating jobs again.  We can celebrate when the spending binge in Washington has stopped.

And we can celebrate when we have a government that has earned back the trust of the people it serves … when we have a government that honors our Constitution and stands up for the values that have made America, America: economic freedom, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.

I hold these values dear because I’ve lived them.  I’ve spent my whole life chasing the American Dream.

I started out mopping floors, waiting tables, and tending bar at my dad’s tavern.  I put myself through school working odd jobs and night shifts.  I poured my heart and soul into a small business.  And when I saw how out-of-touch Washington had become with the core values of this great nation, I put my name forward and ran for office.

So I want to close by thanking my friends and neighbors in Ohio for giving me the chance to serve and the opportunity to stand before you now ready to lead.

Thank you.

God bless you, your families, and the United States of America.

(MS)

House Republican Leader John Boehner Set to Become Speaker

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who broke into tears during his speech, waves after addressing supporters at a Republican election night results watch rally in Washington, November 2, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jim Young )

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November 02, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RollCall.com) — Minority Leader John Boehner is about to get a huge promotion.

The fall of the Democratic majority means the Ohio Republican is poised to become Speaker, completing a decade-long climb back to power after he was cast out of the GOP leadership in the aftermath of the 1998 elections.

“I can tell you this, if we are lucky enough to be the majority of the Congress and I’m lucky enough to be the next Speaker of the House, it’s going to be real different,” Boehner said during a campaign stop in Ohio over the weekend. “And not just different than what Democrats are doing today but differently than what Republicans did in the past.”

Boehner began building his campaign for Speaker eight months ago, outlining ways that he would redirect the House if Republicans took back the majority.

Now that he has achieved that goal, his challenge will be implementing the aggressive reforms outlined in the GOP’s “Pledge to America” agenda, such as repealing the health care reform legislation, cutting federal spending, limiting taxes and simplifying the legislative process.

Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the chairman of Republican leadership, said Tuesday he was confident Boehner would make good on his promises and his Speakership would be “a breath of fresh air to the House.”

“I think both parties will welcome returning the House to a truly deliberative legislative body,” he said.

It’s all but certain Boehner will assume the Speakership; no one else has even hinted at a challenge.

“He is a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of guy,” said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), who will be Boehner’s presumptive choice for Rules chairman in the 112th Congress.

Boehner wasn’t always considered a Republican insider. After being elected to the House in 1990, Boehner and his fellow gang of seven members were rebels who took on the House establishment and advocated for broad disclosure of the names of Members who had abused the House Bank. By 1994, Boehner, already seen as an up-and-comer, was brought into the leadership fold by incoming Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

After being defeated in his bid for reelection as GOP Conference chairman in the aftermath of the 1998 elections — in which Republicans lost seats despite President Bill Clinton’s pending impeachment trial ­— Boehner retreated to the Education and Workforce Committee. In that role, Boehner was known for operating a broad member services program, which is unusual for a committee chairman, but helped him build alliances and plan his return to leadership.

His most widely known accomplishment at the education panel was crafting the No Child Left Behind Act along with Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Since he began his tenure as the Republican leader in the House, a position he won in 2006, Boehner has surrounded himself with longtime political allies but has taken care to bring potential adversaries into leadership as well.

Many expect Boehner to again take an active role in avoiding contentious leadership races, as he did in 2008 when he pulled Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) into leadership to defuse attacks from the right and endorsed Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) to supplant Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“He doesn’t necessarily need to placate certain divisions because there aren’t that many competitive chairmanships,” one veteran Republican lobbyist said.

GOP to grab U.S. House majority; Democrats poised to retain Senate

U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) addresses a Republican election night results watch rally in Washington, November 2, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jim Young )

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Washington (KATAKAMI / CNN) — Republicans rode a wave of voter dissatisfaction with the state of the economy to win majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, while Democrats were poised to retain their majority in the Senate.

With results still coming in and voting continuing in Western states, the extent of the Republican takeover of the 435-member House was still to be determined. But CNN projected that Republicans would win at least 52 more House seats than they currently hold to wipe out the Democratic majority of the past four years.

At 11 p.m. ET, CNN made more projections in this game-changing election. Projections are based on CNN analysis of exit poll data:

— Republican businessman Ron Johnson has won the Wisconsin Senate race, ending Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold’s bid for a fourth term.

— Democratic incumbent Sen. Ron Wyden has won his bid for re-election to his Oregon Senate seat, beating out Republican nominee Jim Huffman.

— Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Crapo has won his bid for re-election to his seat as Idaho senator.

— In a heated gubernatorial race, Republican Nikki Haley has defeated Democrat Vincent Sheheen in South Carolina.

Republican candidates also were running strong in other governors’ races, while Democrats held on to some key Senate seats and appeared likely to stay in control of that chamber.

An energized conservative electorate, fueled by the anti-establishment Tea Party movement that emerged in 2009, helped Republicans to what could be their biggest gain in congressional elections in decades.

Tea Party-backed Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky and Marco Rubio in Florida won their Senate races, while another GOP candidate, John Boozman, will defeat incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas, according to the projections based on CNN analysis of exit poll data.

In Indiana, conservative Republican Dan Coats was the projected winner to take over the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Evan Bayh. The projected victories by Coats and Boozman and John Hoeven in North Dakota gave Republicans three pick-ups in the Senate.

However, Democrat Chris Coons was the projected winner over Republican Christine O’Donnell, another Tea Party-supported candidate, in Delaware’s Senate race for the seat formerly held for decades by Vice President Joe Biden. In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will defeat Republican Linda McMahon, the former professional wrestling executive, for the Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Chris Dodd.

Another big Democratic victory came in West Virginia, where Gov. Joe Manchin was projected to win the Senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year.

Other projected winners included incumbent senators such as Republicans Jim DeMint in South Carolina, Richard Shelby in Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John McCain in Arizona, David Vitter in Louisiana, John Thune in South Dakota, Richard Burr in North Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, along with Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York.

The projected victories by Coons, Manchin and Blumenthal were vital for the Democrats’ chances to retain their majority in the Senate.

Republican Rob Portman, the former budget director under President George W. Bush, will win his Ohio Senate race to fill the seat held by retiring Republican George Voinovich, according to the projections. In New Hampshire, the GOP’s Kelly Ayotte is the projected winner to fill the Senate seat held by retiring Republican Judd Gregg.

On the House side, Republicans picked up seats in a broad swath across the country, including victories over one-term Democrats who came to power in traditionally GOP districts in 2008, leading Republican National Chairman Michael Steele to tell CNN that he expected his party to gain 55 House seats to take majority control of the chamber.

More on the House races

Both Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and O’Donnell rode Tea Party support to defeat mainstream Republican candidates in their GOP primaries.

Paul’s projected victory to claim the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Jim Bunning showed the influence of the movement that emerged in 2009 in opposition to expanded government and the growing federal deficit.

Elections spur Tea Party fervor

At the same time, the loss by O’Donnell could badly hurt Republican chances to win majority control of the Senate. Many Republicans believed the veteran congressman whom O’Donnell beat in the primary, former Gov. Mike Castle, would have defeated Coons.

Another Tea Party backed candidate, Republican Carl Paladino, will be handily defeated by Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor’s race, the projections show. In other gubernatorial contests, Republicans Bill Haslam in Tennessee, Sam Brownback in Kansas, Rick Perry in Texas and Nikki Haley in South Carolina will be victorious, according to the projections.

Exit poll data analyzed by CNN showed the economy was the dominant issue on the minds of voters, and indicated that key constituencies shifted from supporting Democrats in 2008 to voting for Republicans this time.

For example, senior citizens who comprised 24 percent of the total electorate supported Republicans much more strongly on Tuesday than they did two years ago, the exit polling showed. According to the data, 39 percent of senior citizens voted for Democrats, compared with 49 percent in 2008, while 58 percent supported Republicans, compared with 49 percent two years ago.

One reason is likely opposition to the health care reform bill pushed through Congress over Republican opposition by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders. While Obama pledged the reforms would improve Medicare, Republican opponents warned of service cuts and higher costs, with some making false claims such as “death panels” in the bill that would decide whether the elderly receive treatment.

Heated campaigning continued to the last minute on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton exhorting Democrats and independents to hold off a Republican surge while GOP candidates promised to change how Washington operates.

While Democrats continued to offer upbeat assessments of their party’s chances Tuesday, multiple senior Democratic sources said privately they expected to lose their House majority just four years after taking control of the chamber.

Later Tuesday, senior Democratic officials with close ties to the White House expressed concerns that the first wave of early exit polling data suggested women voters, a key Democratic constituency in 2008, might not have turned out as strongly this time.

In addition, the officials said they have seen data suggesting that senior citizens may have come out in large numbers to express displeasure with health care reform, which they characterized as a troubling sign for the party.

The long and bitter campaign season drew more than $3.5 billion in spending, making it the most expensive nonpresidential vote ever, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.

With about 100 of the 435 House seats at stake considered “in play,” or competitive, an anti-Democratic mood had been predicted to result in big Republican gains.

On the Senate side, where 37 of the 100 seats were contested, the majority will be decided by key races in Nevada, Washington and a few other states where Democratic incumbents face strong challenges.

Republicans needed to win an additional 39 seats to claim the House majority and 10 Senate seats to overtake Democrats there.

If a Republican landslide occurs, it could surpass previous major shifts in congressional voting, such as the GOP’s 56-seat gain in House seats in 1946.

In addition, the rise of the Tea Party movement added a new element to the election cycle, roiling Republican races by boosting little-known and inexperienced candidates to victory over mainstream figures in GOP primaries across the country.

No matter how many of the so-called Tea Party candidates win against Democratic opponents Tuesday, the influence of the movement has shifted the Republican agenda to the right.

“They tell me they want people who can work together in Washington,” DeMint, one of the leading backers of Tea Party candidates, said in his victory speech. “I tell you this: I’m ready. I’m ready. Anyone whose guide is the constitution and whose goal is limited government, I’m ready to work with them today. But I’m not going to compromise with anyone who doesn’t believe in that.”

Exit polling showed voter dissatisfaction with both parties, as each received a 53 percent unfavorable rating. The economy was rated the most important issue by 62 percent of voters, far eclipsing health care reform (19 percent), immigration (8 percent) and the war in Afghanistan (7 percent), according to the exit polling.

Most voters, 88 percent, rated economic conditions as not good or poor, and 86 percents said they were very worried or somewhat worried about the economy, the exit polling showed.

Obama’s approval rating was 45 percent, while 54 percent disapproved of his presidency so far, the exit polling revealed. Those figures were similar to the ratings for his two predecessors — George W. Bush and Clinton — who both saw their parties lose control of the House in the first mid-term election after they took office.

In a signal that Democratic campaign messaging was reaching voters, the exit polling showed 35 percent of voters blamed the nation’s economic woes on Wall Street bankers, while 29 percent blamed Bush and 24 percent blamed Obama.

Voters across the country offered a variety of reasons for their choices Tuesday.

In Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, restaurant manager and internet entrepreneur Stephen Smith, 40, went to the polls hoping “that the entrenched incumbents get booted out of office,” he said.

Melissa Bacon, 24, of Sacramento, California, cast her ballot partly for the thrill of the experience, she said.

“You don’t get to vote every day. It’s sort of its own holiday. You research the issues, vote and then wait to see if your position was the majority. It’s as exciting to me as the World Series last night,” she said on the heels of the San Francisco Giants’ victory.

Nadya Alvarez of Parrish, Florida, went to the polls with her son to teach him about the importance of voting.

“My youngest is almost 2 years old, and I showed him the ballot, and he wanted to help fill in the circles,” said Parrish, 28. “It is good to teach them from an early age to be involved in the welfare of our country and that we all have rights and duties to preserve.”

Unemployment — at a rate of 9.6 percent amid a slow recovery from economic recession — has been the dominant issue, with Republicans accusing Obama and the Democrats of pushing through expensive policies that have expanded government without solving the problem.

Obama has led Democrats in defending his record, saying that steps such as the economic stimulus bill and auto industry bailout were necessary to prevent a depression, while health care reform and Wall Street reform will lay the foundation for sustainable future growth.

Observers warned that the expected Republican gains offer little chance of compromise or bipartisan approaches on major issues.

Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner is expected to be the new House speaker if the GOP wins control of the chamber. He already has signaled little appetite to negotiate with the White House or congressional Democrats, saying last week that “this is not a time for compromise.”

Boehner and other conservatives say the top priorities must be spending cuts to try to balance the budget and job creation to spur the economy. However, they also advocate extending Bush-era tax cuts for everyone at a cost of $4 trillion over the next decade.

In the Senate, legislative gridlock is likely if Republicans strengthen their current minority of 41 seats. Obama and Democrats accuse Senate Republicans of using obstruction tactics as a political tool, showing the distrust and animosity that already exists.

Democrats are also wary of a recent comment by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who told the National Journal, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

The first test of a new relationship will come in mid-November, when Congress convenes a post-election lame-duck session to try to clear unfinished legislation before the newly elected Congress gathers in January. Among other issues, lawmakers must decide whether and how to extend Bush-era tax cuts.

(MS)

Eruption welcomes President Yudhoyono at Mt. Merapi

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (left) meets refugees of the erupted Mt. Merapi at a shelter in Purwobinangun, Sleman, Yogyakarta, on Wednesday. Yudhoyono asked the refugees to be patient and sensitive with Merapi activities. Antara/Regina Safri

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November 03, 2010 (KATAKAMI / THE JAKARTA POST) — President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was welcomed by another eruption at Mount Merapi on Wednesday morning when he was about to visit a shelter site for refugees in Pakem, Sleman, Yogyakarta.

An officer at the Mt. Merapi observation post, Agus, said that the eruption occurred at around 8:20 a.m.

“It was a single eruption but quite big. The mountain spewed hot clouds which moved about five kilometers to west,” he added as quoted by Kompas.com.

Mt. Merapi, where an eruption on last Tuesday has killed 39 people so far, is still on top alert status as it still continues to erupt and spew hot clouds of ashes.