The Republicans have recaptured the Senate. The GOP flipped seven spots in the chamber to wrestle control from the Democrats after eight years in the minority. Republicans gained seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa. GOP veteran Mitch McConnell won reelection and will become the majority leader. It’s all over but the shouting, but some races could take weeks to settle, with a runoff in Louisiana and slow counting in rural Alaska.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Call the moving vans. Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett and Illinois Democrat Pat Quinn will turn over the governor’s mansion to their challengers. Asa Hutchinson’s win flips the Arkansas governorship to the GOP. Meanwhile, incumbents Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Rick Scott (Florida), Sam Brownback (Kansas) and Rick Snyder (Michigan) all rode the Republican wave of 2014 to victory. In Maryland, Larry Hogan scored a stunning victory to become only the state’s second GOP governor in five decades.
The GOP will keep control of the House of Representatives. The only thing that’s left to decide is the majority party’s margin, with predictions giving the Republicans a net gain of 10 seats or more. In a sign of the times, New York State voters reelected Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, even though he’s under federal indictment on fraud charges. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi summed up her party’s viewpoint: “It’s a difficult night.” That’s an understatement.
Folks are in a foul mood. Just 44 percent of voters approve of President Obama. But a whopping 79 percent disapprove of how Congress is handling its job. A majority of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, and only one in five trusts the government to do the right thing. Frustrated voters ousted a number of incumbent governors and turned the Senate over to the GOP, even though most have a negative view of both parties.
Tired of partisan squabbling over whose agenda is more pro-women? It just proves that females, the majority of the American electorate, are a pivotal 2014 voting bloc. To woo them, Democrats have focused on pocketbook issues like the minimum wage, sick leave and the gender pay gap. The GOP, meanwhile, has softened its rhetoric on social issues and touted female candidates to appeal to women on issues such as family values and taxes. Voters can settle the argument today — at least until the next election.
The case of 43 missing college students has rocked Mexico, and now the official suspected of orchestrating their disappearance has been caught in Mexico City. Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, who has organized crime ties, came quietly out of their capital city. The students came to protest in the town of Iguala on Sept. 26, but the mayor reportedly told police to hush them, and may have handed them over to a local drug cartel.
Give an inch, and they’ll hold an election. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is incensed over a separatist vote that rubber-stamped two rebel leaders in Luhansk and Donetsk, winners now recognized by Russia. Poroshenko says the “farce at gunpoint” elections threaten the peace process, and he is meeting today with his security chiefs to consider rolling back independence measures in rebel-held areas. The U.S. slammed the “sham” vote and warned Moscow that “costs to Russia will rise” if it continues its “destabilizing and dangerous actions.”
They went the extra mile — at least on paper. Hyundai and Kia pumped up their per-gallon claims and are now being socked with the largest-ever penalties under the Clean Air Act. The carmakers admitted to inflating mileage — U.S. officials say by up to six “real world” miles per gallon — and have agreed to penalties totaling $350 million, on top of settling a $400-million class-action suit. Attorney General Eric Holder warned that such deceptive conduct “will not be tolerated.”
Prosecutors appeal ‘Blade Runner’s’ conviction and sentence. (DW)
NTSB: Pilot killed in Virgin Galactic crash made mistake. (LA Times)
Ebola nurse and Maine officials reach quarantine deal. (BBC)
New WTC tower opens in New York, 13 years after 9/11. (NY Daily News)
Iraq confirms massacre of 322 Sunnis by ISIS in Anbar Province. (Time)
Half of recalled GM cars still haven’t been fixed. (NYT)
They got him. A week before a former Navy SEAL planned to announce on Fox News that he killed Osama bin Laden, a well-regarded special ops web site claims to have revealed his identity. Neither the Navy nor the man in question, a highly decorated veteran, would confirm the report — and his former colleagues aren’t happy. Two Naval Special Warfare Command leaders wrote to their community of “quiet professionals,” saying the disclosure violates the SEAL ethos, as well as secrecy laws.
The spotlight will soon shine on a shadow. Robert D. Manfred Jr., Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer and commissioner-elect, has been baseball’s sausage-maker and Bud Selig’s guardian angel for almost two decades. He quietly navigated the 1994 strike, performance-enhancing drug scandals and union negotiations. Now the league’s “de facto district attorney” will employ his “hard-nosed wizardry” for all to see next season. Expect his cunning, coupled with a healthy hesitancy to overshare, to bode well for the controversy-prone national pastime.
Now everyone can join the dark side. The social media giant is offering a link to its site on the “dark web” service Tor, a system created in the 1990s by the Navy that automatically encrypts communication and traffic while keeping users’ web surfing secret. The link may prove particularly useful in countries like China and North Korea, which often block Facebook access. Privacy hounds are thrilled, but few other sites are expected to follow Mark Zuckerberg’s lead in deterring prying eyes.
There’s a new kid on the ice block. Intrepid scientists have designed a rover disguised as a fluffy penguin chick to walk on the wild side – through the heart of a king penguin colony. They discovered that the cuddly robot stressed their animal subjects less than human intruders would. Far from giving their visitor the cold shoulder, the birds were friendly and even sang it songs. This method could make studying colonies of animals safer and easier for humans and their subjects alike.
The apple doesn’t fall far enough from Putin. A six-and-a-half-foot interactive iPhone memorial to Steve Jobs at a St. Petersburg university has been removed following Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announcement that he’s gay. A group of companies known as ZEFS erected the memorial last year, and then removed it when Cook, in ZEFS’s words, “publicly called for sodomy.” It cited Russia’s “gay propaganda” law prohibiting “information that promotes the denial of traditional family values.”
The music streaming site is on its knees over Swift’s move to strike her entire discography from Spotify in protest of “piracy, file sharing and streaming.” Her move contrasts sharply with contemporaries, who are seducing listeners with free album releases online. The superstar penned a critical op-ed denouncing free music and outlining a vision for the music industry — a love affair in which singers woo fans continuously and where young girls “realize their worth and ask for it.”
Fixer (n.): drowning man’s life raft. For the Vikings running back, accused of felony child abuse after allegedly hitting his son with a tree branch, the fixer is small-town lawyer and disaster specialist for famous athletes, Rusty Hardin. With an avid love for his peers — the jury — the 73-year-old North Carolina native has recorded a win for pitcher Roger Clemens and spun QB Warren Moon’s alleged spousal abuse as “a love story.” So don’t be surprised if Peterson never hears a gavel.