Election Day saw Republicans taking both gubernatorial races, while Democrats won the only two House seats up for grabs. In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie beat incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, the former senator and former CEO of Goldman Sachs. Christie becomes the first Republican to win statewide office in New Jersey in twelve years. In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell easily beat Democrat Creigh Deeds. Here in New York, Democrat Bill Owens beat Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman in a closely watched special election for a congressional seat. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, won re-election over challenger William Thompson. But with just 51 percent of the vote, Bloomberg’s margin of victory was far smaller than had been predicted. Meanwhile, voters in Maine have repealed a state law that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry.
On Capitol Hill, Republican senators have delayed consideration of a major climate bill that would impose curbs on emissions of greenhouse gases. On Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee shunned a vote on amendments to the Kerry-Boxer climate bill, delaying its introduction. The Republican boycott came as European leaders met with President Obama ahead of next month’s global climate summit in Copenhagen.
President Obama: “We discussed climate change extensively, and all of us agreed that it was imperative for us to redouble our efforts in the weeks between now and the Copenhagen meetings to assure that we create a framework for progress in dealing with what is a potential ecologic disaster.”
Obama has yet to announce whether he’ll attend the Copenhagen talks. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged a joint session of Congress to take strong action on climate change.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “We need an agreement on one objective: global warming must not exceed two degrees Celsius. To achieve this, we need the readiness of all countries to accept internationally binding obligations.”
The House has approved a non-binding measure denouncing a UN inquiry for accusing Israel of committing war crimes in its assault on the Gaza Strip. The inquiry, headed by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, also accused Hamas of war crimes and urged both sides to investigate the charges or face international prosecution. But the House measure dismissed the Goldstone report as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” It also calls on the Obama administration to “strongly and unequivocally oppose” discussion of the report’s findings in any international setting. The resolution passed by a margin of 344-to-46. Before the vote, activists confronted the measure’s co-sponsor, Democratic Congress member Howard Berman. Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK said Berman is afraid to hear Goldstone’s findings.
Medea Benjamin: “We have been calling on Congress to let Judge Goldstone come and brief Congress. And Congressman Berman has been afraid to have him come to do that. And that’s one of the other things that we asked. We said, ’Don’t vote now. Let Congress have a chance to hear directly from Judge Goldstone.’ Judge Goldstone is a preeminent lawyer, internationally respected, has his daughter living in Israel, calls himself a Zionist. I mean, he’s the perfect person to do this report. And to just poo-poo the whole thing and try to push it under the rug is really criminal. And Congressman Berman is afraid to hear from Judge Goldstone.”
The UN General Assembly is expected to take up the Goldstone report later today.
In Iran, clashes have erupted in protests marking the thirtieth anniversary of the takeover of the US embassy. Iranian security forces reportedly beat opposition protesters marching in central Tehran. The marches are the first major display of protest by Iranian dissident groups since September.
In Burma, a top State Department official met with the detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi earlier today. It was the highest-level meeting between a US representative and Suu Kyi in fourteen years. The official, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, greeted Suu Kyi at his hotel. It was Suu Kyi’s first visit outside of a prison and the home where she’s under house arrest in years.
In Honduras, lawmakers have delayed a vote on a US-brokered deal to reinstate the ousted President Manuel Zelaya. On Tuesday, a top congressional panel said it would first seek an opinion from the Honduran Supreme Court. Honduran lawmaker Silvia Ayala criticized the delay as a coup regime stall tactic.
Silvia Ayala: “What we feared would be a delay on behalf of the leaders of the coup, by only calling Congress’s board of directors to avoid the whole Congress from deciding on the restitution of our president. It’s happened. The coup leaders have decided, in order to delay and not solve the problem, to send the accord to the Supreme Court.”
As the postponement was announced, the Organization of American States launched a commission to oversee the implementation of Zelaya’s reinstatement. The panel includes US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis: “The President, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many of us in the Obama administration view this as a priority for us. We know that what happens here can have implications regionally, and we know that we can solve these issues, everyone working together but hearing from the people of Honduras.”
The Iraqi government has awarded the first major new oil deal since the 2003 US invasion. On Tuesday, Iraqi officials announced a twenty-year agreement with the British oil giant BP and China’s state-owned oil company to develop the Rumaila oil field. It’s the first of several oil contracts Iraq expects to sign in the coming months. BP chief executive Tony Hayward praised the deal.
Tony Hayward: “We’re looking forward to working with our partners, CNPC and the Southern Oil Company, to take production in Rumaila from around one million barrels a day to 2.8 million barrels a day. And over the lifetime of the contract, we expect to invest around $15 billion. It’s a very significant undertaking for BP, and we’re very pleased to be here and participating.”
Back in the United States, twelve healthcare activists were arrested Tuesday at the San Francisco offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The protesters refused to leave until Pelosi agreed to discuss their demand for a single-payer healthcare system.
In Louisiana, a justice of the peace who refuses to marry interracial couples has resigned. Keith Bardwell stepped down after weeks of calls for his ouster stemming from his refusal to marry an interracial couple last month.
In Colorado, a Denver public television station has announced plans for a non-profit investigative news division. KBDI-TV says it hopes to raise $400,000 to launch a website and on-air program focused on investigative reporting. The operation will be called Colorado Public News. Organizers say it’s a response to a decline in investigative journalism nationwide and in Denver, where the newspaper Rocky Mountain News closed down earlier this year.
And the French intellectual Claude Levi-Strauss has died at the age of 100. He was considered by many to be the father of modern anthropology.