- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Republicans take Dem Senate seats in Ark., SD and W. Va., aim for Senate control

WASHINGTON (AP) - Resurgent Republicans captured seats in Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia on Tuesday as they reached for control of the Senate and a tighter grip on the House in elections certain to complicate President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.

The Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, dispatched Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky after a $78 million campaign of unrelieved negativity. Voters are “hungry for new leadership. They want a reason to be hopeful,” said the man in line to become majority leader and set the Senate agenda if his party gains control.

Two-term incumbent Mark Pryor of Arkansas was the first Democrat to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was the GOP winner for a Senate seat in West Virginia, the first of her party to make that claim since 1956.

Former Gov. Mike Rounds triumphed in South Dakota for still another seat currently in Democratic hands, and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy forced Sen. Mary Landrieu into a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana. The Republicans needed to gain six seats in all to end a Democratic majority in place since 2006

Obama was at the White House as voters remade Congress for the final two years of his tenure. With lawmakers set to convene next week for a postelection session, he invited the leadership to a meeting on Friday.


Midterms Up Next: 5 things this hour: Iowa, Montana and Virginia Senate races

Five things to look for in the midterms this hour:

1. The 10 p.m. EST closings are in Nevada, Utah, Montana and Iowa, the state Democrat Harry Reid is calling the key to holding on to his title of Senate Majority Leader. Reid said over the weekend that a Republican takeover could depend on the outcome of the race between Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. “Iowa is critical. There’s no other way to say it,” Reid said.

2. Republicans are moving toward their goal of picking up six Senate seats, with Democrats facing a fourth loss in Montana after a plagiarism scandal. Sen. John Walsh ended his campaign in the wake of revelations that he lifted much of a paper he wrote in pursuit of his master’s degree. State Rep. Amanda Curtis replaced him as the Democratic nominee but struggled to compete with Republican Rep. Steve Daines after her late entry.

3. Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford is one of several first-term Democrats who won on President Barack Obama’s coattails in 2012 and is struggling to hold on in a far less favorable climate for the party. Obama recorded a radio ad urging urban voters to back Horsford. Republican challenger Cresent Hardy ran the entire ad verbatim in the rural sections of the district, hoping those voters would be turned off by Obama’s support.

4. In Utah, Mia Love could make history as the first black female Republican in Congress. She’s one of more than 100 black candidates on the ballot in congressional and statewide races, a post-Reconstruction record that some see as an outgrowth of Obama’ historic presidency. If Love and four other black Democratic women win their bids and no black female incumbents lose, there could be a record 20 black women in the House.


Senate News Guide: Rundown on key Senate races and path to control

Six is the magic number for Republicans bidding for Senate control in Tuesday’s elections. That’s how many they need to gain to become the majority.

About 10 Democratic seats are considered vulnerable to takeover by the GOP. A few Republican seats are also at risk.

In all, the magic six looked tantalizingly close. Republicans picked up three seats held by Democrats.

West Virginia came first as Rep. Shelley Moore Capito defeated Democrat Natalie Tennant in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller. In Arkansas, two-term Sen. Mark Pryor became the first Democratic incumbent to fall, defeated by freshman Rep. Tom Cotton. And in South Dakota, former Gov. Mike Rounds won a third seat for the GOP.

Montana, an open seat, appeared especially strong for Republicans. So, too, some of these seats held by Democrats: North Carolina, Colorado, Alaska and Louisiana.


Exit poll: Party leaders a drag on Republican, Democratic candidates alike

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican and Democratic candidates alike had to overcome voters’ displeasure with their party leaders Tuesday as glum Americans expressed little faith that either side could get the U.S. back on course.

More than a third of those who voted for a Republican House candidate were dissatisfied or angry with GOP leaders in Congress, according to preliminary exit polls. A quarter of Democratic voters were similarly upset with President Barack Obama.

“I feel we need a change in Washington, somehow, someway,” said Jodi Beauchene, 44, a food merchandiser in Fargo, North Dakota, who turned to the Libertarian congressional candidate because she’s fed up with both parties.

Voters’ biggest concern is still the economy, the surveys of people leaving polling places showed, six years after the 2008 financial crisis helped propel Obama to his first term in office. Although Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot this time, some Republican candidates stood to gain from voters’ dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Most said the economy is stagnating or getting worse under Obama’s watch, and those people largely voted Republican. Just 1 in 5 say they trust the government to do what is right most or all of the time, slightly fewer than in the 1994 midterms, when Republicans seized control of the House and Senate, which was the last time the exit poll asked that question.


10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:


About a quarter of U.S. voters are dissatisfied or angry with both Obama and GOP leaders in Congress, exit polls show. And another 6 in 10 are unhappy with one or the other.


Kurdish fighters help Islamic State group militants in battle for key Syrian town of Kobani

BEIRUT (AP) - Ethnic Kurds are helping members of the Islamic State group in the battle for the key Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, sharing their knowledge of the local terrain and language with the extremists, according to Iraqi and Kurdish officials.

It is not clear how many Kurds are aiding the estimated 3,000 Islamic State militants in the Kobani area - and fighting against their own Kurdish brethren - but activists say they are playing a major role in the 7-week-old conflict near the Turkish border.

A top military commander for the extremists in the town is an Iraqi Kurd, known by the nom de guerre of Abu Khattab al-Kurdi, helping them in the battle against fellow Kurds.

Officials with the main Syrian Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, say they became aware of the Kurds among the mostly Sunni Muslim extremists early in the fighting.

As Kurdish fighters were defending the nearby Syrian village of Shiran in September, two Kurdish men with different accents and wearing YPG uniforms infiltrated their ranks, Kurdish officials said. Upon questioning, however, they were captured and admitted to fighting for the Islamic State group, the officials added.


Ebola creates another emergency by hindering access to health care for other deadly diseases

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) - The Ebola outbreak has spawned a “silent killer,” experts say: hidden cases of malaria, pneumonia, typhoid and the like that are going untreated because people in the countries hardest hit by the dreaded virus either cannot find an open clinic or are too afraid to go to one.

Evidence of what the World Health Organization calls an “emergency within the emergency” is everywhere in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the West African countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic.

It can be seen in a decline in the number of kids being vaccinated for preventable diseases. It can be seen in the mother who crosses Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, searching for an open clinic that will treat her 3-year-old daughter who has a fever and is vomiting, both signs of Ebola but also of many other diseases. It can be seen at the hospital in Kissidougou, Guinea, which sees not even a tenth of the patients it used to.

It can also be seen at the hospital outside Sierra Leone’s capital run by the medical charity Emergency. It is inundated with patients because nearby hospitals are closed or only partially operating.

“There’s this incredible silent killer health crisis behind the Ebola crisis,” said Eric Talbert, the executive director of Emergency’s U.S. branch.


Oil prices hit multi-year lows, offering some economies a boost to spending, investment

LONDON (AP) - Oil prices slumped to multi-year lows on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia cut the price of oil sold to the U.S., a move that is shaking an already volatile market but will likely give the world economy an unexpected stimulus.

The 25 percent or so slide in oil prices since the summer could boost consumer spending and business investment in many economies around the world as fuel bills fall.

But not everyone’s a winner. Oil producing countries like Russia and Venezuela, which have high extraction costs and whose budgets rely on assumptions of relatively high energy prices, stand to lose out. And lower prices could eventually slow down booming production in the U.S., offsetting the benefit of lower energy costs for consumers and businesses.

U.S. oil dropped another 2 percent Tuesday to $77.19, at one point falling to $75.84, the lowest level since October 2011. It was trading at $100 a barrel as recently as July. Brent, the international benchmark, declined 2.3 percent, to $82.82, having earlier fallen to $82.08, its lowest level in just over four years.

Adam Slater, senior economist at Oxford Economics, reckons the recent fall in oil prices, if sustained, could add around 0.4 percent to GDP in the U.S. in two years, and a little less in Europe. China, which is the second-largest oil consumer and on track to become the largest net importer of oil, could see GDP 0.8 percent higher than it otherwise would have been.


Woman accused of throwing son to death off Oregon bridge sought money to care for him, husband

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - A woman who appealed for money online to help care for her autistic son and disabled husband has been accused of throwing her 6-year-old boy to his death off an historic bridge on the Oregon coast.

Police said Jillian Meredith McCabe, 34, called 911 from the bridge in Newport as darkness fell Monday to report what she had done and waited until police arrived.

“I just threw my son over the Yaquina Bay Bridge,” McCabe told the dispatcher, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Tuesday.

She described her son, London Grey McCabe, and the clothes he was wearing, saying he was in the water and gone. Later that night, a body was reported in the water at a bayside resort about a mile from the bridge, and police said they confirmed it was the kindergartener.

“It’s a great tragedy,” said the boy’s great aunt, Tanya McCabe.


Brittney Griner cut but OK after knife attack in China while boarding team bus

WNBA star Brittney Griner felt fortunate to be OK after getting cut on the elbow in a knife attack in China.

Griner sustained a small cut when she was attacked by a man while boarding a bus after practice Monday in Shenyang. The man, who followed the players onto the bus, also stabbed one of Griner’s teammates. She was wearing two jackets and wasn’t injured because the knife didn’t go through.

“I was thinking I was going to end up stabbed in China and if he got to us at the back of the bus, I was going to have to fight this man with a knife,” Griner said in an email to The Associated Press.

The man was yelling as he chased the players onto the bus. She said he left the scene, and then returned covered in blood and was apprehended by Chinese authorities.

“The guy was clearly either mentally ill or very drunk,” Griner said. “He was yelling about us hitting his wife and it was pretty clear he had no idea who we were.”

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