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Other News: Gubernatorial Contests Held in Key States

November 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news, the Taliban denied that the Pakistani army has made gains against militants, and ballots starting rolling in as the key states of Virginia and New Jersey voted for governors.
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JIM LEHRER: In other news today: This was an off-year Election Day across the U.S., with races for governor in two key states.

In Virginia, Republican candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell held a double-digit lead going into the day over Democrat Creigh Deeds.

In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine was neck-and-neck in the final polls with Republican Chris Christie.

A vacant congressional seat in New York State was also up for grabs. The Republican candidate quit the race over the weekend, after a conservative revolt.

And voters in Maine considered repealing a law allowing gay marriage.

The prospects of Congress finishing work on health care reform appeared to dim today. Senate Majority Leader Reid addressed the issue after meeting with Democrats behind closed doors.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: First of all, we’re not going to be bound by any timelines. We need to do the best job we can for the American people. We want quality legislation, and we’re going to do that. We’re going to do this legislation as expeditiously as we can, but we’re going to do it as fairly as we can also.

JIM LEHRER: On the House side, Republican leaders floated a bill that included caps on jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, among other things. It would not require that employers provide insurance.

In economic news, billionaire investor Warren Buffett announced his company will buy the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for $34 billion. He called it a wager on the economic future of the United States.

For the record, the BNSF is an underwriter of the “NewsHour.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 17 points, to close below 9772. The Nasdaq rose eight points, to close at 2057.

Buses, subways, and trolleys were shut down in Philadelphia today by a strike. Members of the transit system’s largest union walked out last night after the World Series game between the Phillies and the New York Yankees. By morning rush hour, thousands of commuters had to find another way to go to work. The strike involved salary, pension, and health care disputes.

The former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic made his first appearance today at his war crimes trial in the Netherlands. He’s accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian civil war during the early 1990s. Karadzic told the tribunal today he will no longer boycott the proceedings, but he again demanded more time to prepare his case.

RADOVAN KARADZIC, former president, Bosnian Serb Republic (through translator): The situation is such that I would really be a criminal if I were to accept these conditions, to enter a trial and proceedings for which I am not prepared. I cannot challenge anything that the prosecution is going to put forward with so much material, unless I am given more time.

JIM LEHRER: The prosecutor rejected that argument. She urged the court to make sure there’s no interference with the progress of the trial.

HILDEGARD UERTZ-RETZLAFF, prosecutor: Mr. Karadzic cannot be permitted to manipulate the proceedings through his decision to not attend hearings. If necessary, force can be used to secure his presence in the courtroom.

JIM LEHRER: The presiding judge then canceled tomorrow’s hearing, and vowed to decide how to proceed later this week. The prosecution alleges, the former Bosnian Serb leader was behind the deadly siege of Sarajevo and a 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims.

The Frenchman considered to be the father of modern anthropology has died. Claude Levi-Strauss reshaped his field over six decades of work. He focused on finding common patterns of thought and behavior in a wide range of human societies. Claude Levi-Strauss was 100 years old.