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10 things you need to know today: November 7, 2012
Obama wins a second term, Congress remains split, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden embrace after television networks called the election in their favor on Tuesday night.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden embrace after television networks called the election in their favor on Tuesday night.
Pete Souza/The White House/Getty Images

1. OBAMA WINS FOUR MORE YEARS
President Obama won re-election on Tuesday, sweeping the crucial swing states of Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin to defeat Mitt Romney. Obama also holds a narrow lead in Florida, although officials there haven't declared a winner. Romney delayed conceding for a tense 90 minutes after the major TV networks called the race, with his aides ready to fly to close states to contest the results. When Obama's victory became undeniable, Romney went on stage in Boston and wished him well. "This is a time of great challenges for America," Romney said, "and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation." Obama overcame brutal economic headwinds, asking Americans to give him four more years to complete the recovery from the Great Recession he inherited. "We know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," Obama told supporters early Wednesday. [New York Times]
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2. CONGRESS REMAINS DIVIDED
Democrats maintained a surprisingly strong hold on the Senate. The Dems dashed GOP dreams of retaking the majority with a string of key wins: Democrat Chris Murphy body-slammed Linda McMahon in Connecticut, Democrat Tim Kaine beat George Allen in Virginia, and progressive hero Elizabeth Warren thumped Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Democrats in Indiana and Missouri also defeated two Republican candidates who recently gained infamy after making unpopular statements about rape: Joe Donnelly defeated Richard Mourdock in Indiana, and Claire McCaskill held on to her seat in Missouri, claiming victory over Todd Akin. Republicans, however, held onto a strong majority in the House, preserving their 2010 midterm gains and bolstering their push for spending cuts. The split leaves no clear sign of how Congress will avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that hits at year's end if lawmakers can't reach a debt-reduction deal. [New York Daily News]
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3. GAY MARRIAGE MAKES BIG GAINS
Maine and Maryland on Tuesday became the first states to approve same-sex marriage in statewide votes. The controversial issue had been put to the test at the ballot box 32 times before, and got rejected every time. Public opinion has been shifting in favor of gay marriage since 2008, when California amended its constitution, which had reserved marriage for heterosexual couples only. In 2010, a poll found that a majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage for the first time, and President Obama added his support in May. "When the history books are written, 2012 will be remembered as the year when LGBT Americans won decisively at the ballot box," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. VULNERABLE NEW YORKERS EVACUATE BEFORE STORM
Officials evacuated hundreds of people from nursing homes in New York City's storm-ravaged coastal Rockaways section ahead of a nor'easter expected to hit on Wednesday. The storm isn't expected to pack anything like the punch of Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that hammered New York and New Jersey last week. The nursing homes and other severely damaged buildings are already running on emergency generators, and emergency workers already have their hands full, so city and state officials don't want to take any chances. They're also closing parks and beaches, and stopping outside construction work as the region braces for high winds, rain, and sleet. [Associated Press
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5. TWO STATES LEGALIZE RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
Voters in Washington state and Colorado have approved ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana. A similar initiative lost in Oregon. The votes made Washington and Colorado the first states to authorize pot sales to non-medicinal users, regulating it like alcohol. "The significance of these events cannot be understated," says Erik Altieri, a spokesman for the marijuana advocacy group NORML. The vote put Colorado to the left of the Netherlands on marijuana policy. "It's unprecedented," said Jonathan Caulkins, a Carnegie Mellon University professor. [Los Angeles Times]
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6. SYRIAN REBELS TARGET ASSAD
Syrian rebels fired mortars at President Bashar al-Assad's Damascus palace on Wednesday, but missed, hitting a residential neighborhood occupied by members of Assad's minority Alawite sect. The government, calling the shelling a "terrorist attack," said three people were killed and seven injured. British Prime Minister David Cameron, urging President Obama to join him in stepping up efforts to oust Assad, suggested Tuesday that the embattled leader could be allowed safe passage out of the country if that's what it takes to end the nation's civil war. [Reuters]
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7. BANGLADESHI MIGRANTS DIE AT SEA
A boat carrying about 110 Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims sank in rough seas on the way from Myanmar to Malaysia, the second such disaster in 10 days. Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims face persecution in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, and frequently flee in overloaded boats seeking work. "We were heading to Malaysia for jobs but the boat suddenly went upside down and sank," survivor Jamir Hossain said. "I floated for several hours before a fishing boat picked me up." [Reuters]
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8. LONG LINES FRUSTRATE VOTERS
Voters had to wait in long lines in several big swing states, including Florida and Virginia, and in storm-ravaged parts of New York and New Jersey. Both parties urged people to stick it out, fearing their supporters would give up and go home without casting a ballot. Watchdog groups said they received complaints from people who claimed they were turned away because they lacked identification cards in Pennsylvania, a state where ID isn't required. "I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time," President Obama said in his victory speech. "By the way, we have to fix that." [Reuters]
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9. SUZUKI GIVES UP ON SELLING U.S. CARS
American Suzuki Motor says it will stop selling new automobiles in the U.S., and focus on motorcycles, ATVs, and outboard engines for boats. The U.S. subsidiary of the Japanese automaker filed for bankruptcy protection this week, after failing to bounce back from the recession. Suzuki's North American sales have plummeted from a peak of 107,000 in 2008, hitting 30,000 in the fiscal year that ended in March. "They have low-margin, low-priced cars with small volume," one analyst said. "That's far from the ideal combination." [Los Angeles Times]
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10. NHL NEGOTIATORS MAKE PROGRESS
NHL team owners and players plan to return to the bargaining table at a secret New York location on Wednesday, after reportedly making progress in seven hours of talks the day before. A 52-day lockout has already forced the cancellation of 327 regular-season professional hockey games. The main sticking point is how to split the league's record revenue, which was more than $3 billion last season. [Associated Press]

 

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