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IN THE NEWS - A Second Term for Karzai; US Jobless Rate at 10.2%

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

People in Afghanistan were supposed to vote again Saturday for president. But earlier this week the Independent Election Commission declared Hamid Karzai the winner of a second term. His only remaining opponent had withdrawn. Abdullah Abdullah said he did not believe the second vote would be any more fair.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai

International observers found widespread cheating in the election in August. Investigators rejected almost one-third of the ballots for President Karzai. That denied him the majority needed to avoid a runoff election.

But Abdullah Abdullah withdrew Sunday after the president rejected his demands -- including dismissal of the head of the election commission.

Western leaders called on President Karzai to improve governance and security. He told reporters that he will "continue to make every possible effort," in his words, to end government corruption.

President Obama says the proof is going to be not in words but in actions. This week was the first anniversary of his own election. And one decision weighing heavily on him is whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida.

His top general there has warned that the eight-year effort to defeat the insurgency could fail without more troops. Sixty-eight thousand Americans and forty thousand other foreign troops are already in the war.

Critics have accused the president of taking too long. Administration officials say they expect a decision in the coming weeks.

This week, two American states, Virginia and New Jersey, elected governors. Republican Party candidates won both elections. Barack Obama won both states last year, and spent time campaigning for the Democrats in this year's races.

Some people said the results showed displeasure with his policies. Others noted that a majority of voters said they did not consider him in their decision.

Next November are the midterm elections. Democrats now control Congress and the White House. But historically the party that controls the White House suffers losses in elections halfway through a president's first term.

The economy is starting to improve. But high unemployment and issues like reform of the health care system could influence public opinion.

On Thursday, the president thanked two groups for giving their support to a health care bill in the House of Representatives. One is a doctors group, the American Medical Association. The other is AARP, representing forty million older Americans.

On Friday President Obama signed into law a bill that extends payments for the unemployed and expands a tax credit for homebuyers.

But also Friday, the government reported that the unemployment rate was ten and two-tenths percent in October. That was higher than expected, and above ten percent for the first time in twenty-six years. But job losses have been slowing.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Mario Ritter.

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