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BEHIND THE NEWS: Obama has resigned

November 13, 2008 2:03:48 PM PST
Barack Obama has resigned.

How's that for a headline?

He has resigned - from his U.S. Senate seat. Now, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (common pronunciation) will name a replacement to serve until 2010, the next federal election that's scheduled.

Obama has served in the seat for four years; he's been running for President for half of that time.

One other note about the Obama team, and it involves Vice President-elect Joe Biden. A curious bit of vote gathering in Biden's state of Delaware: Sen. Biden received 257,484 votes to be re-elected to yet another term in the Senate. But the Obama-Biden team received 255,394 votes to lead the nation. Is there a message somewhere in the discrepancy?

One more note about Biden -- he still takes the train from Delaware to Washington and back. Today, the Senator boarded a crowded Amtrak Acela in Wilmington, headed to D.C.

The passengers were apparently all abuzz, what with all the Secret Service agents with him. The passengers were told, according to ABC's Martha Raddatz, "not to be alarmed, but security personnel will be going through the train with dogs. Please do not try to pet the dog."

We'll have the latest on the transition, tonight at 11.

We're also watching the economy tonight, as the market surprised a few people and went up a few hundred points. But the recession mentality is still in play, and you can see it everywhere. New York's Metropolitan Opera, citing the economic downturn and trying to cut costs, is dropping next season's anticipated production of John Corigliano's "The Ghosts of Versailles."

And do you remember "layaways"? It's been a while since major retailers used them as a way to count sales, even though customers put down just a deposit and didn't take the item until they could pay for it in full.

Sears, once the nation's biggest retailer, is bringing back its layaway plan after nearly two decades of dormancy. The Chicago company has seen how its subsidiary KMart has successfully used layaways. The sales technique - you put down money on an item, and have a specific time to pay for it, while the company holds it for you - has its roots in the Great Depression. It's a form of forced savings for goods, compared to the gotta-have-it-now mentality of our credit-card crazed society.

Also at 11, at a time when the MTA is facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit and worrying subway and bus riders with talk of raising base fares to as much as $3 per ride, the Eyewitness News Investigators have an eye-opening report tonight on MTA subway track workers, and what many of them are really doing during their eight-hour shifts. Jim Hoffer with an exclusive look at workers, instead of working, spending time in restaurants, reading in the park, even hanging at the beach. And the question: Why has it been allowed to go on for so long? (Click here to see a preview)

And finally, for anyone - or any of us in the news business - who for one second forgets that reporting can be a dangerous business, consider what's happening in Mexico. Today, a crime reporter for the newspaper El Diario in the border city of Juarez, was gunned down as he sat in his car outside his home.

Armando Rodriguez, who covered crime for 10 years, is the 24th journalist killed in Mexico since 2000, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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