California House races hang in balance amid slow vote count

State returns on Wednesday showed Rohrabacher, a 13-term congressman in coastal Orange County in Southern California, trailing his Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, center. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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California House races hang in balance amid slow vote count

  • In Orange County alone, well over 400,0000 votes remained left to be counted
  • Democrats have achieved a net gain of 32 House seats nationwide

LOS ANGELES: California’s pro-Russia congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, is one of four Republican incumbents in the state whose seats are still in danger of falling to Democratic opponents in the US House of Representatives as America’s most populous state slowly counts its votes.
The outcome of those races — and how much they add to the Democrats’ majority in the newly constituted House — may be uncertain for weeks to come because of mail-in and provisional balloting systems that California introduced in recent years to boost voter participation.
According to the latest projections by media outlets and data provider DDHQ, Democrats have achieved a net gain of 32 House seats nationwide.
California election results tallied as of Wednesday do not account for millions of outstanding ballots still to be processed statewide. Many were mailed by voters to local registrar offices by Tuesday’s deadline but have yet to be delivered.
In Orange County alone, well over 400,0000 votes remained left to be counted, more than half of them mail-in ballots, according to data provided by the county registrar’s office on Wednesday. Tens of thousands of provisional ballots for voters who waited until election day to register also are outstanding.
State returns on Wednesday showed Rohrabacher, a 13-term congressman in coastal Orange County in Southern California, trailing his Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, a real estate entrepreneur and former Republican, by fewer than 3,000 votes — or 49.3 percent to 50.7 percent.
Rouda, whose lead improved slightly on Thursday to 51 percent, versus 49 percent for Rohracher, estimated that 70,000 ballots remained to be counted in the district.
Rouda said he was “cautiously optimistic” that “our lead will hold and in all likelihood will increase” when all votes are in, but said he would hold off on any announcements for at least several days.
The Rohrabacher campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Rohrabacher-Rouda race has stood out nationally in part because of the incumbent’s reputation for unabashedly pro-Russian views, widely seen as once putting him on a short-list for consideration as President Donald Trump’s secretary of state.
Rohrabacher’s seat is one of several held by a Republican in a California district that supported Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 presidential election or was otherwise seen as vulnerable to flipping Democrat.
That race and three others in the state where Democrats were seeking to pick up a Republican seat were either still in play or, as was the cases in two districts, leaning so heavily toward Democrats that they had claimed victory.
However, Republican incumbents appeared to have garnered comfortable leads in at least three other House races in Southern California that Democrats had viewed as up for grabs.
Among them was Duncan Hunter, who has pleaded not guilty to felony corruption charges but managed to defeat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Obama administration aide of Mexican and Palestinian heritage.
No races will be certified for at least a month, the time election officials are given to complete their “official canvass” of all votes. They have until Dec. 7 to report final results to the California secretary of state, who then will have another week to officially declare winners. 


OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Updated 49 min 39 sec ago
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OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata, JAKARTA: Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are forging a way to become self-reliant on vaccines and medicines to the Islamic nations as representatives of their respective heads of national medicine regulatory authorities are meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the first time.
Penny Lukito, chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control, said the first-ever meeting, which was called by Indonesia and kicked off on Wednesday, was timely since the dire health situation due to the lack of access to medicines and vaccines in some Islamic countries is worrying, especially in the least developing ones and those mired in conflicts.
“The capacity and ability of pharmaceutical industries in the Islamic world to produce essential medicines and vaccines are still at low proportions,” Lukito said in her opening speech. “We can’t let this situation continue unabated.”
This meeting, therefore, serves as a platform to identify gaps and opportunities for improving medicines' regulatory capacity, promoting public health and how to advance the pharmaceutical industry in OIC countries, said OIC Assistant Secretary-General for Science and Technology, Muhammad Naeem Khan.
“Overdependence on imported medicine and vaccines has had an adverse impact on the provision of health care in some OIC countries, including the refusal by some communities to use such medicines and vaccines,” Khan said in his opening remarks.
“It has also made many member states vulnerable to counterfeit and substandard medicines,” he added.
President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority Hisham Saad Aljadhey said the outcome of this meeting will be very fruitful for individuals living in OIC countries in terms of availability and safety of medication.
“We have issues such as high prices of medication and building capacity," Aljadhey told Arab News on the sidelines of the two-day meeting. "We need to build a medicine regulatory agency within OIC countries which will focus on guidelines in accordance with the international ones and include good manufacturing practices for medication, review of scientific evidence, and to follow up on the safety of the product.”
Of the 57 OIC member states, only seven are vaccine producers and only a few produce export-quality medicines, while many countries, including the least developed ones -– many of whom are OIC member states -– still have to rely heavily on imported vaccines and medicines.
Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi said Islamic countries need to collaborate on vaccine products because there are halal and non-halal vaccines, and vaccines would have to be approved by the ulema council.
However, he said Islam is very open and even if the medicine is not halal, people should take it to prevent death or illness to themselves and others.
“You can’t say this is not halal and your child is dead. This meeting will build more trust between Islamic countries to start producing their own medicines which are halal, if there is only a non-halal one. We try to find something halal, but if there is not, we have to have the medicine, whatever it is,” he told Arab News.
Febrian Ruddyard, the director general for multilateral cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said the meeting would produce a joint statement dubbed the Jakarta Declaration, which reaffirms the OIC countries’ commitment to strengthen the regulatory framework on medicines and vaccines.
“Health problems could disperse and cause other problems if we don’t regulate them. We can’t be healthy on our own. We have to stay healthy together,” he said.