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10 things you need to know today: October 31, 2012
The Northeast assesses Sandy damage, Disney takes over the Star Wars legacy, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
Star Wars creator George Lucas meets a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters in 2010 at Disney's Hollywood Studio in Florida. On Tuesday, Lucas announced he had sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney for $4 billion.
Star Wars creator George Lucas meets a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters in 2010 at Disney's Hollywood Studio in Florida. On Tuesday, Lucas announced he had sold his company Lucasfilm to Disney for $4 billion.
Todd Anderson/Disney via Getty Images

1. A WEAKENED SANDY MOVES NORTH
As millions of people in the northeast begin dealing with the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, the weakening but still powerful superstorm churned its way farther north, stretching from the Great Lakes to New England. Millions remained without power early Wednesday, and the U.S. death toll from the storm climbed to at least 50. President Obama warned that the nation could still face more flooding and damage, promising "no red tape" as local, state, and federal agencies rush to aid battered communities. The storm, the biggest to hit New York and New Jersey in a generation, swamped the gambling resort of Atlantic City and flooded New York City's subway, shutting it down. The so-called Frankenstorm, which collided with two winter-weather systems, also dumped three feet of snow on parts of West Virginia. [USA Today, Politico]
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2. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN RESUMES, SLOWLY
President Obama and Mitt Romney essentially suspended their campaigns on Monday and Tuesday, with Obama focusing on monitoring the response to Hurricane Sandy and Romney turning his rallies into disaster-relief drives. Romney plans to return to the campaign trail on Wednesday, though, with rallies in Florida, a major swing state. Obama will remain focused on storm recovery, but with a political undercurrent. Obama will inspect damage in hard-hit coastal New Jersey with the state's Republican governor, Chris Christie, who criticized the Obama administration in a keynote speech at Romney's nominating convention but has praised Obama's storm response as "outstanding." [Reuters]
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3. U.S. MARKETS PREPARE TO REOPEN
The major U.S. stock exchanges prepared to resume trading on Wednesday after shutting down for two days due to Hurricane Sandy, the worst storm to hit the Wall Street financial district, where many traders are based, in 75 years. "We have a green light," said Larry Leibowitz of NYSE Euronext. Trading is expected to be volatile, as it's starting in the middle of the busy corporate earnings season on what is, for some companies, the final day of the fiscal year. [Reuters]
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4. DISNEY BUYS LUCASFILM FOR $4 BILLION
The Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday that it had agreed to buy Lucasfilm Ltd., a company entirely owned by George Lucas, in a deal worth just over $4 billion. The smaller company is best known for the Star Wars films, and as a trailblazer in visual effects and post-production and sound design. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers," said Lucas. Disney has promised to make a 7th Star Wars film. [Daily Beast]
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5. ARAFAT'S BODY TO BE EXHUMED
Criminal investigators from France plan to exhume Yasser Arafat's remains in late November to look into suspicions that he died from poisoning, rather than natural causes. A French official said Tuesday that a team from France will arrive in the West Bank city of Ramallah between Nov. 24 and Nov. 26. A Swiss team is expected to arrive at the same time. Switzerland's Institute of Radiation Physics is expected to conduct the autopsy for the Swiss team. The official cause of Arafat's 2004 death was deemed a stroke, but a new investigation began after a Swiss lab reportedly found traces of polonium-210, a deadly radioactive isotope, on Arafat's clothes and other personal belongings. [Associated Press]
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6. FIGHTING ESCALATES AFTER FAILED SYRIA TRUCE
Syrian rebels have assassinated an air force commander, Gen. Abdullah Mahmud al-Khalidi, in Damascus, according to Syria's state television. The news came as opposition activists said government forces had stepped up a bombing campaign that included the first warplane attacks on targets inside the Syrian capital since the uprising began 20 months ago. The escalation occurred just a day after the expiration of a failed four-day ceasefire, over the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday, brokered by Lakhdar Brahimi, the peace envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League. [New York Times]
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7. ISRAEL SAYS IRAN EASED ITS NUCLEAR PUSH
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Iran had delayed its alleged ambition to build its first nuclear bomb, by using a third of its enriched uranium to make fuel rods for a medical-research nuclear reactor. The conversion of that nuclear fuel, reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, makes it difficult to use militarily. Barak said the move averted a decision on whether to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities over the summer because it extended the time Iran would need to build a nuclear weapon, "delaying the moment of truth by 8 to 10 months." [New York Times]
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8. JAPAN MISUSED TSUNAMI FUNDS
A Japanese government audit has found that chunks of the $150 billion fund intended for reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami wound up being spent on other, unrelated projects, including faraway roads, ads for Japan's tallest building, and support for whaling research. Meanwhile, rebuilding has been frustratingly slow in some areas devastated in the disaster. "In 19 months, there have basically been no major changes," said Deputy Major Takashi Kubota of Rikuzentakata, a fishing port where nearly half of the houses were destroyed and "not one single new building" has been built downtown since the tsunami. [BBC News]
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9. BARCLAYS FACES MORE INQUIRIES
The British bank Barclays, already in turmoil over an interest-rate rigging scandal, said Wednesday that it's facing two more government investigations in the U.S. In one case, the Financial Services Authority is looking into whether the bank and several key employees made adequate disclosure of the fees the bank paid in a 2008 capital raising. In the other, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is investigating whether Barclays manipulated power prices in the western U.S. from late 2006 until 2008. [Reuters]
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10. OFFICE WORKERS BRACE FOR HALLOWEEN
As workers head to the office on Halloween, 27 percent expect to find at least some of their colleagues dressed in costumes, according to a new survey by jobs website Glassdoor. Only 11 percent plan to dress up themselves, but a third are silently hoping that the boss will show up in costume. [CBS News]

 

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