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10 things you need to know today: November 2, 2012
Gas shortages complicate the Sandy recovery, Election Day approaches, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
A man fills up jerry cans with gasoline as others wait in line on Nov. 1 in Hazlet township, N.J.
A man fills up jerry cans with gasoline as others wait in line on Nov. 1 in Hazlet township, N.J.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

1. GAS CRISIS HAMPERS STORM RECOVERY
Widespread gasoline shortages in New York and New Jersey have complicated some emergency services and forced people struggling to bounce back after Hurricane Sandy to wait in lines hundreds of vehicles deep. Tempers flared, with fights breaking out at several gas stations as suburban residents waited to buy fuel for their cars and generators, the only heating source for many. "Everywhere you go, it's either a riot or there's no gas," one frustrated motorist said. The crisis heightened tensions four days after the storm, as estimates of the damages mounted. The superstorm's U.S. death toll rose to at least 90 people, with rescuers still finding bodies as they sift through coastal wreckage. New projections of the economic costs rose to $50 billion, making Sandy one of the costliest disasters in U.S. history, although it's still far below Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. [New York Times]
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2. OBAMA, ROMNEY LAUNCH FINAL SWING-STATE PUSH
President Obama and Mitt Romney battled for momentum heading into the final weekend before Tuesday's election. The GOP nominee made a last-minute pitch in Pennsylvania, hoping to snatch a major trove of electoral votes from Obama. The president launched a whirlwind tour that will take him to four swing states on Saturday alone. Obama got a boost by an endorsement from New York City's independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg just as polling showed Romney gaining support among independents, and the Obama campaign aired an ad touting the support of Colin Powell, a prominent Republican. After a three-day hiatus due to Hurricane Sandy, both sides turned up the heat, with Romney saying he offered "real change" and Obama countering by saying, "I know what real change looks like, because I fought for it." Despite a long campaign, the candidates are going into the vote within decimal points of each other in the polls. [Washington Post]
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3. ALL EYES ON FINAL JOBS REPORT BEFORE VOTE
Ahead of Friday's unemployment report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday climbed 139 points, or 1 percent, to end at 13,232.62, its largest one-day rally in weeks. Stocks were buoyed by a string of positive economic reports showing increased hiring in the private sector, growth in the manufacturing industry, and rising consumer confidence. The Labor Department reported early Friday that the unemployment rate crept up from 7.8 percent in September to 7.9 percent in October, potentially fueling Mitt Romney's criticism of President Obama's record. Still, private businesses added 171,000 jobs — more than expected — a hopeful sign for the economy that offered Obama some relief. [Wall Street Journal, Reuters]
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4. N.J. USING MILITARY TRUCKS AS POLLING PLACES
New Jersey is coming up with contingency plans to make sure Tuesday's election goes ahead on schedule despite the devastation left behind by Superstorm Sandy. The state is deploying military trucks to serve as polling places in some of the hardest hit communities, state officials said Thursday. Department of Defense trucks will be parked outside polling places that have lost power with big signs saying, "Vote here." The state is also extending the deadline for voting by mail. Officials are still trying to figure out how many of the state's 3,000 polling places are without power, or totally inaccessible. [Associated Press]
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5. FAILED D.C. TERROR PLOTTER SENTENCED
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for plotting to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol building with a model plane packed with explosives. Ferdaus, a U.S.-born citizen, pleaded guilty in July after being arrested in a sting operation involving FBI agents posing as al Qaeda operatives. Family and friends sent letters of support saying that Ferdaus, a physics graduate from Boston's Northeastern University, had lived a "90 percent" positive life. Prosecutors, however, said he "intended to unleash horrific acts of violence against the people of the United States both here and abroad." [Boston Globe]
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6. SYRIAN REBELS ALLEGEDLY EXECUTE SOLDIERS
Amnesty International is condemning the apparent execution, caught on video, of a group of Syrian government soldiers by rebel fighters. The killings happened Thursday after opposition fighters overran army checkpoints on the road between Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo, which has been the scene of fierce bombardment by the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. The video shows a group of about a dozen frightened men, some of them bleeding, lying on the ground as other men, apparently rebels, kick them and call them "Assad's dogs," before opening fire. Amnesty International said the incident, if confirmed, was a war crime. [BBC News]
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7. IRA SUSPECTS ARRESTED AFTER KILLING
Northern Ireland police arrested two suspected Irish Republican Army militants on Friday in the killing of an off-duty prison officer, David Black. The men were pulled from their homes in Lurgan, a town known for IRA holdouts against the peace process with the British government. The 52-year-old prison guard was shot Thursday as he drove to work on the British territory's main highway. He was the first prison officer killed in Northern Ireland since 1993. [Associated Press]
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8. U.S. OFFICIALS SAY LIBYA RESPONSE WAS FAST
Intelligence officials on Thursday said CIA security officers rushed to aid State Department staff less than 25 minutes into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. Fox News reported that higher-ups twice told officers at a CIA annex a mile from the besieged compound to "stand down" rather than help repel the attack. Intelligence officials said the agents on the ground made their decisions without second-guessing from senior officials monitoring the crisis from far away. The officials said the half dozen quick-response team members were delayed briefly as they tried to get local militia to help with heavier firepower, but when the Libyans balked they dashed to the compound and evacuated the surviving staff. [Associated Press]
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9. SHORT LINES GREET ASIA IPAD MINI ROLLOUT
Diehard Apple fans lined up in several Asian cities to buy iPad Minis on Friday, but the crowds were far smaller than they've been for rollouts of other blockbuster Apple products. The device won enthusiastic reviews from customers. "It's so thin and light and very cute — so cute!" buyer Ten Ebihara said at an Apple store in Tokyo. Analysts, however, said the iPad mini's price, $329, cooled enthusiasm, as rival small multimedia tablets are cheaper. [Reuters]
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10. JUDGE DISMISSES SUIT AGAINST SPEARS' PARENTS
A judge has thrown out a suit against Britney Spears' parents that was filed by the pop singer's former confidante and self-professed manager, Sam Lutfi. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bruguera said Thursday that Lutfi's attorney hadn't proven his claim that Spears' mother and father had libeled him and broken his contract in the turmoil that erupted during her public meltdown four years ago. Lutfi also accused Spears' father, Jamie, of hitting him at the singer's mansion shortly before the family and other caretakers took over control of Spears' affairs. [Associated Press]

 

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