10 things you need to know today: November 1, 2012

The Week

Obama returns to the campaign trail, the recovery from Hurricane Sandy begins, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

Homes wrecked by superstorm Sandy in Seaside Heights, N.J.: Some 2 million people have had their power restored on the East Coast, but another 6 million remain in the dark.

Homes wrecked by superstorm Sandy in Seaside Heights, N.J.: Some 2 million people have had their power restored on the East Coast, but another 6 million remain in the dark. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

1. OBAMA AND ROMNEY GO POSITIVE AFTER STORM
President Obama is returning to the campaign trail on Thursday, after spending three days focused on leading the federal response to Hurricane Sandy. Aides said Obama, who aggressively criticized Romney at rallies before the storm, would wrap up the last five days before election day with a more “affirmative” message as he launches a tour of swing states, including Nevada, Colorado, and Ohio. Romney, who also canceled political rallies in the wake of the superstorm, resumed campaigning on Wednesday. The GOP nominee also stuck to positive themes on stops in Florida. The civility might not last, though. While Obama and Romney soften the tone, their surrogates are on the attack. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday called Romney ads — which say Chrysler, after the auto bailout, is adding jobs in China at the expense of workers in swing-state Ohio — “flagrantly dishonest.” [ReutersAssociated Press]
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2. NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY BEGIN STORM RECOVERY
New Yorkers won’t have to pay fares on railways, subways, or buses on Thursday or Friday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a transportation emergency in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. With the subway out of commission, traffic in Manhattan was at a standstill on Wednesday. “The gridlock was dangerous,” Cuomo said. The death toll from the storm has risen to 74, and estimates of economic damage go as high as $55 billion, but there are already signs of recovery in New York and New Jersey, the two hardest hit states. Fifty thousand utility workers from across the U.S. and Canada helped restore power to more than two million homes and businesses, although 6 million remain in the dark. Workers returned to work on Wall Street and elsewhere as some roads, bridges, and rail lines reopened. “We are on our way back to normal,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “We are on the road to recovery.” [New York Daily News,USA Today]
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3. U.S. SAYS SYRIA REBELS NEED NEW LEADERS 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the Syrian National Council, a largely expatriate group plagued by infighting, can no longer be seen as the leader of the effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. has been frustrated by the group’s failure to assure minority groups, including members of Assad’s Alawite clan, that they would be protected if Assad falls. Also, the opposition can’t be led by “people who have many good attributes but have in many instances not been inside Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years,” Clinton said. “There has to be a representation of those who are on the front lines fighting and dying today.” [Washington Post]
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4. BARCLAYS HIT WITH RECORD PENALTY
Federal regulators are proposing a record $470 million in penalties against the London-based Barclays bank for allegedly rigging energy markets in the western U.S. from 2006 to 2008. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also wants trader Scott Connelly to pay an individual penalty of $15 million. Three of his colleagues would be on the hook for $1 million each. A Barclays spokesman said the bank refutes the allegations, and believes “our trading was legitimate and in compliance with applicable law.” [Bloomberg]
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5. BENGHAZI POST WARNED ABOUT SECURITY
A little less than a month before the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, diplomats there sent a classified cable to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warning that the security team there might not have the manpower and weapons to defend against a “coordinated attack” on the compound, according to Fox News. The cable, reviewed by Fox, said that Islamist militias and al Qaeda groups had training camps in the area, although it didn’t identify any evidence that an attack was imminent. Diplomats in Benghazi said they had asked the embassy in Tripoli for physical security upgrades and more security officers. The State Department declined to comment on the cable, citing its confidentiality and the fact that an investigation into the attack is still incomplete. [Fox News]
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6. PUTIN INJURED, BUT WORKING
The staff of Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that he suffered an injury, which a spokesman said was sports-related, but denied reports that it was affecting his ability to do his job. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said the president had “pulled a muscle,” although he dismissed rumors that Putin had made the injury worse last month in his most recent highly publicized macho stunt — flying a motorized hang-glider alongside Siberian cranes. [BBC News]
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7. ANOTHER GOP-er SLAMMED FOR RAPE COMMENT
Just a week after Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock faced criticism for saying pregnancy from rape was “something God intended,”another Republican candidate is in hot water for making controversial statements about rape and abortion. John Koster, a Tea Party Republican running for a hotly contested congressional seat in Washington state, says he opposes abortions, including in cases of “the rape thing,” because abortion inflicts “more violence onto a woman’s body.” The campaign of Koster’s Democratic opponent, former Microsoft executive and state revenue director Suzan DelBene, said the remark showed that Koster is “out of touch.” Koster’s campaign accused DelBene’s campaign of twisting his words, secretly recorded at a weekend fundraiser, to make him sound “‘callous’ or ‘cavalier.’” [Reuters]
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8. SAUDI TANKER TRUCK CRASH KILLS 22
A tanker truck carrying fuel crashed into a part of a highway underpass in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Thursday, exploding in a massive fireball that killed at least 22 people. More than 100 more were injured. The blast occurred near the Saudi National Guard building in an industrial area, but there were no immediate suspicions that terrorists were involved, based on witness accounts. [CTV News]
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9. USC LOCKED DOWN AFTER SHOOTING
Police detained two suspects after a shooting during a Halloween-night party on the campus of the University of Southern California. One person, apparently the gunman’s target, was critically injured, and three bystanders were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening wounds. The shooting occurred just before midnight at an outdoor gathering of about 100 people. University officials immediately put the campus on lock-down, and announced that the threat had passed two hours later. [Los Angeles Times]
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10. HALLOWEEN POSTPONED IN STORM-RAVAGED N.J.
With large swaths of New Jersey still underwater after Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order officially postponing Halloween celebrations across the state. Instead of Wednesday, people in New Jersey will don costumes on Monday, Nov. 5, when conditions will be safer. “I’ve taken this action to minimize additional risks to lives and the public safety as we begin the process of rebuilding and recovering from Hurricane Sandy,” Christie said. [Slate]

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