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Hurricane Sandy struck the Caribbean, killing 52 people in Haiti and 17 in the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, before moving northward along the U.S. east coast. Amplified by the full moon, flooding began up and down the coastline on Monday morning, as the storm merged with a low-pressure system coming in from the Arctic and a high-pressure system coming in from the northeast, then made landfall in the evening as a post-tropical cyclone near Atlantic City, New Jersey. “This storm has something for everyone,” said a National Weather Service spokesman. CNN banned the term “Frankenstorm” from its coverage; record storm surges struck many areas; at least 33 people died; an estimated 8 million lost power; more than 13,000 flights were cancelled; disaster areas were declared in New Jersey and New York; trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted on consecutive days for weather-related reasons for the first time since 1888; the replica tall-ship H.M.S. Bounty sank off the coast of North Carolina; and Canada sent 50 electricians to help Vermont. “San Diego is gorgeous this time of year!” tweeted Cindy McCain, wife of Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.). “I’m in heaven!” President Barack Obama returned to the White House from campaigning in Florida in order to monitor the storm, and Mitt Romney cancelled campaign appearances in New Hampshire and Virginia. “We hear that perhaps Mr. Romney may do some storm-related events,” said Fox News host Steve Doocy. “If you think right now I give a damn,” said New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R.), “you don’t know me.” Days earlier, Obama and Romney held a foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Florida. “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” said Romney. “We also have fewer horses and bayonets,” replied Obama. A blimp reading “America needs Romney” deflated after making an emergency landing en route from Boca Raton. In conversation with an editor at Rolling Stone magazine, Obama said that children between the ages of six and twelve wouldn’t vote for Romney because they sense when someone is a “bullshitter.” Ann Romney made meat loaf on The Rachael Ray Show, and Meat Loaf endorsed Mitt Romney.
In Mecca, nearly 4 million Muslims completed the annual hajj. “Oh God, may we see Bashar al-Assad soon hanged or burnt, kicked out or a humiliated prisoner!” shouted one Syrian pilgrim. “Amen!” yelled dozens of others. In Syria, a United Nations–brokered four-day ceasefire collapsed amid fighting that killed at least 110. The Egyptian National Circus put on one of the first circus performances in the Gaza Strip since 1967. “I think they’ll do the impossible to entertain us,” said one Gazan. Egypt mediated a truce between Israel and Hamas, following two days of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes. In Burma, battles between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims left at least 84 dead and 28,000 homeless. China blocked the website of the New York Times after the paper published an investigative report claiming that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and his family had used their political connections to secure assets worth at least $2.7 billion. The Washington Post reported a March 2011 incident in which a Predator drone started its own engine despite its ignition being turned off and its fuel line closed. “I still think the software is not good,” an Air Force squadron commander testified before an investigative board. The estate of William Faulkner sued defense contractor Northrop Grumman. The owners of Penguin and Random House agreed to a merger that would create the world’s largest book-publishing company. In Italy, six scientists and one official were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison for failing to warn Italians adequately of an earthquake that struck L’Aquila in 2009, killing 309. “I still don’t understand,” said defendant Enzo Boschi, “what I was convicted of.”
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series, sweeping the Detroit Tigers in four games. David Stern said that Barack Obama is “not as good as he thinks he is” at basketball, and Romney adviser John Sununu suggested that former secretary of state Colin Powell, a Republican, had endorsed Obama for president because the two men are black. “My party is full of racists,” said former Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson. The day after Romney released a TV ad backing Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, Mourdock made controversial comments about abortion during a debate. “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape,” said Mourdock, “it is something that God intended to happen.” The Roman Catholic Church canonized its first Native American saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk who died in 1680, and U.S. company Incharacter pulled its “Sassy Squaw” Halloween costume from shelves. The FBI charged New York Police Department officer Gilberto Valle III with conspiracy to kidnap, cook, and eat women. “I am putting my neck on the line,” Valle reportedly told a co-conspirator. Paleontologists working on the Hell Creek Formation Project in Montana presented evidence of the “delicate” bites with which Tyrannosaurus rex ate the faces of Triceratops after tearing off their heads to get at nutrient-rich neck meat, and biologists expressed concern, after a study showed that the anuses of Priapus cautadid “penis” worms may develop before their mouths, that the largest animal group, Protostomia (“mouth-firsts”), would have to be renamed. A Brazilian woman sold her virginity online for $780,000, and an Australian man sold his for $3,000. Psychologists revealed that it probably isn’t her, it’s you.
Correction: The phrase “trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted on consecutive days for weather-related reasons for the first time since 1888” originally read “trading on the New York Stock Exchange was halted on consecutive days for the first time since 1888.” As the source article notes, the exchange has been closed on consecutive days for other reasons.
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In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Chances that a Republican man believes that “poor people have hard lives”:
A school in South Korea was planning to deploy a robot to protect students from unwanted seductions.
Nuremberg’s Neues Museum filed a criminal complaint against a 91-year-old woman who completed a crossword puzzle that was in fact a $116,000 piece of avant-garde Danish art.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”