Haiti is grappling with yet another crisis one week after Hurricane Sandy hit. The United Nations is warning that Sandy destroyed 70 percent of Haiti’s crops and left a million-and-a-half people at serious risk of hunger. The death toll stands at 54 but is expected to rise. The storm destroyed some 21,000 homes and caused more than $104 million of damage. Large parts of Haiti’s south are still unreachable by land due to massive flooding, sparking fears of a new outbreak of cholera. The new devastation brought by Sandy comes as Haiti still tries to rebuild from the massive 2010 earthquake that killed some 300,000 people.
Power has been restored to close to 80 percent of the 8.5 million households across 16 U.S. states left in the dark by last week’s Superstorm Sandy. But that leaves 1.85 million still without power, including more than one million in New Jersey, the state hardest hit.
In New York City, subway service has now been mostly restored as the city slowly continues its recovery. But with Sandy flooding and damaging thousands of homes, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned of a new housing crisis for up to 40,000 displaced residents in need of shelter.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “We don’t have a lot of empty housing in this city, so it’s really a problem to find housing when we need it. We are not going to let anybody go sleeping in the streets, and we’re not going to let anybody go without blankets, food and water, but it’s a challenge, and we’re working on that as much as — as fast as we can.”
On top of the displacement and loss of power, the recovery from Sandy will see further strain later this week when an early-season “Nor’easter” storm hits New England and the surrounding region.
The 2012 presidential race is in its final day of campaigning before voters head to the polls on Tuesday to make their choice. On Sunday, President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney each crisscrossed four battleground states in a frenzied effort to get out the vote. Speaking in Florida, Obama said Romney would revive the harshest policies of previous Republican administrations.
President Obama: “It’s just not a choice between two parties or candidates, it’s a choice between two different visions of America. On the one hand, you can choose to return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy, or you can join me in building a future that focuses on a strong and growing middle class.”
After a tightened race over the past month, President Obama appears to have regained the momentum, holding the vast majority of leads in polls of the battleground states that will decide the Electoral College. Speaking in Ohio, Mitt Romney called Obama a failed president.
Mitt Romney: “I’d ask them to put aside all the speeches and all the ads and all the attacks, and to look at the record, because, you see, talk is cheap, but a record, it’s real, and it’s earned with real effort. Change is not measured in words and speeches; change is measured in achievements. So let’s look at that record.”
As Mitt Romney and President Obama push for a strong Election Day turnout, the 2012 election will likely wind up setting a record for early voting. More than 1.6 million people have already voted in the critical battleground state of Ohio, either at the polls or with absentee ballots. Over the weekend, long lines were reported across the state as voters braved cold weather to line up for hours at the polls. Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, meanwhile, has issued a new last-minute directive that would disqualify ballots not accompanied by a form accurately documenting the type of identification used. Attorneys for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Service Employees International Union have filed a challenge in court.
In Florida, Democrats filed a lawsuit on Sunday seeking to force Republican Gov. Rick Scott to extend early voting. Scott and the Republican state legislature reduced early voting last year, and now voters are seeing waits of more than six hours at the polls. On Sunday, a judge ordered Florida to extend early voting in Orange County after an alleged bomb threat forced the closure of a polling station for several hours.
New figures show outside groups such as super PACs have spent more than $1.11 billion on the 2012 election. According to Demos and U.S. PIRG, the figure marks a 400 percent increase over outside spending in 2008. More than 60 percent of the nearly $441 million raised by super PACs came from a group of just 91 people. A separate report by the Sunlight Foundation has found that “dark money” groups — which are able to donate anonymously — have spent over $213 million through November 1, with 81 percent of the money going toward backing Republican candidates.
Syria’s main opposition groups have opened unity talks in Qatar amidst ongoing clashes inside their country. The meeting comes days after the Obama administration withdrew its support for the Syrian National Council and said Syria’s opposition should be more representative. In the latest violence, at least 20 people were reportedly killed Sunday when Syrian forces shelled a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. More than 11 people were also wounded in the capital when a bomb struck a government building.
In Kuwait, state forces have again attacked a protest of thousands of people challenging the ruling monarchy’s effort to change electoral laws. The U.S.-backed Kuwaiti regime has stoked anger after dissolving parliament and proposing voting laws that opponents have described as a constitutional coup. On Sunday, Kuwaiti police fired stun grenades, tear gas and smoke bombs at thousands of protesters blocking a major road south of the capital of Kuwait City. It was the second crackdown on a major protest inside Kuwait in two weeks.
An Israeli television network is reporting Israel’s military leaders rebuffed orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to prepare for a bombing of Iran two years ago. According to Channel Two, Netanyahu and Barak directed the military to ready an imminent strike on Iranian nuclear sites. But their order was rejected after Israel’s top army officials concluded that doing so would be illegal and set off a dangerous chain of events that could lead to global conflict.
Video has emerged from Colorado of a heavily armed police contingent carrying out an eviction order at the home of a woman in Idaho Springs. Sixty-three-year-old Sahara Donahue had enlisted the help of local Occupy activists after U.S. Bank ordered her to vacate her foreclosed home of 24 years. When the activists set up a barricade to delay the eviction last week, at least 10 truckloads of police reportedly arrived at the scene, carrying heavy weaponry. The police forced the activists onto the ground at gunpoint before barging into the home and carrying out the eviction.