Chatter: Final scramble for votes in US swing states




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Need to know:
It's Election Day -1, and swing-state voters, the candidates are coming for you.

Floridians, Virginians, New Hampshirites, Wisconsinites, Iowans and Ohioans – above all, the Ohioans – can expect a full-frontal assault as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney squeeze their final hours of campaigning for all they're worth. The latest polls have Obama marginally ahead in seven of the nine battlegrounds; Romney leads in Florida and North Carolina for the moment, though who knows where anything will stand after tonight's mind-boggling campaign finale that'll see Mitt share a stage with Kid Rock.

All in all, it's too close to call. Wait it out, between the nail-biting, with GlobalPost's binder full of election coverage.

Want to know:
Two people are dead after a series of bombings in Bahrain.

At least five homemade bombs were detonated this morning around the capital, Manama. Both victims were men originally from Asia, according to police. A third man, also Asian, was injured. An investigation is underway into the attacks, which Bahraini state media describes as acts of "domestic terror."

The blasts come less than a week after the government banned all protests and public gatherings amid escalating violence between demonstrators and police. Bahrainis were "fed up" with rallies ending in clashes, the Interior Ministry said then; they'll have a lot more to be fed up with if, as observers warned it would, the ban has only made the situation worse.

Dull but important:
South Korea has been forced to shut down two nuclear reactors, after discovering that some of their parts were not properly certified.

Some 5,000 components in the 1978-built Yeonggwang nuclear complex have fake quality certificates, officials believe. Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk-woo assured that the parts – which include fuses, cooling fans and power switches – are "non-core" and don't compromise the plant's safety; nonetheless they must be replaced, which means keeping the reactors offline until January.

The two-month shutdown leaves South Korea facing "unprecedented" power shortages, Hong warns. And if the repairs take any longer, he says, the country will experience a "dramatic" drop in electricity supply, right in the dead of winter.

Just because:
The American soldier accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians in March is due to appear in a US military court today.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales faces charges of premeditated and attempted murder over one of the worst atrocities of the war in Afghanistan: a predawn shooting rampage over two villages that left nine children and seven adults dead, six people wounded, and several of the bodies burned.

In a preliminary hearing that begins today and may continue for as long as two weeks, lawyers will attempt to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a court martial. Witnesses in Afghanistan will testify via video link, but Bales himself is not expected to speak.

The only comment so far has come from his wife, who insists: "My husband did not do this... I don't think we have even begun to have the truth."

Strange but true:
Neat scientific idea of the day is the project to power pacemakers using heartbeats.

Researchers in bioengineering are working on the first stages of building a next-generation implant that, unlike current pacemakers, wouldn't require batteries. Instead, it could power itself by "harvesting" electrical energy created through mechanical pressure – namely, the beating of the patient's own heart.

The innovation would save pacemaker recipients – often children – the operations they currently have to undergo every five to seven years to change the implant's batteries. Proof to the haters that, in between building jellyfish robots and remotely controlling cockroaches, scientists are doing something worthwhile.