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Before the Syrian uprising, Aleppo was many things: Syria's largest city, its economic hub and cultural capital, one of the oldest, continuously occupied cities in the world.

Now, Aleppo has a more ominous distinction: a city that's seen some of the worst destruction, not only in Syria, but of any battleground in many years.

It's been more than three months since rebels in Syria launched an offensive to take Aleppo. In the early days of the offensive, the rebels were able to take about half the city.

Three-Minute Fiction: The Round 9 Winner Is...

Nov 4, 2012

We made it. After six weeks and nearly 4,000 stories, we've reached the end of Round 9 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, where we ask listeners to come up with an original short story that can be read in about three minutes.

Graduate students from around the country helped read all the submissions. The winning story was chosen by this round's judge, novelist Brad Meltzer. Meltzer wrote the best-selling books The Inner Circle and The Book of Lies. His new book, due out in January, is called The Fifth Assassin.

In November 1972, Italian pop star Adriano Celentano released a song that hit No. 1 in his home country, despite the fact it wasn't performed in Italian.

It also wasn't performed in English.

In fact, it wasn't performed in any language at all.

The song, called "Prisencolinensinainciusol," was written to mimic the way English sounds to non-English speakers.

Voters will decide 174 ballot propositions across 37 states this election. Reid Wilson, the editor in chief of National Journal's Hotline, says he believes these decisions will change the day-to-day lives of average Americans more than who wins the presidency.

He spoke to Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about some key initiatives across the country.


Interview Highlights

On same-sex marriage

The final poll released Sunday by the Pew Research Center ahead of Tuesday's election shows President Obama has a 3 percentage point lead over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney just two days before the general election.

Obama leads Romney 48 percent to 45 percent in the poll of 2,709 likely voters, which has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points. The poll was conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Here's more from the Pew news release:

The Movie RZA Has 'Seen A Million Times'

Nov 3, 2012

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

More than 8 million people lost power after Superstorm Sandy. Five days later, 2.5 million are still waiting as power companies across the region continue to say that restoring power is more complicated than it seems.

The storm packed a one-two punch. First, it flooded several switching stations including one hidden under the New Jersey Turnpike in Newark, says Art Torticelli, who was out with his crew from Public Service Electric and Gas at a switching station in Essex, N.J.

In the vast majority of pre-election polls, likely voters are usually asked, "If the election were held today, for whom would you vote?"

That's the wrong question to ask, says Justin Wolfers, a political economist with the University of Michigan. He's spent years researching polls, and in a new paper he offers what he says is the right question:

Who do you think will win?

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Much of the worst damage from Superstorm Sandy happened in New York's less touristy outer boroughs.

Some neighborhoods have been changed forever by the storm. Staten Island saw half of the city's fatalities. On Friday, residents sorted through waterlogged belongings and tried to figure out next steps.

Rosemarie Caruso lives a block from the water on the eastern shore of Staten Island. She says there have been hurricanes before and all they brought was a little flooding. She figured she could ride out Sandy.

Mario Veas spent Monday night hunkered down with his family. But he has been running ever since.

Veas runs a tree service in Willow Grove, Pa. He says his phone has been ringing nonstop because people want trees felled by the storm chopped up and cleared.

"Everybody [is] calling and they want [the job] to be done this morning," Veas says.

Earlier this week, Veas was clearing an enormous tree branch from Preethy Edamala's patio in nearby Elkins Park.

The presidential race is expected to be extremely close, and that has a lot of people nervous about what it will mean for election night.

Does it mean that the vote count could drag on for days, or even weeks, as it did in 2000?

Lawyers for the campaigns, the political parties and state election offices are preparing for the possibility.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted could very well be the man in the middle of any election night storm. By all accounts, the vote in his crucial battleground state will be extremely close.

NPR's Backseat Book Club is back! And we begin this round of reading adventures with a cherished classic: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Generations of children and adults have loved this book. With vivid detail and simple, yet lyrical prose, Black Beauty describes both the cruelty and kindness that an ebony-colored horse experiences through his lifetime — from the open pastures in the English countryside to the cobblestone grit of 19th-century England.

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