floods

♦ Young ‘scrapper’ squares up for reform battle. The challenges awaiting Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old centre-left leader likely to form Italy’s new government

♦ As Britons struggle to protect their homes from unprecedented floods, the sandbag – the traditional bulwark against rising water – has been branded by experts outdated and hopelessly ineffective.

Termite robots build the future. The FT looks at a ground breaking experiment in artificial intelligence.

♦ How an Arab/Iranian women’s movement to fight patriarchy through reclaiming the body has become intertwined with revolutions in the Middle East.

♦ Carlo Strenger in Haaretz slams the Israeli right’s use of ‘the holocaust card’ whenever the settlement policy is criticised by overseas allies.

♦ For romantically inclined smart readers: The Economist explains the science of love at first sight

Welcome to a storm-curtailed review of US election coverage after a day on which both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney stopped campaigning because of Tropical Storm Sandy.

As the Financial Times reports, the campaigns caught their breath as a combination of practical difficulties in travelling and organisation, and a desire not to be seen to be practising politics as usual at such a moment took hold. Mr Obama was assuming his commander-in-chief role at the White House.

Politico.com asked a question few were expecting to have to pose: could Sandy delay the election next Tuesday? Forecasting that seemed as difficult as predicting the weather.

“Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “There’s very little precedent for such an act.”

Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state “has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”

The flooding that hit the north-eastern coast of the country, killing at least 16 people, was a disaster big enough to stop the juggernaut of campaigning, so the only non-storm news was the latest set of polling data. 

Here’s what got us chatting this morning: