A Russian Army officer walks past Defence Ministry offices in Moscow, on Tuesday. Putin fired defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov over a corruption scandal, the most dramatic change to the government since he returned to the Kremlin for a third term.
Passengers wait to board the Gautrain, Africa's first high-speed train, in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 2, 2011. The train travels at speeds of up to 100 mph and makes commuting much easier for South Africans accustomed to congested roads and traffic jams.
Credit Li Qihua / Xinhua /Landov
Despite some people's grumbling about ticket prices, the Gautrain is operating at full capacity during peak hours. Passengers praise the cleanliness of the trains as well as the speed. Here is the Gautrain station in Pretoria, South Africa's capital.
Credit Ofeibea Quist-Arcton / NPR
Refilwe Edith Seabi (left) and her sister Girlie are taking the Gautrain from Pretoria to go shopping in Johannesburg. Seabi is pleased when the ride clocks in at 30 minutes — compared with a drive that sometimes takes her two hours.
Passionate preparations, raucous rallies, debatable decisions, last-second scandals and the awful, awful suspense, Hollywood celebrates Election Day dramatics, even when the vote's in high school.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "ELECTION")
REESE WITHERSPOON: (as Tracy Flick) Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things. But now, I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow, because I deserve it and Paul Metzler doesn't, as you well know.
While voters head to the polls, the candidates repair to hotel rooms and a select group of campaign staff prepares one final set of remarks. Well, two sets, actually. One for victory, one for defeat. You probably remember the remarkable scene four years ago when then President-elect Barack Obama addressed a rapturous crowd of more than 200,000 in Chicago's Grant Park.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The candidates repeatedly tell us that now it's finally up to the voters, which is true as far as that goes. But it's also up to the campaign volunteers who ferry supporters to the polls, to squadrons of poll-watchers who keep an eye out for shenanigans and to the legions of lawyers who will draft appeals and protests and orders to show cause.