Monday, October 31, 2011

MF Global Under Investigation for Missing Money

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Monday, October 31, 2011 -- 7:29 PM EDT-----

Federal regulators have discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money have gone missing from MF Global in recent days, prompting an investigation into the company’s operations as it filed for bankruptcy on Monday, according to several people briefed on the matter.

The revelation of the missing money scuttled an 11th hour deal for MF Global to sell a major part of itself to a rival brokerage firm. MF Global, the powerhouse commodities brokerage run by Jon S. Corzine, had staked its survival on completing the deal.

Now, the investigation threatens to tarnish the reputation of Mr. Corzine, the former New Jersey Governor and Goldman Sachs chief who oversaw MF Global’s demise, making it the first American victim of Europe’s debt crisis.



Published On:Monday, October 31, 2011

PRIME Minister Hubert Ingraham called for Bahamians to promote "a culture of peace" in his speech yesterday at the opening of the new headquarters of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh Day Adventists.

He said material wealth has had a "debilitating influence" on Bahamians, stating: "Far too many among us in the Bahamas have forgotten the true purpose of our lives, to love God and our neighbours as ourselves.

"We must rediscover and strengthen positive attitudes which earlier typified our people, and reinforce the spirit of volunteerism and giving among our people."

Mr Ingraham claimed the Bahamian people have a mission to "promote a culture of peace and non-violence, a culture of mutual well-being and fellowship, (and) a culture of life and respect for the Giver of Life."

The Prime Minister said the Seventh Day Adventist church has "long been a beacon of faithful service and Christian stewardship in our country", praising the church for its "support of healthy family life and healthy lifestyles".

He applauded its members, stating: "Seventh Day Adventists in The Bahamas continue to live model lives of service and integrity."


The Blending of American Roman Catholicism and Protestantism

Submitted Oct 26, 2011
By Herb Douglass

While working on another writing assignment, I found several articles that suddenly gave me some focus for this blog. They related to certain paragraphs written years ago that I and others had a difficult time figuring out how they could ever become reality, especially in the United States.

Such paragraphs as: “The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed — however important they might be from a Bible standpoint — must necessarily be waived.

“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.“ The Great Controversy, p 444-445.


1.Centuries of history have proved that unity on doctrine is most improbable.
2.In recent years a dramatic change is occurring in that Protestant churches can at least agree on “common point of doctrine.”
3.To achieve this unity, subjects on which they do not agree will be waived.
4.This new vision is shared by both Protestants and Catholics.
5.The time will come when Protestants and Catholics, now unified on ‘common points of doctrine,’ will seek governmental support of their wishes, leading to ‘civil penalties’ upon dissenters.

I had recently pulled an article by Greg Hamilton that he wrote in the Pacific Union Gleaner, March 2006. In this article, among other observations, he raised some important questions:

Adventists support the United States Constitution which provides safeguards protecting freedom of religion regardless of majority consensus or sentiment. These safeguards are in danger of being removed 'by Catholic and evangelical zealots' (who are roughly 60 percent of U.S.A. voters) who seek government action in the interest of promoting the commonly shared beliefs in abortion, traditional family and Sunday sacredness, etc.

•Adventists believe that while Christians should be at the forefront in promoting Bible-based moral values, they should speak out against judicial or legislative efforts to mandate or define the human relationship to God and worship as contained in the first four commandments.
•Pope Benedict XVI has publicly stated that Christians in America, and most specifically Catholics, are now in a position to dramatically influence U.S. domestic and foreign policy to reflect the divine commands of God. For the first time, Catholic Supreme Court justices are in the majority.

Bible prophecies have been given to us so we will not be deceived by otherwise sincere men and women who seek through traditional moral, social and political methods to save mankind by establishing what they believe to be Christ’s millennial kingdom on earth. (We call that “dominionism.”) Pretty good for starters, but Scriptures tell us that His followers will spend the Millennium in heaven!

Then I put alongside that article another on the same subject from the Roman Catholic viewpoint of how Roman Catholics and Protestants are now enjoying a new platform of common cause: The End of American Catholicism? by Pierre Hegy in America, May 1, 1993.

The author compared an earlier article also titled, The End of American Catholicism? written in 1972 by William C. McCready and Andrew M. Greeley who had raised the question of the future of American Catholicism by comparing Catholic church attendance and beliefs in 1963 and 1972.

Then, for the period 1972-1990, Hegy made the same survey, with the same order as the 1963 survey. In summary, verifying their numbers, but with much greater spreads: the drop in church attendance but more ominously, the slippage in the young dropping much faster, having levels that are similar to Protestants.

In morality areas, Catholics who condemned premarital sex dropped from 38 percent in 1972 to 18 percent in 1988-90, while approval went from 21 percent to 44 percent — nearly double. (Protestants in 1971, largely condemned premarital sex as always wrong, but this decreased to 34 percent in 1988-90. Abortion produced similar numbers.) All of which reminded the researchers to note the social structure that prevailed for many years, the hierarchical model and the theology of the Council of Trent, are being increasingly rejected by the majority of Catholics.

This led Hegy to ask, “Who is the church?” Then he answered, “In simple terms, it is not primarily the ‘teaching church,’ nor the ‘thinking church,’ nor the ‘evangelical church’ but a mix of all three.

Then he hooked up with Cassius Yuhaus in The Catholic and American Culture, (1990) where two cultural models in USA Catholicism were distinguished:

•The teaching, immigrant model (traditional)
•The evangelical model — the most dynamic and influential…[being] centered on the Scripture and the person of Jesus. According to Yuhaus, as well as survey data, doctrinal formulas and church documents are seen as less significant than Scripture and personal piety. The question is not so much, ‘what does the church teach?’ as ‘what would Jesus do?’

The ‘evangelical model’ offers an alternative to the conservative-liberal dichotomy, to the extent that it emphasizes the empowerment of all through Scripture. In this perspective, church attendance and personal beliefs can only be a matter of choice and maturity, for Catholics as well as for Protestants. Presto! The Protestant-Catholic differential will likely disappear!

Of course, it all depends on what kind of ‘empowerment’ we are talking about. How exactly are the Scriptures being used? In both Protestant and Catholic circles we have seen the rise of what has been called the ‘social gospel,’like feminism, liberation theology, and the fight for ‘social justice,’ all in the interest of working on ‘common points of agreement.’

I have seen it happening before my eyes in the last 50 years! Who would have thought it? Both Protestants and Catholics are using the Scriptures selectively to bless their ‘common points of agreement.’ No wonder we see the picture of a world at last finding its mission of setting up the kingdom of God on earth. It seems so logical and doable.

No more Protestant-Catholic tension! All that is for the trash bin!



In Central Park, Snow That Collected on Still-Leafy Branches Fells Even Hardy Trees

Published: October 30, 2011

The storm struck trees of all ages and sizes in Central Park: oaks and elms outside the boathouse, birches and dogwoods near Belvedere Castle, magnolias and mulberries beside the obelisk.

The damage was spread across about half of Central Park’s 840 acres, making it the worst devastation that Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, had seen in his 27 years there.

In all, as many as 1,000 of the park’s trees may be lost to the freak October snowstorm; in contrast, Tropical Storm Irene — which work crews only recently finished cleaning up after — cost the park 125 trees.

“It’s like a bomb blew off,” Mr. Blonsky said, as he conducted a site survey of the park on Sunday. He looked out his car window at a 70-foot oak tree, near the park’s southeast entrance. Only a jagged stump remained.

“Boom,” Mr. Blonsky said softly.

Though the snowfall in the city might have been considered mild by winter standards, a confluence of factors contributed to what Mr. Blonsky called unprecedented damage. Snow became suspended on leaves that had not yet fallen for winter, tugging at limbs and, in some cases, felling entire trees. And because temperatures hovered near freezing, and not well below, the snow was often damp and heavy, creating additional pressure on fragile branches.

A new round of restorations could take months, though workers are already scrambling to ensure that the New York City Marathon can proceed as planned on Sunday.

“Couldn’t have been rain, huh?” Neil Calvanese, vice president for operations of the conservancy, said from the back seat of Mr. Blonsky’s car.

“Couple degrees,” Mr. Blonsky said.

Mr. Calvanese sighed. “Fall colors were just starting to kick in,” he said.

Even the most durable trees struggled to cope. The broad, rough leaves of a London plane tree, Mr. Calvanese said, made it particularly vulnerable to snow accumulation and, consequently, branch fractures.

“It’s a resilient tree,” Mr. Calvanese said, sounding like a coach defending his players after a difficult loss. “They really do hold up well.”

Most of the damage occurred in the area south of 86th Street, where the park receives its highest concentration of visitors. Though the park was open on Sunday — and quite busy, given the improved weather and curiosity about the damage — Mr. Blonsky expressed concern that “hangers,” limbs detached from their trees but still suspended overhead, could prove dangerous if visitors ignored the conservancy’s caution tape. “You’ve got people pushing strollers underneath trees,” he said.

The city’s storm damage was not confined to the park. By 4 p.m. on Sunday, the city had received more than 2,000 calls reporting tree damage. About half had come from Staten Island, and a quarter from the Bronx, said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the city’s parks department. “We’ve never seen a storm like this in October, when the trees are still mostly in full leaf,” Mr. Benepe said. “I’ve never seen such widespread damage.”

Christine Cea, from Emerson Hill, Staten Island, said a quick drive through surrounding neighborhoods revealed the storm’s leafy detritus, strewn along the roadways. “It was disappointing for a green borough,” she said.

For Central Park, the only comparable episode in recent years was a brief but powerful thunderstorm in August 2009, which resulted in the loss of 500 trees. In that case, as in this one, the damage did present a silver lining: the opportunity to improve park aesthetics by examining whether affected areas look better without so many trees. On Sunday, Mr. Blonsky noted that a reduction in trees in the southwest corner of the park, near Columbus Circle, was allowing more sunlight to the area.

But optimism dissipated quickly as Mr. Blonsky approached a contracting crew near Fifth Avenue, where fallen limbs were being loaded into a wood chipper. “You’re going right to the core of what Central Park is about,” he said of the park’s more than 23,000 trees.

Mr. Calvanese dropped his head, as the crew hauled another branch toward the machine.

“I’m not ready for this,” he said


DHS completes Multi-Band Radio testing

Emergency communication

Last week DHS completed testing on a sophisticated new multi-band radio that will allow first responders to communicate with multiple agencies and jurisdictions operating on different radio bands; beginning in May 2012, first responders will have the opportunity to purchase the Harris XG-100 Unity radio system; the Unity radios can replace up to five different radios, roughly the equivalent cost of just one high-end portable radio

Multi-band technology improves inter-agency communication // Source:

Last week DHS completed testing on a sophisticated new multi-band radio that will allow first responders to communicate with multiple agencies and jurisdictions operating on different radio bands.

9/11 demonstrated a severe lack in interoperability as firefighters, police officers, and other emergency personnel from various agencies from across the United States could not communicate with one another using their existing radios. Each agency operated on a different band and required a third party to relay information.

To bolster communication among first responders, DHS launched its Multi-Band Radio initiative, which recently concluded its fourth and final pilot program test in Chicago.

The final pilot in Chicago provides the opportunity to integrate all we have learned in previous tests and provide the updated multi-band radio to Chicago’s finest for testing,” said Tom Chirhart, the program manager forDHS’ Science and Technology’s Multi-Band Radio Program. “Pilot programs allow DHS to work closely with local responders to ensure the technologies align with their unique needs.”

Previous tests were conducted in Phoenix, New Orleans, and Miami-Dade. Feedback from each test was used to tweak the program and create better radios.

Beginning in May 2012, first responders will have the opportunity to purchase the Harris XG-100 Unity radio system. The Unity radios can replace up to five different radios, roughly the equivalent cost of just one high-end portable radio.

Chirhart believes that the new multi-band radios will help reduce costs over time and increase effectiveness during disasters.

DHS is working to ensure that the best radio equipment is available to emergency responders at all levels,” said Chirhart. “Having multi-band radios with various options and capabilities available to agencies will not only improve selection, but will increase competition and drive prices down over time.”


French finance chief joins Vatican attack on markets

  • Stairwell in the Vatican museum. The church's own bank is one of the world's most opaque and least regulated in the world (Photo: Jon Himoff)

28.10.11 @ 20:20


BRUSSELS - France's top financial regulator has told bishops he shares the Vatican's view that financial markets are out of control and need central regulation.

Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the head of the French Financial Markets Authority, laid out his views at a yearly meeting of 24 senior Roman Catholic bishopsin Brussels on Thursday (27 October), a few hours after EU leaders finished their anti-crisis summit up the road.

He described derivatives markets as a vast, opaque structure which has lost touch with reality and which is eroding fundamental values.

Citing the example of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which last year traded wheat futures contracts worth 46 times the world's actual production of wheat, Jouyet said: "This [system] has changed our relationship to money, which has become an absolute value and the measure of all things."

In terms of concrete policies, Jouyet said euro-using countries should establish joint economic governance despite the "unease" of non-euro EU members over a "two-speed" union or resistance among EU voters to a "federal leap."He added: "More seriously, states have increasingly fallen under the control of markets, as this crisis shows. We have to constantly react to market expectations, to reassure the markets ... States, politics must regain control of things."

He added the EU should "strengthen" the powers of its new banking and insurance regulators - the Paris-based Esma, the EBA in London and the Frankfurt-based Eiopa. He backed European Commission proposals to gag ratings agencies and to create a tax on financial transactions. And he said banks should be split into normal lenders and speculators.

He also endorsed Vatican ideas on how to deal with traders and globalisation. "In this regard, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peaceis right to emphasize in its latest report the need to strengthen global governance," Jouyet said.

The Vatican report on Monday urged the G20 and the UN to create "a kind of central world bank" to discipline markets and, later on, a world government or "public authority with universal jurisdiction" to promote peace.

The proposal was based on similar concerns to Jouyet's description of the Chicago exchange.

The Vatican paper said: "The crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and the hoarding of goods on a great scale ... The negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence."

It added the "primacy of politics, which is responsible for the common good" should be "restored" over "the economy and finance."

For their part, the 24 bishops in their joint statement on Friday turned the discourse on its head, saying markets have become what they are because of politics and culture.

"The causes of the crisis are structural and mainly rooted in the short-term and very often electorally-motivated political choices. These choices often reflect individual behaviour of credit-financed consumerism ... populism ... [and] moral relativism," they said.

The Vatican's own bank, the Institute for Works of Religion, is one of the world's most opaque and least-regulated financial bodies. Last year Italian authorities temporarily seized €23 million of its assets on suspicion of mafia money laundering.


Wall Street falls with commods, cooling on Europe

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 28, 2011.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK | Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:00am EDT

(Reuters) - Stocks fell at the open on Monday as a spike in the U.S. dollar weighed on commodity prices and dried up bids on other risky assets.

Further weighing on equities, the euphoria over Europe's plan to contain its sovereign debt crisis cooled and Italian and Spanish bond yields soared, prompting the European Central Bank to buy their debt.

Despite early losses, the benchmark S&P 500 index was still on track for its largest monthly percentage gain since early 1987.

"We had a massive run because of Europe on the plus side, and there's a question mark on whether what has been put in place is enough to buyItaly and Spain more time," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 126.96 points, or 1.04 percent, at 12,104.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 15.41 points, or 1.20 percent, at 1,269.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXICslid 30.02 points, or 1.10 percent, at 2,707.13.

The U.S. dollar shot up to a three-month high against the yen as the government of Japan intervened to curb its currency's appreciation, which is hurting the export-based economy.

The higher greenback pressured commodity prices, with copper off 2.7 percent. Materials .GSPM was the worst-performing S&P sector, down 2.5 percent.

Shares of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc (FCX.N) dropped 4 percent to $41.07 but were up nearly 35 percent so far in October.

"After a solid month of gains, the (higher) dollar is giving traders a reason to shy from the risk trade and take some profits," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.

In corporate news, MF Global Holdings Ltd (MF.N) was suspended from doing new business with the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and shares of the troubled brokerage were halted as it neared a deal on its future.

Banks stocks were among the worst performing in early trading, with the S&P financial sector .GSPF down 2 percent.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


Homeland security tests real-life “Minority Report” pre-crime technology

Artist’s conception of how Future Attribute Screening Technology (F.A.S.T.) might be employed at a security checkpoint. Date 2008. Source Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Department Image from theWikimedia Commons.

Real-life “Minority Report” program gets a try-out

CBS | Oct 7, 2011

By Declan McCullagh

An internal U.S. Department of Homeland Security document indicates that a controversial program designed to predict whether a person will commit a crime is already being tested on some members of the public voluntarily, CNET has learned.

If this sounds a bit like the Tom Cruise movie called “Minority Report,” or the CBS drama “Person of Interest,” it is. But where “Minority Report” author Philip K. Dick enlisted psychics to predict crimes, DHS is betting on algorithms: it’s building a “prototype screening facility” that it hopes will use factors such as ethnicity, gender, breathing, and heart rate to “detect cues indicative of mal-intent.”

The latest developments, which reveal efforts to “collect, process, or retain information on” members of “the public,” came to light through an internal DHS document obtained under open-government laws by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. DHS calls its “pre-crime” system Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST.

“If it were deployed against the public, it would be very problematic,” says Ginger McCall, open government counsel at EPIC, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

It’s unclear why the June 2010 DHS document (PDF) specified that information is currently collected or retained on members of “the public” as part of FAST, and a department representative declined to answer questions that CNET posed two days ago.

Elsewhere in the document, FAST program manager Robert Middleton Jr. refers to a “limited” initial trial using DHS employees as test subjects. Middleton says that FAST “sensors will non-intrusively collect video images, audio recordings, and psychophysiological measurements from the employees,” with a subgroup of employees singled out, with their permission, for more rigorous evaluation.

Peter Boogaard, the deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, provided a statement to CNET that said:

The department’s Science and Technology Directorate has conducted preliminary research in operational settings to determine the feasibility of using non-invasive physiological and behavioral sensor technology and observational techniques to detect signs of stress, which are often associated with intent to do harm. The FAST program is only in the preliminary stages of research and there are no plans for acquiring or deploying this type of technology at this time.

FAST is designed to track and monitor, among other inputs, body movements, voice pitch changes, prosody changes (alterations in the rhythm and intonation of speech), eye movements, body heat changes, and breathing patterns. Occupation and age are also considered. A government source told CNET that blink rate and pupil variation are measured too.

A field test of FAST has been conducted in at least one undisclosed location in the northeast. “It is not an airport, but it is a large venue that is a suitable substitute for an operational setting,” DHS spokesman John Verrico told in May.

Although DHS has publicly suggested that FAST could be used at airport checkpoints–the Transportation Security Administration is part of the department, after all–the government appears to have grander ambitions. One internal DHS document (PDF) also obtained by EPIC through the Freedom of Information Act says a mobile version of FAST “could be used at security checkpoints such as border crossings or at large public events such as sporting events or conventions.”

It also says that the next field trial of FAST will involve members of the public who “have food service experience” and are paid “to work at a one day VIP event.” Most of the document is redacted, but each person is apparently told to act normally or to do something demonstrating “mal-intent,” such as being told to smuggle a recording device into the VIP event. The trick, then, is to see if FAST can detect which is which.

It’s not clear whether these people were informed that they’re participating in a FAST study.

McCall, the EPIC attorney who has been pressing the department to obtain these internal documents, said it’s time for the DHS Privacy Office to review the current state of the FAST project. What appears to be the most recent privacy analysis (PDF) was completed in December 2008 and contemplates using “volunteer participants” who have given their “informed consent.”

“They should do a privacy impact assessment,” McCall said.

DHS is being unusually secretive about FAST. A February 2010 contract (PDF) with Cambridge, Mass.-based Draper Laboratory to build elements of the “pre-crime” system has every dollar figure blacked out (a fleeting reference to an “infrared camera” remained).

Relying on ambiguous biological factors to predict mal-intent is worrisome, says McCall. “Especially if they’re going to be rolling this out at the airport. I don’t know about you, but going to an airport gives me a minor panic attack, wondering if I’m going to get groped by a TSA officer.”


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snowstorm, Cold Makes Life In Zuccotti Park Difficult For OWS Protesters

Cold, Drenched OWS Members Ask Homeless For Winter Weather Survival Tips

A lone Occupy Wall Street protestor plays a drum during a snowstorm in Zuccotti Park, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Saturday’s snow storm made life in Zuccotti Park miserable forOccupy Wall Street protesters.

Demonstrators were left drenched with rain and then snow as the storm moved through the region. Central Park set a record for both the date and the month of October with 2.9 inches of snow.

Those camping out in the park have been stockpiling donated blankets, scarves, coats and have been trying to get more tents, cots and tarps.

PHOTOS: October Snowstorm

According to an “urgent” alert on their website, OWS is looking for a number of other donations, including waterproof boots, gloves, hats, hand and foot warmers and disposable foot covers among other things. The site says the protesters “are in need of emergency supplies crucial for cold weather survival (and occupation).”

The site says they also need cots to get protesters off the ground, adding that they don’t have any and “could really use these.”

Reportedly, some have been even getting winter weather survival tips from the homeless.

They say they’re also looking for thermal heaters after fire officials removed six of the protesters’ gas-powered generators from Zuccotti Park on Friday, saying it was safety issue.

“The argument could be made they just wanted to get at our power source,” said demonstrator Brian Najdanik.

Without generators, protesters were left with just flashlights and lanterns. Lights, cooking equipment and the media center at Zuccotti Park were all turned off.

Fire officials say storing gasoline in such packed quarters is simply too dangerous.

But the protesters are coming up with a new solution – a stationary bike and generator connected to a battery.

“We’ve got five bike-powered generator systems that are coming from Boston and we’ve got five more plus other ones that are going to supplement as well so we’re completely, completely off the grid,” said demonstrator Lauren Minis.

Insiders at Occupy Wall Street say they expect to have their media center and the food service area fully powered and illuminated by Monday.

The movement is also expected to reveal just how much money they have raised and spent in the first five weeks of the Occupy Wall Street campaign.

OWS has reportedly raised nearly $454,000 and has spent more than $50,000 so far for things like food, clothing, medical supplies, laundry, media and other expenses


3M powerless as October snow surprises Northeast

October 30, 2011 4:21 PM

(AP) SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. — When winter's white mixes with autumn's orange and gold, nature gets ugly.

A freak October nor'easter knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses across the Northeast on Sunday in large part because leaves still on the trees caught more snow, overloading branches that snapped and wreaked havoc. Close to 2 feet of snow fell in some areas over the weekend, and it was particularly wet and heavy, making the storm even more damaging.

"You just have absolute tree carnage with this heavy snow just straining the branches," said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.

From Maryland to Maine, officials said it would take days to restore electricity, even though the snow ended Sunday.

The storm smashed record snowfall totals for October and worsened as it moved north. Communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had gotten 26 inches by early Sunday. It was blamed for at least three deaths, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

Roads, rails and airline flights were knocked out, and passengers on a JetBlue flight were stuck on a plane in Hartford, Conn., for more than seven hours. And while children across the region were thrilled to see snow so early, it also complicated many of their Halloween plans.

Sharon Martovich of Southbury, Conn., said she hoped the power will come back on in time for her husband's Halloween tradition of playing "Young Frankenstein" on a giant screen in front of their house. But no matter what, she said, they will make sure the eight or so children who live in the neighborhood don't miss out on trick-or-treating.

"Either way we will get the giant flashlights and we will go," she said.

More than 800,000 power customers were without electricity in Connecticut alone — shattering the record set just two months ago by Hurricane Irene. Massachusetts and New Jersey had more than 600,000 outages each, and parts of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland and Vermont also were without power.

"It's going to be a more difficult situation than we experienced in Irene," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. "We are expecting extensive and long-term power outages."

Thirty-two shelters were open around the state, and Malloy asked volunteer fire departments to allow people in for warmth and showers. At least four hospitals were relying on generators for power.

Around Newtown in western Connecticut, trees were so laden with snow on some back roads that the branches touched the street. Every few minutes, a snap filled the air as one broke and tumbled down. Roads that were plowed became impassible because the trees were falling so fast.

One of the few businesses open in the area was a Big Y grocery store that had a generator. Customers loaded up on supplies, heard news updates over the intercom, charged up their cell phones, and waited for a suddenly hard-to-get cup of coffee — in a line that was 30 people deep and growing.

Many of the areas hit by the storm had also been hit by Irene. In New Jersey's Hamilton Township, Tom Jacobsen also recalled heavy spring flooding and a particularly heavy winter before that.

"I'm starting to think we really ticked off Mother Nature somehow, because we've been getting spanked by her for about a year now," he said while grabbing some coffee at a convenience store.

It wasn't just the trees that weren't fully ready for a wintry wallop.

Kerry McNiven said she was "totally unprepared" for the storm that knocked out her water and power and sent tree limbs crashing into her Simsbury, Conn., home. She was buying disposable plates and cups in a darkened supermarket, a setting that she said resembled "one of those post-apocalyptic TV shows."

"They didn't hype this one as much" and Irene, she said. "I didn't think it was going to be as bad."

In Concord, N.H., Dave Whitcher's company had yet to prep its sanding equipment before the storm dropped nearly 2 feet of snow. His crews were plowing and shoveling parking lots Sunday, and would be back Monday to salt sidewalks and walkways.

"It was a bit of a surprise, the amount and how heavy it was. We should've probably come out and got a little earlier start, but we did all right," Whitcher said. He held up his shovel and added, "Me and this guy are going to get to know each other real well today."

Vaccaro, the weather service spokesman, said the snowstorm "absolutely crushed previous records that in some cases dated back more than 100 years." Saturday was only the fourth snowy October day in New York's Central Park since record-keeping began 135 years ago.

There usually isn't enough cold air in the region to support a nor'easter this time of year, but an area of high pressure over southeastern Canada funneled cold air south into the U.S., Vaccaro said. That cold air combined with moisture coming from the North Carolina coast to produce the unseasonable weather.

Though the fact that leaves were still on the trees worsened storm damage inland, the nor'easter did less damage in coastal areas than it would have in winter because warm ocean temperatures limited snowfall, Vaccaro said.

A few businesses enjoyed the early snow: Ski resorts in Vermont and Maine opened early. But it was more commonly an aggravation.

Many residents were urged to avoid travel altogether. Speed limits were reduced on bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A few roads closed because of accidents and downed trees and power lines, said Sean Brown, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The JetBlue passengers stranded at Hartford's Bradley International Airport were on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Newark, N.J., that had been diverted. Passenger Andrew Carter, a football reporter for the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, said the plane ran out of snacks and bottled water, and the toilets backed up.

JetBlue spokeswoman Victoria Lucia said power outages at the airport has made it difficult to get passengers off the plane, and added that the passengers would be reimbursed.

In 2007, passengers in JetBlue planes were stranded for nearly 11 hours at New York's Kennedy Airport following snow and ice storms.

There were other flight delays in the region over the weekend, and commuter trains in Connecticut and New York were delayed or suspended because of downed trees and signal problems. Amtrak suspended service on several Northeast routes, and one train from Chicago to Boston got stuck overnight in Palmer, Mass. The 48 passengers had food and heat, a spokeswoman said, and they were taken by bus Sunday to their destinations.

In southeastern Pennsylvania, an 84-year-old man was killed when a snow-laden tree fell on his home while he was napping in his recliner. In Connecticut, the governor said one person died in a Colchester traffic accident that he blamed on slippery conditions.

And a 20-year-old man in Springfield, Mass., stopped when he saw police and firefighters examining downed wires and stepped in the wrong place and was electrocuted, Capt. William Collins said.

The snow was a bone-chilling slush in New York City, and was a taste of what's to come for demonstrators camping out at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan for the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Nick Lemmin, of Brooklyn, spent his first night at Zuccotti in a sleeping bag in a tent, wearing thermals, a sweatshirt and a scarf.

"I slept actually pretty well," he said. "It was pretty quiet."

Lemmin said he thought the early snow was actually "a good test," giving protesters a chance to deal with such weather before it sets in more permanently.

The weather was too much for protester Adash Daniel, who had already been in the park for three weeks. "I'm not much good to this movement if I'm shivering," he said as he left.

The snow was relatively light in Manhattan, as it was farther north in Albany, where a couple of dirt- and leaf-caked snowmen stood about the protesters waving "We are the 99 percent" signs for passing cars.

In Concord, 9-year-old Nate Smith had more than enough snow to make a proper snowman with his brother, but he was worried about Halloween. He wasn't sure he'd be able to go trick-or-treating, and even if he did, his werewolf costume could end up looking a little different than he had imagined.

"I might have to put on snow pants," he said.


Associated Press writers Noreen Gillespie-Connolly in Newtown, Conn.; Ron Todt in Philadelphia; Verena Dobnik, Deepti Hajela and Candice Choi in New York; Mary Esch in Albany, N.Y.; Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H.; and Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.