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News Wrap: Early Snowstorm Blankets Northeast, Killing at Least 12

October 31, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: A powerful and rare early snowstorm is now blamed for at least 12 deaths in the Northeastern U.S., and some two million homes and businesses were still in the dark two days after the storm blew through.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman has this report.

CHILDREN: Happy Halloween!

KWAME HOLMAN: For those heading out for trick-or-treating across the region, this Halloween looked more like a white Christmas. The unusual storm dumped wet, heavy snow from West Virginia through Maine. In some places, more than 30 inches fell.

The snow, produced by a nor’easter, landed on leaf-filled trees, bringing down branches that then pulled down power lines. It closed roads and put a damper on many Halloween plans.

WOMAN: No heat. No food. No power. And it’s October.

KWAME HOLMAN: Connecticut had the most power outages — 750,000 customers still were without service today. And Connecticut Light and Power officials said it could take more than a week to restore power to everyone.

Across Massachusetts, snapped tree limbs also felled power lines. About half-a-million homes were powerless today. And, in New Jersey, the snowstorm caused more blackouts than Hurricane Irene did two months ago.

Gov. Chris Christie said it affected rail travel as well.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: You have over 20 different places just on one line. That’s trees coming down on the tracks or on the lines in 20 different spots just on the Morris and Essex line. You’re talking about much more significant damage to the rail system than we had during Irene.

KWAME HOLMAN: The storm broke a raft of October records. And states of emergency were declared in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and parts of New York.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Police made a number of arrests at several Occupy Wall Street encampments today. In Richmond, Va., police cleared demonstrators out of a city plaza, charging some with trespassing or obstruction of justice.

Over the weekend, there were similar arrests in other cities, from Austin, Texas, to Portland, Ore. In Denver, protesters clashed with police after they were evicted from a park encampment.

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street today over fresh concerns about Europe’s debt crisis.

The major U.S. indexes closed out their best month in decades with steep losses. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 276 points to close at 11,955. The Nasdaq fell more than 52 points to close at 2,684.

NATO ruled out the possibility of a military intervention in Syria today. Over the weekend, President Bashar al-Assad warned the West not to get involved. In an interview with Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, he asked, “Do you want to see another Afghanistan or tens of Afghanistans?”

The United Nations estimates some 3,000 people have been killed by security forces in protests against the Syrian government this year.

Palestine became a full member of the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, today. That led the U.S. to immediately cut off funding to the world body. U.S. law bars assistance to any U.N. agency that accepts Palestinian membership.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the move was unfortunate.

VICTORIA NULAND, State Department spokeswoman: Today’s vote by the member states of UNESCO to admit Palestine as a member is regrettable, premature and undermines our shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. has maintained that a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel. Israel’s Foreign Ministry warned the move will undermine future efforts to resume Middle East peace talks.

The NATO mission in Libya came to an end today. All told, the NATO alliance ran a seven-month-long sea and air campaign before Moammar Gadhafi’s regime collapsed. It included a total of 9,600 strike sorties to back up Libyan revolutionary forces on the ground

Also today, Libya’s National Transitional Council selected a new prime minister. He is Abdel-Rahim el-Keeb, an electronics engineer from Tripoli. The new government will run Libya until a general election can be organized.

The world’s population has surpassed the seven billion mark. A series of symbolic festivities were held at hospitals around the world today to mark the historic milestone. The first birth was celebrated in the Philippines shortly before midnight. Danica May Camacho was welcomed with cake and a gift certificate for free shoes. The United Nations estimates the world’s population will hit eight billion by 2025.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.