The stock market took a hit on Thursday ahead of Friday’s expected House vote on the federal bailout. According to CNN Money, “The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 348 points, recovering a bit from a drop of 391 points earlier. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index lost 4% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 4.5%.”
Falling for a fourth consecutive day, the euro has reached its lowest point against the dollar in 13 months “and the weakest in two years versus the yen after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said policy makers discussed cutting interest rates.”
The U.S. Senate passed the bailout package on Wednesday night by a vote of 74-25, as the majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed to the revised bill. The future of the bailout plan now rests with the House of Representatives, which rejected a version of the bill on Monday but will vote again Friday morning.
According to Bloomberg, “UBS AG, the largest Swiss bank, had its first profitable quarter in more than a year and said it decreased holdings of mortgage securities to limit losses from the worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression.”
Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to inject $3 billion and a potential $6 billion into General Electric Co. GE is in need of investor confidence, and the deal “dramatizes how the credit storm is prompting even the most stalwart companies to seek shelter.”
The European Central Bank decided on Thursday to hold its interest rate steady at 4.25 percent. According to The New York Times, “The central bank has been heavily criticized for not lowering interest rates. It has kept its focus on inflation since the financial crisis began in August 2007 and even raised borrowing costs in July.”
Reuters writes: “As western banks fold into each other like crumpled tickets and commentators portray the current crisis as the last gasp of modern capitalism, Hristo Mishkov, 32, shares the pain—and offers home truths. His story partly resembles that of Brother Ty, the monk-tycoon protagonist of the 1998 satire ‘God is my Broker’ by U.S. writers Christopher Buckley and John Tierney—he failed on Wall Street and became a monk.”
“Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said on Tuesday it was asking its suppliers to stop using cotton from Uzbekistan, joining a boycott by global brands over its use of forced child labour during the cotton harvest,” according to the Financial Times. “It is the first time the retailer has taken such sweeping action over sourcing issues, reflecting its push over the past three years to improve its record on social and environmental sustainability under Lee Scott, its chief executive.”
“The London police chief, Ian Blair, resigned Thursday after a tenure marked by controversies that included the shooting death of an innocent man following the terror attacks on the city transit system,” according to the Associated Press.
Bomb attacks in Baghdad have killed at least 16 people and injured 30, Iraq police say. “The attacks took place Thursday as worshipers celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,” according to Voice of America.
The U.S. Senate has approved the “123 Agreement” by a vote of 86-13 to lift the ban on nuclear trade with India. “For India, the approval is a ringing endorsement of its increasing weight in international affairs, and an acknowledgement of its growing intimacy with the world’s only remaining superpower,” Time magazine writes.
Although more than 200 European Union monitors started patrolling the buffer zone next to South Ossetia on Wednesday, the head of the mission “said on Thursday it would be unrealistic to expect Russian forces to grant the monitors access to breakaway South Ossetia in the near future,” according to Reuters.
“A Canadian Conservative Party speech-writer has resigned after Prime Minister Stephen Harper was accused of plagiarism in a speech he made in 2003. Owen Lippert admitted he had been ‘overzealous in copying segments’ of a speech in support of the invasion of Iraq by then Australian PM John Howard,” the BBC writes. “Mr Lippert said neither his superiors nor Mr Harper, who was opposition leader at the time, had been aware. The accusation comes half-way through a general election campaign.”
According to the Associated Press, “A report marked confidential and bearing the official seal of Spain’s Defense Ministry charges that Pakistan’s spy service was helping arm Taliban insurgents in 2005 for assassination plots against the Afghan government.”
New polls released yesterday give Sen. Obama the lead over Sen. McCain in key battleground states. For example, a Quinnipiac University survey puts Obama ahead of McCain 54 percent to 39 percent in Pennsylvania, a state he led 49-43 prior to the first debate.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Del. Sen. Joe Biden face off tonight in the vice presidential debate, which will take place at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The highly anticipated match-up will be the only time the two will debate before the election.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that he would attempt to run for a third term despite the city’s two-term limit. Bloomberg indicated his desire to confront the economic situation as it relates to New York: “The good news is that we have planned for a slowdown in New York, but we may well be on the verge of a meltdown,” he said, “and it’s up to us to rise to the occasion.”
Reuters reports that “A New York City police lieutenant committed suicide on Thursday, eight days after ordering the use of a Taser stun gun against an emotionally disturbed man who then fell to his death, police said.”
Searches have resumed for prominent aviator Steve Fossett, who disappeared in September 2007, after a hiker discovered what seemed to be Fossett’s pilot license and identification near Yosemite National Park. Plane wreckage may also have been discovered.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “A divided Supreme Court refused Wednesday to reconsider its ruling barring the death penalty for raping a child, despite having overlooked a recent federal law that authorized capital punishment for members of the military who commit the same crime.”
“A district judge on Monday ruled in favor of a Turah woman who sought parental rights to children adopted by her former same-sex partner,” according to the Associated Press. “Attorneys for both sides have said the same-sex parental rights trial was a first in Montana.”
“The lawsuit, filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court this week, seeks to rescind the deals and recoup about $200 million invested by the school districts of Kenosha, Kimberly, Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay in 2006,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. “The lawsuit contends that Stifel Nicolaus & Co. and Royal Bank of Canada violated Wisconsin law by omitting or misrepresenting the true nature of the investments and their risks. Stifel originally brokered the deal, while RBC devised the investments and is responsible for determining their value.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that, “The City Council, under threat of litigation from creekside property owners, is slated Wednesday night to approve spending $500,000 to drive giant steel pilings into the beaver-ravaged creek banks—a project beaver advocates say is certain to force out the relentless rodents who took up residence in Alhambra Creek 18 months ago.”
“Thanks to remarkable flying skills that make the housefly the Ferrari of the insect world, it is unlikely you will achieve a direct hit as they buzz about,” according to The Daily Telegraph. “While fleeing a rolled-up newspaper, the insect can change course in as little as 30 thousandths of a second. Now Prof Michael Dickinson of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who has spent two decades studying flies, announces their ability to escape is all down to quick thinking.”
“In a sign that parents will be looking for value, this year’s hot-toy list—predicting what will fly off the shelves during the holidays—by industry veterans Jim Silver and Christopher Byrne, is mostly made up of toys and games that cost less than $80,” Reuters reports.