According to Reuters, “Central banks across Asia stepped up to offer more support to commercial banks on Wednesday, to try to ease painful pressure on funding costs from a vicious global credit squeeze.”
Banks around the world cut interest rates at the same time Wednesday as part of a joint effort to slow the spreading global financial crisis. The actions, "brought temporary respite," but "London's main index soon fell back again and US stocks endured another rollercoaster ride, while Tokyo saw its biggest one-day fall in two decades," AFP said.
Congress questioned former AIG executives yesterday, following Monday’s hearing with Richard Fuld Jr., the chief executive of the former Lehman Brothers. Lawmakers grilled the executives of the company that the U.S. government bailed out and described them “as running a high-rolling organization that glossed over warnings about the risks that helped necessitate a government rescue—and continued to reward executives even as the big insurer headed toward a cliff,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
On Wednesday, the UK revealed its plan to rescue the nation’s banks. “The government will buy preference shares, and the Bank of England will make at least 200 billion pounds available for banks to borrow. The government also will provide a guarantee of about 250 billion pounds to help refinance debt,” The Street writes.
“On Tuesday the U.S. central bank said it would begin purchasing the short-term corporate debt known as commercial paper from American issuers. The decision helps companies that need to borrow—they will essentially be getting loans from the Fed—but it fails to directly entice money market funds and other private-sector investors into buying the securities,” Forbes reported.
Stocks continued to fall for a sixth day in a row, Bloomberg reports. Said the news service: "The S&P 500 swung between gains and losses at least 20 times today, ending down 12.05 points, or 1.2 percent, at 984.18, its lowest since August 2003. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 194.26, or 2.1 percent, to 9,252.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 0.8 percent to 1,740.33. Five stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange."
Former South African defense minister, Mosiuoa Lekota, has threatened to form a new party that is split off from the African National Congress, the current ruling party. During a press conference, Lekota said, "It seems that we are serving today divorce papers."
Reports indicate that Russia is beginning to pull out of the “buffer zone” around South Ossetia. As part of the ceasefire agreement, Russia must remove its troops from the area around the Georgian breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Friday.
On Wednesday, police in Bangkok, Thailand appear to have created order following the riots last night that killed two people and injured more than 400. The People's Alliance for Democracy protested outside Thailand’s parliament yesterday “calling for sweeping electoral changes and trying to force the resignation of the new prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, whom it sees as a puppet of his brother-in-law, the deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra,” the Guardian reports.
Reuters reports that, "Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo, accused of fraud and corruption at the end of his term in 2004, was extradited on Tuesday from Mexico to face charges in his home country. Portillo slipped into Mexico amid a wave of arrests of his former cabinet members after he left office. Guatemala's attorney general's office said he diverted $15.7 million, slated for the defense ministry, to his own accounts.”
The economy and national issues took center stage in the second debate between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, in town-hall format. At Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., the candidates debated issues like health care, taxes and the best way to pull the nation out of the economic crisis, among other issues.
In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. national poll, 54 percent of the respondents said that Sen. Obama had won the second presidential debate, as compared to 30 percent who believed that McCain did a better job.
"Federal investigators say they may have uncovered a scheme to slip Mexican-built buses into the United States without undergoing required safety inspections," according to United Press International. "The Houston Chronicle said Tuesday that the National Transportation Safety Board grew suspicious after a January charter-bus crash near Victoria, Texas, that left one person dead and several injured.”
"Cobb County Commissioner Annette Kesting today repeatedly denied accusations from a South Carolina ‘voodoo priestess’ that Kesting wrote $3,000 in bad checks for the woman’s services," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. "George Ann Mills said Kesting approached her at home in Blythewood, S.C., in late August seeking otherworldly help against Democrat Woody Thompson, who beat Kesting in the primary runoff vote for the District 4 seat representing southwest Cobb.”
Information for more than 50 people who were "nonviolent activists" was entered into federal and state databases which track "terrorism suspects" by Maryland State Police, the Washington Post reported.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Federal officials have asked Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel to investigate whether state election officials are improperly checking citizenship of newly registered voters."
"Florida water managers say they are flushing billions of gallons out to sea even as they consider permanent lawn watering bans to deal with future droughts," United Press International writes. "The South Florida Water Management District is set to decide this week if temporary bans on lawn watering imposed because of droughts earlier this year should be made permanent, while at the same time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is flushing 1.7 billion gallons of storm water per day out to sea, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday."
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three men—Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien—for their work with a protein that glows under ultraviolet light. The green fluorescent protein, which was discovered in jellyfish in 1962, has been used to observe cell structures and functions.
“Gmail plans to offer 'Mail Goggles,' a kind of sobriety test to make sure a sender is sober enough to send a message. Rather than test the sender’s alcohol blood level, the program prompts the user with a series of math problems (69-38 =?, 11x2=?, and so on) which must be solved within a time limit," according to the Wichita Business Journal.
Lance Armstrong can compete in January's Tour Down Under, the International Cycling Union has said. ESPN reported that Armstrong, under a strict interpretation of the union's rules, wouldn't have been able to compete until February, "six months after he filed paperwork with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency."
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Clippers declared that Coach Mike Dunleavy would replace Elgin Baylor as the team’s general manager. Baylor has held the position since 1986 and it is not clear at the moment why he is no longer the general manager, or even if he “retired, resigned or was fired,” according to the Los Angeles Times. "There is a dispute, and on the advice of my attorney they did not want me to discuss it," Baylor said. "That's all I can say."
Forty-two-year-old Halle Berry, who gave birth six months ago, is the “sexiest woman alive,” concludes Esquire magazine. “I don't know exactly what it means, but being 42 and having just had a baby I think I'll take it," she says.