“A broad sell-off sent the Dow Jones industrial average more than 320 points in afternoon trading, hours after the government reported that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week,” according to The New York Times.
A number of retailers reported slow sales for August today, while the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, “reported a solid gain that beat Wall Street forecasts.” Commenting on the performance of the retailers, Ken Perkins, president of research company RetailMetrics LLC., said, “Consumers are spending on necessities and looking for value and the lowest price possible.”
“Most stocks in Europe and U.S. futures dropped on concern slowing economic growth and higher fuel costs will reduce earnings at consumer companies. Asian shares fell for a fourth day,” according to Bloomberg.com.
Oil giant BP has reached an agreement to remedy the dispute involving “its half-owned Russian venture, TNK-BP,” according to MarketWatch. “But BP is still, for now, left with a 50% holding in Russia's third-largest oil producer. Some observers had feared the London-based oil giant would be left with less control over the venture that accounts for a quarter of its production.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that “Boeing Co.’s largest labor union voted to strike Wednesday night, but the union agreed to postpone a walkout for 48 hours after federal mediators urged both sides to return to the bargaining table in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement.”
“A former chief executive of construction firm KBR Inc. has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges in connection with the company's natural gas operations in Nigeria from 1995 to 2004,” the Associated Press reports.
The Street reports that “GMAC Financial Services will close 200 GMAC Mortgage retail offices and cut 5,000 Residential Capital employees, or about 60% of its work force, in a bid to cope with the downturn in the credit and mortgage markets."
Earlier this week, U.S. forces launched an attack against al-Qaida in Pakistan, which killed up to 20 men, women and children. Today, U.S. military officials indicated that the operation “could signal more intense American efforts to thwart militant attacks in Afghanistan,” Reuters reports.
During French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today, the Syrian government put forward “a six-point proposal outlining goals for furthering indirect talks with Israel, a senior Syrian government official said Thursday,” according to CNN.
Meeting with leaders in Georgia, Vice President Dick Cheney said that Russia’s recent actions against the country’s borders are “illegitimate,” and he added that Russia is putting its relations with the United States in serious jeopardy. He also reiterated his support for Georgia’s NATO membership.
Member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group are moving ahead with a deal to remove the group’s trade ban with India. The United States is trying to push other members of the 45-nation consortium to make an exception to the rule of doing business with countries that do not abide by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Thursday that the fifth round of talks between Syria and Israel slated to occur next week would be postponed. Assad blamed the unsteady political situation in Israel.
A French law allowing workers to add more hours to their 35-hour work week is being met with opposition by French businesses, “suggesting President Nicolas Sarkozy’s headline reform may do little to boost growth,” according ot the Associated Press.
“Turkish President Abdullah Gul will visit Armenia at the weekend for a soccer match, the president’s office said on Wednesday, in a major diplomatic step for the two states which have no diplomatic ties,” according to Reuters.
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin spoke at the Republican National Convention last night. “Ms. Palin’s appearance electrified a convention that has been consumed by questions of whether she was up to the job, as she launched slashing attacks on Mr. Obama’s claims of experience,” according to The New York Times.
Wired reports that, “As most of the on-air cable television personalities focus on the national politics of the Republicans’ nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for vice president, stories and footage of clashes between the St. Paul police and protesters at the Republican National Convention are turning up on the internet.”
Kwame Kilpatrick is no longer mayor of Detroit, having resigned after pleading guilty Thursday morning to two of the 10 felony charges against him. Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrel Jr. is to serve as mayor until a special election is held.
As Tropical Storm Hannah makes its way through the Atlantic, the southeastern coast of the United States prepares for a potential hurricane this weekend. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ike looms further in the distance.
In Boston, "Property owners, acting at the request of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, have agreed to shut off the lights at 34 skyscrapers from the Back Bay to the South Boston waterfront—a move that will save about 25 percent in energy used for lighting. The pilot program—which involves extinguishing the lights above the 30th floor between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.—will continue through Oct. 31, but city officials said they expect to make it a permanent program at all high-rise buildings."
"California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and other law enforcement officials allege that three makers of artificial turf deliberately failed to disclose that their products contain lead," the Los Angeles Times reports.
The FDA called for stronger warnings on immunosuppressant drugs. “The drugs, Humira, Cimzia, Enbrel and Remicade, belong to a class of medications known as tumor necrosis factor alpha blockers (TNF-alpha blockers), which suppress the immune system and are approved to treat several conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, plaque psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis and Crohn's disease,” according to U.S. News & World Report.
“Government toxicologists have reiterated safety concerns about a chemical used in baby bottles and food containers, just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration declared the substance safe,” reports to the Associated Press.
Discovery News writes, "Two ice shelves in Canada's far north have lost massive sections since August while a third ice shelf now is adrift in the Arctic Ocean, said researchers Wednesday who blamed climate change."
The Daily Telegraph describes mistakes made by the software that replaces offensive phrases in articles on the Internet: “The phenomena, known as ‘The Clbuttic Mistake’ after a mangling of the word ‘classic’ that is believed to be the first identified instance of the problem, can be found on tens of thousands of websites.”
On Wednesday, The Guardian reported that, "The head of Japan's embattled national sport of sumo faced calls to resign today after two wrestlers, including one of his proteges, tested positive for marijuana."