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Central banks move to shore up financial system

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it joined some of the world's major central banks in a coordinated action to inject liquidity into the global financial system as the euro zone's financial crisis threatens to squeeze credit worldwide.

Joining in the move were: the Fed, The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, the Fed said.


"The purpose of these actions is to ease strains in financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses and so help foster economic activity," the Fed said in a statement.

The central banks agreed to lower the pricing on current temporary U.S. liquidity swap arrangements by 50 basis points from Dec. 5. The move makes more dollars available to banks at a cheaper rate, thereby easing worries about the availability of funds to banks.

Comment:
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© Monte Wolverton/Cagiecartoons



Chart Pie

Bank of America shares slide again, down 62% this year

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© Unknown
Another trading day and another low for Bank of America's stock.

Shares of Bank of America dropped more than 3 percent Tuesday, hitting a new 52-week low of $5.03 -- its lowest level since March 12, 2009.

It's been a tough year for the troubled bank, which has seen its share price decline roughly 62% from the start of the year.

Among other challenges, Bank of America has struggled under mounting issues related to its mortgage business.

The bank's rapidly declining share price is likely to increase pressure on the bank to slim down and sell assets. Bank of America has already said it plans to lay off 30,000 workers over the next several years.

Back in September, when that layoff announcement was made, investors worried about Bank of America's stock falling below a psychologically jarring level of $6. It dropped below that level on Oct. 3.

The bar keeps being lowered to new, more precarious thresholds. As Bank of America's shares hover near $5, they're still relatively far from the stock's all-time intraday low of $2.53 hit on Feb. 20, 2009.

A spokesperson for Bank of America said the bank does not comment on its share price.

Despite a rally in the stock market Tuesday, shares of most other major banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase fell.

Dollar

Banks hit hard by S&P downgrades

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© Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty
People walk past a Bank of America branch in New York in this 2009 file photo.
Banks face a double hit to costs and revenues from a spate of credit rating downgrades, another burden for a sector already struggling because of Europe's failure to deal decisively with its financial crisis.

Standard & Poor's on Tuesday cut its ratings on 15 big banks such as Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley, as it seeks to give more insight into its methods and repair its reputation after the credit crisis.

But while the downgrades were driven by a revision of the agency's internal models and not because of a change in the banks, they will have a real impact on funding costs for the sector, already on edge because of Europe's debt crisis.

"It will likely raise concerns about their short term funding because they will be sidelined by money market funds who are the traditional buyers of that short-term paper," said Andrew Fraser, investment director at Standard Life.

Megaphone

George Galloway vs. war mongering parrot: The case against war with Iran


Laptop

Violent Games DO Alter Your Brain - and the Effect is Visible in MRI Scans in Just a Week

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© Ubisoft
Games such as Assassin's Creed feature a huge amount of physical violence - and MRI scans demonstrate that playing such games DOES have an effect on the brain.
Violent video games and other computer entertainment have long been criticised for damaging youngsters' brain.

But activists such as Oxford Professor Baroness Greenfield have often presented little science to back up their allegations.

However, extensive research into the subject has now provided worrying results that support her claims.

'Screen technologies cause high arousal which in turn activates the brain system's underlying addiction,' the neurologist said last month in an attack that accused games of causing 'dementia' in children.

'This results in the attraction of yet more screen-based activity.'

And now the first genuinely scientific attempt to analyse the emotive subject has thrown up astonishing results that suggest she is right.

Differences in brain activity between young men who played violent games and ones who didn't were visible in a randomly assigned sample in just one week.

Attention

Norway: Anders Behring Breivik 'not accountable for attacks'

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© The Associated Press
Breivik has admitted setting off a car bomb outside the government offices in Oslo on July 22, killing eight people, before going on a shooting rampage on the nearby island of Utoya
Psychiatrists have found that Anders Behring Breivik was insane at the time of his attacks on downtown Oslo and Utoya Island.

The finding by the two forensic psychiatrists will help determine whether Breivik is sentenced to prison or psychiatric care. Prosecutor Svein Holden says the report shows Breivik was "psychotic" during the attack.

If that assessment is upheld by the court then Breivik cannot be sentenced to prison for the attacks.

"The conclusion is ... is that he is insane," Holden told a news conference. "He lives in his own delusional universe and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe."

The two psychiatrists, Synne Serheim and Torgeir Husby, delivered their finding to the Oslo district court on Tuesday morning.

"We have no doubt when it comes to our conclusions," Husby told reporters as he submitted the report.

Info

Horses Could Soon be Slaughtered for Meat in US

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© The Associated Press/Sue Ogrocki
Cheri White Owl, founder of Horse Feathers Equine Rescue, is pictured with a horse recently dumped at her sanctuary in Guthrie, Okla., Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011.
Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.

Slaughter opponents pushed a measure cutting off funding for horse meat inspections through Congress in 2006 after other efforts to pass outright bans on horse slaughter failed in previous years. Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December.

It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.

The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying there are no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that butcher horses for human consumption now, but if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed. USDA spokesman Neil Gaffney declined to answer questions beyond what was in the statement.

Pistol

US: Reagan shooter wants more time outside hospital

John Hinckley
© unknown
John Hinckley
Attorneys for the man who shot President Ronald Reagan will be asking a judge to let him spend more time away from a Washington mental hospital with the goal of eventually allowing him to live outside the facility full-time.

John Hinckley, who was found by a jury to be insane when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981, has for years been able to spend days at his mother's home in Virginia. On Wednesday, a Washington judge was to begin hearing arguments that Hinckley should be allowed additional visits of 17 and 24 days. The city's St. Elizabeths Hospital also wants the ability to decide if Hinckley should live away from the facility full-time according to a court document.

Government lawyers oppose the plan, calling it "premature and ill conceived." They say Hinckley is "a man capable of great violence" and that he is not "sufficiently well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated."

Handcuffs

US: New Jersey dad arrested in death of 2 year old daughter tossed in creek

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© The Associated Press/Ocean County Prosecutor's Office
Arthur Morgan III, 27, of Ocean Township, N.J. Morgan, suspected of killing his 2-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek while she was still strapped in her car seat, was captured Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 in California.
New Jersey prosecutors say they will move quickly to extradite a man suspected of killing his 2-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek while she was still strapped in her car seat.

Twenty-seven-year-old Arthur Morgan III was captured without incident late Tuesday afternoon at a home in San Diego, Calif. The arrest came one week after he allegedly killed Tierra Morgan-Glover during a court-approved visit and then fled the state.

Morgan, who could not be reached for comment, had been the subject of a nationwide manhunt and had been featured on the website of America's Most Wanted. He was being held early Wednesday in California, and it was not yet known when an extradition hearing would be scheduled.

The girl's mother, Imani Benton, called police after Morgan failed to return the child on Nov. 21. She had spent several hours speaking with investigators on Tuesday and learned of Morgan's arrest when she arrived at a friend's home Tuesday night and heard people cheering.

"Everybody was outside yelling and screaming - they were like, 'They got him. They got him,'" Benton told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune. "I couldn't get out of the car. I just had to sit and let the tears fall for a minute."

Stormtrooper

US: LAPD Officers Move into Occupy Los Angeles, Protesters Being Arrested

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© KTLA-TV
A group of Occupy L.A. protesters prepare for an imminent police raid Tuesday night while wearing gas masks.
Police Across Los Angeles are on Tactical Alert

Hundreds of Los Angeles Police Officers have moved into the park around City Hall where hundreds of Occupy Los Angeles protesters have refused to leave. They have been given a final order to get out or get arrested.

Officers in riot gear have lined the street near Broadway and 1st Street and some protesters have donned gas masks in anticipation of tear gas or pepper spray. There have not been any conflicts between police and protests, but it's clear that police intend to evict Occupy L.A. from the area sometime overnight.

A group of protesters began marching en masse down 1st Street toward Spring Street. They held candles and chanted, "Move your feet! Occupy the street!" The march was lively but not violent.