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News Wrap: Federal Reserves Announces New Stimulus Steps

September 21, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Federal Reserve announced new stimulus steps today. The Central Bank said the economy now faces significant downside risks, so it will sell $400 billion in short-term Treasury securities and buy longer-term bonds instead. The goal is to push down interest rates for home and business loans.

Wall Street went into a tailspin after the Fed announcement. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 283 points to close below 11125. The Nasdaq fell 52 points to close at 2538. Amid the general sell-off, Chevron stock lost another 3.6 percent. On Monday, a federal appeals court reinstated an $18 billion judgment against the oil company for polluting the Amazon in Ecuador. For the record, Chevron is an underwriter of the NewsHour.

The Greek government announced a new round of austerity measures today in its latest bid to stave off defaulting on its debt. They include suspending more civil servants than initially planned and cutting monthly pensions. Workers in Athens answered by demonstrating outside Parliament for a second day. They carried signs and banners protesting the cost-cutting plans.

The state of Georgia moved ahead this evening with an execution that’s drawn international protest. Troy Davis was convicted of killing an off-duty policeman in 1989, but several witnesses have recanted. Pope Benedict, former President Carter and others have weighed in on Davis’ behalf.

Also this evening, Texas was executing a white supremacist in a notorious hate crime from 1998. The victim, James Byrd Jr., was dragged to death behind a truck.

In Mexico, police began searching for clues after a new atrocity in the country’s drug war. Suspected drug gang members dumped 35 bodies under this busy overpass during Tuesday’s rush hour. Today, bloodstains covered the pavement at the site. Authorities said most of the victims had links to organized crime.

Typhoon Roke slammed into Japan today, leaving at least 13 people dead or missing. The storm made landfall west of Tokyo. From there, it passed dangerously near the region devastated by a tsunami last March. The powerful system dumped heavy rain that sent rivers pouring out of their banks. Thousands of commuters across Tokyo were stranded at the evening rush hour after train service halted.

The U.S. and Taiwan have formally announced a major arms deal to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets. The deal is worth nearly $6 billion and includes advanced radar to detect stealth aircraft. The U.S. stopped short of selling 66 new F-16s to Taiwan. Even so, China denounced the arms agreement today. The Chinese government regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

Those are some of the day’s major stories