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US Fed cuts key interest rate a quarter point, citing ‘uncertainties’

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The US Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year on Wednesday but the policy committee is divided, with three of the 10 voting members dissenting.

The central bank also moved to ease concerns about a cash crunch on financial markets by adjusting its key policy tool to help pump more funds through the financial plumbing.

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The Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee lowered the policy interest rate by 25 basis points to a target range of 1.75 to 2.0 percent, as expected, and has now pulled back on half of the four interest rate increases in 2018.

“Although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports have weakened,” the FOMC said in a statement.

And while officials continue to believe the most likely outcome is for the economy to continue to grow and inflation to gradually increase, “uncertainties about this outlook remain.”

Chairman Jerome Powell and other Fed officials frequently have cited the uncertainty generated by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China which is hanging over the economy.

The Fed also cut the interest it pays to banks on cash reserves above the required level by 30 basis points to 1.8 percent, in a bid to push more cash into markets.

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A cash shortage in recent days prompted the New York Fed on Tuesday and Wednesday to pump $128 billion in funds into the short-term market as interest rates soared and threatened to break out of the Fed’s target range.

Powell is due to hold a press conference at 1830 GMT to explain the central bank’s rationale, and likely will be asked about the glitch in the key US financial plumbing.

But his job is complicated by the clear division on the committee: one member wanted an even steeper rate cut, while two others opposed cutting rates.

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The Fed’s quarterly economic forecast also reflects the division among central bankers, as the median forecast calls for no further rate increases through the end of 2020 — holding at 1.9 percent down from 2.4 percent in the June forecasts.

That contradicts most private economists who expect the central bank will feel the need to provide at least one more reduction in interest rates in 2019.

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But it reflects the fact that five members expect or prefer a rate hike, five see no change, and seven forecast or want to see another rate cut.

And that division comes even as the median forecasts for growth an unemployment are about steady, with inflation gradually rising to the Fed’s target of two percent.


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Bill Barr slammed by ex-FBI official for ignoring the right-wing ‘Boogaloo Bois’ infiltrating protests

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Attorney General Bill Barr was slammed by the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Saturday for misleading Americans about the source of violence at the protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

"There's evidence developing, Brian, that the organization we're seeing of the most violent protesters is coming from a couple of disturbing places," both, by the way, there's disparate in terms in being from the right or the left. here's what those who monitor these groups and sites are seeing.

"We're seeing a far-right group, one group for example known as the Boogaloo Bois, who on their private Facebook page and social media outlets are calling for violence, calling for people to show up," Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC's Brian Williams.

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Trump is the ‘greatest troll in the history of the internet’ and Twitter needs to ‘pull the plug’: NYT columnist

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President Donald Trump would face an existential crisis if Twitter were to enforce it's own rules and hold him accountable -- and one New York Times columnist wants to see it happen.

"C’mon, @Jack. You can do it," Maureen Dowd wrote, referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey with his username on the platform.

She urged Dorsey to "just pull the plug on him."

"You could answer the existential question of whether @realDonaldTrump even exists if he doesn’t exist on Twitter. I tweet, therefore I am. Dorsey meets Descartes," she explained. "All it would take is one sweet click to force the greatest troll in the history of the internet to meet his maker."

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Justice Roberts took ‘clear swipe’ at Kavanaugh in opinion siding with liberals in religion case: report

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On Friday night, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, holding that California Gov. Gavin Newsom's restrictions on church gatherings are not a violation of religious liberty. Chief Justice John Roberts crossed over to join with the liberals for a 5-4 split.

But the ruling was dramatic in a key way. As court watcher Mark Joseph Stern wrote for Slate, Justice Brett Kavanaugh "falsely accused the state of religious discrimination in an extremely misleading opinion that omits the most important facts of the case" in his dissent — and was so dishonest that Roberts went out of his way to rebuke him in the Court opinion.

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