While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 30th edition

Fed decides to end quantitative easing stimulus programme

The Federal Reserve decided Wednesday to end its quantitative easing stimulus programme, after six years of pumping money into the economy via asset purchases to shore up growth.

The Fed also said it would not raise interest rates for "a considerable time" after the end of the QE programme, sticking to its timetable of an increase well into 2015.

The two key signals of its monetary policy were expected, as the US central bank pulls away from the era of economic crisis with an economy that is growing steadily, but with some worry about weak inflation.

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Israeli PM Netanyahu fumes at reported US 'worthless coward' slur

An anonymous US official's reported description of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "chickens**t", or worthless coward, drew a sharp response on Wednesday from the Israeli leader - no stranger to acrimony with the Obama administration.

The American broadside, in an interview in The Atlantic magazine, followed a month of heated exchanges between the Netanyahu government and Washington over settlement-building in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. "The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit," the unidentified official was quoted as saying, using Netanyahu's nickname and a slang insult certain to redden the ears of the US-educated former commando.

Israeli leaders usually do not respond to comments by unidentified officials. But Netanyahu addressed those remarks directly in opening a memorial ceremony in parliament for an Israeli Cabinet minister assassinated by a Palestinian in 2001. "Our supreme interests, chiefly the security and unity of Jerusalem, are not the main concern of those anonymous officials who attack us and me personally, as the assault on me comes only because I defend the State of Israel," Netanyahu said.

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Nobel winner Malala donates US$50,000 children's prize to rebuilding Gaza schools

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai said Wednesday she is giving her entire winnings from a children's rights award to help rebuild schools in war-ravaged Gaza.

The UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, which has launched a massive US$1.6 billion (S$2 billion) appeal for aid for Gaza, said she would be donating all US$50,000 of her World's Children's Prize.

"This money will totally go to the rebuilding of schools for children in Gaza, so I think it will definitely help those children to continue their education, to get quality education," the 17-year-old Pakistani told a press conference in Sweden at the awards ceremony.

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New York street harassment video goes viral

A video that shows a woman being pestered by men on the streets of New York has gone viral, sparking renewed debate about harassment endured by women and minority groups.

The two-minute video shows actress Shoshana B. Roberts walking silently in jeans and a T-shirt through Manhattan as man after man greets her with remarks such as "hey, baby" or "hey, beautiful".

Called "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman," at one point the video shows a man who walked alongside Roberts for five minutes without saying a word, causing her clear alarm. Rob Bliss, who filmed the video from a camera hidden in his backpack as he walked in front of Roberts, told AFP that he wanted men to see what street harassment looks like and to empower women.

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Fifty-one countries sign OECD pact to tackle tax cheats

Finance ministers and tax chiefs from 51 countries signed an agreement on Wednesday to automatically swap tax information, which Germany's finance minister said heralded the end of tax evasion via secret bank accounts.

"Let's make a joint contribution to more transparency and fairness in our globalised 21st century," Wolfgang Schaeuble told a taxation conference of about 100 countries coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The pledge from so many countries - Schaeuble said there were 51 signatories from four continents, after one country joined at the last minute - is the result of years of OECD efforts to facilitate tax authorities' access to bank data.

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