A legislative proposal to require banks and other firms to reveal how they are spending federal bailout money was reintroduced this week by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California and Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine. Plans to make the bill a top congressional priority in the new year came after an Associated Press report indicated banks have provided only general answers about how they're spending $700 billion in federal aid.

Consumer spending fell by 0.6 percent in November, the fifth straight month of decreased activity, the longest such stretch since 1959, the Commerce Department said. Meanwhile, the number of workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose last week by 30,000 to 586,000.

President Bush pardoned 19 people this week, including a man considered a hero in Israel, but did not pardon any high-profile lawbreakers. Charles Winters of Boston was pardoned posthumously for a 1949 conviction on charges of conspiring to export aircraft to Israel, a violation of the US Neutrality Act.

A General Motors plant built in 1918 in Janesville, Wis., is one of two to shut down production this week. Sport utility vehicles quit rolling off the assembly line at the Janesville and Moraine, Ohio, SUV facilities, each of which laid off more than a thousand employees.

Presumably depressed about losing more than $1 billion of his clients' money in Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, French financier Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet committed suicide in his Manhattan office earlier this week, according to police.

The recount to name the winner of Minnesota's US Senate race between incumbent Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) won't be determined until at least a Jan. 5 meeting of the Canvassing Board, officials indicate.

Billionaire Eli Broad has extended a $30 million lifeline to the financially strapped Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which is considered the most comprehensive art museum in the West. His foundation will match donations for half the total and give the other half over five years if MOCA meets certain requirements, including that it not sell any of its roughly 6,000 artworks created since 1940.

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