Authorities in Arizona arrested a young couple on charges of child abuse Thursday after the couple posted pictures on Facebook that showed their two children bound with duct tape. Sheriff's deputies in Coconino County arrested Frankie and Kayla Almuina, 20 and 19 years old, respectively, after an anonymous tip brought the photos to their attention. The parents claim that the photos, posted on Kayla's Facebook account, were just a joke, and that their children were never harmed.
US stocks ended Friday's session with moderate losses, leaving the S&P 500 just below the break even point for the year. The index finished the year down 0.04 points down, the smallest one-year change in the index in history. Despite Friday's slip, the blue-chip Dow Jones index finished the year about 5.5 percent higher, while the Nasdaq fell about 1.8 percent for the year. With the last trading day of the year behind us, investors will begin looking forward to 2012 with the hope that it does not bring the same volatility as its predecessor.
Europe's largest oil refiner Petroplus announced on Friday it will close three of its five refineries in the next few weeks due to a lack of operating capital since banks froze the company's lines of credit earlier this week. A spokesman for Petroplus claimed that the company is still in discussions with the banks, and that the talks had been “open and constructive,” but the company will initiate temporary shutdowns of of its Petit Couronne refinery in France, its Cressier plant in Switzerland and its Antwerp refinery in Belgium.
Go Daddy reversed course on Thursday, withdrawing it previously announced support for the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, after thousands of customers closed their accounts with the domain company earlier in the week in response to the company supporting the bill. The company was even accused of intentionally slowing down domain transfers last week, and GoDaddy representatives reportedly resorted to calling customers who had requested a switch, begging them to stay.
General Motors announced Friday that it is recalling 4,875 of its 2011 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact cars due to a possibility that some of the vehicles are missing front brake pads. Of the affected vehicles, about 4,300 were sold in the US, with the remaining vehicles sold to Canadian customers. GM noted that neither the company nor federal safety regulators have received any reports of accidents caused by the missing brake pads, but it is recalling the entire batch to ensure they all have them.
The US Justice Department announced Friday it has reached a settlement with General Electric over allegations that a company acquired by GE's healthcare unit in 2004 provided fraudulent information to overcharge Medicare for a drug used to diagnose heart disease. The Justice Department said that Amersham Health violated the False Claims Act in overcharging Medicare for doses of Myoview. Under the terms of the settlement, GE will pay a fine of $30 million.
AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, was dealt another blow this week when the New York Stock Exchange announced its would delist the company's stock before the opening bell next Thursday. The move was made, according to a source familiar with the decision, after AMR stock fell below $1 a share and traded below that level for 30 straight days. AMR filed for bankruptcy protection in November, driving its shares down from $1.62 the day before the filing to just 26 cents that day.
Spain's new government revealed Friday that the nation's deficit will be much larger than previously expected this year, and unveiled a series of surprise tax hikes designed to curb the imbalance. The country also froze wages in the newly elected government's first action since sweeping to victory in November. Analysts criticized the moves, saying they could drag the country back to center of the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis.
Ford Motor Co. announced late Thursday that it has sold more than 2 million of its namesake brand cars and trucks in the US this year, making it the first automaker to achieve the feat since 2007. The company enjoyed tremendous success with its Fiesta compact car and the redesigned Explorer SUV, while its F-150 pickup was the world's top-selling vehicle over the first nine months of the year. While Ford still trails General Motors in overall sales, the Ford brand tops GM's top brand, Chevrolet, by a stout margin.
Sears Holding Corp on Friday revealed some more details about its plan to close 100 to 120 stores, identifying 79 of the Sears and Kmart stores it has tapped for closure. The retailer announced the closures earlier this week when it also released severely disappointing results for the holiday season, substantially lowering its guidance for fourth-quarter and full-year earnings and revenue. The stores identified Friday were about evenly split among Kmart and Sears stores.