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Asian shares mixed amid uncertainty over trade, Brexit

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares are mixed today, after Wall Street indexes posted modest gains, cheered by solid profits and forecasts from U.S. technology companies.

Global uncertainties such as U.S.-China trade tensions and Britain's unruly process toward leaving the European Union weighed on investor sentiment.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.2% Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7%. South Korea's Kospi edged 0.1% higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.3%, while the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.4%.

Shares fell in Taiwan, Bangkok and Jakarta but rose in Singapore.

Yesterday on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.1% to 26,805.53. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, climbed 0.8% to 8,185.80.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks slipped 0.2% to 1,550.18.


Japan's Trade Minister Sugawara resigns 1 month into job

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's trade minister resigned Friday, a month into his job in a scandal over condolence money allegedly being offered to election supporters.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he had accepted the resignation offer by Isshu Sugawara and apologized for appointing him. Abe named Hiroshi Kajiyama, formerly the minister in charge of regulatory reform, as his replacement.

Abe said Sugawara tendered his resignation because he did not want to hold up the important discussions in Parliament over his scandal. Sugawara has been grilled in Parliament recently after a magazine reported he had paid condolence money to his election district supporters. Such payments are considered donations that are against Japanese law.

Abe is the longest serving prime minister in Japanese postwar history and has managed to shake off various scandals, partly because of an opposition that is divided and unpopular.


Samsung heir Lee appears in court for corruption retrial

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Billionaire Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong has appeared in court for a retrial on corruption charges that partially fueled an explosive 2016 scandal that spurred massive protests and sent South Korea's then-president to prison.

The retrial that began at the Seoul High Court on Friday had been ordered by the Supreme Court in August. It concluded the amount of bribes Lee was accused of providing to ex-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante had been underestimated previously.

The earlier ruling had freed the Samsung Electronics vice chairman from jail on a suspended sentence.

Some legal experts say Lee is facing an increased possibility of serving jail time in the retrial. But Lee's case could take months and even years if he or the prosecutors appeal again to the Supreme Court.


Schumer proposes $462 billion car swap - gas for electric

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is proposing a $462 billion climate program to help get Americans out of gas vehicles and into electric ones.

Schumer's proposal late Thursday adds to big-money plans from Democratic presidential candidates to cut the oil, gas and coal emissions that cause climate change.

The New York senator's plan would give car buyers thousands of dollars each to trade in gas vehicles for U.S.-assembled electric, hybrid or hydrogen cell cars. About $45 billion would go for charging stations and other electric car infrastructure. And $17 billion would help automakers step up production of electric cars, batteries and parts.

Schumer doesn't say how the plan would be financed.

It contrasts with proposals by President Donald Trump, who has called for eliminating federal credits for electric cars.


Facebook defends policy allowing false political ads

Facebook is defending its policy of not fact checking political ads or politicians' comments after CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced withering criticism from Democratic legislators.

In a statement to the Associated Press Thursday, Facebook says a private company shouldn't censor politicians, even if they make misleading or bogus claims.

It says that removing false ads or statements could leave politicians less accountable for their words.

House Democrats, including Maxine Waters of California and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, criticized Zuckerberg for the policy at a hearing Wednesday.

Ocasio-Cortez questioned whether the policy would allow politicians to plant ads making up false claims about their opponents. Zuckerberg said it "probably" would be allowed.

Twitter and YouTube have also been criticized for not removing false political ads.


In reversal, Biden campaign opens door to super PAC support

UNDATED (AP) _ Joe Biden's campaign is rolling back his opposition to an independent political action committee that would allow wealthy individuals and corporations to boost his 2020 Democratic presidential bid.

A top Biden aide says in a lengthy statement Thursday that it's "not surprising" some Biden supporters are considering financing a super PAC on his behalf.

Biden has previously opposed such a move.

Kate Bedingfield's statement doesn't explicitly endorse a super political action committee but notes President Donald Trump and Republicans already are spending considerable sums "to intervene directly in Democratic primaries" against Biden.

The former vice president trails his top primary rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in total fundraising and cash-on-hand.

Sanders and a top progressive group that supports Warren each blasted the notion of a Biden super PAC.


Puerto Rico prepares to bolster power grid battered by Maria

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico has unveiled details of a $20 billion plan to strengthen and modernize the U.S. territory's shaky power grid more than two years after Hurricane Maria as islanders brace for a looming rate hike amid a recession.

The 10-year plan aims to bury power lines, increase the use of natural gas and create a transmission and distribution system that will withstand winds of at least 160 mph.

Officials said Thursday at least 60% of the estimated $20 billion will be used for transmission and distribution repairs. They expect federal funds will cover at least $13 billion of the overall cost.

The plan also calls for the creation within a decade of eight micro grids capable of operating independently if a storm knocks one of them out.


Pet food official admits selling adulterated ingredients

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The manager of a Texas processing plant has pleaded guilty in a conspiracy to sell adulterated ingredients to pet food manufacturers.

Federal prosecutors say 48-year-old William Douglas Haning pleaded guilty to two charges Thursday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Sentencing for Haning has not yet been scheduled.

Haning was operations manager of a Wilbur-Ellis Co. processing plant in Rosser, Texas. The company already has paid more than $4.5 million in restitution.

Federal authorities say Wilbur-Ellis substituted lower cost ingredients for chicken and turkey meal in shipments from a Texas plant to pet food manufacturers. Some shipments included ground-up feathers.

The ingredients posed no health threat to animals that ate the pet food.

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